Pastoral visit to Serbian families in Zambia
The following is an edited and slightly shortened version of a report by Fr Pantelejmon Jovanovic, of St Thomas’s Orthodox Church in Johannesburg, of a pastoral visit to Orthodox Serbs in Zambia
In May this year Archimandrite Pantelejmon, the Rector of St Thomas’s Orthodox Church in Johannesburg, visited members of the Serbian community in Zambia.
Serbs started relocating to Zambia in the mid 1960s and this was the first visit by a Serbian priest to the Orthodox believers living in Lusaka after nearly 50 years , so it was a historic occasion for Orthodox Serbs in Zambia and indeed for the Orthodox Church in Africa.
The visit was organized and initiated by Father Pantelejmon and the faithful in Lusaka and was undertaken with the blessing of His Grace Ioakim, the Bishop of Zambia. Much of the preparation for this event was done by the Charge d`Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Zambia, Mr. Mirko Manojlovic, helped Mr. Bozo and Mr. Mladen Banovic, Mr. Bojan Blagojevic, Mr. and Mrs. Mihailo and Agnes Popovic and other members of Serbian community.
During first day of visit, Mr. Mirko Manojlovic, his wife and son prepared a warm welcome and friendly lunch at their official residence, attended by His Grace Ioakim, Bishop of Zambia and Mr. Boris N. Malakhov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Zambia.
A gathering was also organized for members of Serbian community in order to be introduced to the visiting priest, and Father Pantelejmon spoke about importance of Serbian Orthodox Church in preservation of faith and national identity of our people; importance of strengthening our unity; protection of holy land Kosovo and Metohija and co-operation of Church and State for the benefit of the people. All these topics were of great importance and interest to members of Serbian community in Lusaka.
Father Pantelejmon also spoke about the activities and successes of St Sava Church and School Community in Johannesburg and emphasised that such success is result of joint effort, unity and, above all, result of joint prayers and spiritual efforts of faithful members of St. Thomas parish in Johannesburg.
During Father Pantelejmon’s five-day stay he visited twenty four Serbian families in Lusaka and water was blessed and other prayers were served, as requested by some families. All the families were presented with gifts such as Church calendars, icons, postcards, the magazine Svetosavsko Ognjste and spiritual booklets. Fr Pantelejmon was welcomed with traditional Serbian hospitality and with love and open hearts. The Orthodox faith and spiritual life were discussed and Father Pantelejmon gave advice and spiritual messages to the people hungry for the Word of God.
On his last day in Lusaka, Archimandrite Pantelejmon visited the Russian Embassy, where he met the entire staff. Russian diplomats and officials expressed huge interest in the situation of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija; churches of Serbian Orthodox Church and Father Pantelejmon’s extensive experience as monk in Kosovo and Metohija.
On the same day Archimandrite Pantelejmon served the first Orthodox service in the Serbian language at the chapel at Bishop Ioakim’s residence Despite it being a work-day, the service was attended by majority of the Serbian community in Lusaka and several families arrived from distant provinces of Zambia, which caused joy among those present. During the service everyone took part in blessing and turning the holy bread (Slava Kolach) and after the service and joint address, His Grace Bishop Ioakim presented Father Pantelejmon with a beautiful icon of our Lord Jesus Christ.
After service Bishop Ioakim organized a reception at his residence where Serbs from Zambia presented the Archimandrite with a gift to remind him of his first pastoral visit this country. Many Serbs are active in assisting Bishop Ioakim and Orthodox Church of Zambia, which is under jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Patriarchate.
Father Pantelejmon, as he was about to depart, offered spiritual advice to his hosts in Lusaka, hardworking and honest Serbs – to attend the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Alexandrian Patriarchate in Lusaka in which Bishop Ioakim serves; to continue to pray to God; to fast and confess; to receive Holy Communion and live the Christian life that will lead them to salvation and that will bring God’s blessings in this as well as in future life. All agreed that the visit was useful and needed and it was agreed that in future visits Serbian priests should visit Zambia at least once per year.
Let there be glory to God for this victory of good, love, unity and faith and let these visit be for spiritual benefit and strength, blessing of God and eternal salvation to all Serbs in Zambia!
|Fr Pantelejmon with the committee|
|Members of the