Build a Youth Center in Bosnia
Project Code: 444-20-19
"Only someone who is confident in his own identity can encounter the other without fear." This is one of the guiding mottos of the John Paul II youth center in Sarajevo. Father Simo Marsic, the director of the center explains, "This center helps to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation within Bosnia and hence also bridges between Bosnia and Europe."
The war that raged in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 has left deep scars. Of the 835,000 Catholics who lived here before the war in what was then a part of the communist Yugoslav Republic, just 450,000 remain today. Islam is gaining ground, and everywhere new mosques are springing up. Catholics frequently find themselves discriminated against in the jobs market, and many can no longer see any future for themselves here. Many continue to emigrate, 17 years after the end of the war, feeling unwanted and victimized.
For those who do remain, the Catholic Church is a vital source of stability and security. At the same time she is deeply committed to peaceful coexistence and reconciliation between the various different ethnic groups and religious communities. Father Marsic explains, "Above all, Catholic young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina need a sense of security that this is truly their home. They gain this sense of security when they can learn to know and live their faith and their identity."
For some years now, the John Paul II youth center has organized summer camps, workshops and opportunities for dialogue and encounter with those of other persuasions. These involve some 5,000 young people every year. The young people come to hear about the center in the schools, the parishes and also through the social networks on the Internet. A monthly newsletter and personal contacts with the center of the staff enable contact to be maintained between the young people and the center, and also among the young people themselves, so that in this way "we can establish a network of those willing to work for reconciliation and so build for a better future," Father Marsic explains.
The activities are already up and running, but the center does not actually have its own purpose-built building. ACN is supporting the construction of just such a center, with a contribution of $9,900, for we see this as a vital investment in the future of the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Will you help Father Marsic build this youth center in Bosnia? We are sure he will gratefully remember you in his prayers.