IOCC Honored for Humanitarian Service in the Former Yugoslavia

Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro (September 3, 2005) — International Orthodox Christian Charities was honored with the Order of St. Sava First Degree, the highest ecclesiastical award of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in recognition of the humanitarian work it has accomplished in Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina since December 1992. The award was presented at the Serbian Patriarchate in downtown Belgrade on August 31, 2005, by His Holiness, Pavle, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovac and Serbian Patriarch, on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Also in attendance at this special morning audience was His Grace, Bishop Jovan, of Sumadija.

With several members of the local media present, IOCC Executive Director, Constantine Triantafilou, accepted the award on behalf of the IOCC Board of Directors, staff, and supporters.

“The award is presented on behalf of all the Serbian people to Constantine and IOCC who were there for us during our most difficult times,” His Holiness said. “I present this to you with my heart-felt appreciation. I know first hand all that IOCC has done for us. There was always a light for us, and that light was provided to us by IOCC, and that light continues to shine, even unto this very day.”

“It is through the living example of Patriarch Pavle whose courage, humility, and love allowed us to respond to the call of Jesus Christ, to respond to those in need,” said Triantafilou as he accepted the award on behalf of the IOCC Board of Directors, supporters, and staff.

Triantafilou’s first position with IOCC was in the former Yugoslavia where he worked as IOCC’s country representative. During nearly four years in Yugoslavia, he overcame great personal obstacles under wartime conditions to implement critically needed relief programs worth more than $15 million. IOCC assistance to the country has grown to more than $58 million since 1992.

Triantafilou also thanked his predecessor, Alexander Rondos, who was instrumental in establishing the IOCC office in Belgrade and the aid that has been delivered.

“The appreciation that I express today is not simply for myself, but on behalf of the entire Serbian Orthodox population. The assistance they continue to receive, I know, comes from your heart. Through your kindness our younger people will be able to live in better conditions than we have lived. I express to you and IOCC all the appreciation for what you have done for us in the field of humanitarian aid.”

His Grace, Bishop Jovan, was deeply moved and overjoyed to be a part of this special occasion. “Wherever there was a need, IOCC and Constantine were there to help us,” His Grace, Jovan, added.

IOCC was founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). Since then, it has implemented more than $200 million in relief and development programs in 29 countries around the world. To learn more about IOCC humanitarian programs in the former Yugoslavia, please visit www.iocc.org.

Fr. Marc Vranes and Daniel Christopulos, reporting from Belgrade, contributed to this story.

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