The town of Metković will commemorate with a comprehensive program in the duration of four days, that is from February 26th to March 1st 2015, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the most famous Croatian missionary and a native of Metković – Father Ante Gabrić.
Father Ante Gabrić can be described as a Croatian catholic priest, Jesuit, missionary, servant of God. Born in 1915 into a Christian family, he was their eight child. In 1926 Ante joined the Jesuit seminary in Travnik where he graduated in 1933. That same year he started his novitiate with the Jesuits where he took all the Jesuit religious vows, and continued his philosophy studies in Italy.
Towards the end of 1938, Ante went as a missionary to India where he learned English and Bengali. In 1943 Ante became a priest in the Boshonti mission. He focused all his attention to missionary work, helping people with difficulties, organizing rice bank, small village schools, chapels, trade schools, and hospitals. Thanks to him, those who were ostracized from the society had a place to stay, and so did children. He also helped build cottages, embankments and roads, as well as organize food supply for schoolchildren. Moreover, kids who showed potential got the opportunity to continue their studies.
The role Fr. Ante had in setting up the ”Maria Palli” mission in Boshonti is also worth mentioning. This mission comprises religious, health care and humanitarian response facilities. Today, Kumrokhali is home to an elementary school which carries his name – ”Father Ante Gabrić”. He also worked closely with Mother Theresa.
Fr. Ante died on October 20th 1988 in Calcutta. He found his final resting place in the ”Mariapalli” mission as he wished. Around 20000 people attended his funeral – Catholics, Muslims and Hindus alike. Fr. Ante was buried with a fistful of Neretva dirt and a small bottle of water from the Adriatic.
The official process to declare Fr. Ante blessed, and a saint was initiated.