An Interview with Ivica Peric:
Fra. Ivica Peric is the director of the Father Vjeko Center in Kivumu, Rwanda. Like Fra. Vjeko, he is a member of the Franciscan order, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, he offers his responses to some questions about Vjeko Curic and the genocide in Rwanda. More information on the Father Vjeko Center can be found at its website.
1. Please describe your personal relationship with Fra Vjeko. Where did you first meet him? Did you work with him at all in Rwanda? In Bosnia?
2. How did you first hear about Fra Vjeko? Were you working in similar locations? How did you first hear about what he was doing and the selfless good deeds he was constantly doing?
3. In regards to the genocide in Rwanda, is there one personal experience that sticks out in your mind as being the most significant? This can be one that representds the genocide as a whole and the overall hostility between Hutus and Tutsis.
4. What was your personal involvement with refugees during the genocide? Were you working at a shelter? Were you the pastor of a church whose parishioners were mainly Tutsi?
5. Do you have any personal experiences with the UN troops that in your mind reflect the general frustration felt by refugees? In other words, many people believe that the UN troops should have taken more action against the Hutu rebel forces. Do you have any personal experiences that caused you to feel this frustration?
6. When you first heard the news of Fra Vjeko's death, how did it make you feel? Were you shocked to hear the news? Do you feel that Fra Vjeko's death provided an inspiration to others, especially priests, to do everything they could to help?
7.Of all the places the killings took place, what place was the most prominent? Did that surprise you, why or why not?
8. Do you think that you received enough assistance from UN troops? Were they too late?
9. Why was Fra Vjeko so content on staying when so many others fled? What has been done in his legacy?
10. What exactly inspired you to make a website about Fra Vjeko?
11. Did you ever have any personal experiences with refugees, whether they were Hutu or Tutsi, while you were in Uganda?
Fra. Ivica's Response:
My personal relationship with Fra Vjeko is that we belong to the same Order of Friars manor of the same province back home in Bosnia. I met him for the first time in Sarajevo. We were students of theology. Never did I work with him in Rwanda nor in Bosnia.
Fra Vjeko was working in Rwanda since 1983, while I was working in the neighbouring Country of Uganda, where I had been since 1990. (I was transferred to Rwanda in 2003). We had occasional meetings as friars working in this part of Africa.
Genocide took place while I was still working in Uganda. Hence I have no deep personal experience.
In my opinion the UN troops always do too little too late.
I was shocked by the news of Fra Vjeko’s death as my Franciscan brother and friend, but I was not surprised because of the general situation of the time in Rwanda. Fra Vjeko was a man of courage and faith. He remains an inspiration for us all as a priest and Christian.
Fra Vjeko was so content on staying among the people whom he had served as a non-partisan pastor. He hoped to promote reconciliation to the best of his ability. One of the things that has been done in his legacy is the establishment of CFJ Pere Vjeko which favours the vocational training of the poor children regardless of their communities again in the spirit of reconciliation.
We made this website about Fra Vjeko because we believe he has been a true witness to the gospel of Christ through his tireless effort, perseverance and the love he showed to the point of giving his life.
At the time of the war I was working in Uganda and Vjeko used to bring some people to our place to help them to escape the war and after the war he used to bring some of Rwandans and we did help them to go in different places or to find a country to live in.
How You Can Help
During his life, one of Fra. Vjeko's dreams was to help build the first secondary school in Kivumu. He was granted land for this project, but unfortunately did not survive to see his dream fulfilled. Today, Fra. Ivica Peric and the members of the Father Vjeko Center are working to realize Fra. Vjeko's dream. Fra. Ivica's estimate for the cost of this school is about 70,000 euro, which is equal to about $108,000. The best way to help and to contribute to the memory of this great man who preached the values of the gospel is to make a donation, large or small. More information about where to donate the money can be found here.