21 March 2007

Church celebrations at Devic, Gracanica and Pristina

Devic celebrates monastery patron saint's day
KIM Radio, 16 December 2006

The monastery of St. Joanikije of Devic near Srbica in Drenica celebrated its monastery patron saint's day on December 15. Several hundred faithful from all parts of our country came to the monastery, which suffered extensive damage in 1999 and was completely destroyed 17 March 2004. The sisterhood of the monastery returned immediately after the March 2004 pogrom and began restoration which is presently at an advanced phase.

His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and his vicar, Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the assistance of the monks of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.

In his homily Bishop Artemije told the faithful in attendance that God has shown His mercy to both the monastery, which has suffered devastating damage many times, and to the sisterhood of Devic. "When it seemed that all was lost, that all was destroyed, they found the strength and with the help of God returned to the ashes of their monastery. They lived in portable buildings but nevertheless they remained with their monastery which continues to this day to receive us in its embrace and to open the path for us to the kingdom of heaven," said Bishop Artemije.

The faithful are grateful to all those who are restoring this great holy shrine and with their presence are making it possible for them to venerate the holy relics of this great 15th century saint. The monastery celebration passed without incident and security for the gathering was provided by French KFOR troops, UNMIK and the Kosovo Police Service.

Celebration of St. Nicholas Day in Gracanica and Pristina
KIM Radio and KIM Info Service, 19 December 2006

The religious feast of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker was formally celebrated today in Gracanica Monastery with a Holy Hierarchal Liturgy served by His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and his vicar, Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan. St. Nicholas is the family patron saint of Bishop Artemije and the abbess of Gracanica Monastery, Mother Efrosinija. After Liturgy Bishop Teodosije cut the slava cake in the salon of the monastery residence hall, wishing a happy and blessed slava to Bishop Artemije, the sisterhood of Gracanica and all those present. The festive banquet luncheon in Gracanica Monastery was attended by representatives of international offices in Pristina, as well as other guests from Kosovo and Metohija and other parts of Serbia.

St. Nicholas Day was also celebrated in all parish churches and monasteries of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren. St. Nicholas is traditionally the patron saint's day celebrated by most of the faithful. The occasion was especially formal in the monastery of St. Nikolaj in Gorioc near Istok where Protosingel Petar (Ulemek) and Hieromonk Serapion of Decani served Liturgy.

The feast of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker was also celebrated in the newly restored church in Pristina dedicated to this saint. In the presence of about 15 faithful from Pristina Protopresbyter Milorad Cvetkovic cut the slava cake. In addition to the Serbs still living in Pristina, the patron saint's day of the church was also attended by the Kosovo Ministry of Returns and soldiers from Swedish KFOR.

Milijana Drmoncic from Pristina told KIM Radio that she waited with anticipation to visit the church after its restoration:

"I was very happy this morning. I waited with anticipation to come to the church which has been restored and built again. The roof has been repaired and only minor work remains to be done. I would like to wish a happy feast of St. Nicholas to the entire Orthodox world as well as to those who are not Orthodox. I used to be a member of the choir here at the church and I came every Sunday. If the church begins working normally again I will sing in the church again. I call on all Serbs who are not in Pristina to come here again so that we can celebrate together, and not only the Serbs but also the Albanians. I am overjoyed that the church has been restored. There is still some work to be done but it will be done," said Milijana.

"We would always bring something to give the builders who worked on this church. We were grateful to them despite the fact that they were of Albanian nationality," added Milijana Drmoncic in a statement for reporters.

Work on the church is in the final phase. The roof and the roof construction have been restored, as well as the choir gallery, the paraklis, the baptismal chamber and the parish home. Work currently being done on the bell tower should be finished soon. Work on the church was done by an Albanian construction company under the supervision of Serbian experts from the Serbian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments based in Leposavic. The church of St. Nicholas was torched during the March 2004 riots. The restoration of this church and other buildings of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija is being organized by the Commission for Restoration headed by the Council of Europe.