Vjekoslav Ćurić

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Vjekoslav "Vjeko" Ćurić (April 26, 1957 in Lupoglav, Bosnia and Herzegovina - January 31, 1998 in Kigali, Rwanda) was a Bosnian Croat Catholic priest and humanitarian. He is one of the recognized martyrs of Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena. In Rwanda he is known as "African Oscar Schindler" after the man who saved many Jews during a time of massacres.[1] A school in Kivumu[2] is named after him.

Early years[edit]

Vjeko Ćurić was born as a second of six children in a family of Petar Ćurić and Ana.[3] He did his studies at the Franciscan Minor Seminary in Visoko, did his Novitiate in Visoko and theology in Sarajevo, after which he was ordained. Vjeko entered the Franciscan order on July 15, 1976, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1982 in Sarajevo.[4] That same year, he went to Paris to prepare for his missionary calling. On August 18, 1983, he began his missionary activity in Rwanda.

Life and work[edit]

Fra Vjeko, a young and capable priest, gained worldwide recognition during the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when he worked to help the victims of both tribes involved, the Hutu and the Tutsi. He also brought numerous white people (bishops, priests, monks, nuns and others) to safety. When the killing began in Kivumu, people turned to Fra Vjeko for help. He had lived in Nyamabuye 1, Gitarama for more than ten years, and had long worked to promote development in the area. He was well known and loved by his congregation at the Parish of Kivumu; his decision to remain in Rwanda during the genocide brought him to the heart of the local community. When most other expatriates were evacuated, Fr. Vjeko stood by the people of Kivumu during the worst experiences of their lives.[5] He devoted himself to providing practical and medical assistance to the displaced and to helping people escape. Vjeko was outspoken in his condemnation of the violence and continued to preach the values of peace and unity throughout the genocide. More often than not, he was threatened by the Interahamwe for having stood in their way. In the aftermath, Fr. Vjeko demonstrated his impartiality, helping both Hutus and Tutsis to rebuild their communities. The homes and buildings Fr. Vjeko helped to fund are still standing in Kivumu.[6] He was killed under unclear circumstances on January 31, 1998.[7]

The Franciscan order and Fra Vjeko's Province of Bosna Srebrena received special recognition from the Pope for the work of Fra Vjeko. In order to rescue and help others, Fra Vjeko endured a martyr's death, according to the statement by his provincialate. He was buried in Kivumu in a church which he and his congregation had built.[8] Fra Vjeko's provincialate has requested Church officials to have his remains transported to his homeland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Filming a long feature documentary
  2. ^ [2] Father Vjeko Center
  3. ^ [3] Sedma obljetnica smrti fra Vjeke Ćurića
  4. ^ [4] Vjeko Curic, Franciscan Priest, Murdered in Rwanda
  5. ^ FRANCISCAN FRIAR ASSASSINATED IN RWANDA
  6. ^ [5] Father Vjeko Curic as a Franciscan Priest
  7. ^ [6] Sedma obljetnica smrti fra Vjeke Ćurića
  8. ^ IN MEMORY OF FR VIJEKO CURIC OFM - the funeral ceremony at Kivumu