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Spiritual retreat of the Caritas staff

On Thursday 18th of December in the seat of Belgrade Archbishopic a spiritual retreat for the Caritas staff was held, led by the Belgrade Archbishop Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar. Members of the Caritas staff from Belgrade, Obrenovac, Sabac, Valjevo, Aleksinac, Vranje, Ub and Krupanj were present on this gathering.

With an initiative of the Archbishop of Belgrade and President of Caritas every year, before Easter and before Christmas is being held a spiritual retreat for the Caritas staff. This year the Christmas retreat was more numerous, because of the presence of a great number of people engaged in the project of assistance to the flooded families. Msgr. Hocevar explained that this is a chance for a spiritual renewal for all the Caritas staff members, regardless of their faith, so they can be prepared for future engagement. He invited all the people present not to think about their function in Caritas, but to think about who they are, because “Caritas is not just a function, but it’s necessary to live Caritas – the love, to see the needs of the persons around us and have the strength to help them“.

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After the introductory prayer, the reading and the interpretation of a biblical text, the participants had the chance to think and to talk about the biggest problems of contemporary people and contemporary society, with special reference to the importance of the family. Caritas staff, which is actively involved in field work, as the members of the teams of psycho-social support: psychologists, social workers and nurses, shared the experiences of the problems of families they are in contact with, after which a common dialogue continued. From these experiences a great number of dysfunctional families was identified, in which the interpersonal relations are bad, in which spiritual and material poverty are present, the members are more oriented on the material state, but also outraged for it, in which the elderly are abandoned and ignored…

The experience shows that those families, in which interpersonal relations and communication are on a higher level, overcame the difficult situation after the floods on an easier way and they organised themselves faster to change the situation, regardless of their material state. The Archbishop said that it’s important that Caritas promotes the importance of the family, as a basic cell of the society, as also that this year all the Catholic Church gave a special importance to the family, organizing an extraordinary Synod of bishops about this topic. He invited all the people present to think about what is important to do so that the family would receive the right importance, the one it has in the eyes of the God the Father. He pointed out that the person, in the center of it’s family, is important, as also that the Christianity gives the right comprehension about the man and women, seen as persons. He said that Christmas, which is ahead of us, is such an important holiday, because a man – person is in it’s center. The final message of the Archbishop was that the real Caritas is only God and that the representatives of Caritas are invited to be his open arms.

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Obrenovac Mayor visited the Archbishop of Belgrade

Obrenovac Mayor Mr. Miroslav Cuckovic visited the Belgrade Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar on 15th of December, in order to express his gratitude for the aid that since May Caritas is providing to this municipality and to talk about the future collaboration between the municipality and Caritas.

«The care that has been shown for our city, all the authority that the Archbishopic has used to motivate the prime ministers of other countries and the governments of other countries, here I refer to the Slovenian and the French government and to all the other who were with us in this moments of natural disaster which we went through is something we will never forget, which will be a good message for the future», said Mr. Cuckovic, who gave a gratitude card to Caritas for the assistance provided to Obrenovac.


Right after the floods, in the emergency project, Caritas has donated food and hygiene items for 900 families, after that it provided assistance in school material, construction material, heating supplies as also the psycho-social support to the flooded households.

Belgrade Archbishop and president of Caritas Serbia Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar expressed the solidarity of Caritas towards the citizens of Obrenovac and to the Mayor, with a desire that from this tragedy lesion can be learned, but he also underlined the great solidarity that has been shown during this tragedy.


Caritas Sunday in Sabac, Serbia

The Caritas Sunday was celebrated in different diocese in Serbia on 14th of December. In the city of Sabac it was celebrated with a solemn Mass and a presentation in the city library, on which were present the Belgrade Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar, the Orthodox Bishop of Sabac Lavrentije Trifunovic and the Mayor of Sabac Nebojsa Zelenovic. The parish Caritas Sabac was very active during and after the floods this year in Serbia, providing assistance to the flooded people.

The Belgrade Archbishop Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar, who celebrated the Mass, said that this Mass is a prayer for those who lost their lives during the floods and he invited all the people present to pray also for those who are fighting for their lives in our country, where there is a strong snow and cold. The Archbishop Hocevar pointed out that we need to know how to predict natural disasters:

“We need to overtake these kind of events, predict everything. Where there is love it’s impossible that we are not present where there are great needs. Different difficulties are not the biggest problem, the problem is if love doesn’t inspire us to respond to the biggest needs“.

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On this solemn Mass were present also the Caritas workers and volunteers from Sabac, Valjevo, Krupanj and Belgrade, among which was also a great number of members of the Orthodox Church, so during his homily Msgr. Hocevar spoke about the unity in diversity among Christians:

“We will never find such a great unity in diversity and diversity in unity as in God, who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only people living the mistery of God can live in diversity.

We pray that all the faithful, belonging to any Church, can have this strength: overtake everything, predict everything. We pray for all the Caritas workers, that they might have the power to save lives, but also that all the Caritas workers could see how the Kingdom of God grows among them, unity in diversity“.

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After the Mass there was a presentation of the work of Caritas Sabac in the city library, on which were the Orthodox Bishop of Sabac Lavrentije Trifunovic, the Mayor of Sabac Nebojsa Zelenovic and many others. The Mass and the presentation were enriched by the songs of the Ecumenical Male Choir from Belgrade, which testimonies through music the motto of it’s existence: unity in diversity. During the presentation the participants had a chance to see the film about the work of Caritas Sabac, in the assistance to the people from the flooded areas from the start of this natural disaster, by distributing meals for the evacuees and for all of those who helped make bulwarks on the river, distributing the humanitarian aid, schoolbags for the first graders, construction material and providing assistance to the elderly in their every day activities. This film was enriched by the experiences of the beneficiaries from the Sabac region, to whom, as many of them said “Caritas arrived when no other organization could“ and whose assistance means a lot. The means given through the Caritas network to assist the flooded in the Sabac region are around 400.000 euro.


Miroljub Nikolic, the Director of Caritas Sabac, spoke to the present, saying that it’s an honor for him for being a citizen of Sabac, a Christian and a member of Caritas:

“What Caritas promotes is the power of communion – that we work together. I’m proud of being a Christian, because when the Churches collaborate together they can do more. I’m proud of being a member of Caritas. In Caritas we are all like a big family, when something happens we are here to help those who suffer. Then we show in a very concrete way what people can do when they get connected“.


The Mayor of Sabac Nebojsa Zelenovic said that the city of Sabac owns a great gratitude to Caritas, that he was involved from the begging in all the activities and that the energy of the Caritas workers surprised him. He pointed out that the collaboration of Caritas with the city government will continue and that in the budget for 2015 the city of Sabac will increase it’s means for the social protection for 20%, so that every elderly household could have home care provided by Caritas.

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The Orthodox Bishop of Sabac Lavrentije Trifunovic also spoke to the people present:

“It’s a great pleasure for me as the Bishop of Sabac to be here to say my words of gratitude together with all the others. I’m very happy that in our city we have our Roman Catholic brothers, who are above us in practical living. The Catholic Church tries to live the faith in life. We Orthodox can learn a lot from our Catholic brothers about the practical application of the Gospel in life. We need to serve God through our hearts and through our neighbors. Caritas reminds us not to forget that next to us there are people who are hungry, thirsty, who are spiritually hungry. We need to try and not forget that we are social beings and that we did to Christ what we do to one of our brothers. We Orthodox can learn a lot on your work. May the Lord help you to be a good example for others“.

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Belgrade Archbishop and President of Caritas Serbia Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar followed after the speech of Bishop Lavrentije, saying that before this presentation we celebrated the Holy Mass, because the love for God and for our neighbor are equally important. He said that the floods have shown not how many difficulties or natural disasters there are, but how important is the person. He pointed out that the synergy of different Caritas workers was most visible in Sabac, so he thanked all the Caritas staff, but he also said that it’s important to look at the future:

“We are not here for the gratitude and acknowledgement, we are not here to look at the past, but to the future. I would like that we have present that we are invited to help each other, that we are here for one another“, said Msgr. Hocevar.

Msgr. Hocevar said also that it’s important to prevent situations of bigger poverty, addiction, that it’s not important only to cure, but also to prevent. He also invited all the media to use their role in promoting good values, developing a new society in which there will be no borders among people, but there would be unity in diversity.


Distribution of heating briquettes and stoves to the flooded families

Within the Caritas Rehabilitation project of assistance to the flooded households a special winterization program was organized, in which stoves and heating briquettes were distributed. In this way Caritas was able to help 815 households in 11 municipalities. Every family received a ton of heating briquettes. This Caritas aid is not only an assistance to the flooded population, but it’s also a support to the local economy, because stoves and briquettes are purchased from the local factories. Other than this briquettes are ecologically more acceptable from heating wood or coil, so this way Caritas is promoting the concept of environmental protection. In total it has been distributed 815 tons of briquettes and 62 stoves for the most vulnerable flooded households, like elderly, single member households, multi-member households (with five or more members), persons with disabilities, single parents and families that have children with disabilities.


–          In Krupanj municipality it was distributed 150 tons of briquettes and 10 stoves,

–          In Sabac municipality 140 tons of briquettes and 5 stoves,

–          In Valjevo municipality 20 tons of briquettes and 10 stoves,

–          In Ub municipality 80 tons of briquettes and 10 stoves,

–          In Obrenovac municipality 170 tons of briquettes and 12 stoves,

–          In Lazarevac (Veliki Crljeni) 70 tons of briquettes,

–          In Svilajnac 24 tons of briquettes,

–          In Jagodina 30 tons of briquettes,

–          In Topola 5 tons of briquettes and

–          In Paracin 30 tons of briquettes.

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“The power of parish Caritas“ Caritas Sunday 2014

In November and December diocese through Serbia are celebrating the Caritas Sunday.  In Zrenjanin diocese this Sunday was celebrated on 23rd of November, while in other diocese is on 14th of December.

The title of this years Caritas Sunday is „The power of parish Caritas“, with particular reference to the strong response of our parish communities in the assistance of people from the flooded areas, but also as a chance to encourage more faithful and all the people of good will to get engaged and to help the ones in need, in different ways, through Caritas.

Belgrade Archbishop and President of Caritas Serbia Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar will celebrate this Caritas Sunday on 14th of December in Sabac, since the Sabac parish Caritas was one of the most active in providing assistance during the floods.

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Program of the Caritas Sunday on 14th of December in Sabac:

–          10.00: Holy Mass celebrated by Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar

           Church of  Saint Ana, Janka Veselinovića street, no. 16

–          11:30: Presentation of the aid provided by Caritas Sabac during the May floods

            Sabac library, Masarikova street, no.18

A special brochure was made for the Caritas Sunday, containing the letter of Belgrade Archbishop and president of Caritas Serbia, information about the aid for the flooded collected trough diocesan Caritas, expressions of gratitude to Caritas from the politicians and people who received the aid, as also the experiences from the field.

The brochure is available in:

Serbian language: Trolist SR

Croatian language: Trolist HR

Hungarian language: Trolist mađarski

Interview with the Secretary General of Caritas Europa Jorge Nuño Mayer

Secretary General of Caritas Europa Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer visited Serbia on 26th and 27th of November. During this visit we had a chance to make an interview with him, in which he gave precious answers to our questions.

  • You were in Strasbourg on 25th of November, when the Holy Father spoke to the European Parliament. Do you have a message for us from this event?

The Pope gave a clear message to the members of the European Parliament to foster the dialogue with the Balkan countries, countries seeking for peace and development. That’s a very strong message, considering the fact that the pope said it for the short time he had. I would also like to add that the Pope reminded the politicians to serve the people first, respecting their human rights and to serve the common good. This interest should be above the economic interest.

  • You visited Serbia for the first time, what kind of expectation did you have before coming here?

More than expectation I came with a desire to listen, to find out more about Caritas Serbia. Of course I know Caritas Serbia, because I met before with Archbishop Hocevar, the Director of Caritas Serbia Rev. Varga, the coordinator Darko Tot. I know that, on one hand Caritas Serbia is a very professional organization, who works in a very precise and good way, but here I discovered that Caritas Serbia wants to deepen it’s roots in the Social teaching of the Catholic Church.

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  • What kind of impression did you have about the work of Caritas in our country?

On one side Caritas already has a long experience in the past and it can show results on different fields in the past decades, in terms of peace building, serving people with mental health problems, serving the elderly in their homes, results in the relation with the Government and other organisations. The Church in Serbia can be proud of it’s Caritas. On the other side there is a challenge that the catholics in Serbia see Caritas more and more as their own Caritas, to participate in the work of Caritas as volunteers, through donations or just to speak to their neighbors about this service that Caritas gives to the people in need.

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges for Caritas Serbia and for the Catholic Church in our country?

The Catholic Church is always a service to the society. The Church is not made for itself, but it’s here to serve the society in which it’s in. Catholic Church is here to serve all the people of Serbia. Caritas is one of the ways of serving, in the hands of the bishops and the faithful, in order to show that the catholics in this country serve the children of God, the people of this country. I see that as a great challenge, because we have a risk in the Church to keep something for ourselves, to stay only inside the building of the church, but we have a task to go outside and spread the good word of the Gospel thought words and facts and Caritas is here to put in practice the program of the good Samaritan.

  • In which way you think that the pastoral care for the believers could be connected to the charity work?

One without the other can’t be understood. The pastoral care has to integrate the real life and explain in which way the Catholics could live in the concrete society we are in. One of the possibilities of living the faith in the society is being a volunteer, doing something for the others. You can also be a good catholic by being a good student in school. You don’t need to talk, if you act well you’re spreading good values. It’s the same for employed people, if you’re a good and an honest employee you’re spreading good values. But we need to think about how we represent the Church and our faith. There Catholic knows that they have Caritas where they can get involved.

  • Considering the experiences you saw in other countries what do you thnik, how can we incourage more parishes in Serbia to have a parish Caritas?

You have to find your way. There are a lot of experiences in different countries, but you need to find your way. Certainly it’s one thing to involve the priests and another thing is to involve the lay people, in order to present what Caritas is doing, present the values, actions and possibilities of participating in it. We need good communication so everyone can say: “yes, this is Caritas, this is the way I can contribute with my time, with the donations, with the money, so I can speak with my friends and say: look how much the Catholic church has done since the floods started“. It’s important that everyone feels as a part of Caritas, that it belongs to every catholic in this country, regardless the nationality, if it’s Hungarian, Croat, Ruthenian… This is a heritage of the Catholics, which doesn’t need to be on the shelf, but needs to be used.

  • What is your message for all the Caritas workers and faithfull people in our country?

I think you’re doing a good job, that you can look at the future with confidence. I know that in Caritas we always want to do things better, I was also involved in the parish Caritas, in the diocesan Caritas. I know how it is difficult, but also how it is fulfilling. I can only encourage all the Caritas workers to continue working, to continue contributing, because the society needs it. They need to know that they are not alone, there are hundred of thousands of Caritas workers all over Europe, who work with the same spirit.


Study visit to Serbia within the project Societies

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Within the project SOCIETIES a study visit was organized from 11 to 13 March, aiming to exchange experiences and examples of good practice in the field of social inclusion between civil society organizations (CSOs)participating in the project. Representatives of 15 CSOs from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo, together…

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Recognition of Caritas Serbia work on disaster risk reduction

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Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina and Caritas Serbia recently received recognition for their exceptional work in disaster risk reduction. On March 1stthey were awarded by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina for supporting disaster risk reduction in their respective countries and co-operating across borders. Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina’s main contribution was…

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English language classes for refugees in Bujanovac

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Caritas psycho-social support team from Bujanovac Reception Center organises lessons of English language for refugees and migrants, every day, from Monday to Friday. The participants are divided into three groups, in relation to their previous knowledge. They attend classes regularly, with the goal to master the language better. The members…

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