Serbian Orthodox Church
Our Bishop - His Grace Bishop IRINEJ
On 25 May 2016 the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
elected by acclamation Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand to the Throne
of Bishops of Eastern America following the election of His Grace Bishop Mitrophan
of Eastern America to the Throne of Bishops of Canada.
Bishop Irinej was born Mirko Dobrijevic in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA,
to his father Djuro and mother Milica (nee Svilar).
His elementary and secondary education was completed in Cleveland, Ohio.
After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1973-1975,
he attended St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan,
Pennsylvania from 1975-1979, where he graduated with a Licentiate in
Theology with the academic distinction maxima cum laude.
In 1980 he enrolled in St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood,
New York and graduated in 1982 with a Master of Divinity degree with Honourable
Mention for his master’s thesis Bishop Nicholai Velimirovich: A 1921 Mission to America.
Following which, he entertained studies at the Athens Centre in 2000 and 2003
receiving levels I and II certificates in contemporary Greek language.
The future Bishop spent most of his early career in the field of education,
lecturing at Loyola University in Chicago, and at the Theological Faculty of
the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade.
For many years he was the co-editor of The Path of Orthodoxy,
the official publication of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada.
His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher of Midwestern America ordained him
deacon on 15 January 1994 at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
in Chicago, Illinois.
He was tonsured a monk on 18 January 1995 at the St Sava Monastery in Libertyville,
Illinois, receiving the monastic name Irinej after St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons.
Thereafter, he was ordained hieromonk on 27 January 1995 at the St Sava Cathedral
in Parma, Ohio, USA. He was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite on 18 June 2006
by His Grace Bishop Justin of Timok (presently of Zhicha), a member of the Holy Synod
of Bishops, at the request of Patriarch Pavle.
The Very Reverend Archimandrite Irinej up until his election as Bishop of
Australia and New Zealand was the Consultant to the Holy Synod of Bishops of
the Serbian Orthodox Church on International and Interchurch Affairs and
Coordinator of the newly created Kosovo and Metohija Office of the Holy
Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the Serbian Orthodox
Patriarchate in Belgrade. Among his numerous recognitions, especially for
his exemplary work in improving ties between the Serbian state and the Serbs
of the Diaspora, and for his work in advancing relations between Church and
State, in 2005, he was awarded the Order of Vuk Karadzich III Degree by
President Svetozar Marovic of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro,
and is a 2007 recipient of the International Heraldic Order of the Fleur de Lys;
2008 Major Feldman Award of the Serbian Bar Association for merit;
2009 Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia
and the Seamless Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ; 2009 Grand Cross of the
Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the Seamless Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ;
2011 Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the
Seamless Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ; 2011 Senator of the Grand Badge in
the Order of Saint Queen Tamar; 2012 The Medal of Merit of the Royal House
of Georgia by HRH Prince Davit Bagrationi Mukhran Batonishvili; 2013 Knight
Commander of The Imperial Order of St Anne of the Imperial House of Russia;
and 2013 The Imperial Medal “Jubilee of the All National Effort”,
honouring the 400th Anniversary of the Imperial House of Romanov, 1613-2013
by HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.
Among his many appointments, Bishop Irinej represents the Serbian Orthodox
Church to the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee; is a member
of the Jasenovac Committee and the Permanent Missions Board of the Holy Synod
of Bishops; the Advisory Council of the Njegos Endowment for Serbian Studies
at Columbia University; and the Editorial Board of the Tesla Memorial Society;
and the Communications Committee of the Board of Directors of St Vladimir’s Seminary;
a member of the Serbian-American Center in Belgrade; and an honourary Board Member
for ZOE for Life! He is the Episcopal Patron for the Milosh Obilich Society of
Serbian Chivalry and the Centre for the Study of Orthodox Monarchism,
both in Belgrade, Serbia; Protector and Spiritual Advisor of Australia
and New Zealand for the Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the Seamless Tunic
of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Chairman of the National Heads of Churches of Australia.
Previously, Bishop Irinej was the Editor-in-Charge of the Information Service
of the Serbian Orthodox Church; Executive Director of the Office of External
Affairs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada, located in Washington,
DC; co-chaired the Orthodox Advisory Committee of the National Council
of the Churches of Christ in Metropolitan Washington; was a member of
National Council of the Churches of Christ Environmental Justice Task Force
(NCCC Eco-Justice); and served on the Board of Directors of International
Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC); the Executive Council of The United States
Conference of Religions for Peace (USCRP), the Conference of European Churches
(CEC-KEK), the Serbian Unity Congress, the Mayor's Advisory Council on Immigrant
and Refugee Affairs in Chicago, and the Chicago Human Rights Commission.
On the basis of the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of 26 May 2006,
the Reverend Hieromonk Irinej (Dobrijevic), Consultant to the Holy Synod of Bishops,
was elected as Bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.
He was consecrated on 15 July 2006 in the Holy Archangel Michael Cathedral
in Belgrade at the hands of His Eminence Dr Amfilohije, Archbishop of Cetinje,
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, together with 16 other bishops.
The Consecration of Bishop Irinej witnessed to date the single largest gathering
of Belgrade’s Diplomatic Corps. He was enthroned on 21 October 2006 in the St
Sava Pro-Cathedral in Elanora Heights, New South Wales as Bishop of the
Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, with its see in Sydney
by His Grace Chrysostom, Bishop of Bihac-Petrovac (presently of Zvornik-Tuzla)
a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops. The following day, 22 October 2006,
His Grace was presented as the Bishop-Administrator for the Diocese for
Australia and New Zealand New Gracanica Metropolitanate at the St Sava
Monastery in Wallaroo, New South Wales
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