Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

July 5, 2004


On Saturday, July 3, 2004 His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, together with His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa, His Grace Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje and Niksic, and Archimandrite Jovan, the newly elected Bishop of Dioclea, met with Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic. The necessity of affirming the constitutional principle of separation of Church and state was emphasized during the conversation. President Vujanovic expressed his conviction in the necessity of respecting the constitutional provision of noninterference of the state in the internal organization and religious affairs of the Church. Patriarch Pavle expressed the conviction that the Montenegrin and general public is well aware that the mission of the Serbian Church has no political background but is always oriented toward harmony and peace among the people. His Holiness expressed support for Metropolitan Amfilohije’s expectation that religious instruction will be introduced in Montenegrin schools as soon as possible, in accordance with the practice in all modern European states, and that the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro will be restituted.



In Cetinje Monastery on the evening of Saturday, July 3, 2004 at 5:00 p.m. before the beginning of the Vigil the holy sacrament of consecration of the newly elected Bishop Jovan of Dioclea took place. Bishop-elect Jovan was invited to the hierarchs’ table to take part in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine, the symbols of the Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Concelebrating with His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle were Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral; Metropolitan Nikolaj of Dabro-Bosnia; Bishop Vasilije of Zvornik and Tuzla; Bishop Irinej of Backa; Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren; Bishop Pahomije of Vranje; Bishop Jovan of Sumadija; Bishop Filaret of Milesevo; Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje and Niksic; Bishop Grigorije of Zahumlje and Herzegovina; Bishop Atanasije of Zahumlje and Herzegovina (retired); Bishop Joakim of Velicka; and Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan. The choir of St. Peter of Cetinje Seminary sang at the service. The vigil service was then officiated by Abbot Jovan of Ostrog, the newly consecrated Bishop of Dioclea.


On July 4, 2004 in the Resurrection of Christ Cathedral in Podgorica His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle ordained Archimandrite Jovan (Puric) as the Bishop of Dioclea and vicar (auxiliary) bishop of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral as appointed by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church at its session in May of this year. Patriarch Pavle served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration of twelve bishops and numerous members of the clergy. Liturgy was attended by several thousand faithful from Montenegro and Serbia, and many guests.

Serbia and Montenegro chief of staff general-colonel Branko Krga extended his greetings (read by colonel Borisav Grozdic), as did a representative of the Hellenic Republic, consul general Sotirios Atanasiou. Mr. Samuel Avyatar, the representative of the mayor of Jerusalem for Christian affairs, and Reis Efendi Fejzic, the representative of the Islamic community, enhanced this prayerful gathering by their presence with the latter presenting his welcoming remarks. The new bishop received the congratulations of Protopresbyter Gojko Petrovic, the rector of the St. Peter of Cetinje Seminary; Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Momcilo Krivokapic, on behalf of the Metropolitanate’s clergy; Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Ljuba Adzic on behalf of Bishop Lavrentije, the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Sabac and Valjevo, the new bishop’s origin; as well as Mr. Veselin Sijakovic.

Approximately one thousand of the faithful approached the Holy Cup and took communion. In his first sermon as a bishop, the newly elected Bishop Jovan spoke thus:

Your Holiness,
Your Eminences and Your Graces, dear fathers, brothers and sisters

Today the Lord looked upon the disposition of His servant, calling on me through Your Holiness to assume the saintly office of bishop. And now that all this has taken place, what can I say? I accept with gratitude the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: “God was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). I accept these words as my evangelical sermon or program for “the great mystery of piety” and guarding of what has been entrusted to me (1 Timothy 6:20).

And what could I say at this moment? Is it easy to bear all weaknesses: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Corinthians 11:29) Is it easy to set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity? (1 Timothy 4:12) Is it easy to convince one, rebuke another and exhort a third, and to be unfailing in patience and in teaching? (2 Timothy 4:2) Is it easy to bear the responsibility for flock and shepherds alike? There are well-known examples of servants of God who for these very reasons experienced great hesitation and fear. And we ask the question with them: Is all this easy?

The Holy Apostle Paul says of himself: “I protest, brethren, by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31) And truly, the life of a living servant of God is a continuous burning, a death to the point of stupor, difficulty and suffering. The great burden of the bishop’s office is placed upon me at a very difficult time in service to the Lord and the nation, and hence the Apostle Paul through Your Holiness urges me to act in all things as a model and authority for the faithful in the building of the church and in acts of divine philanthropy.

But where can I “a spirit of timidity” (2 Timothy 1:7) find and draw strength and power for all this? From the same source the much-loved student of Christ, St. John the Theologian, drew it. In other words, it means to serve the Divine Service and not to neglect the gift given by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you (1 Timothy 4:14) but always to keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul on the dangers of the secular “not submitting to the yoke of the polytheists”. All this is not easy but requires tearing of the being and endurance to the end. What is necessary for all this is, first and foremost, the help of the Heavens and all the Saints as well as the help of all of you, the people of God.

I believe and confess what in the words of the Holy Apostles “not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5); that success in the service of the Lord and those close to us does not depend so much on human ability and capability as it does on the grace that “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I believe and confess that by the laying on of your saintly hands, although unworthy I too have received the blessing of the apostolic succession, curing and compensating all weaknesses.

I pray that your prayers, my Holy Fathers, Divinely Wise Archpastors, brothers and sisters, will make me a seasoned worker in the Vineyard of the Lord planted by the Lord’s Hand and that I will have no need to be ashamed before Him “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Pray that God grant me the steadiness and decisiveness, gentleness and tolerance that comes with life experience.

Finally, I wish to thank everyone: my Fathers – teachers, parents, brothers and sisters for their prayers, and for everything in my life. Since words of gratitude to the good people who have given me everything cannot be enough, I pray to God that by bearing the Bishop’s Cross in a worthy manner I can repay them all and all others for the love they have shown me. I also hope that my spiritual Father will not leave me without love but continue to advise me as a wise and experienced Father. Hoping for support from all, I freely say to Your Holiness and the saintly fullness of the church: “Before you stands a servant of God – May his fate be according to your word.” Amen.

After Liturgy all present were invited to partake in the luncheon. Bishop Jovan of Dioclea once again thanked his teachers and spiritual fathers, first and foremost, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, the Bishops and his parents, as well as all those who helped him throughout his life and his teachers and professors at the Seminary and the Faculty.


The Ivanka Milosevic Foundation from Chicago has been awarded the “Three Handed Mother of God” Literary Award for 2003 to His Grace Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic) of Zahumlje and Herzegovina (retired). The award was announced on St. Vitus Day in the Serbian National Library in Chicago, the endowment of Milun and Nada Nikolic.

The award is given to Serbian writers whose life’s work, inspired by the teaching of St. Sava, expresses the being of their nation, its foundations and holy objects, in poetic form.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors gave special consideration to Bishop Atanasije’s translation of the Psaltirea with nine biblical songs published by the Brotherhood of St. Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher (2000) and the holiday sermons of St. John of Damascus published by the Serbian Literary Association Circle (2002), stated Dragica Milosevic, the president of the Foundation.

The award consists of the Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God, the Charter, a monetary award of 3,000 U.S. dollars and the publication of a book in the newly launched library of the Society of Poets of the Serbian Literary Association. The award will be presented to Bishop Atanasije on the eve of the feast of the Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God, July 23, 2004, in Belgrade.


One hundred and seventy two people were baptized yesterday in Josanica Monastery near Jagodina. His Grace Bishop Jovan of Sumadija performed the holy sacrament of baptism and anointment. “You are new Christians. Baptism has brought you into the Church. It is never too late to become a part of the Church but that does not mean we should wait for old age to become baptized,” said Bishop Jovan.

There was a great deal of public interest in the group baptism. Several hundred automobiles of various registrations parked yesterday around Josanica Monastery, where group baptisms have been performed since 2001.

Source: Blic daily, Belgrade, July 5, 2004

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