TOMISLAV IVANČIĆ was born in Davor (Croatia) in 1938. After the study of philosophy and theology in Zagreb and Rome he was ordained priest of the Zagreb Archdiocese in 1966. After achieving a master’s degree in philosophy and a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he returned to Zagreb in 1971 to become professor at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Zagreb. He was head of the Chair of Fundamental Theology, one of the editors of the magazine “ Bogoslovska smotra ” (Theogian’s Review), member of the editorial boards and associate of many Croatian and foreign theology magazines and member of the Croatian Literary Translators’ Association. Since 1983 he was canon of Zagreb’s Cathedral Chapter.
The areas of his scientific work are philosophy, theology and literature. He explores the relationship between philosophy and theology, faith and science, atheism and religiosity,
revelation and faith, the Church and ecclesial communities, Christianity and religions, the
phenomenon of sects and issues of theological epistemology. The area of his special interest is the research of man’s existential-spiritual dimension, in which he was discovering new possibilities and ways of modern evangelization and the need of developing spiritual medicine, which, next to somatic and psychiatric medicine, is indispensable in the holistic healing of man, and especially in healing spiritual illnesses and addictions. For this purpose, he developed the method of hagiotherapy and founded the Centre for Spiritual Help in 1990 in Zagreb, which he was the head of.
Apart from working at the Faculty, since 1971 Tomislav Ivančić was also a religious teacher for students in Zagreb, the initiator of the prayer movement in the Church in Croatia, founder of the religious community “Prayer and Word” (Zajednica “Molitva i Riječ”), as well as a lecturer at numerous seminars for the spiritual renewal in Croatia and abroad.
After finishing his studies and scientific doctorate in fundamental theology at the Pontificial Gregorian University in Rome, Professor Dr Tomislav Ivančić in 1971 began, at the request of the head of the Sisters of Mercy in Zagreb, to teach religious education first to high school students and then to college students. For three or four years, they first discussed and studied the Scriptures, then learned to pray and fast thoroughly, and to form the Holy Mass liturgically, but no one changed.
On the Feast of Pentecost in 1975, they made a two-day pilgrimage from Zagreb to Marija Bistrica, and decided to spend the summer of the same year in Davor to seek the strength that the Church received on the day of the Pentecost in communion of prayer and Eucharistic celebrations. Thus, about twenty students and professor prayed day and night for three weeks and sought the power of the Holy Spirit received and lived by the apostles. Indeed, the first was prof Ivančić, on the night of 3 August, 1975, while kneeling and praying, he had a deep experience of encountering the living God. The power of the Holy Spirit first transformed him, and then all the gathered participants. Thus was the Community of Prayer and the Word born.
In the last decade, he has been training persons to work in Centres for spiritual help and hold seminars for the apostolate of evangelisation in Croatia and abroad.
His scientific and expert articles are published in Croatian and foreign magazines and numerous books were translated into German, Italian, French, English, Korean, Dutch, Hungarian, Slovakian, Albanian, Slovak and Serbian. From 1998 until 2001 he was dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Zagreb. In September 2001 he was elected rector of the University of Zagreb.
On 9 February 2004 Pope John Paul II designated him a member of the International Theological Commission, presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, after Pope Benedict XVI, who reappointed him – in March 2009 – as a member of the Commission to another five-year term. In 2010, he was appointed papal chaplain with the title Monsignor.
Awards and recognitions:
- In 1997 awarded the Order of Croatian Danica with the figure of Ruđer Bošković for scientific work
- In 2004 appointed the member of the International Theological Commission
- In 2010 appointed papal chaplain with the title of monsignor
In honour of Professor Emeritus Tomislav Ivančić, in 2010 a collection of papers The Theology of Witnessing and Proclamation was published.