Fra. Slavko Barbarić was born to Luca & Marko Barbarić on 11th March 1946 in Dragicina, Cerin. After his elementary schooling in Cerin he went to high school in Dubrovinik.
On 14 July 1965 he entered the Franciscan order in Humac and professed his final vows on 17 September 1971. He obtained a master’s degree in Austria. He was then sent to the parish of Capljina for 5 years before obtaining his doctorate in religious pedagogy in Frieburg and he became a psychotherapist.
On completion of his studies, Fra. Slavko became chaplain to students in Mostar and he led them in retreats. This however did not go down well with the Communists government and they persecuted him and brought him in for questioning.
Fra. Slavko was gifted with languages and readily made himself available to tirelessly serve the many pilgrims who had started to come to Medjugorje. He was officially sent to Medjugorje in 1983 having been originally appointed by Bishop Zanic (who at this stage opposed the apparitions) to put an end to the “nonsense”! Fra. Slavko, in obedience, with his doctorate in psychotherapy, interviewed at length the visionaries on numerous occasions and came to the realisation that they were speaking the truth.
He became the Spiritual Director to the visionaries, he guided and helped them grow in holiness by instructing them on the meaning and importance of living Our Lady’s messages in their everyday life. He wrote many books which became a teaching for pilgrims: “Pray With the Heart”, “Give Me Your Wounded Heart”, “Celebrate Mass with the Heart”, “In the School of Love”, “With Jesus & Mary Climbing the Golgotha to Meet the Risen Lord”, “Pray Together With a Joyful Heart”, “Fast With the Heart”, “Adore My Son” all of which were translated into 20 languages.
He gave everything of himself to help teach others about Our Lady. He taught people how they could come to know the merciful love of God through the words of Our Dear Blessed Mother. Fra. Slavko altruistically devoted his life to helping those who had no one to help them. He loved the marginalised and he gave of himself without hesitation. If Fra. Slavko were to be described in a few words, then it would be that he saw the good in everyone and he tried to help nurture it. He believed that is what Our Lady ultimately desired; she wants us to love.
During the war, he built Mother’s Village, a home for children who have lost one or both parents. He didn’t like using the word orphanage. He became a spiritual ‘father’ to nearly one hundred children who had lost everything; he took care of drug addicts and alcoholics in Cenacolo , prostitutes, the destitute, the broken and the sick. He never tired of being the advocate for the least. He spent countless hours showing through his words, deeds and actions, the love of God to everyone he encountered.
Fra. Slavko was a remarkable multi-tasker. He slept for a few hours each night and could be seen descending Apparition Hill or Krizevac every morning, when people were only rising. He founded the Youth Festival, the Peace March, the Prayer and Fasting Retreat, the Priests Retreat. He led Eucharistic Adoration and Veneration of the Cross in St. James’ Church. He led groups of parishioners and pilgrims in the Rosary on Apparition Hill every Sunday and Way of the Cross every Friday on Krizevac, where he himself took his last breath.