St. Petersburg, Florida, March 2, 2020
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia is currently in the midst of an 8-day visit to America. His itinerary includes presiding over the Church Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America and a number of parish visits.
Pat. Irinej was formally welcomed on Thursday, February 27 at the Tampa airport by Protopresbyter Milan Jovanovic and his parishioners from St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Clearwater, Florida, reports the press service of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
His Holiness is accompanied by His Grace Bishop Jovan of Šumadija and Protodeacon Damjan Bozic and will remain in America until March 5.
The Serbian primate visited St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, Florida the next day, where he and Bp. Jovan were greeted by Bishops Irinej of Eastern America, Longin of New Gračanica and Midwestern America, and Maxim of Western America, and a number of parishioners.
Bp. Irinej warmly greeted Pat. Irinej, saying: “We are so thankful to God that you, our spiritual father, have come to kindle that flame within us with your paternal blessings, for you come from the capital city of Belgrade and bring us the blessings of St. Sava and all the saints of our people!”
In turn, Pat. Irinej called on all Serbs living America to maintain their culture, and most importantly their faith: “I pray to the Lord that you would preserve that which is most valuable in the life of all of us, and that is our holy Orthodox faith. Our ancestors were baptized and lived in this faith. And as the greatest spiritual and moral heritage, you are to preserve this faith in your lives here as well.”
He further exhorted:
It all boils down to being faithful to one’s Church, to one’s faith! Our Church was also with our people! It rejoiced when the people made progress in all good things, when it created its history, great deeds, built monasteries, churches and other cultural and spiritual goods but it suffered when the people suffered. And the suffering of the people always affected the Church. Such is our history, such is our fate, and we must be proud that we have always been with our Church, for we feel a great blessing from God, and grace, which through the Church is poured out upon its people.
The next day, His Holiness presided over the Church Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, at which several important decisions were made, emphasizing the unity of the Serbian Church in North and South America with the Church in Serbia and making the necessary changes to bring its charter into agreement with the resolutions of the Holy Synod.
His Holiness will remain in America until Clean Thursday.