On Sunday, October the 1st, 2017, Father Nikola Pasalic with his Sts. The Cyril and Methodius Croatian Catholic Church hosted an uplifting and truly celebratory Mass before the featured lunch and music program. The afternoon benefit in collaboration with the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) was such a success and 225 Croatian Americans were well entertained, inspired and well-fed with many delightful delicacies.
The program was highlighted by the message of His Excellency Bishop Franjo Komarica and at Mass and at the luncheon. The NFCA was proud to partner with the Church for this fundraiser to benefit the Banja Luka Catholic Diocese, which was a great success from all perspectives.
The star of the day was featured guest speaker and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, His Excellency: The Most Reverend Dr. Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka. Bishop Komarica and Father Nikola Pasalic celebrated Mass at 11:00 am that morning to a standing room only crowd. Father Matthew Bartulica was a co-celebrant at this very spiritually enriching Mass at the Croatian Catholic Church in Manhattan.
The afternoon presentation at the luncheon from the Bishop translated by John Kraljic, President of the Croatian Academy of America (NFCA officer) was a powerful appeal to Croatian Americans to not forget their Croat Catholics over the Banja Luka Diocese. He shared that they are the most endangered Christian population in all of Europe. His Excellency, was passionate and compelling in his presentation of the moral imperatives for all Christians to bear more responsibility for injustices in the world. The Bishop did publicly thank the NFCA for all their efforts in the nation’s capital to find definitive ways to bring more justice and seek new constitutional equality for all nationalities within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Gerald Skrlin, John Kraljic, John Skibola, Steve Rukavina and Bishop Komarica
The afternoon music event featured two outstanding Croatian singers, and first the highly talented Astrid Kuljanic originally from Cres. Astrid impressed the crowd with her jazz-like and powerful voice coupled with sophisticated musical sensibility with her three songs (she performs at Carnegie Hall on October 24th). Next, Croatian pop singer Tommi Mischell, gave a very emotional salute to Bishop Komairca and then a wonderful three song performance for the audience especially with her new song “Modri Kavez” from her new album, Vrime Je, which stood out with a wonderful touch of smooth jazz, combined with her distinct pop music style.
Hrvatska Ruza (Croatian Rose) Kolo group from Astoria, New York
This program, directed by John Skibola also featured the Croatian Folklore kolo group, the Croatian Ruza from Astoria and their spirited dances and Croatian traditional singing were a big hit. Musicians and singers from Klapa Astoria, Grupa Sunce, Group More and Group Dalmati finished the program with a set of Croatian and English songs that resonated with the in-house Croatian crowd.
The NFCA first ever “40 Under 40” selection of rising stars in the Croatian American community was spotlighted here and eleven “40 Under 40” honors were there to accept their awards and to be saluted including: Marko Buljan (CA), Biljana Lovrinovic OH), Tatjana Mustac (NY), Ivana Masic (NY), Dr. Marina Masic (NY), Ella Mische (NY), Ivana Peric (NY), Alexander Salopek (DC), Teresa Scanlan (NE), Tom Skara (CT), Kristin Vukovic (NY). Also, “40 Under 40” Honoree Teresa Scanlan, was a featured speaker and shared highlights of her crowning achievement of the winning “Miss America 2011” and her active life as an inspirational speaker and with charity work. Honoree Ivana Masic was the featured artist in the spotlight and four of her colorful, esthetic paintings were exhibited on-site. Ella Mische, honoree and filmmaker showcased her short film, a romantic comedy with a twist entitled “Le Toute Vie” that received enthusiastic applause for this effort in the movie-making realm. Bishop Franjo Komarica, to his credit, proudly went down the winner’s line to congratulate each “40 Under 40” honoree.
Five “40 Under 40” winners with a few friends enjoying the benefit celebration
The Banja Luka Benefit Main Sponsors were Father Nikola Pasalic, Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael Church and the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA). The Organizing Committee consists of: John Škibola, Event Coordinator, Milka Zepina, Steve Rukavina, Event Coordinator, Gerald Škrlin, USA Representative for Banja Luka Catholic Diocese, Zoran Kovac, Nena Komarica, John Kraljic, Tom Mustac, Ella Mische, Ivana Masic and Tatjana Mustac.
All in all, this event was a wonderful display of Croatian culture and with so much talent exhibited by all the performers and by the unique participation of the “40 Under 40” honorees. The event was all about supporting Bishop Franjo Komarica and to help preserve the Croatian heritage and the Catholic faith in the Banja Luka Diocese. It accomplished that and was able to spotlight some rising stars and role models within our Croatian American community, as another element of the pride in sustaining our Croatian heritage here in the United States and even with first, second and third generation Croatian Americans.