The Irish Pilgrimage Trust moves to Croatia

In 2003 a group of four helpers joined The Irish Pilgrimage Trust. During the week in Lourdes there was an opportunity to work in groups and generally gather experience. They joined different groups and made important contacts with the Irish Trust. Encouraged on their return by Paul O'Grady, who had been a member of 136 and a cyclist with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust, they sought to establish HCPT Croatia or DUH as it is called in Croatia. In November Paul O'Grady, Annika Gifford, Andrea Zec and Tomi Sebek registered DUH, Djecja Udruga Hrabrost, as a fully registered non-profit organisation in Croatia.

In Spring 2004 three members of the group travelled to Ireland and participated in the Pre-Pilgrimage Meeting with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust. It was also an opportunity to meet with the office staff in Kilcuan and finalise the travel programme.

In 2004 the group travelled to Paris with seven young people and eight adult helpers: a nurse, a priest and six helpers. They participated in all of the activities in Lourdes before the long journey back by train to Paris and then by plane to Zagreb. Travel time in all was fifteen hours. Despite the difficulties encountered the group set about plans for 2005 and resolved that there had to be another means of transport.

During the winter of 2005 they established contact with a Croatian Non-Governmental-Organisation (NGO) called JOB that had a bus, two drivers, a chaplain (who also doubled as the mechanic) and vast experience of travelling to Lourdes from Zagreb. Plans were finalised and for Easter 2005 travel would be overland.

After twenty four hours on the road Croatia rolled into Lourdes on Easter Monday at 5.00pm full of energy and enthuasism after the journey. Leaving Croatia the group travelled through Slovenia and Italy before crossing the French border as they headed west to Lourdes. The group consisted of twelve young people, a priest, a nurse, ten young people and two members of JOB.

Paul O'Grady reports on developments in Croatia

Croatia moves from strength to strength. Last year four members of the group came to Lourdes and joined with some of the groups from Ireland. Since then they have been working hard to get established and were granted formal status under Croatian law as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).

They have registered as Children’s Organization of Courage or D.U.H., with the acronym itself meaning “Spirit”.

Tomislav Sebek who travelled with Group 175 in 2003 is Group Leader for 2004. Tomi, fluent in English, Croatian and German, works as a German teacher.

Andrea Zec is a Croatian-born Australian young woman who works in Berlitz as an English teacher and speaks both Croatian and English fluently. Presently finishing a degree in English literature and languages at the University of Zagreb, Andrea is responsible for money matters.

Fr Anto Stjepanovic is the Chaplain. He is a priest with the Church and Monastery at Remete in Zagreb, and has some Lourdes experience.

Paul O'Grady has travelled to Lourdes many times with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust and with Hosanna House groups. Paul hails from Dublin and comes from a family that is deeply steeped in The Trust.

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