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 Nikolla (Hyka), also Bishop of Apolonia and Director of the Orthodox Theological Academy “Resurrection of Christ” in St. Vlash in Durres was elected as the head of the Metropolis of Apolonia and Fieri. The enthronement of the new Metropolitan was assigned to take place on 16 April.
On Saturday, April 16, 2016, the city center in Fieri was decorated with a festive garb. With traditional folk music and dances, hundreds of faithful were gathered to welcome His Eminence Nikolla, their new Metropolitan. The area of Fieri stands out for its ancient Christian traditions as well as for the large number of Orthodox people. Only the area of Myzeqe, which used to be part of the Metropolis of Berati, has more orthodox people than the inaccurate figures declared by the Census of year 2011.
At 12:00, Archbishop Anastasios together with the new Metropolitan arrived. They were welcomed by many faithful who were lining up the street in front of the Cathedral of St. George (the second in size in the country, after “Resurrection of Christ” Cathedral in Tirana). In the big yard of the church, clergy and laity were gathered from all the dioceses, as well as representatives of local authorities and MPs of the area. Also leaders of other religious communities in the city were present in the event. In addition all members of the Holy Synod participated in the rite of Enthronement. Followed by the psalms chanted by “Joan Kukuzeli” Byzantine Choir, Archbishop Anastasios and His Eminence Nikolla, along with other members of the Synod entered the church surrounded by the hospitality of the faithful of Fieri. After his Eminence sat on the Episcopal Throne, Protopresbyterian Joan Trebicka read aloud the report of the Holy Synod in front of the faithful of the Metropolis of Apolonia and Fier, who were informed about the recent decisions of the Synod and were invited to support their Archshepherd in his ministry. On behalf of the faithful of the area of the new Metropolis, Stavrofor Ilia Bita welcomed His Eminence Nikolla, the new Metropolitan, who afterwards delivered his speech. Among other things, His Eminence stated:
“Your Beatitude, you are the one who have the merit for the election and the enthronement of the new Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Apolonia and Fieri. Because you are the one, who made possible my studies at the Theological Academy in St. Vlash, then in the Kapodistrian Theological School in Athens, and later my graduate studies at the “Aristotle” Theological University in Thessaloniki, but actually I was rather more taught by your life. All the time I spent at your side, since I was ordained a deacon until now, has served as the best university in my life. But in addition to all, you have been my spiritual father.
The words are not enough to fully express my gratitude and appreciation towards you. I thank you my Father and Shepherd. May God grant you many more years as the head of our Church and good health and wisdom.
I thank you for the trust you have showed towards me in handling the duties and responsibilities assigned to me. I thank you for this new and great responsibility of the pastoral care for the new and Holy Metropolis of Apolonia and Fieri…
… I accepted to come to this place and undertake this duty in order to serve. But I am aware that I cannot accomplish such a ministry alone. Therefore I ask your further help and support. And you, the clergymen of this new Diocese are my first and very close associates of mine, and therefore I will constantly ask your help.
The Lord has blessed me in my life. He has given me much more than I thought I might need or required. I know that today’s Enthronement is a great honor and privilege for me, which I, the unworthy, am granted. But except from being a privilege, it is also a challenging ministry … ”
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 during which His Eminence Nikolla received heartfelt congratulations from the Hierarchs, clergy, local authorities and the faithful of the new Metropolis.
Translated by: Juljana Pici