Christ is risen!
The community of St. Vladimir’s Seminary is offering prayers and condolences after the falling asleep of His Holiness, Irinej (Gavrilovic). His Holiness, the archbishop of Pec, metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci, and patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, reposed in the Lord Friday morning in Belgrade after contracting COVID-19. His Holiness was 90 years old.
"We mourn with our beloved Serbian Orthodox brethren during this difficult time," said St. Vladimir’s President Fr. Chad Hatfield. "We remember fondly Patriarch Irinej’s visit to the Seminary not long ago, when His Holiness beautifully reminded us of the close ties between St. Vladimir’s and the Serbian Orthodox Church. I remember so well the delight in his eyes when he was presented with a copy of the famous ‘Fond du Lac Circus’photo, which includes the Serbian saint, Sebastian Dabovich.
"May he rest in peace and rise in glory!"
On Patriarch Irinej’s visit to St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2015, the Seminary’s Board of Trustees and Faculty bestowed upon His Holiness a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. The Patriarch then delivered an address, titled, "Theology as a Hope for the Future of the Church." During the visit, His Holiness also praised the members of the Serbian Orthodox community for their board service to St. Vladimir’s, including Trustee Emeritus Alex Machaskee, who was then serving as executive chair of the Board of Trustees.
"A year ago last July my wife Carol and I were graciously received by Patriarch Irinej," Machaskee recalled, after learning of his falling asleep. "His demeanor belied his age as we discussed Kosovo and other issues. His eyes always reflected the warmth and pleasant humor I remembered just a few years earlier when I had visited the Patriarch with an International Orthodox Christian Charities delegation.
"May his memory be eternal!"
His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej was born in the village of Vidova, near the town of Cacak, Serbia, on August 28, 1930. He led of life of faithful service to the Church, and he helped navigate the Serbian Church through a difficult time for the region in the early years of his patriarchal ministry. A biography of His Holiness is available to read on the website of the patriarchate.
May the memory of Patriarch Irinej be eternal!