Franciscan superior attacked in Sarajevo

Fr. Mijo Džolan, Provincial Superior of the Franciscans
Fr. Mijo Džolan, Provincial Superior of the Franciscans


The Franciscan Provincial Superior in Sarajevo was attacked by assailants demanding money on the night of January 21, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.

Father Mijo Džolan, 58, who heads the province covering Bosnia and Serbia, was attacked at around 1:40 in the morning at the provincial house in Sarajevo.

Two masked men forced their way through the window of the Provincial’s bedroom and “woke him roughly.”  Holding a pistol to his head, they demanded money.  Father Džolan calmly explained that the provincial house had no cash.  Though the men accused him of lying and threatened to kill him, he again repeated that the house had no money.  The robbers then clubbed him on the shin with the butt of their pistol, after which they fled.

After the Provincial called for help, one of his fellow Franciscans found him, while their Muslim neighbors called the police.  Father Džolan was taken to a hospital for treatment but returned home soon afterwards.

Father Džolan spoke with ACN about the attack, saying, “It was an experience like nothing else. The whole time I was conscious of the very real danger of being shot dead by the intruders. I was not at all afraid; there was only a sense of powerlessness, which suddenly turned into a sense of grateful surrender to God. I found that a sense of total abandonment and loneliness was transformed into something quite new.”

Father Džolan said the incident had especially unsettled Catholic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who worried the attack was an attempt at intimidation.  The priest had urged them to wait for a police investigation.  He said many people were pleased that the Church had not used the attack for short-term gain.

The Franciscan Provincial concluded his interview with ACN by reflecting on the good that could result from the crime.

 “I am grateful to a loving God for the fortunate outcome of this incident. Let us hope that the way in which these events have been interpreted will encourage the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina a little to work for justice, truth and love,” he said.

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