27 March 2007

Christmas Eve in Visoki Decani Monastery

KIM Info Service, Decani, January 6, 2007

Like throughout Kosovo and Metohija, Christmas Eve was festively celebrated in Visoki Decani Monastery with the ceremonial bringing in of the Yule tree (badnjak) and hay, and with the singing of Christmas carols. Festal Christmas morning services will begin at 4:00 a.m. and will continue with Holy Hierarchal Liturgy, which will be served by His Grace Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan with the assistance of the priest-monks of Visoki Decani Monastery. Christmas liturgy and the banquet luncheon will be attended by some 30 pilgrims to the monastery, as well as by UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker; the KFOR commander, General Roland Kater; and General Claudio Borrecco, the commander of the Italian military contingent in Metohija.

On Christmas Eve Bishop Teodosije visits Serb returnees in the Klina area and presents them with Christmas gifts
KIM Info Service, Decani, January 6, 2007

During 2005 and 2006 Serb returnees began to return to Klina and the surrounding villages of Vidanje, Drsnik and Klinavac. The most courageous were returnees to the town of Klina itself. Many tried to deter them from their intent and frighten them, telling them that their security would not be guaranteed but in the end their love for their own homes predominated. The first attacks ensued immediately: showering of roofs and windows with stones, tossing of grenades and gunfire directed at Serb homes. The violence of Albanian extremists culminated in the murder of Dragan Popovic in Klina in June and the attack on the Pavlovic family in September of last year. Recently rounds of automatic gunfire were also fired on the Radosavljevic family. However, despite all this the Serbs from Klina and the surrounding villages remain firmly determined to stay in their homes.
Wishing to bring these suffering people a little consolation and joy on the eve of the great feast of the Nativity of Christ, Bishop Teodosije decided to use part of the donations received by Visoki Decani Monastery for the faithful people in Kosovo and Metohija to purchase suckling pigs for the Serbs of Klina and the surrounding villages for the traditional Christmas Day dinner. Upon learning of this plan, a group of Orthodox priests and faithful from Pancevo, especially Dragan Bozovic, who was himself expelled from Pec, decided to collect the necessary monies and purchase the piglets themselves. Consequently, a total of 93 piglets weighing 15-25 kg. were purchased.

This humanitarian Christmas project was also joined by two Orthodox Christian women from Switzerland, Makarija (Olivija) Dik and Tamara Belousova, who collected monetary assistance totaling about 10,000 Swiss francs. They earmarked part of the funds for the Serb children on the feast of St. Sava. With the support of UNMIK troops and of the local UNMIK official for the Pec region Luis Perez, Bishop Teodosije visited returnees in Klina, Vidanje, Drsnik and Klinavac, as well as in Belo Polje near Pec. The preceding day monks from Decani also visited the village of Brestovik near Pec. Great joy could be seen on the faces of the returnees, especially the children in Vidanje, which is the only place where school is being taught in a private Serb house, thus making it possible for the children to live in their respective villages.

In Drsnik everyone visited the church of St. Paraskeva (sv. Petka) from the 17th century, which was seriously damaged in 1999 and whose precious frescoes were irreparably destroyed first by the torching of the church and later by weather conditions after the lead roof was stolen. During his visit Bishop Teodosije told the Serbs that "in addition to the efforts of the Belgrade government to keep Kosovo and Metohija a part of the country of Serbia, it is also important that we do our part - which is to remain here and survive in our homes, to demonstrate that there must be room for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija where they have lived for so many centuries. ... Kosovo and Metohija will be preserved only if there are Serbs here; consequently, we must not give in and abandon our homes but remain to the place of our birth and our youth."

The faithful of Metohija warmly thanked Bishop Teodosije, the philanthropists from Pancevo and the Orthodox donors from Switzerland for their concern, consolation and the aid they offered them on the eve of the Christmas holidays. At the end of his visit Bishop Teodosije visited the newly restored church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in Belo Polje, where Christmas presents were also distributed.