Toronto, Ontario - On Wednesday, April 25, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia completed his seven day visit to the Diocese of Canada.
The joy of the faithful in greeting their spiritual father, and the Patriarch's pleasant surprise having seen the accomplishments in the Diocese, especially in the last few years, were dominant emotions which flowed into words of praise but also fatherly concern. We transmit and leave for remembrance the words spoken at the churches in Ontario which will remain as landmarks to the Serbs in these regions:
"By your deeds will they recognize you. You, here, far from your roots, have achieved the best with your deeds which witnesses to the fact that you are worthy of your ancestors. That church there, in the Fatherland, you have brought here and have strengthened it in the faith of the fathers."
"Your Bishop Georgije, the church sent here. I rejoice, just as it brings joy to our Church, that all that has been achieved here has been achieved in the best manner that our name be preserved. That great struggle and zeal was bore by Bishop Georgije, whom we thank on behalf of our entire Church for all that he has accomplished thus far and we wish that he continue in the same."
"This dispersion of yours is at the same time a call to mission. This is all too often forgotten and we have shown foreign lands a face which is not worthy neither to the godless, much less to Christians. In these few days I have been convinced that you are firm in your faith, unified around your Church. I beseech you to continue on this path of unity, and you will be able to achieve this only if you remain with your clergy and your Bishop with whom you have achieved so much. Only in that way will you preserve your identity in this blessed land."
His Holiness concluded the official part of his visit to Canada on Tuesday, April 24 with his visit to the General Consulate of Serbia. At the reception which was organized by the Consul Vladimir Pavlov, besides the many Serbian visitors and church leaders, they expressed their gratitude to the Serbian Patriarch by receiving a blessing from the Patriarch as well as the political representatives of other Orthodox countries: Vladimir N. Pavlov, General Consul of Russia, Valentin Naumesku, General Consul of Romania, Ivo Georgijev Muskorov, General Consul of Bulgaria, Dimitrios Azempulos, General Consul of Greece and charge d'affaires for the Ukrainian Consulate Anatoly Olinik.
During the first canonical visit to Canada, His Holiness visited the parishes in Hamilton, Mississauga, Waterloo and Kitchener. During the entire time he resided at the Diocesan Center, at Holy Transfiguration Monastery, where his encounter with the faithful began on Friday, April 20, at the Slava celebration and 25th anniversary of the "Istocnik" Diocesan Publishing House was celebrated.
During his visit to all the churches the Patriarch served with the diocesan hierarch, Bishop Georgije, and Bishop Dositej of Brittan-Scandinavia who was invited to take part in the 25th anniversary celebration of "Istocnik" and the 10th anniversary of the blessing of the Church of All Serbian Saints in Mississauga. In Mississauga, on Sunday, April 22 when in the largest Serbian church in Canada the frescoes were blessed, the work of Dragan Marunic, with the Patriarch and our bishop serving were also ierarchs from other Orthodox churches: Metropolitan Sotirios, Bishop Job of Kasir, representative of the Moscow Patriarchate and Archbishop Nathanael of the Romanian Episcopate (OCA).
Patriarch Irinej of Serbia left for Serbia from the Toronto airport on Wednesday, April 25 in the early evening hours.