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Greek Catholic Eparchy of Krizevci

Greek Catholic Eparchy of Krizevci — administrative entity for Byzantine-rite Christians in union with Rome residing throughout the former Yugoslavia. The eparchy traces its origins to the first half of the seventeenth century, when Rome formed the Marca, or Vratanija Eparchy. It was intended for Orthodox Serbs and Croats (known as uskoky and zumbercany), who fled from Ottoman Turkish rule, settled in the Austrian Empire, and accepted the *Unia/Church Union with Rome. The bishops of Marca/Vratanija were initially subordinate to the Roman Catholic bishops of Zagreb until 1777, when Rome created the independent Eparchy of Krizevci for all Greek Catholics living at the time under Austrian Habsburg rule, that is, in the territories of Croatia-Slavonia and the Bachka (i.e., the present-day *Vojvodina region west of the Danube River) within the Hungarian Kingdom. Of the approximately 5,000 faithful in the new eparchy, about four-fifths were zumbercany (Croats) living in the Slavonia region of Croatia, the remainder were Rusyns, who since 1745 had begun settling in the *Bachka from where some moved to the neighboring eastern Slavonia and Srem regions. For these three regions (Bachka, Srem, eastern Slavonia) the Krizevci Eparchy established the so-called Osijek Vicariate. After World War I Rome extended the authority of the Eparchy of Krizevci to the entire territory of the new state of Yugoslavia. Consequently, the eparchy came to include among its faithful Ukrainians and some *Lemkos from Galicia, who had migrated to Bosnia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as some Orthodox adherents in Macedonia who, in 1860, had accepted the union with Rome. By the mid-twentieth century the nationality composition of the eparchy had changed; of the 50,000 faithful at the time, over half were Vojvodinian Rusyns with the remainder divided among Croats, Ukrainians, and Macedonians.

From its beginnings the seat of the eparchy has been in the small town of Krizevci in Croatia (western Slavonia); its priests are trained in the Greek Catholic Seminary in Zagreb, which dates from 1690. Beginning with its first bishop, Vasilije Bozickovic (r. 1777-1785), until 1891 all the eparchy’s bishops were of Croatian background. Iulii Drohobets’kyi (r. 1891-1920) was the first bishop of Rusyn background and after him all as well have been natives of the Vojvodina: Dionisii *Niaradii (r. 1920-1940), Havriil Bukatko (r. 1952-1981), Ioakim Segedi (r. 1981-1984), and Slavomir Miklovsh (r. 1983- ).

Whereas some of these bishops may have received advanced theological training in Ukrainian Greek Catholic seminaries and equally might have become sympathetic to the Ukrainian national orientation, all have remained strong supporters of the local Vojvodinian Rusyn culture and language. Religious publications intended for Vojvodinian Rusyns have always been published in their own language; Church Slavonic is used in the Divine Liturgy, and Rusyn is used in homilies and other church celebrations. Bishop Niaradii was a strong financial supporter of the group’s first cultural organization, the *Prosvita Rusyn National Enlightenment Society, whose only two chairmen, Mikhailo *Mudri and Diura *Bindas, were Greek Catholic priests in the Krizevci Eparchy. The Prosvita Society’s clerical leaders were instrumental in the decision to adopt the vernacular Rusyn language spoken in the Vojvodina for use in publications and education, and it was another Greek Catholic priest from the region, Havriil *Kostel’nik, who codified the language and became the “father” of its literature. Subsequently, Bishop Bukatko translated the Gospels into Vojvodina Rusyn (1985). The post-1989 Rusyn national revival has also had its supporters among the Greek Catholic clergy, including the Vojvodinian priest Ioakim *Kholoshniai.

The boundaries of the Eparchy of Krizevci have changed several times in the course of the twentieth century, depending on the political fortunes of Yugoslavia. They expanded from Croatia-Slavonia and the Bachka-Srem to include all of Yugoslavia when that state first came into being in late 1918. But when Yugoslavia was dismantled in 1941 the Krizevci Eparchy was limited to the territory of the Croatian state while the Vojvodina west of the Danube River (by then again ruled by Hungary) was detached and formed into a separate *Bachka/Backa Apostolic Administration headed by the Roman Catholic archbishopric of Kalocsa. With the restoration of Yugoslavia in 1945 the unity of the Krizevci Eparchy was restored to cover all the republics of the federal state. After 1978 the areas where Rusyns lived (Vojvodina, Srem, and eastern Slavonia) became part of the eparchy’s Vojvodina Vicariate, consisting of 18 parishes with its seat in Ruski Kerestur. Even though after 1992-1993 Yugoslavia was radically reduced in size, the Eparchy of Krizevci (whose bishop has moved his residence to Zagreb since the 1980s) remains a single unit responsible for administering to Greek Catholics in four countries: Yugoslavia (including the Vojvodina), Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia. Throughout these countries the eparchy has 50 parishes with approximately 49,000 faithful (1995), of whom approximately (50 percent are Rusyns, 20 percent Ukrainians, and 20 percent Croats among others.

Bibliography: Havriil Kostel’nyk, “Kryzhivs’ka eparkhiia,” Nyva, XXVI (L’viv, 1932), pp. 134-139, 168-179, 209-215 and XXVII (1933), pp. 143-147 and 175-181; Ioakim Segedi, “200-rochni iuvilej Krizhevskei eparkhii,” in Khristiianskii kalendar 1978 (Ruski Kerestur, 1977), pp. 33-85); Ioakim Segedi, “Parokhii Osetskoho vikariiata” in Khristiianskii kalendar 1980, 1981, 1982 (Ruski Kerestur, 1979-81), pp. 109-150, 76-110, and 49-90.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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