Born: March 11, 1946 • Died: November 24, 2000

• This is the testimony given at Fr Slavko’s funeral by Magdalena Pajic, on behalf of the Mother’s Village.

 

Dear brother Slavko, we are still waiting for you! On Wednesday, after the Way of the Cross, you were supposed to come to the Mother’s Village. I don’t know whether you wanted to see someone in particular or all of us. But now, we are all here in this row full of sorrow. Even little Maja from Bjelovar has come, Boris and Toni are here, and – what a surprise – they are silent, and aunty Ružica adds a Hail Mary for you while praying her rosary.

 

Friday night, we were up for long time, wondering why you didn’t come and where you had gone, and we saw our religious sisters keeping a long silence instead of giving us an answer. Some of us still cannot realise what has happened, some will not even remember your face, but all of us are full of sorrow and a little angry, and we all have the same desire, to tell you a big thank you.

 

Thank you, brother Slavko, for having had the idea to create the Mother’s Village; thank you for not having been afraid to receive us, as different as we are.

 

Thank you for teaching us how to be courageous, asking us to animate the decades of the rosary on the Podbrdo while we were still learning how to pray.

 

Thank you for letting us see that toys have colours, that Nutella is sweet, and that it takes two persons to see-saw.

 

Thank you for making it possible for us to put on a white dress for the First Holy Communion, like all other children.

 

Thank you for having taught us how to love Our Lady and how to pray to God.

 

Thank you, because – in spite of everything – we have discovered what the word love means.

 

Other people told us that time heals all wounds, but you were the only one to tell us that time is just a companion on the way, and that only love heals everything. Your death tells us the same.

 

As short as the instant was that death took you away from us, as short was the instant we needed to understand your love and your sacrifice. We know now that each little piece of paper thrown on the road, each bad note in school and each disobedience towards auntie were an offence. This is why, speaking these words over your open tomb, we make a vow of fidelity to your word and to your work.

 

While humanly in such a deep sorrow, we feel as if you were asking us: “My children, where is your faith?” In faith, we see you united to our Mother and to your Mother Mary, and we suffer less; and this is our only hope, because, truly, through your leaving, the Mother’s Village, our orphanage, became itself a big orphan.

 

If we were to continue to wait for you, we would undoubtedly be overwhelmed by fear. We prefer to ask you to wait for us, now that you have reached the heavenly sanctuary. And, while we imagine you walking down the road, slightly bent forward, turning your back to us, for the first time we do not say, “Brother Slavko, goodbye”, but, with a wounded heart, with a pure children’s soul and full of enthusiasm, we say, “See you and thank you, our dear brother Slavko!”

• Further information about Mother’s Village 

Fr Slavko Barbaric OFM