Expanding the Diplomatic Network
New Croatian Consulate for Kansas and Missouri officially dedicated
The Croatian American communities in Kansas and Missouri are to finally receive some representation closer to home in the form of a new consulate in Kansas City which was officially dedicated on October 1st by the Croatian ambassador to the United States, Neven Jurica. Ambassador Jurica was joined by Consul General Petar Ljubicic of New York, Consul General Marica Matkovic of Chicago and Consul General Sanja Bujas Juraga of Los Angeles. Local dignitaries as well as members of the Croatian-American communities of both Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri were also in attendance.
During the dedication ceremony, Ambassador Jurica announced the appointment of Dr. Judith (née Perica) Vogelsang as honorary consul. Dr. Vogelsang, a physician, is well known in the Croatian community for her role in coordinating food and medical relief shipped during the Balkan conflict in the 1990s as well as promoting Croatian culture and interests in Kansas and Missouri. She is currently serving as a medical consultant in Kansas City, Missouri and was formally on the staff at Research Medical Center for a number of years. She serves as the current commissioner for Croatia on the Mayor's Ethnic Enrichment Commission in Kansas City, Missouri, in addition to being a board member of the National Federation of Croatian Americans and an active member in the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU).
While honorary consuls are not full-time diplomats and are generally nationals of the host country, they are often appointed by governments to represent their interests in smaller cities, or in cities that are not near to full-time diplomatic missions. The appointment of an individual with close ties to and knowledge of the substantial local Croatian communities in Kansas and Missouri as honorary consul indicates a thoughtful selection process by Croatian authorities.
The Kansas City Area is home to a large Croatian American population. Most of the earliest immigrants came to the area in the early 1900s, with several more large groups following through the next 50 years. As in other major cities throughout the U.S., they contributed to the building of the Greater Kansas City area in many ways. There are currently close to 40,000 first, second, and third-generation Croatian Americans living in the area and the consulate will hopefully serve as a bridge to promote business, cultural and educational exchanges between Croatia and the United States for many years to come.
The two-day dedication ceremony, which began on September 30, included a luncheon, tribute, and tour of the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. As a tribute to the legacy of Harry Truman, Ambassador Jurica placed a wreath at the memorial site and spoke of Truman’s role in furthering the cause of democracy, freedom and human rights around the world. He also spoke of Croatia’s current primary goals of membership in the European Union and NATO.
At the luncheon, the ambassador was presented with keys to the city of Independence, Mo. by Mayor Ron Stewart, a proclamation from Mayor Stan Salva of Sugar Creek, Missouri, a proclamation from the Missouri House of Representatives, Ray Salva and a key to the City of Kansas City, Missouri by Councilman Chuck Eddie. Also in attendance were Missouri State Senator, Dr. Charles Wheeler, US Senator James Talent as well as Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver. General Robert Arter, accompanied by his wife Lois, and Col. John Towers were guests from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Members of the Greater Kansas City Consular Corps, Chamber of Commerce and International Relations Council were also in attendance.
A reception in honor of Ambassador Jurica was held in the evening in Kansas City, Kansas at the Strawberry Hill Museum. Marijana Grisnik, a Croatian American Naive artist, prepared a special exhibit of her paintings for the ambassador and the many guests while Don Lipovac entertained with his music.
On October 1st, a Croatian mass was celebrated at St. John the Baptist Church by Father Francis Horvat, with music provided by the St. Cecilia's Choir under the direction of David Sachen, and the Harvest String Quartet. A dinner followed at the Hilton Reardon Center with the Sugar Creek Tamburitza Orchestra providing dinner music for 400 guests.
Mary Jean Podrebarac led the national anthems and Robert Soptic served as Master of Ceremonies. The Honorable Dennis Moore, Congressman for Kansas, and a founding member of the Croatian Congressional Caucus, greeted the ambassador and guests. Mayor Joseph Reardon presented the ambassador with a key to the city as well as a proclamation designating October 1st as a special day for the Kansas City, Croatian American community. Marijana Grisnik presented the ambassador with one of her paintings of Strawberry Hill. Loren Taylor, president of the Wyandotte County Historical Society, presented Ambassador Jurica with his book, The History of Wyandotte County.
The Croatian Consulate for Kansas and Missouri is located at 1201 W. 64th Terr., Kansas City, Missouri; tel.: (913) 371 2525, (GSM) (816) 729 3797.
Congressman Dennis Moore (Kansas) Ambassador Neven Jurica,
Dr. Judy Vogelsang (Hilton Reardon Center)