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. His Grace the Right Reverend Irinej is a graduate of both St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.The Enthronement of Bishop Irinej took place on September 18, 2016, in New York City.
More about His Grace the Right Reverend Irinej
He was born in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio. His tertiary education includes the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1973-1975 and private tutelage in Byzantine Iconography and Japanese Sumi-e painting. He earned a Licentiate in Theology in 1979 with the academic distinction maxima cum laude from St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania; and a Master of Divinity degree in 1982 with Honorable Mention for his master’s thesis Bishop Nicholai Velimirovich: A 1921 Mission to America from St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He holds levels I and II certificates in contemporary Greek language from the Athens Centre in 2000 and 2003.
He spent much of his career in the field of education, lecturing at Loyola University in Chicago, and at the Theological Faculty of the University of Belgrade.
He was ordained a deacon in 1994 at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago; tonsured a monk in 1995 at the St Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois, receiving the monastic name Irinej after St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon; and ordained a hieromonk also in 1995 at the St Sava
Cathedral in Parma, Ohio, all at the hands of Metropolitan Christopher of Midwestern America. He was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite in 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.
Until his election as Bishop of Australia and New Zealand, he 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 many appointments, it is important to emphasize that 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 honorary 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-elect 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 Archbishop Amfilohije of Cetinje, Metropolitan of Montenegro, together with 16 other bishops. He was enthroned on 21 October 2006 in the St Sava Pro-Cathedral in Elanora Heights, New South Wales by His Grace Chrysostom of Bihac-Petrovac, a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops, as Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, with its see in Sydney. 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.
Through his endeavors in drafting a new common constitution for the unification of his two dioceses, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church on 23 May 2011 approved the proposed Constitution of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand of the Serbian Orthodox Church effecting the unification of the former Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and the Diocese for Australia and New Zealand New Gracanica Metropolitanate. The same were elevated to the dignity of a singular, unified Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand. Bishop Irinej holds the distinction of having thus far served the Church in Australia and New Zealand as its longest reigning hierarch. He also served as Chairman of the National Heads of Churches of Australia.
Having taken into consideration his significant diplomatic accomplishments, amongst all else, it was determined by the members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops that he be entrusted with the eminent Diocese of Eastern America with its See in New York City. The rebuilding of the St Sava Pro-Cathedral in Manhattan, recently destroyed in fire, will be the most formidable historic task awaiting the new Bishop as he assumes the Throne of the Bishops of Eastern America.