Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bishop Teodosije Makes Appeal For the Decani Monastery Relief Fund


Prizren, December 28, 2010

Dear brothers and sisters

Dear friends of the Dečani Monastery Relief Fund

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Cor 13:14)!

In this holy time of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ I am addressing you as the newly inaugurated Bishop of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija. By the grace of our Lord and the decision of the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church I was elected as the Diocesan Bishop to the throne of this holy Diocese on November 18 this year. I humbly accepted this duty, deeply aware of the heavy burden I have been entrusted by our Holy Church. With the new duty of archpastoral care for the Orthodox Christians of Kosovo and Metohija my responsibility for my faithful is now much greater than before when I was the Auxiliary Bishop and the abbot of Dečani Monastery.

One of my first intentions is to develop the work of the Dečani Monastery Relief Fund which has been working since 1998 thanks to the diligent efforts and wise leadership of our dear in Christ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes. In the last thirteen years this Fund has helped many poor people, refugees, children and all others who were in need. I strongly believe that this generous and humane work should be continued particularly now when we are facing the pressing need to help many returnees with their children in these cold winter days. As all the Christians are celebrating the Nativity holidays we must not forget those who like our Infant Lord Jesus Christ in his fist days live far from minimum of comfort and warmth of their homes.

Our six soup kitchens work every day to provide food for 2000 beneficiaries throughout Kosovo. However, providing food supplies is not an easy task and without assistance of the God loving donors they would not be able to continue their work. At the same time our returnees and poor families lack firewood and adequate clothing for low temperatures that go below 5°F in winter. At the same time the Christmas period is the time when we have to particularly think of our youngest and the Diocese is planning to provide as many Christmas gifts as possible. Although we cannot change conditions in which the children are growing up, facing everyday danger and uncertain future, our love and care can help them carry on this burden easier and better feel the love of Christ which we are called to share. We have also a number of talented teenagers who would like to attend the University but their families are too poor to support them. One of our priorities is to support with scholarships these young people who can help their community and the Church with their talents which God has granted to them. The families with five and more children are particularly vulnerable. Almost every day we are receiving their request for financial assistance, particularly for providing health care as quite a number of children due to their life in poverty suffer from chronicle diseases and need urgent care and therapy.

The situation in Kosovo has hardly improved because only one third of our pre-war Serbian Orthodox population still remains in the Province. The most of others live still as refugees out of Kosovo. Although we remain in hope that at least some of them might return to their homes the overall situation is far from good. Although the security has somewhat improved and we don’t have frequent attacks on Orthodox Christians, our people are still discriminated on ethnic and religious basis among the majority Muslim Albanian population of Kosovo. Most of 120.000 Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo (pop. 2 million) live in enclaves without job opportunities and the major Kosovo cities are almost without Serb population. Peć – 20 Serbs, Prizren – 18 Serbs, Pristina (the provincial capital) – 48 Serbs, or Djakovica – 4 Serbian old women are just reminders that Kosovo despite all international efforts is far from multiethnic and multireligious society.

Our monasteries are also in particularly precarious situation. Since the end of the war and arrival of the international peacekeepers 130 of our churches and monasteries have been torched or destroyed completely. We have relied very much in the last years on the protection of the NATO led troops. But in Kosovo number of troops is being reduced and our monks and nuns feel more and more insecure. In one convent we have begun with construction of the protective wall because there is a danger of burglary. We all remain deeply concerned about the future of our holy sites which are the pride of the Orthodox Church worldwide. In the last two years the donations to our monastic communities have decreased considerably due to the economic crisis. With very few visitors for many of them it is not easy to provide all necessities for their daily life.

Despite all these difficulties, we live with the hope in our Lord who has protected us in this holy land of monasteries for centuries and strongly believe that with our faith in Christ we can overcome all troubles that await us. However I am taking this opportunity to wish you blessed Nativity of the Lord and the New Year 2011 with an appeal to you to support Orthodox Christians in Kosovo through the Dečani Monastery Relief Fund. All our activities on the humanitarian field will be documented on our Web-site www.eparhija-prizren.com together with other diocesan news.

In hope that you will answer to this appeal we remain deeply grateful and indebted to you for all the support, love and prayers in the previous years.

With the blessing of the Lord

BISHOP OF RAŠKA AND PRIZREN
TEODOSIJE

Please send your donations to this address:

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
C/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
USA
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