Monday, 2 June 2014

Vivat, crescat, floreat!

Celebration of the Day of the Catholic University of Croatia

The celebration of the Day of the Catholic University of Croatia, held on 30 May 2014, began with the Eucharistic celebration led by the Auxiliary Bishop of Zagreb and the first Rector of HKS Msgr. Ivan Šaško.  Afterwards, the Grand Chancellor of HKS, Zagreb Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanić blessed the Psychological Research Laboratory.

In his welcome speech, Cardinal Bozanić read the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in which Pope Francis made two references to the University. In this spirit, Cardinal Bozanić added: “I am happy to see that this University of ours has been growing in terms of values and dedication to which Christ calls us in his Good News and towards which we are tirelessly encouraged by the Pope. Your involvement in various initiatives of the Church, but also your imagination when it comes to the involvement in the life of the Croatian society, makes me pleased. Preserve the spirit of unity and cooperation, the spirit of openness and gratitude at your University, to be a sign of new things and a view of hope, something which our society, our Croatia, our Europe and the world need so much. University is a wonderful environment that fosters openness,  where the narrowing of knowledge, closing in ideologies, running away from questions posed by life are foreign concepts.”  

According to the Cardinal’s words, the difficulties arising in the life of Universities happen precisely when people try to subject the university activities to the goals which do not stem from spiritual values.” Any such attempt ends in efforts to limit freedom and truth. If, however, this does happen, it makes possible the spread of dishonesty, conflicts, manipulation and ideology in the society. The university – especially the one that lies on Christian ideas – thrives happily on each new piece of infomation and newly opened horizons of knowledge, but also lives of the humility to recognize its own limits and of the beauty of life lived as a gift to another person. One can not speak about the growth and progress of society, if this entails trying to humiliate other people, devaluate or rule over the freedom of conscience. I believe that there is no one left who doubts the fact that our current problems in all areas are related to a deeper crisis that may be called by various names, from the crisis of the spirit to the crisis of morality. The way of return for the Croatian society is rediscovering spiritual values, something in which universities must play the support role, since they encompass a variety of human experiences, approaches, methods, religions, sciences and arts,” highlighted the Cardinal, adding that the Catholic University of Croatia bears its own responsibility in this by showing prophetic force that doesn’t shy away from being critical, but never without offering the view of hope.  

President of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference, Zadar Archbishop Želimir Puljić said that although HKS is only approaching the tenth year of its establishment, and the fourth year of classes, as the central church institution, it has a long history. It has been fused into the network of church colleges that sprouted across Europe from the 11th to the 17th century. This long historic journey can also be recognized in the mission woven into the program of this University, and described as a permanent search for truth through research, preservation and transfer of knowledge for the benefit of the society with special attention to the education of a whole person based on the Catholic tradition and spirituality, highlighted Archbishop Puljić.

Referring to the work of HKS, in his introduction, Rector dr.sc. Željko Tanjić said that Croatian legislation presently categorizes HKS as a private university, although the Church holds a special place within the Croatian society, and is partly financed from the state budget.  

Speaking of HKS today, Rector dr. Tanjić reported that the University has 310 enrolled students, 67 employees, of which 45 work as associates, in teaching and scientific and teaching positions. He highlighted that the procedure for obtaining the license to carry out scientific activities is in progress, the program for the acquisition of teaching skills has been launched, the Center for Research of Totalitarian Systems established, and also the project to design and furnish the studio for communication science classes has been prepared.  

HKS has become part of the great family of universities which exchange students and professors within the Erasmus program, a number of bodies have been established, the University Library enriched, the Student Union set up, and the work of pastoral, photography, charitable and volunteer student groups has been regularly supported. According to the Rector’s words, the greatest joy of this academic year was the first generation of graduated bachelors at the Department of History.  

Rector of the University Juraj Dobrila of Pula and president of the Rectors’ Conference of Higher Education Institutions of the Republic of Croatian dr.sc. Alfio Barbier stressed that the current study programs of history, psychology and sociology at HKS are successfully extending into graduate programs excelling in the quality of their teaching and research interwoven with spiritual values.

The representative of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, academic Tomislav Raukar said that the task of the youngest Croatian university is the education of scientists, promotion of scientific values, but also of the Catholic identity based on the Gospel’s messages of truth and love. This is especially important today, when the system of values in both the modern world, and Croatia, starting from the basic value of family onwards, are disarranged, added the academic Raukar.  

Assistant Minister of Science, Education and Sports, dr.sc. Ružica Beljo Lučić pointed out that Catholic universities hold an important place in higher education in Europe and the world by educating generations of intellectuals and experts in various fields of science and art.  

“I am confident that with the efforts of its professors, especially since they are led by the highly engaged Rector prof. Tanjić, HKS will fulfill its mission to train and educate young people who will walk the world with their heads up, unburdened, who will grow into whole individuals, aware of their heritage and culture, able to be Croatian and European citizens ready for intercultural dialogue and coexistence “, said dr. Beljo Lučić and continued expressing the hope that the collaboration between HKS and the relevant ministry will continue.  

President’s Advisor for Science, Higher Education and Religious Communities dr.sc. Ankica Marinović pointed out that with its development and results over the past few years, HKS has proved to be a distincte actor of the Croatian academic life.  

On the occasion of the Day of HKS, lectio magistralis entitled “Catholic Universities in the World Today” was held by a special guest of the ceremony, the Head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski. He presented an overview of documents, legislation, the scope and specific qualities of Catholic universities, stating that they must strive for high standards, particularly in two fundamental aspects: the academic level and Catholic identity.  

The HKS student choir directed by dr Krunoslav Novak performed at the ceremony.
The academic event was attended by the Apostolic nuncio in the Republic of Croatia Alessandro D’Errico, Croatian (arch)bishops, rectors of other Croatian universities, as well as the universities in Mostar, deans and representatives of political and cultural life of the country and the city. 

Text: Marija Belošević for www.ika.hr