"So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead."
James 2:17

Fr. Leonard Orec


"He was passionately trying to leave the world behind him a better place than what he found. For his work, he did not get recognition from the powerful and the rich, but from the hungry, sick, lonely and abandoned. In his eyes they had priority; not their religious, nationality or social status. He never asked from people to be thanking him; he asked for permission to love them all. He was a practical ecumenicist.

"Love has only one time, NOW; and only one place, HERE."

Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic. Reflections of Fr. Leonard Orec.
January 23, 2002.


† Fr. Leonard Orec

Dr. Fr. Leonard Orec, a highly regarded Herzegovinian Franciscan priest, passed away on January 21, 2002, after a serious illness.

Fr. Leonard was born on January 20, 1928, in Posuski Gradac, Herzegovina. He made his solemn vows in Split, Croatia, on June 29, 1951. The same year, he was ordained a priest. He received a doctorate in Ljubljana in 1956, and pursued his formation in München in 1957. He was professor at the Franciscan Theology in Sarajevo from 1958 to 1961. Fr. Leonard was a member of the Province Council from 1967 to 1973, and vice-provincial from 1973 to 1976. From 1961 to 1967, he was also in charge of Franciscan vocations. From 1967 to 1977, he was Novice master in his Province.

In his fifties, he was sent to Germany where he perfected his knowledge of the German language. He was Pastor in Blankenau and in Hosenfeld from 1977 to 1988. During this period, he taught two years at the High Theological School in Fulda. For 25 years he was in charge of Franciscan vocations, and he spent almost 25 years outside of his Province.

From 1988 to 1991, Fr. Leonard served in Medjugorje, of which more than one year was as Pastor. During these three years he left an indelible imprint as an experienced and wise priest. Many ideas were born in his heart and mind, which were further realized as the years passed. In the difficult times of Communist repression and of pre-war tension in Bosnia-Herzegovina, he did not bend a knee but resisted courageously and wisely to all attacks, sometimes even to threats of those who did not and who did understand his vision of the development of the Shrine in Medjugorje.

Among other things, he started the Association of Guides for Pilgrims in the Parish of Medjugorje, and managed to bring the guides under the shield of the Church. In 1993 he established the Information Center "Mir" Medjugorje, which continues to be a binding force between Medjugorje pilgrims and friends all over the world.

In 1992, knowing numerous people in many nations and the difficult situation of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, he started the humanitarian association Medjugorje-Mir. Thanks to the friends of Medjugorje, this association distributed tons of humanitarian aid during the war, and continues today with its humanitarian work. Fr. Leonard worked also on the spiritual renewal of people wounded by the war and was a link between nations and religions.

In 1997, Fr. Leonard served in the Franciscan General Curia in Rome. At the age of 70, he learned to speak Italian. He was in Rome until July 2001, when he became seriously ill. Also in 2001, he celebrated 50 years of priestly ordination.

All those who knew Fr. Leonard Orec will remember him as a great man, an intelligent man full of experience, which he transmitted generously to all he met on his way. He was happy to be a Franciscan friar, and he transmitted this joy to others.

Fr. Leonard, as a man and as a believer, can be best described by the words of St. Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith". (2 Tim 4:7)


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