Four settlements make up today's parish of Čeminac:: Čeminac, Kozarac, Novi Čeminac and Jagodnjak. The Croatian name Čeminac probably originates from the Turkish term cim , i.e. cimen , meaning meadow. In the past, there were a lot of good pastures around the village and cattle farming was well developed. There are also some suggestions that the area housed a Roman colony Mursilla, and later on a small town Lasko, Laskafeld, Laskafalu. Some 14th century documents mention settlements preceding today's Jagodnjak and Kozarac.
A description of Baranja from 1785 makes no mention of a parish in Čeminac, but describes Čeminac as a branch of the Darda parish. At the time, the population of Čeminac was 97 RomanCatholic German believers. The church day is celebrated on the feast day of St John Nepomuk. The village of Čeminac came into existence between 1716 and 1723 on the premises of Count Esterházy, and the villagers were Germans migrating from the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). Count Esterházy gave them leases for the land. Since the area was covered with forest, the Germans cleared the land and started building houses, the so - called mud houses („nabijače“) covered with reed.
The regulation of Emperor Joseph II. in 1789 separates the villages of Čeminac (then Laskafalva), Karanac (Karants) and Jagodnjak ( Katsfalu) from the Darda parish and founds the local curacy of Čeminac. Later, the curacy will also include the
An event worth mentioning is that Emperor Joseph II spent the night in Čeminac on his way back to Vienna after having conquered Belgrade. It was then that he decided that the village will get its own priest and church. At the time, there was a famous mill and brewery in Čeminac, on the road between Osijek and Hungary.
Parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials have been kept since 23rd May 1789. It was noted that in 1829 there were 829 Catholics in Čeminac, 230 in Jagodnjak, and 370 in Kozarac. There were 1,300 Eastern Orthodox believers and 341 Calvinists (reformed believers) in Jagodnjak.
Due to financial difficulties and the inability to support the parish church and priest, the bishop of Pécs Ignatius Szepesy decided to reunite the Čeminac parish with the Darda parish on 1st January 1831. Nevertheless, Baron Joseph Pongracz gave some land to support the Čeminac priest on 26 June 1831, so that Čeminac believers would not have to go to Darda to mass (which was quite difficult).
Until 1945 Čeminac was mainly populated by Germans, to a smaller degree by Hungarians and Serbs, the so-called optants who came to Baranja after the First World War. A cemetery was also part of the church property, but it was relocated in the 19th century. According to testimonies of the local population, traces of the cemetery could be found as late as 1964. In addition to the church, a school was also built in the centre of the village in the 19th century. School was mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Classes were taught in German, German-Hungarian and German-Croatian.
Around the year 1800, the village got its postal service office, which arranged for passengers to be carried in coaches from Osijek to Čeminac, where they would change horses and continue to today's village of Branjin Vrh and back to Osijek. Postal traffic was active between 1800 and 1860 when Čeminac got a railway station.
The first rectory was built in Čeminac from dried brick in 1801, and the new one which is still being used today was built in 1871.
In 1910 the Čeminac post office got its first telephone. Economically and historically Čeminac is an agricultural village, but there were also other trades developed: bakeries, blacksmithery, stores, butcher, inns etc. An interesting fact is that the village had its own doctor as early as 1880.
After the First World War and the new political occurrences, the apostolic administration for North Slavonija and South Baranja, including the Čeminac parish, was founded on 1st December 1923. Since then, the parishes of this area have separated from the Pecs diocese and have been assigned to the Đakovo bishop who was to become their apostolic administrator. The complete union of this apostolic administration with the Đakovo or Bosnian and Syrmian diocese occurred on 30th October 1971.
SECOND WORLD WAR AND AFTER
The Second World War had a great impact on the whole area of Baranja, including Čeminac. After its end, the German population was exiled, but they haven't lost contact with their old homeland and have until 1991 on many different occasions visited Čeminac. In 1990, they donated a significant amount of financial means for the renovation of the parish church.
Since the Čeminac parish remained virtually uninhabited in 1945, the authorities of the People's Republic of Yugoslavia (Narodna Republika Jugoslavija) populated the area with Croatians from Northern Croatia. After 1946, the majority of the population in Čeminac were people from Zagorje, and in Kozarac the majority were people from Međimurje. For many of them, the dreams of a better life never came true. After their arrival in 1946, an agricultural cooperative was founded in Čeminac (the so-called „zadruga“, similar to the Soviet „kolhoz“) called “Nova izgradnja”. Almost all the people were included in the cooperative in the way that their property, i.e. land became property of the cooperative, and the profit was not shared according to the amount of land, but according to the number of adults – mature members of the cooperative, which is what a lot of people could not accept. The cooperative was active until 1953.
With the breaking up of all the cooperatives and expectations of a better future by a lot of the inhabitants, no significant changes occurred, since the farmers were still limited by the so-called land maximum, giving nobody the possibility to own more than 8 acres of land because the authorities did not allow higher private initiative.
The Čeminac parish church got electric lights in 1959. Between 1964 and 1967 the churches in Jagodnjak and Kozarac were renovated – they were both repainted inside and new altars were put up. The Jagodnjak branch church had its ceiling covered by a large painting of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary while the Kozarac branch ceiling shows the Resurrection and the walls show the birth and passion of Christ.
On 24 June 1968 Mirko Novak, a Capuchin friar from Novi Čeminac held his first mass in the Čeminac parish. Andrija Vrbanić from Čeminac went to school that same year to the Boys' Seminary Šalata in Zagreb as a candidate for a priest.
The adjacent buildings to the vicary were renovated in 1972, and in 1974 the vicary was renovated too. On 25 July 1976 the newly ordained bishop of Đakovo and Srijem, Msgr. Ćiril Kos held confirmation for 134 confirmandi.
Rev. Andrija Vrbanić held his first mass in Čeminac on 5th July 1981.
A Eucharistic congress was held on 9th October 1983 in Čeminac. It was led by the Zagreb assistant bishop Msgr. dr. Mijo Škvorc. In addition to the local parishioners, more than 750 pilgrims from the whole area of Baranja took part in the Congress. More than 700 communions were given out that day.
The church tower in Čeminac was repaired on 16 August 1988, and the interior renovation of the church was continued in 1989, including the restoration of the old frescos. The renovation was completed in August 1990 and the church was sanctified on 2 September 1990 by the diocesean bishop Msg. Ćiril Kos with the help of assistant bishop Msgr. Marin Srakić. There were more than 1,500 believers at the event.
THE HOMELAND WAR (DOMOVINSKI RAT)
In the beginning of war in the 1990s, Rev. Varžić stayed in the parish until 21 August 1991. He visited the branches until the Sunday after the Assumption of Mary, even the branch in Jagodnjak where he had had to go through the Serbian barricades for over a month to hold the mass. In April 1991 arrived the support of Belgrade „četnik“ volunteers for the rebel Serbs whose stronghold was in Jagodnjak. For the whole duration of July and August, Čeminac was targeted every night with mortars (80 and 120 mm) with about ten grenades from the direction of Jagodnjak, Novi Čeminac and Uglješ. The parish priest evacuated the women and children to the island of Brač and other islands with the help of the transport company Panturist, while the men, young and old, stayed behind to form a defence line. The return to Čeminac began in 1998 with the process of peaceful reintegration to Baranja and Eastern Slavonija.
On the Sunday after the Assumption of Mary, on 20th August 1991, there were only 4 people who came to mass: 2 women and 2 men. They came with guns. That was the last Sunday mass in the newly renovated church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Reverend was warned that there were people from Jagodnjak „coming to get him“, so he fled through the occupied territory of Švajcarnica to the still free Darda. Through Osijek he managed to reach his birth village Koška to stay with his brother. His mother, who had been running his household in Čeminac, was already there.
On 10th April 1992 the Serbian aggressors burnt the Čeminac parish church to the ground, leaving only the walls standing. It was covered with bushes and shrubs inside and out and was waiting for its restoration works which started in the fall of 2001 and lasted until the fall of 2003.
Reverend Varžić came back to Čeminac on 16th August 1999 when the renovation of the rectory was completed with the help of donations from the Republic of Croatia and the foundation Renovabis from Germany.
The branch churches of St Emerick the Good Shepherd in Kozarac and St Vendelin in Jagodnjak were devastetd. Their renovation started immediately after the return of the people.
The first parish church in Čeminac was built of wood in 1749 and reinforced with brick in 1800. It was devoted to St John Nepomuk. Its tower was covered with shingle and three bells hung in the wooden bell tower, the biggest of which had not yet been sanctified, the middle one was devoted to the Virgin Mary and the smallest one to St Andrew. The church had two altars: St John Nepomuk and the Blessed Virgin Mary and on old organ of 7 registers. Due to the danger of collapsing, the old church was torn down and a new and bigger one was soon erected.
The Kozarac branch was built in 1811 out of sturdy materials and was devoted to St Emerick the Duke. It was sanctified by Juraj Szemer, a parish priest in Luč and the vice-archdean of Drada county. Its bell tower contained two bells, the larger one having been cast in Pecs and devoted to the Assumption of the Holy Cross. It was sanctified by Bishop Josip Kiraly. The smaller bell was cast in Graz in 1780. The altar had a picture of St Emerick the Duke. The church had 6 benches, 5 registers and a spacious area for the choir.
The church in Jagodnjak was attached to the teacher's house and it contained pictures of St Vendelin, the Holy Cross, the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St Barbara, as well as a bell in a wooden bell tower. Until the middle of the 19th century there were no masses held at the church; it was used only for different devotions.
The Čeminac church was wooden and derelict, so the first steps to repair it or to build a new one had to be taken as early as 1824. In 1833 a new and bigger church was built from scratch. The Čeminac parish lost its branch in Karanac in 1848. The Karanac branch was assigned to the curacy (later on the parish) of Kneževi Vinogradi.
The parish church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was built in the neo-gothic manner by the local German population in 1906 and 1907 with the money coming mainly from milk trade. This is one of the most gorgeous churches in Baranja, often dubbed the Baranja cathedral for its beauty by the community. It was built on the place of the old church, completely finished and sanctified on 24 June 1907. Later in 1915 the church was painted by a Hungarian painter Ernest Gebauer. The centenary was celebrated on 17 June 2007 by a mass led by the Đakovo-Srijem bishop Marin Srakić , who also sanctified the church on that occasion.
In its relatively short history, this church has been devastated twice. The first time it was destroyed in the years following the Second World War after colonisation. Then, the whole church interior was destroyed and according to some allegations, it was „ready“ to be set on fire, but it did not happen. It remained in that state for years to come. It was only after the arrival of rRev. Josip Varžić to Čeminac in 1964, that its step-by-step restoration began.
With a substantial financial contribution and effort of the former German inhabitants of Čeminac, who are now mostly living in Germany, the church was thoroughly rebuilt in 1990. On that occasion, the valuable frescos of the ten scenes from the Old Testament, ten scenes from the New Testament and the many medallions with icons of saints situated on the sides of the nave were also completely restored.
Two years later, during the Homeland war while Baranja territory was not under the control of the Republic of Croatia, but of the illegitimate Republic of Serbian Krajina, the church was set on fire and burnt to the ground. The date of this event was symbolic: it was 10th April 1992, on the anniversary of the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) in 1941.
The second reconstruction started after the return of the exiled population to Baranja and it lasted for several years. The reconstruction began in 2001 according to the project of the „Daing” company from Daruvar. The investors were the responsible Ministry of the Republic of Croatia, Đakovo-Srijem diocese, Osijek-Baranja county and the Čeminac municipality. Until 2005 all the construction work was completed. The interior walls were covered in plaster and painted, the main altar was reconstructed and the relics of St Leopold Mandić were laid in it. A new 3-metres-tall statue of the Heart of Jesus was set up, and the municipality of Čeminac donated new sitting benches. A concert organ with 18 registers was supplied from the Netherlands and the central heating and loudspeaker system were soon installed. The amount invested in the reconstruction was almost 2 million kunas, most of it coming from the Ministry of Reconstruction.
A Dominican priest Antun Kögl from Popovac was appointed as the first local assistant (chaplain) on 4th June 1787. Florijan Karlo Popp arrives in 1789 as chaplain, followed by Kögl again in 1790. Mihovil Traiber arrived in Čeminac in 1794, and was followed by Fra Izidor Reichert as the parish administrator in 1796, who then built the sacristy of the old church. He was replaced in 1803 as parish administrator by Kazimir Dietlmayer from Siklos, a favourite of the Eszterhazy family. He was active in Čeminac for a long time, until he died of a stroke in the Harkany spa. His successor Ivan Nepomuk Szabo came to Čeminac in 1816 and stayed for two years. Ignatius Nagy, who was under investigation in 1820 as the parish priest of Bölcska, was assigned to the Čeminac parish as administrator, but was never introduced into the parish. He died here on 3rd July 1841. On 15th July 1841 Andrija Szemeredy became the parish priest. Antun Mike became the parish administrator in 1855 and was succeeded by Đuro Bedeković in 1864.
Parish priest Lovslov Kozmar left Čeminac on 8th September 1936 to become a priest in Nuštar. Ivan Sekula was appointed the new parish administrator and he stayed until 1949. At that time, the administration of the parish was assigned to the Capuchin friars from Osijek until 1960. The Capuchin administrators included Modesto Borak 1951 – 1957 and Anđeliko Kos 1957 - 1960. At the request of the Capuchin province, the friars were absolved of the Čeminac parish administration on 20th August 1960. Since then, the parish had been under the occasional administration of Stjepan Schön until 1st October 1960, when Mirko Seleš became the new administrator. On 31st July 1962 Petar Šokčević was appointed as the new parish administrator. He was replaced by Josip Varžić on 7th March 1964.
Varžić sufferd another stroke on 25th August 2005 and was admitted to the Osijek hospital. Josip Košćak, a Salesian priest from Beli Manastir occasionally substituted for Varžić, whose recovery was slow. In October of 2007 Josip Blumenštajn, the parish priest in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo was appointed as parish administrator and he was assigned a pastoral assistant, Nikola Kraljević, a retired priest from Đakovo.The Čeminac vicar and honorary canon of the Cathedral Chapter of Đakovo and Srijem, Josip Varžić, died on Sunday, 1st June 2008 in the Osijek hospital and was buried in Čeminac cemetery two days later on 3 June 2008.
A new vicar, Dinko Kalmar, was appointed on 17 August 2008.
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SRŠAN, dr. Stjepan, prir., Kanonske vizitacije, Baranja, Knjiga II. (1829. – 1845.)
Spomenica župe Čeminac
SEKULIĆ, Ante, Hrvatski baranjski mjestopisi
LUKIĆ, Anamarija, Župe sjeverne Slavonije i Baranje, Od oslobađanja od turske vlasti do pripojenja Đakovačkoj ili Bosanskoj i Srijemskoj biskupiji, diplomski rad
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