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Croatia’s gift to Australia


It’s a long way from her home country of Croatia but Sr Ljilja (Lily) Muzic ASC says while she “never dreamed” of living in Australia, it is all part of God’s plan.

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The effervescent 43 year old arrived in Adelaide in late 2018 and is based at St Joseph’s convent, North Adelaide, where she lives with Sr Slavica Turcic, also of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ congregation.

In the past four years Sr Lily (pictured) has met the challenges of living in a different culture, far from friends and family, always with her trademark smile and friendly demeanour.

She has adapted to Australia’s climate and food, has learnt English, and like so many, had to adapt quickly to the changes in her ministry due to the pandemic.

Sr Lily admitted it was a “shock” when she was first asked by the Provincial in Croatia to consider a move to Adelaide as she said at that moment she couldn’t imagine being so far from her home.

“I was surprised and asked her to give me some time as I needed to pray on this,” she told The Southern Cross.

“I tried to discern God’s will for me. After some time of prayer and discernment I was prepared to say my ‘yes’.

“It was difficult to leave my family – especially my mum – but I became aware that my life is to be there where God calls me to serve and to be his witness in the world.”

Sr Lily knows what it means to have to leave her home as she was a refugee during the Balkan war. While her ancestors are from Croatia, her family moved from Dubrovnik to Kosovo, where she was born. However, the difficulties of war saw the family return to Croatia when she was 13.

“I can understand people who emigrated and had to build their home once again in a new country,” she said.

Her empathy for those who have arrived from far-flung countries underpins her ministry in Adelaide with the Croatian Catholic Community, which celebrates Mass at St Patrick’s Church and at St Mary’s Church.

Sr Lily’s time is spent in pastoral and social care, prayer groups, ministry with the young and elderly, sacrament preparation, spiritual counselling, coordinating religious celebrations at the church, liturgical groups and visiting parishioners in their homes, in hospitals and nursing homes.

Reflecting on her call to vocation, Sr Lily described her childhood in a small village as “beautiful” with a “traditional” Catholic upbringing of Sunday Mass and family prayer.

However, when she hit her teenage years, she began asking herself some questions about where God was leading her in her life. In that time, she strongly felt the intercession of her uncle Anton Muzic, who was martyred as a young missionary priest and beatified in 2016.

It was around the age of 16 that Sr Lily said she felt she was being called to a vocation serving God.

“I felt God was inviting me to be a Religious Sister,” she said.

“As Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ came to visit my parish I thought this was a sign for me to join the same congregation. After my decision I felt this beautiful freedom in my heart that I can’t explain.”

Sr Lily entered the Congregational community in Zagreb at the age of 17 and seven years later she took her final vows. While living in Croatia Sr Lily studied and worked as a kindergarten teacher and was a member of a pastoral ministry team.

The spirituality of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ is based on the belief that when Jesus died on the cross, his blood poured forth into all of humanity. The purpose of the apostolic congregation was the adoration of Christ crucified and risen, and collaboration with him in his work of redemption.

The foundress of the Congregation, St Maria De Mattias, wanted to help bring about ‘that beautiful order of things which the great Son of God came to establish in his blood’. She founded the Congregation of the Blood of Christ in 1834 in Italy, coming to Croatia in 1879. Now the Sisters Adorers serve the Church around the world through various ministries according to the needs of time and place.

“The Precious Blood spirituality helps me to combine my contemplative and active life through which I derive strength and inspiration to bring love, hope, dignity and accept everybody because Jesus shed his blood for all,” Sr Lily explained.

“Through our ministries in Adelaide, Sr Slavica and I endeavour to meet the needs of our Croatian community which is currently without a Croatian chaplain.

“We are so grateful to the Archdiocese for its continuous support which has truly made us and our community feel a part of the wider Church.”

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