By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HE MOTHER OF GOD is whole again. And now she has more than just divine protection.
The stained-glass window depicting the religious icon has been repaired at the Holy Ghost Macedono-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church in Youngstown after vandals damaged it in the fall.
This time, church officials have reinforced it with a bulletproof, impact-resistant plastic resin.
Paul Temelkoff, president of the church's board, said the repairs to the front window and several side windows were made possible by donations from across the community.
"There was response from people we didn't even know," Temelkoff said. "Thank God there's more people that do good things in this world than do bad things."
Three panes of the icon window and panels in six side stained-glass windows were damaged in October and November when vandals struck the church three times. They threw broken concrete and tile at the windows, breaking glass panes and bending the lead veins that held them in place.
Temelkoff said the church followed the lead of other churches, in other places, that have placed sheets of the plastic resin in front of stained-glass windows to resist vandals.
Donations for repairs: He said a total amount of donations received had not yet been tabulated but that it would cover the costs of repairing the windows and buying the plastic resin.
"It looks like everything that was damaged will be covered through people's generosity," Temelkoff said. "And we're thankful for that."
Church neighbor Connie Vario said she donated to the window repair fund.
"What else are you gonna do? Tell me," Vario said. "We gotta stick together."
Vario is not a church member but serves as a custodian and attends some services. She said she has lived in the neighborhood for 60 years and the Rev. Basil Duesenberry, church pastor, helped her when she was recovering from heart surgery 12 years ago.
"When this happened, everybody thought ... 'Why here in Youngstown?'" Vario said.
Cost estimates: Temelkoff said he is not sure of the cost of repairs. In November, the pastor said he estimated damage at $3,000 and expected the church would pay up to $750 in deductibles to an insurance company for repair. He said it would cost about $100 to fix broken panes in the icon window.
Father Duesenberry was out of town this week and could not be reached to comment. Cost of the plastic resin was unavailable.
Father Duesenberry had described the parish as one that struggles financially. Temelkoff said its membership has dwindled in recent years from about 56 to 36.
"I don't know how long we'll be able to survive," Temelkoff said. "So every little bit helps."