The Albanian Orthodox Church
Following the proposal of the Clergy-Laity Council, as defined in the new statute of our Church, on Thursday, January 19, 2012, in its meeting, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania elected two new bishops. With these two elevations the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania is composed of eight members for the first time in its history.
The Holy Synod unanimously elected, in accordance with the Statute of the Orthodox Church of Albania (Articles 17, 18), as Bishop of the Episcopate of Amantia, Archimandrite Nathaneil and as Bishop of the Episcopate of Bylisi, Archimandrite Asti. They are official members with full rights of the Holy Synod (Article 18 of the Statute: According to the needs of the Church, it is possible for the Holy Synod to elected active, official bishops, with specific tasks. These Bishops are archpriests in active service and participate in the Holy Synod). Thus, the new bishops will cover certain sectors of Church life: His Grace Nathaneil, “Supervision of Monastery Properties” and His Grace Asti, “Apostolic Diakonia” (Apostolic Service).
On Saturday, January 21st, , Archbishop Anastasios, with the participation of the entire Holy Synod, conducted the Service of Elevation of a Bishop for Archimandrite Nathaneil in the church of the “Annunciation of the Theotokos” in Tirana.And on Sunday, January 22nd, Archbishop Anastasios, again with the participation of the entire Holy Synod, conducted the Service of Elevation of a Bishop for Archimandrite Asti, in the church of the “Annunciation of the Theotokos” in Tirana.
Both of these Services were attended by many clergy from the Archdiocese of Tirana, from the Diocese of Gjirokastra and other dioceses, as well as family, numerous friends, associates and believers, students and teachers of Church schools, etc.., who congratulated from their hearts with “Axios – Worthy”.
For the past 20 years His Grace Nathaneil Agjioriti, Bishop of Amantia, has worked and helped our Orthodox Church, in the Metropolitan of Gjirokastra. He was born in Trikalla, Greece, in 1957. From a very early age he devoted his life to God as a monk in the famous Monastery of Great Lavra (Athos), on the Holy Mountain. There he completed the Athonite Academy and after that the Theological School of Aristotle University, in Thessaloniki. He came to Albania to help after the atheist system collapsed, serving with dedication despite difficulties. Able to speak Albanian very well, he has preached the word of God, baptizing and performing the Holy Mysteries in remote villages, earning the deep respect of believers and of those who know him.
Bishop of Bylisi, His Grace Asti Bakallbashi was born in Durrës in 1974, in a hopeful Orthodox family, who had kept their faith even in the most difficult times. From the first moments of the rebuilding of the Church, he was baptized and began to contribute to the Orthodox youth. For 10 years he studied with a scholarship awarded by the Archdiocese first at the Theological Academy “Resurrection of Christ” in St. Vlash and then Theological School of Aristotle University, in Thessaloniki, where he is completing his postgraduate studies. After that he chose to be devoted fully to the Church and dedicated himself as an unmarried clergyman (as a deacon in 2003, as an archdeacon in 2006, and as a priest and archimandrite in 2009). He has offered 19 years of dedicated service wherever needed: as a catechist, a professor at the Theological Academy in St. Vlash, as collaborator in the Orthodox Student Center in Tirana, and in the administration of the media of the Church at the Archdiocese of Tirana.