On 18 December 2022, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije presided over the Holy Hierarchical Liturgy in the church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, and the festive act of consecration of the elected and appointed highly-dignified Archimandrite Petar (Bogdanović) as Bishop of Toplica, Vicar of the Serbian Patriarch.
The Hierarchs who have concelebrated with His Holiness were: His Beatitude Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje kyr Jovan, His Eminence Archbishop of Michalovce–Košice kyr Georgije, His Eminence Metropolitan of Bregalnica kyr Ilarion and Their Graces Bishops: Irinej of Bačka, Dositej of Britain and Scandinavia, Pahomije of Vranje, Jovan of Šumadija, Ignatije of Braničevo, Atanasije of Mileševa, Teodosije of Raška–Prizren, Jovan of Slavonia, Ilarion of Timok, Arsenije of Niš, Nikodim of Dalmatia, Heruvim of Osečko Polje and Baranja, Isihije of Valjevo, Dimitrije of Zahumlje–Herzegovina, Jerotej of Šabac, Justin of Western Europe, David of Stobi, Stefan of Remesiana, Damaskin of Mohač, Sava of Marča, Aleksej of Hvosno, Ilarion of Novo Brdo, Nektarije of Jegar, and Dositej of Lipljan.
The following clerics also took part in the service: Very Venerable Archimandrite Metodije, Hegumen of the Hilandar Monastery; Hegumen of the Grgeteg Monastery Dositej; Hegumen of the Hopovo Monastery Pavle; Hegumen of the Jošanica Monastery Jevtimije; Hegumen of the Ozren Monastery Gavrilo; Hegumen of the Bukovo Monastery Kozma; Hegumen of the Tuman Monastery Dimitrije; Hegumen of the Sukovo Monastery Serafim; Archimandrite Danilo, Director of the Patriarchal Administrative Office; Hegumen of the Pinosava Monastery Petar; Hegumen of the Kovilj Monastery Hariton; Hegumen of the Savina Monastery Makarije; Protosyncellus Angelarije, as well as numerous Presbyters and Deacons from several Dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The festive act of consecration was attended by many believers, as well as the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops Archimandrite Nektarije, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Mr. Miloš Vučević; Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Mr. Nikola Selaković; Director of the Administration for Cooperation with Churches and Religious Communities Dr. Vladimir Roganović; representatives of the Serbian Armed Forces, Archbishop Stanislav Hočevar, Prince Filip and Princess Danica Karađorđević, representatives of the cultural, political and public life of the capital.
Addressing a fatherly lesson to the new Hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch kyr Porfirije pointed out:
– Dear Bishop, it pleased the Fathers of our Assembly in the Holy Spirit that you may be elected as a Bishop. It is a great joy for the entire Church of Christ, for all of us. I will not repeat what we have been repeating from week to week, but I will say one more time what Saint Ignatius the God-Bearer said: The Bishop is the image of the Father, because Christ is the image of the Father in the Holy Liturgy, and the Bishop stands in the place of Christ. In the First Epistle to Timothy, while addressing his young fellow brother, companion, co-worker as a Bishop, the Holy Apostle Paul wrote: You should be a model for everyone, a model in faith, in order, in life.
Be a model in the faith, so that you may keep the Orthodox faith, not in the sense of hiding it from others, but that you may keep it unchanged, the way we received it, and hand it over urbi et orbi to the whole world; so that you may preach of Christ, crucified and risen, according to the way the apostles of the Church of Christ testified, the holy fathers taught, and according to the way the Church lived that experience. Be a model of order, so that you may preserve order, and that means exactly what we heard in the Confession of Faith – that you should preserve all those canons and rules established by the Ecumenical Councils, so that they may be the rules of your life. Likewise, you should be a model not only by teaching and keeping the faith, but also through your life, and this means whatever the scope of strength and gifts the Lord has given you, that you should put them at the service of the Church, always trusting in the grace of God, because first of all, and after all, and above all, the episcopal ministry itself is a gift from God. We did not deserve it. The reason for which the Lord puts someone in His place to economize the Church of God is known only to Him, and that is the manifestation of God’s grace. If you are a model in all of this according to the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the Holy Apostle Timothy, then everyone will be obliged to respect you, i.e. no one will be able to say: This one is young, why should we listen to him, we have more experience. The power of words, wisdom, truth and testimony does not depend on age, but on our commitment to the Church and Christ.
May the Lord grant – it is the prayer of all of us, Brethren Hierarchs and, I am sure, all the pleroma of our Church – that your life will be a life in Christ, and then all that the Holy Apostle to the Gentiles, the great apostle, the trumpet of God, the apostle Paul speaks about will be a reality of your life as well. May the Lord bless you as you build the Body of the Church for your salvation and to the joy of all of us.
Take this scepter to feed the flock of Christ entrusted to you. Let it be a support and strengthening for the obedient, and as for the disobedient and non-compliant ones – direct them with chastisement and gentle education, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Axios!
Having received the hierarchical scepter from the hands of the Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop kyr Petar delivered the introductory sermon, saying inter alia:
– I thank God and the Holy Assembly of Bishops for electing me to this exalted office and I hope that, although I am weak, I will fulfill what is expected of me, primarily through your prayers, Your Holiness and Brethren Hierarchs. The apostolic vocation is more difficult than the martyrdom; the martyr gives away everything he has, his whole life, and the apostle is required to do what goes beyond the limits and possibilities of his given being – to do what is impossible and yet possible in God. I also ask for your prayers, reverend fathers, monks, nuns and people of God, but also that you who already love me be by my side, if not more, at least as much as before; and also you, who will get to love me in the new obedience – do not doubt that I loved you first.
I also feel obliged to ask everyone I have wronged knowingly or unknowingly for forgiveness, and to tell everyone that I have forgiven everyone a long time ago, and that no one harbors an iota of prejudice that I will leave room for my vanity to stand in the way of anyone who approaches me as a Bishop asking for living water. Glory and praise be to the Triune God – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen!