On Saturday November 12, 2016 His Grace Bishop of Canada Dr. Mitrophan made his first Canonical visit to the Serbian Church in Windsor. Pious parishioners of the diocese greeted their arch pastor in front of the church with children in national costumes, clergy, the choir, and people in attendance.
Serving with His Grace were Protopresbyter stavrofor Serboljub Jockovic, retired Steelton parish priest , Protopresbyter stavrofor Bozo Bakajlic of the Archbishopric of Belgrade-Karlovac and former parish priest of Gracanica Church, Protopresbyter Jovica Cetkovic, parish priest of St. Demetrius Church and Protopresbyter Milan Jovanovic, the current parish priest of Gracanica Church, the Diocesan Deacon Djuradj Kojic and Graduate of Theology Milorad Delic.
The hymn “Carju Nebesni” was chanted during the vesting of the archpriest by Zeljana Jovanovic, the Protinica. Georgije Jovanovic , son of the Proto and who also assisted in the altar, read the Epistle.
After the prayers on the Ambon Bishop Dr. Mitrophan with the clergy in a procession went out to the entrance of the church where he dedicated the lift, which will be a great help to persons with disabilities. Lord, send down your Holy Spirit with a blessing from on high upon this lift, that it be unto all who shall make use of it for bodily aid, and spiritual salvation and every goodness in Jesus Christ, blessing with Holy Water, Bishop Dr. Mitrophan completed the consecration.
After the completion of the dismissal His Grace addressed the faithful with his Episcopal sermon:
Highly honoured reverend fathers, brother administrators, father Milan, dear brothers and sisters,
I am very pleased to be here today with you, that we are all together today in the Holy Liturgy which is of this world and the other world. I saw your little children who served in the Holy Altar. I saw that they know what the Holy Liturgy is, and both children that came and received Holy Communion in the Holy Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Last night I met with your Board of Directors and I stressed to them that they bring the children to church, that they teach the children who our saints are that are our role models in Christian life, who we are as a people. Children today know the names of sports, film and public figures, but do they know what a church is, what a liturgy is, who the saints are that often ended their lives as martyrs? The Bishop mentioned today’s Saint, St. Heiromartyr Zenobius who during the time of persecution said to the judge when asked, “I suggest two options to you – life and death; life if you worship the gods, death if you do not worship”. Saint Zenobius answered, “life without Christ is not life but death, and death for the sake of Christ is not death but life”. Bishop Dr. Mitrophan said, that my dear brothers and sisters is what we need to know, to know our Lord Jesus Christ and His saints and everything else will be added.
The other saints that we celebrate today are St. King Milutin and his brother King Dragutin (in monasticism St. Theoctistus), as well as their mother St. Helen of Anjou (a Frenchwoman) who at that time converted to Orthodoxy and was a Serbian queen and the mother of two beautiful saints Milutin and Dragutin.
King Milutin who we celebrate today built 42 churches and monasteries during his reign (of 42 years) among them the very beautiful Gracanica in Kosovo, well and your church was also given the name Gracanica, and in that way has a close connection with King Milutin and with Gracanica in martyred Kosovo. The Lord wanted us to celebrate him precisely today so that we would all be assembled in this beautiful holy church to offer up the bloodless sacrifice and in that way together with each other we would be one flock with one shepherd. Also their mother Helen (who we celebrate today as well) who as a nun became Elizabeth and built a beautiful endowment Gradac Monastery and in that way demonstrated her greatness by accepting Holy Orthodoxy just like love for her own.
We need to know that we are Christians called to spread the Holy Gospel to all peoples just as in today’s Holy Gospel it speaks of the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. As the Father knows me and I know the Father and lay down my life for my sheep. The Holy Evangelist speaks of one flock and one shepherd who will listen to his voice and be one flock and one shepherd, Bishop Dr. Mitrophan concluded.
After the sermon His Grace distributed the antidoron (nafora) and was photographed with all those present. At 5pm he served Vespers and afterward in the Serbian Cultural Centre there was a formal banquet prepared in honour of His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan, and his first canonical visit to Gracanica.
In his opening speech Prota Milan evoked memories of Bishop Mitrophan that reach to his childhood when for the first time in the altar he met Bishop Mitrophan in Zica Monastery when the Bishop was on a visit with his spiritual father Bishop Stefan, and later after five years when the Vladika as a young bishop was in Vrnjacka Banja before his departure to America, and now after nearly thirty years when, as the parish priest of Gracanica in Windsor he greeted him as the Bishop of Canada.
Prota Milan stressed that the people in Windsor are pious, worthy, dedicated, faithful to their mother church and always ready to help their church, and their bishop.
May you long rightly guide us holy bishop for many gentle years, Father Milan concluded.
The choirs of Gracanica Church from Windsor, St. Demetrius Church from Windsor, Ravanica Church from Detroit and St. George Romanian Church from Windsor participated in a special program. Also taking part in the program were folklore dance groups Gracanica and Opancici. The Serbian Centre had every last seat filled. Thus was completed the first canonical visit by His Grace Dr. Mitrophan to Windsor.
Protopresbyter stavrofor Srba Jockovic