The Old Catholic Church mourns its very deserving and dedicated pastor, who even after his retirement took an active part in church and public life. Bishop Hans Gerny studied theology in Bern, Oxford and Paris. Before he became a bishop, he was a parish priest in several parishes and took part in various affairs of his Church. As the secretary of the International Bishops’ Conference of the Old Catholic Church, he was especially committed in the field of inter-Christian church dialogue. In that sense, his striving for a closer relationship with the Orthodox Church was especially emphasized.
In the earliest history of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the first parish in Switzerland, it was crucial that Bishop Hans Gerny helped the first parish priest, now retired priest Drasko Todorovic, to make important contacts and meet prominent figures in social and public life. The mentioned priest completely used that for the benefit of his people – primarily to help the victims of the civil wars of the former Yugoslavia.
Bishop Hans Gerny also had regular contacts with the highest representatives of the Serbian Patriarchate and with several eminent bishops, including Bishop Sava of Sumadija of blessed repose (who was once a postgraduate student in Bern together with Bishop Hans), Bishop Lavrentije and others. The visible sign of Christian love between Old Catholics and Orthodox Serbs was confirmed by the installation of a memorial plaque to the Holy Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic in 2008 on the wall of the Old Catholic Cathedral in Bern. It is the fruit of great respect for the Holy Bishop, who received his doctorate in Bern at the Old Catholic Faculty a hundred years ago, in 1908. Bishop Lavrentije was a special guest from Serbia during the erection of the memorial plaque. At the ceremony that followed, Bishop Lavrentije took off his panagia and laid it on his chest as a gift to Bishop Hans Gerny as an expression of immense gratitude for all the love that Old Catholics have for Serbs.
We should not forget the immense care of this bishop for Serbian students, who studied at the Old Catholic Faculty of the University of Bern. The writer of these modest words himself, during his studies from 2006 to 2010, stayed in Bern in a student house that the Old Catholic Church selflessly made available to Serbian students decades ago. And even more than that, after his retirement, Bishop Hans regularly invited Orthodox students to agape feast once a year in his modest home in the capital of Switzerland. I personally experienced that unforgettable hospitality. Bishop Hans Gerny will be remembered for his good deeds and his unadulterated nobility and modesty. May the Lord God grant him the Kingdom of Heaven!
priest Nikola Balovic, parish priest in Feldkirch
Source: Serbian Orthodox Church