Košice, Slovakia, September 5, 2023
It is always a special joy when hierarchs and clerics of Sister Local Churches come together to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy, and there have been a number of such concelebrations in recent days.
On September 1, representatives of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the Romanian Patriarchate, and the Ukrainain Orthodox Church concelebrated in Slovakia.
At the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Juraj of Michalovce and Košice of the Czech-Slovak Church, His Eminence Archbishop Viktor of Khmelnytsky of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Venerable Rosalia of Palermo—the second patronal feast of the Holy Dormition Cathedral in Košice, Slovakia reports the Information-Education Department of the UOC.
The hierarchs were joined by clerics from their respective Churches as well as from the Romanian Orthodox Church. Orthodox Ukrainians who were forced to flee their homes due to the war prayed at the Divine service.
At the end of the service, the slava bread and kolive were blessed, according to Serbian Orthodox tradition followed by the Orthodox faithful in Slovakia as well.
After the dismissal, Abp. Juraj greeted his guests and thanked Abp. Viktor for his visit. In turn, Abp. Viktor congratulated Abp. Juraj and his flock with the feast and conveyed the greetings of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
The Ukrainian hierarch also expressed gratitude to Abp. Juraj for the spiritual and material care provided by his diocese to Ukrainian refugees.
He then presented a copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God for the cathedral church and an episcopal Panagia to Vladyka Juraj.
Watch a short video from the concelebration:
The hierarchs concelebrated again on Sunday.
On Saturday, September 2, hierarchs of the Serbian, Russian, and Macedonian Churches came together to celebrate the memory of the New Martyrs of the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St. John the Baptist Monastery in Jasenovac, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Budapest of the Russian Church, reports the press service of the Serbian Church.
Joining Met. Hilarion were His Eminence Metropolitan Grigorij of Kumanovo of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric, Their Graces Bishops Jovan of Slavonia, Sergije of Bihać, Kirilo of Bueons Aires, Nikodim of Dalmatia, Isihi of Valje, and Metodije of Budimlja and Nikšić (Montenegro) of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and His Grace Bishop Job of Stuttgart of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
“The feat of martyrdom is … a gift of God to mankind, according to the words of the Holy Apostle Paul addressed to the Philippians: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil. 1:29),” preached Bp. Kirilo.
“In the early Church, churches were built over the graves of holy martyrs and their relics were placed in holy altars and church antimens,” he continued. And therefore, “We, dear brothers and sisters, are in a place that is the largest unmade antimens in the world.”
“The task of the Church is not simply to carry out commemorations, but to bear witness to the life that shone forth from the grave, to call for repentance and the transformation of our fallen nature. For us Orthodox Christians, Jasenovac is not a city of the dead, but a city of the living, because in God all the martyrs of Jasenovac are alive,” the hierarch concluded.
Following the service, a Serbian school housing a research center and library was consecrated.
The next day, Macedonian and Serbian hierarchs again concelebrated in the Divine Liturgy and enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Jovan as the ruling hierarch of the newly created Diocese of Kruševo and Dmir Hisar in North Macedonia.
The Liturgy, in which Met. Jovan was joined by Their Eminences Metropolitan Petar of Prespa and Grigorij of Kumanovo, and Their Graces Bishop Joachim of Deljadro, Marko of Delčevo, David of Dremvit, Kliment of Heraklej, and Jacob of Stobi of the Macedonian Church, and His Eminence Metropolitan Joanikije of Montenegro and His Grace Bishop Pachomije of Vranje of the Serbian Church, was celebrated in the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kruševo, reports tvhram.rs.
At the end of the Liturgy, Met. Petar of Prespa served the rite of enthronement of Met. Jovan. The newly enthroned hierarch then offered a sermon about life in eternity as “constant communion, without division, without schism, without self-satisfaction.”
His words about overcoming division are especially relevant, as Met. Jovan was previously a hierarch of the Macedonian Church while it was still in schism. But in 2002, while the rest of the Macedonian Church ultimately rejected the Niš Agreement that would have seen it return to autonomy within the Serbian Patriarchate at that time, he resolved to reunite with the Serbian Church, which then established its Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric and elected him its ruling hierarch.
He then faced serious persecution from the state, being imprisoned for many years on trumped-up charges of “inciting national, racial and religious hatred, schism and intolerance.” At times he was placed in solitary confinement, and he was allowed few visitors from the Serbian Church. He was ultimately released from prison on February 2, 2015, although new proceedings against him began soon afterwards.
A year later, the Serbian Church’s structure in North Macedonia was dissolved and its hierarchs were received into the Macedonian Church.