Dean of St. Vladimir’s Academy, New York, Archpriest John Behr, has been appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund, a non-profit organization committed to rebuilding church and social life in Kosovo. The relief fund sponsors myriad humanitarian projects, including the one hundred fifty-three Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries that have been destroyed in Kosovo and Metohija since 1998; to date, only three of these church institutions have been repaired, and the Decani Monastery Relief Fund has undertaken the ambitious task of restoring them.
In addition to the rebuilding of a seminary, monasteries, and churches in the region, the organization supports six soup kitchens and one bakery. It also assists in providing daily lunches to four schools as well as shoes and clothing for youth. Moreover, the fund provides scholarships to the University of Northern Kosovo as well as scholarship assistance for Serbian youth attending Boise State University, and Orthodox Christian seminaries in America.
The Relief Fund also provides humanitarian aid to refugee centers, funds for the special needs of the elderly, payment of electric bills, provision for firewood, financial aid necessary for medical and surgical procedures, and help to purchase farm equipment and livestock.
“I am deeply honored to be on the Board of Directors of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. The Fund is at work in many diverse ways in Kosovo and Metohija, supporting the needy with food, clothing, and shelter, and attending to the educational needs of the children and the spiritual life of the faithful,” Fr. John said. “Additionally, there has long been a very close relationship between St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Serbian Orthodox Church; I look forward to seeing this flourish and to doing what we can to support the efforts of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund.”
“It truly is honorable of Father John to be a part of our fund,” said Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, president of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. “His great talents will indeed be a favorable contribution. The Board of Directors looks forward to working with him and his beloved seminary.”
Father John’s arrival on the Board of Directors comes at an opportune time. In October 2011, the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija announced that Ss. Cyril & Methodius Serbian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Prizren, destroyed during the war of the 1990s, was being reconstructed and will be reopened.
In celebration of the announcement of the seminary’s re-opening, Father Nektarios and the Decani Monastery Relief Fund’s Executive Director, J. Basil Dannebohm, will visit the region in February 2012, where the two will be lecturing to the newly enrolled seminarians. On behalf of the fund, Fr. Nektarios and Mr. Dannebohm hope to raise $25,000 before the upcoming trip, which will provide humanitarian aid during the frigid winter months.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2012, but the fund has truly enjoyed God’s blessings this year,” said Mr. Dannebohm. “Our seminary is being reopened, we are able to provide educational assistance to students, food and livestock and, most importantly, love—something money can’t buy.”
Dannebohm continued, “I am honored that Father John accepted the nomination to serve on our board. He brings a tremendous amount of education, experience and expertise to the team.”
Donations to the Decani Monastery Relief Fund can be made by mail to: 2618 West Bannock Street, Boise, ID 83702 or online at www.decanifund.org/donate.