The Albanian Orthodox Church – May 2016
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, in its meeting dated on April 7, 2016, held under the headship of His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania, decided the establishment of two new Metropolis: 1. The Holy Metropolis of Apolonia and Fieri, which involves the areas of Patos and Libofshe, and which were separated from the Metropolis of Berat, Kanina and Vlora. 2. The Holy Metropolis of Elbasan, which involves the areas of Elbasan, Shpati and Librazhdi, and which were separated from the Archdiocese of Tirana and Durres.
Also, in accordance with the Statute and after the proposal of the Clergy-Laity Church Council, decisions were taken to fulfill the vacancies in the above newly created Metropolis by regular ballot. His Eminence Andon (Merdani), also Bishop of Kruje, who had prior been a Protosyngel of the Holy Archdiocese, was elected as the head of the Metropolis of Elbasan. His Eminence Andon has finished the Theological Academy “Resurrection of Christ” and the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, and has also received Master Degrees. The enthronement of the new Metropolitan was assigned to take place on 17 April.
On Sunday, April 17, 2016, at the Church of St. Nicholas, in Elbasan city, the enthronement of His Grace Andon took place. A festive atmosphere rich in folk music and traditional dances of the area was felt all around. The area of Elbasan is popular for its ancient Christian traditions and it is also the place where one of the earliest Orthodox monasteries, that of St. John the Vladimir is located.
At 6 p.m, Archbishop Anastasios and the new Metropolitan arrived at the church of St. Nicholas. They were surrounded by the love and affection of many faithful. The enthronement rite was also attended by members of the Holy Synod. Also there were present in this remarkable event the clergy and laity from other dioceses, the Mayor of Elbasan, local government representatives, deputies of the area and leaders of other religious communities in the city.
Archbishop Anastasios, His Eminence Andon and the Holy Synod members entered the church surrounded by the love of the faithful of Elbasan. Once His Eminence sat on the Episcopal Throne, Protopresbyter Joan Trebicka read out loud the report of the Holy Synod in front of the faithful of the Diocese of Elbasan, Shpati and Librazhdi, in which they were informed about the recent decisions of the Holy Synod and were also invited to support their Archshepherd. On behalf of the faithful of the new Metropolis area, Stavrofor Gjergji Trebicka welcomed the new Metropolitan, His Eminence Andon who held his speech on the occasion. In his speech, His Eminence, stated:
“… I am totally grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to have been with you (referring to Archbishop Anastasios) for a considerable amount of time, during which I have benefited from your strong faith in God’s providential care which has helped you in return to face the difficult moments and hardships. I have benefited from your deep wisdom and humility, which stems from your faith in God and your love for people, and from the patience you display while enduring daily challenges and facing issues that outreach local concerns and commitments.
Today you see how your spiritual children here in Albania are growing not only spiritually, but are also undertaking important tasks, as it happened yesterday with the enthronement of the Metropolitan of Apolonia and Fieri, His Eminence Nikolla, but even today, with the enthronement of another son of yours, the Metropolitan of Elbasan, Shpati and Librazhdi. For me personally, it is a joy and jubilation that you are present and are witnessing such exciting events for our community and for the citizens of this city and this Metropolis. After a long period of time and centuries, this Metropolis was rebuilt and you have the main merit for this.
… As the Archshepherd of the new Metropolis I feel the responsibility and blessing at the same time to work with all my heart and soul for the spiritual progress of the faithful and the unity of Christ’s Church. Therefore, I declare my engagement and commitment to my new endeavor, despite my weaknesses and human limitations. But trusting in the Grace of God who fixes up all the weaknesses and human limitations, I humbly ask for the Divine help, believing and praying that God, Who called us in this path, will give us the necessary strength and wisdom to successfully accomplish the mission we have been charged with… ”
In the end, all the participants unanimously shouted “Worthy” to the new Metropolitan and wished him success in his future endeavors.
After the rite of enthronement, there was a reception in the church premises, during which His Eminence Andon received heartfelt congratulations from the Hierarchs, clergy, local authorities and the faithful of the new Metropolis.
Translated by: Juljana Pici