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The Bishop of Lipljan and Uzice, His Grace Ksenofont is Elected New Bishop of Raska and Prizren in Exile

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On the 31 st of December 2020, at the meeting of the Diocesan Council of the Province of Raska and Prizren in Exile held at the monastery of Novo Nikea in the village of Lelic, and in accordance with the counsel, the last will and testament of Bishop Artemije of ever-venerable memory, His Grace the Bishop of Lipljan and Uzice Ksenofont, was unanimously elected new Bishop of Raska and Prizren in Exile.
The official enthronement of His Eminence, the newly elected Bishop Ksenofont of Raska and Prizren in Exile, took place on May 17, 2021 at the monastery of the All-Holy Mother of God the Triherousitsa in Musvete.

The Biography of Bishop Ksenofont

His Grace the Most Reverend Chorbishop Ksenofont (Tomasevic), was born on the 25 th December 1975 in Sisak, in the Republic of Croatia, to his now reposed father Nedjelko and mother Dusanka, a Serbian family from Krajina. He finished Elementary School and High School in Petrinia, and during the difficult period of the war in 1994, he was subsequently enrolled at the Petrinia School of Philosophy, where he began his studies in English Language and Literature. The whirlwind events of the war and the terrible sufferings of the Serbs of Krajina during the criminal operation known as ‘Oluja’, lead the student Nenad and his family to Serbia, where he continues his studies in English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Pristina.

On 20 th April 1997, the advanced undergraduate Nenad enters the monastery of Visoki Decani as a novice monk, under obedience to his spiritual father and guide, Bishop Artemije. During Vespers, on the Eve of the Feast of St. Stephen Decanski, and in the midst of a new overwhelming military strike against the Serbs of Kosovo, novice monk Nenad receives the Small Monastic Schema and Tonsure, receiving the name Ksenofont, after Saint Ksenofont of Constantinople.

On 21 st December 2004, Bishop Artemije ordains the monk Ksenofont to the rank of Hierodeacon at the monastery of Visoki Decani, and on the 19 th December 2006 to the rank of Hieromonk at the monastery of Gracanica.

On 12 th July, 2012, on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, he is elevated to the rank of Protosyngelos at the Monastery of St John the Baptist in the village of Ljuljaci, and at the same time, he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery of All Holy Mother of God the Triherousica in Musvete.

On 15 th August 2020, Bishop Artemije elevates him to the rank of Archimandrite, at the monastery of the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen in Grdovici.

At the Diocesan Council meeting that took place on 22 nd August 2020 at the Monastery of Saint Justin Popovic in Barajevo, Archimandrite Ksenofont was unanimously elected Chorbishop of Lipljan and Uzice.

He was consecrated Bishop of Lipljan and Uzice on 20 th September 2020, at the Monastery of All Holy Mother of God the Triherousitsa in Musvete.

At the Diocesan Council meeting that took place on the 31st December 2020 at the Monastery of Novo Nikea in the village of Lelic, Chorbishop Ksenofont was unanimously elected Bishop of Raska and Prizren in Exile.

He speaks 6 foreign languages ​​fluently and is conversant in a further 6 foreign languages.

Your Eminence Bishop Ksenofont, we wish you Many Years!

The Consecration of Chorbishop Lipljan and Uzice Ksenofont

On Sunday the 20th September 2020, at the monastery of the All-Holy Mother of God Triherousitsa in Musvete, His Eminence Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren in Exile performed the Divine Hierarchical Liturgy and the solemn consecration of the monastery’s abbot Archimandrite Ksenofont (Tomasevic), to the rank of Bishop of Lipljan and Uzice. This was preceded by the Ceremony of Episcopal Nomination on the previous day, just prior to the Service of Vespers.

Concelebrating with Bishop Artemije in the Divine Liturgy were Their Graces, the Chorbishops Nikolai of Staroraska and Loznica, Maxim of Novobrdo and Pannonia and Naum of Barajevo and Hvosno, together with many priests and hieromonks, while the choral responses throughout, were chanted by the resident monks of the monastery. Also participating at the Divine Liturgy, were many monastics from the Diocese of Raska and Prizren in Exile, as well as approximately 1000 spiritual children of Saint Sava of Serbia, from all Serbian lands. Everybody wanted to pray together at this great and important event for the Church, from which they received tremendous spiritual joy. Indeed, this consecration of an Orthodox Chorbishop who is a valiant fighter for the Faith and defender of the Church of God, produces supreme joy amongst the Faithful and is the greatest gift that God can bestow upon His people during these very difficult times of what is in effect, a spiritual pandemic, caused by the deadly virus of Ecumenism. The pious Serbian Faithful present, understood this very well, as they made haste from Serbian lands everywhere to arrive at Musvete, where they glorified God and gave Him thanks for such a priceless treasure, a new Orthodox Chorbishop, whose integrity they acknowledged with the traditional proclamation of He is Worthy!

While placing the pastoral staff in the hands of the newly ordained Chorbishop of Lipljan and Uzice, His Eminence Bishop Artemije said: Dear brother in Christ, Bishop Ksenofont! Today is a great day for you, but also for all of us, because God has given you Great and Supreme Grace, by appointing you as a shepherd of His rational flock. Your responsibilities are essentially the same as you have had thus far, only much deeper. Until now, you were the Abbot of a monastery, guiding its Brotherhood. But now, the Lord has sent you out to harvest His field, to shepherd all the people of Lipljan, Uzice and the surrounding areas. So far, your eyes were fixed upon the construction of this parish of the All-Holy Mother of God the Triherousitsa. But from now on, your vision will extend even further to other places, and you will have additional obligations. But fear not. Falter not. Do not be weak. Because today, the new Grace of the Holy Spirit has descended upon on your piety, the Grace which strengthens and empowers you, guides you and enlightens you, concerning your new responsibilities to the Church of the Living God. May the Lord steer you, and protect in this, your new way of obedience, so that you can at the end of your life say together with St. Paul, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. For this is the most important thing, to keep the True Orthodox Faith. And now, dear brother Ksenofont, draw near and receive this pastoral staff, the symbol of episcopal authority that will support you in your great and supreme service in the Church of God”.

There then followed the ordination homily of Bishop Ksenofont, which we quote below in its entirety:

„Your Eminence, Bishop and Abba,

Most Reverend Brother Chorbishops,

Brother Priests, Hieromonks, Hierodeacons, Monks,

Sister Abbesses and Nuns,

Dear brothers and sisters, dear spiritual children, most pious, upright, Christ- loving and benevolent Congregation of Saint Sava of Serbia!

When delivering their ordination homilies, it has always been the custom for Serbian hierarchs to address those by whom they were ordained, as well as the people of God present, in order to present the plan according to which they will be labouring together with their flock. In truth, what plan and motivation can a hierarch accept, other than the eternal, living, indestructible and Christian plan that is called the Gospel? For it is a plan that has an answer for every question which like a burning coal, torments the whole world, the whole creation and every Christian soul. Above all, it contains the most important answer to the terrible question of life and death, eternal life, and the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, the Holy Gospel was first preached by St John the Forerunner at the Jordan, and thereafter proceeded from the holy mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who says “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2, Matt. 4:17). And now the Lord says aloud: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). And as he said to everyone: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”(Mk.8:34). And also: “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke.14:27). And He Who is, says to His Disciples and to each one of us: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34)”. Behold how the everlasting Gospel is laid bare! The tremendous words, the awesome mystery, the sacred pledge, and this “difficult teaching. Who can accept it” (John 6:60). And indeed, who is now ready to fulfil all of this?

Whenever they encountered the Mystery of the Holy Trinity and conversed with the Living God, the Old Testament Prophets, acknowledging their own weaknesses, impurities, and infirmities, roared and cried out in fear and terror. Hence the psalmist David had said “Fear and trembling come upon me, and darkness overwhelms me” (Psalm 54:6-LXX). And the great prophet Moses on the Mountain of God “turned his face away, in awe, unable to look upon God” (Ex. 3:6). Also, the longsuffering Job tells us “Fear and trembling came upon me, causing all my bones to shake”(Job. 4.14), and adds “I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent” (Job. 9.28).

When called upon to preach in Israel, the great prophet Jeremiah, speaking in fear said “alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak, for I am too young.” (Jer.1:6). While the prophet Isaiah before the God of Powers cried “oh wretched that I am, and taken aback! For I am a man of unclean lips… and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isa.6:5).

The Apostles themselves were also afraid and cried out in fear (Matt.14:26). The Apostle Peter cried aloud on his knees saying “begone from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”(Luke 5:8). The great preacher and teacher of the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul, who had previously persecuted Christ and Christians trembled with fear saying “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts. 9:6).

If the great Saints, Prophets, Apostles and preachers had thus lamented during their encounters with the living God, in full knowledge of the truth taught us by the Apostle Paul that proclaims “our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29) – what should I say and how should I behave? How can I justify myself when speaking the same words as David, who said, when alone he fought Goliath “I was small amongst my brothers and the youngest in the house of my father” (Ps. 151:1)?

Nevertheless, knowing my human weaknesses but having Faith in the mighty God and in the omnipotence of the Grace of Him who always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, I bow my head, Your Eminence, before your blessing and your choice, relying solely upon the Grace of God, because of which “I am what I am” (I Cor. 15:10), and through which I was honoured with the three-fold episcopal Grace of sanctification, teaching, and administration in the Church of God. I implore Your Eminence and the Holy Assembly gathered here today, to help me by praying that this Grace may always remain present within me.

The beloved Disciple of Christ and Holy Evangelist John the Theologian, teaches through the holy mouth of Christ, Who in His arch-priestly prayer says “ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:24), and “these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn. 17,13).

The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, teaches us with the same words addressed to the Thessalonians “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thus do I obey the great Apostle, on this great and holy day, when, unworthy though I am, was honoured with the great and majestic Grace of the episcopal priesthood; and I give thanks for the abundance of gifts and grace, which your Eminence’s High Priesthood has bestowed upon my humility.

From the very beginning, my trembling soul gives thanks to our meek and humble God, Who bore witness to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. It is to Him, first and foremost, that my gratitude ascends on high, to the Throne of the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-Giving and Indivisible Trinity; to the Unbegotten Father without beginning; and to the Son, through Whom all things were made, Who became one of us, so that we too, as little brothers and friends of Christ, may become gods by grace; and to the Holy and vivifying Spirit of Truth and Intercessor, Who proceeds from the Father, and from Whom flow streams of Grace and Life, by which every soul lives.

In His Divine Providence, God deigned to create and give form to my humility, on December 12th, 1975, according to the Patristic Calendar, on the Feast of St. Spyridon of Trimythous the Wonder Worker, who is also patron saint of my hometown of Petrinia. On the same day in the following year, I was baptized, and with the grace and supplication of this saint, I began my active Christian life in the parish of Petrinia, one year before the war of 1990. My first active Christian steps began by helping at the Divine Liturgy and in my parish’s duties, as well as assisting the then Chief Priest Dragan Glumac, whom I thank for everything he taught me during those difficult years of the war that swept through the Republic of Serbian Krajina like a tornado. It so happened that very often, only the two of us would be there to participate in the Divine Liturgy, in the cold and in the heat, serving God and offering the bloodless sacrifice of the Eucharist.

Having given thanks to the Triune God, my grateful soul and the vigilant eyes of my heart now descend, noetically and imperceptibly, from the heavenly Throne of the Most High, to the magnificent earthly temple and house of Our Saviour that is dedicated to the Holy King Stefan Decanski, where I began my own monastic life, serving both God and the Holy King, close to His wonderful and miraculous reliquary. It was there where I left my hair when tonsured a monk in 1999 by our Abba and Elder, Bishop Artemije, from whom I also received the Lesser Schema. I was hoping that according to the old monastic custom where the hair, there the bones also, I would also one day, leave my
own bones there, near the reliquary of the saint himself. But God’s Providence decided otherwise.

I am grateful to the Holy King for the abundance of grace and mercy he has shown us, in the 10 years of my monastic life at the Visoki Decani monastery. A grace and mercy bestowed as much to me, as to the entire monastic brotherhood. A brotherhood that was tirelessly taught by our Elder about the everlasting rules of monastic life, based above all, upon holy obedience to the Elder, preservation of the Orthodox Faith, the Rule of Hospitality, and the solemn command, do not extinguish the Spirit. May God also help those who even today, continue to follow the wrong path. May He enable them to remember those things that were also taught them by our Elder and Father. How he led us, how he held us, how he raised us up and resurrected our sluggish and dejected souls.

Today, although I may indeed be far away from the King’s reliquary chest containing his wonder-working relics, I can still sense His miraculous and protective power, and with love, hope and faith, I look forward to the day when my humility will once again be honoured with the privilege of venerating with love, the sacred relics of the Holy King in the temple of which he is both Founder and Protector.

I wish to thank from the bottom of my heart, all of my previous brotherhood from the monastery of the Holy Archangels near Prizren. Above all the fathers Benedict, Varsanufije and Prohor, for their brotherly acceptance of me at their God-loving monastic fraternity in 2006 on the Feast Day commemorating the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and who to this day, share with us all joys and sorrows we undergo as fellow workers, passengers and sufferers travelling upon the troubled sea of ​​this life. I remember and thank our fathers, the Protosyngelos John and the monk Melchizedek who have reposed in the Lord. I truly hope that they are also rejoicing together with us on this day in heaven, where they can look directly upon those things that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, things longed for by every Christian heart.

My whole heart also gives thanks to my parents – my mother Dusanka, who is with us here sharing our joy, as well as my late father Nedjelko, who – I hope and believe – is likewise partaking in this godly event, from the bosom of Abraham. As hardworking and conscientious Serbs of Krajina, my parents, strove to plant in my soul and that of my brother Dusko – who is also rejoicing with us here today – not only the love for work and toil and honesty from an early age, but especially for the Serbian virtues which must never be offered up for sale, but which are so often, so easily and so cheaply being sold today, in the suffering, sad, sold, occupied and humiliated Serbia of facemasks, social distancing and quarantines.

I remember and pray for all the Serbs of Krajina, distressed and dispossessed, worn out and scattered all over the world, following the criminal and genocidal ‘Operation Oluja’ by the Croatian army in 1995. My brothers! As before in Jerusalem, Christ told us that many times how He wanted to gather together His children in Krajina, as a hen gathers her fledglings under her wings, but we were not willing! Therefore, from henceforth, let our code be All for Christ and Nothing without Christ, so that the Lord may gather all those who have been scattered and dispersed, to rebuild that which has been destroyed. To bring back all those who have been persecuted, that His Holy and Glorious Name may be glorified – as in Krajina, so too, in all Serbian lands!

My soul mourns as it remembers all the victimised and persecuted Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija, with whom I spent so many precious moments, both wonderful and sad. Because following our Golgotha ​​and tribulations in Krajina, we underwent the same in Kosovo and Metohija, surviving and suffering together, sharing one and the same pain within our hearts. To those who have been persecuted, as well as all those from Kosovo who are still persevering in martyrdom (some of whom are here with us today), I send greetings and blessings from the depths of my heart, hoping that in time, all of us may be honoured together, upon fulfilment of that Serbian pledge to meet again, ‘Next
Year in Prizren’!

I also thank my brothers with whom I will be concelebrating from now on, in the priestly rank of Chorbishop which I have joined today – the great and righteous warriors for Christ, Chorbishops Nikolai, Maxim and Naum,. As I henceforth bear the martyrdom and the cross of this ministry, I will be relying upon their prayers and support, so they may teach me how gratefully I should serve everyone, and how to be crucified following the example of Christ, that I may be resurrected together with Him. I also thank my brothers – the abbots of the catacombs, the hieromonks, the hierodeacons and the monks. I ask them to pray to God for me now and in the future, that I may carry this cross worthily on my shoulders, for it is a cross that is not at all easy to bear. Likewise, I implore our mothers, the abbesses and their sisters, the wonderful and honourable Serbian nuns and brave confessors of the Orthodox Faith, to commemorate my humility, in their fervent prayers to God.

I also thank my own brotherhood of the All-Holy Mother of God the Triherusitsa, of whose monastery I am abbot, and I trust that she will be my support when I lift this new cross, which we must all raise together, because a brother helped by a brother, is like a fortified and lofty city! I therefore beseech you all to take this opportunity to overlook all my mistakes and weaknesses, as we must all strive together to be God’s fellow workers in the Lord’s pasture and in His holy edifice, starting here, from the sanctity within this house of the All-Holy Mother of God the Triherusitsa, who miraculously called us to serve Her, through this pilgrimage to venerate her wonder-working icon.

Thank you all, brothers and sisters, my spiritual children from Uzice, Zlatibor, Haetina, and all of you from everywhere, who for all these years and with so much love, have laboured to help and build this monastic sanctuary of Musvete, selflessly assisting our monastic brotherhood and our persecuted and rightly- confessing diocese. Without you, today’s joy would not have been possible. Thank you all!

And finally, I address you, Your Eminence, my Bishop and my Abbot. I began by thanking the Lord, and I must conclude my thanksgiving with words addressed to you, because my gratitude for all things is due to you. I thank you for everything! From that first day back in 1996, when as a student of English language and literature, I was honoured to become your spiritual child, until today. Taught and led by you, I owe you everything, especially this office of the episcopal grace, with which you honoured me to become your assistant and your fellow bishop, despite my weaknesses and my unworthiness. Especially pleasing to my heart, is the title Lipljan of my episcopal office, because Lipljan is the old bishopric which derives its ancient legitimacy from the bishopric of Ulpiana or Ulpiana-Justiniana Secunda, and the Holy Martyrs Florus and Lavrus who were killed in Ulpiana, during the early Christian period. After them, we have the bishops of Lipljan who are mentioned in the historical sources, up until the Great Migration of Serbs in the 18th century. And because of our current status under persecution and in exile outside the borders of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, the title Uzice obliges us to preach the Good News of the Crucified and Risen Christ, to the people of Uzice and Zlatibor.

Pray Abba, to the Life-Giving God, that my humility may not become a withered branch in the fruit-bearing tree that you have so carefully cultivated, from your first monastery in Crna-Reka right up until this day – especially so in our times, when the Church of God is assailed by lack of faith, scepticism and heresy, incarnating as the fearsome hundred-headed hydra of Ecumenism. With the blessing of your holy Elder, you granted us the opportunity to march beside you, in this pious and priestly battle, under the banner of Saint Sava of Serbia, to which you cling so firmly.

You must also continue to teach me in the future, correcting, rebuking and encouraging me with great patience and careful instruction as you have always done thus far, in accordance with the counsel given by the divine Apostle Paul. Through Your instruction, your guidance and your prayers, I hope that I too will become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, so that at some point, I may also proclaim with St. Paul, that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20).

Amen and God willing!

Once more, I thank you all!“

During the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Artemije also ordained to the rank of deacon, the monk Isidore (Arsenovic), the brother of the monastery of St. Archangel Gabriel in Gotovusa. Prior to the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Artemije blessed the cassock of the novice monk Nemanja (Bukosav) from the coenobitic monastery of the All-Holy Mother of God the Triherusitsa in Musvete.

The magnificent ceremony ended with the traditional Eis Polla Eti Despota, chanted by the deacons to Bishop Artemije and to Bishops Nikolai, Maxim, Naum and the newly consecrated Bishop Ksenofont. There followed a communal feast in the Guest House of the monastery, at which the Bishops Maxim and Ksenofont addressed inspiring words to all present.

During the feast, a fitting programme for the occasion was also performed by the faithful congregation of this catacomb monastery. At the end of the proceedings, everyone present chanted the famous song Dawn is Breaking in Kosovo, which has become the ‘unofficial anthem’ of our Diocese.

Finally, let us conclude the news about this holy consecration by also crying aloud: Lord, grant unto him who by God’s grace is now Most Reverend and Worthy Orthodox Chorbishop of Lipljan and Uzice Ksenofont, longevity and tranquil life, health, salvation and victory over enemies, and preserve him unto Many Years!“

The Editorial Team

(Translated into English by Fr. Dimitrios Taktikos from the Greek by Marko Pejkovic)