Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

September 1, 2004


On Wednesday, September 1, 2004 His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle received His Excellency Archbishop Eugenio Sbarbaro, the Apostolic Nuncio in Belgrade, and the secretary of the Nuncioís Office, Monsignor Kevin.

On behalf of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, and in his own name, His Excellency congratulated Patriarch Pavle on his ninetieth birthday and expressed wishes for his good health.

The Apostolic Nuncio presented Patriarch Pavle with a panagia as a gift for the occasion and expressed his wishes for the Lordís blessing in the work of the upcoming session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops.


Following the destruction and damage of 30 Orthodox churches and monasteries during the March violence, the looting of desecrated holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija continues because some of the destroyed and devastated buildings remain unprotected.

The ERP KIM Info Service received information from well-informed sources that in the last few days unknown persons removed the lead roof from a section of the altar chapel on the south side of the burned remains of the church of St. Nicholas.

Immediately after the March violence vandals and religious looters in Prizren destroyed the bell tower of the church of St. George, used tools to break through its cupola and cut through the metal framework in order to remove the bells. The stolen bells were later found in an Albanian house not far from Prizren.

Following the latest theft of the lead roof from the chapel of St. Nicholas, the Diocese of Raska-Prizren expresses its strongest protest and concern that despite very intensive rhetoric that destroyed holy shrines must be rebuilt and protected, the theft of remaining material and valuables continues because of the fact that this church, located in the very center of Pristina's old town, is protected by no one.


On August 27 in the village of Vrbica, located in the Livanjsko Polje region between Livno and Bosansko Grahovo, the ownership of a church was transferred from endower Mrs. Marlee Leger through her legal representatives to representatives of the church parish of Vrbica.

An unremarkable bit of news, which would not draw much attention if it were not a great act of love on the part of a woman who after the tragic death of her husband decided to do a good deed and help those who loved her husband.

The first returnees to Vrbica faced a multitude of problems in their everyday life. One of the SFOR soldiers, sergeant Marc Leger, will remain forever in the hearts and memories of the local residents of Vrbica. During his two-year mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he visited the Vrbica returnees, befriended them and told his wife and friends in Canada about his life in the Livanjsko Polje region. The local residents of Vrbica took such a liking to Marc that they considered him their own son, said Mr. Petar Vujanovic, the president of the church parish of Vrbica, and they wanted him to become the mayor of their local community.

Upon completing his mission, Marc went to Afghanistan where, unfortunately, his life ended tragically. Marc was killed in clashes with the Taliban not far from Kandahar. When they heard the news, the local residents of Vrbica grieved and immediately sent a telegram of condolence to Marcís wife Marlee in Canada. Touched by their concern and love, Marlee decided to help the villagers and restore in her husbandís memory a communal building for the use of the whole village. It was decided to renew the parish home, originally built in 1925, which served as a school at one time and where villagers gathered for religious services, as there was an improvised chapel in the parish home. During the transfer ceremony for the parish home, Marlee herself arrived in Vrbica and promised the local residents that she would also rebuild the burned down church in Vrbica. And truly, she kept her word.

Present at the transfer ceremony for the church, originally built in 1930, destroyed in World War II and again built in 1989 only to be burned down again in 1994 were His Grace Bishop Hrizostom of Bihac and Petrovac, the parish priest of Vrbica Presbyter Zeljko Djurica, Presbyter Milan Perkovic, the president of the church parish Mr. Petar Vujanovic and the builder, Mr. Sinisa Bilbija of Bosansko Grahovo. Also present were Canadian Army general Bill Stewart, who commanded the late Marcís brigade in Afghanistan, and major Bob Bulman from New Zealand, who worked on implementing the plan for the restoration of the church. Prior to the transfer ceremony, Bishop Hrizostom, the clergy, SFOR representatives and the people in attendance prayed in the church.

After the ceremony Bishop Hrizostom greeted the present guests and said that this act of love on the part of Mrs. Marlee Leger would remain forever in the memory of the people of this region, as will their memory of her late husband Marc, whose soul surely must be rejoicing at this great deed. Thanking Marlee for her kindness, Bishop Hrizostom noted that the people of this region returned love for love, considering Marc as their own son and his wife as their dear daughter.

Abbot Sofronije Nikic

[Serbian Translation Services]

Copyright © 1999-2004 by
The Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church
11000 Belgrade
Kralja Petra I no.5
+381 11 3282 596