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updated 8:03 AM UTC, May 30, 2024

A New Capuchin Venerable

On March 14, 2024, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and authorized him to promulgate the Decree super virtutibus of the Servant of God Br. Ante Tomičić, professed of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor. This decree recognizes and declares that the Servant of God, Br. Ante Tomičić, lived the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity toward God and neighbor, as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, and the annexed virtues, to a heroic degree.

The Servant of God, in difficult times and in a land divided by endless wars, did not allow himself to be disturbed but, aware of God's infinite mercy and the Real Presence of the risen Lord in the Eucharist, knew how to show charity to people in a simple and fraternal way, even sometimes to those most difficult, and in the crudest and harshest situations, such as from the violence of other men.

His austerity in the pursuit of a life of asceticism made up of renunciations and abstinences, was not only a means of penance, but an authentic response to the mercy shown to him by the Lord. His few words or even his silence, which he learned at Our Lady's school, acted profoundly on those he met, restoring the joy that life might have shattered or erased.

The Servant of God was born in Razbojine, Croatia, on March 23, 1901, the ninth of eleven children. On March 31, 1901, he was baptized with the name Josip. Raised by his godfather and godmother, who had no children of their own, he learned from them how to read and write as well as his first prayers and the gift of a simple faith. Upon completing elementary school, he was entrusted with care of the family’s flock.

In his adolescence, he read the book “The Dreams of Mary” which made him sense the sweetness of God's infinite mercy while recognizing himself as a sinner. From that moment, prayer was his “dearest occupation,” generating in him a desire for consecrated life. Finding the address of the Jesuits in Varaždin, he wrote to them declaring his search for a vocation. The Jesuits referred him to the Capuchins, considering him more suited to their way of life. Thus, 18-year-old Josip was received at Varaždin for a probationary period, and on December 27, 1919, he was admitted to the novitiate, receiving a new name: Br. Ante.

Life in the novitiate, however, did not seem to meet his expectations; he had imagined far different austerities. So, when spring arrived, he left the novitiate and set out to seek a life of asceticism, solitude and prayer modeled after that of John the Baptist. Two months of a vain search followed. His confessor, Msgr. Josip Lang, auxiliary bishop of Zagreb, advised him to make an act of humility and return to the Capuchins. On November 20, 1920, the Servant of God reappeared at the novitiate in Varaždin. Not without perplexity on the part of the friars he was readmitted to the novitiate, and afterwards made his first profession on November 21, 1921.

Intense years of service at several fraternities followed. He was a questor in Podravina, a kitchen worker in Karlobac, a questor in Varaždin, sacristan in Split, where he made his perpetual profession on February 11, 1925. He was transferred to Dubrovnik, once again as a questor, and remained there for ten years. Then he went to Varaždin and Zagreb, where he was a questor to raise funds for the erected boarding schools of St. Joseph and St. Michael.

Meanwhile, World War II broke out and in this part of Europe ended with the capture of Belgrade by the Red Army in 1944 and Istria in 1945. In 1945 the Servant of God left Zagreb to return to Varaždin as the friary’s porter. He then was assigned to Rijeka where he remained for 34 years until his death.

During the Cold War, even in Rijeka, any religious activity was viewed with suspicion and questing was forbidden. As a porter and sacristan, the Servant of God was in daily contact with many people, quickly becoming a valuable source of wisdom for his advice, his charity toward the poor and his fraternal welcome.

As the years passed, the Servant of God's health began to decline. On March 30, 1979, he was hospitalized for the first time and underwent several surgeries. Others followed, and he always bore them in silence and with his unmistakable smile. He died on Nov. 25, 1981, in the friary’s infirmary assisted by the friars and a nursing sister.

Despite the intolerance of the communist regime, his funeral was attended by the Archbishop of Rijeka, Msgr. Josip Pavlišić, many Capuchin brothers, priests, religious sisters and a multitude of faithful. On April 3, 1997, the mortal remains of the Servant of God were transferred to the crypt of the Capuchin church in Rijeka.

The presentation, investigation and study of a scientifically inexplicable fact (miracle), according to the norms of the Dicastery of the Causes of Saints, would lead to the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God Br. Ante Tomičić.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 March 2024 11:54