+ Fr. Marko Kozina, OFM, 70


Fr. Marko KozinaFr. Marko Kozina, 70, a Croatian-born Franciscan friar who came to the United States in 1951 to serve in the Chicago-based Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Family, died Monday, April 21, 2003, of complications related to a stroke, after the amputation of his second leg at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

Fr. Marko had to flee his Croatian homeland in 1945, at the age of 12, when the Communists killed his father. Separated by war from his mother and three sisters he ended up with his grandfather in Austria and from there, in 1946, he went to the Franciscan seminary in Grottamare, Italy, where he finished high school and joined the Franciscan Order in 1950 in Cingly, Italy.
After the Novitiate, in 1951 he arrived in the United States to continue his studies in philosophy in Cleveland, Ohio, and theology at St. Bonaventure University in New York and Teutopolis, Illinois.

After his ordination, as a priest he served in Milwaukee, WI, Ambridge, PA and for more than 30 years in two parishes in Chicago, Sacred Heart and St. Jerome. In the Croatian Franciscan Custody he served on the Custodial Board for three years (1970-1973), and then as Custos-Superior from 1976-1979. He was a member of Croatian Catholic Union of the USA and Canada.

As a child, he experienced the horrors of World War II, suffering and death of young and old, especially when the war ended and the Communists took over. This inspired him later to become a promoter and supporter of Christian charitable activities, especially by helping orphans and needy in areas befallen by wars and catastrophes.

For many years he battled various illnesses, from diabetes, heart diseases, and amputations of both legs below the knees, but he never complained or lost his sense of humor. He used to make people laugh and cry in the same homily, adding always his personal touch in the proclamation of the Word of God.  People loved his homilies and speeches. He will be remembered as a person who always was able to find something positive and cheerful, even in sad situations and events. He left a huge void among the Franciscans of the Custody.

Survivors include two sisters, Mara Bekic and Andja Grubisic, and many nieces and nephews.

The Vigil service for Fr. Marko was held at Sacred Heart in Chicago on Monday, April 28, and the Funeral Mass on Tuesday, April 29, at St. Jerome's, Chicago. The presence of many people at both events showed how much he was loved by those he served.

On behalf of the Custody, I would like to express our gratitude to all who have helped Fr. Marko, in many ways, to alleviate his pain and suffering.

May the good Lord reward him for all good he did in our Franciscan Community, especially for humor and joy he abundantly shared with us at our gatherings. May he rest in God's peace! Amen.

Fr. Marko Puljic, OFM - Custos

We, the Franciscan Fathers of the Franciscan Custody, are grateful to God for the gift of the life of our Fr. Marko. His life, his suffering, his words and his smiles have truly been an inspiration to us. We are happy that God, in His mysterious plan, gave him to us here in Chicago. We are especially grateful to all of you who found in our Marko a good priest and dear friend. Thank you for all your support, particularly your prayers in his time of need. Probably the best words of thanks are those that Fr. Marko himself wrote just a few weeks ago:

Fr. Mark's Letter

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