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
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Marko Puljic, OFM - Custos
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: