Irinej Kovačević

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Irinej Kovačević
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Born6 September 1914
Vrnčani, Serbia
DiedFebruary 1999
Third Lake, Illinois, United States of America

Irinej Kovačević (Serbian Cyrillic: Иринеј Ковачевић; Vrnčani (Gornji Milanovac), Serbia, 6 September 1914 - Third Lake, Illinois, United States of America, 2 February 1999) was metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of New Gračanica and Midwestern America. His tenure was during the difficult period in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the diaspora when the leading churchmen were in conflict, and the people were left to decide on which side they would belong. The winners were lawyers and finally, thanks to Metropolitan Irinej and others of like mind, the suit was settled long after the death of Dragoljub Milivojević (1898-1979) in the court case known as Serbian Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich.


Milan Kovačević.[1]was born on 6 September 1914 in the village of Vrnčani near Gornji Milanovac to father Sreten and mother Kristina (born Drenjaković). He finished elementary school in his village and a high school in Gornji Milanovac. After completing his studies at a Teacher's College, he took a post as a teacher in the village of Ljutovnica, near Gornji Milanovac.[2]

As a reserve officer in the army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Milan Kovačević was captured by the Nazis who took him to a POW camp in May 1941 in Germany, where he remained until 1945. After being liberated, he went to England, to Dorchester on Thames, South Oxfordshire, where a Serbian Theological College[3]was established in the Old College building.[4]In 1950 he emigrated to the United States of America and enrolled at Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary and Columbia University.

In October 1953, he came to the Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery and Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois, where he was tonsured on 30 December and received a new name -- Irinej -- and monastic rank. He was ordained a deacon on 31 December 1953, and ordained a monk on 7 April 1954, by Bishop Dionisije (Milivojević), the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America at the time. On 31 August 1956, Bishop Dionisije promoted him to the rank of abbot, and the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1961, elevated him to the dignity of Archimandrite.[2]


In 1963, Kovačević decided to remain with Bishop Dionisije Milivojević. At the Tenth Church-People's Assembly, held in Libertyville in November 1963, he was elected bishop and consecrated on 7 December at the Saint Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. The consecration was performed by two Ukrainian bishops, Gennady and Gregory. In August 1984, the Church-People's Assembly renamed the Free American-Canadian Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church (disambiguation)|Serbian Orthodox Church into the Free Serbian Orthodox Church and proclaimed Bishop Irinej as Metropolitan of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church.

He administered the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand for the Free Serbian Orthodox Church from October 1988 to June 1991, now known as Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand.

At the invitation of His Holiness the Pavle, Serbian Patriarch|Patriarch Pavle, he led a delegation of priests and laypersons of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church, which held discussions with members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church on overcoming the differences and joining the Eucharistic community[5] Through reconciliation, the long-desired Eucharistic unity was attained and confirmed by a joint Holy Liturgy at the Meeting of the Lord, at the Cathedral Temple in Belgrade in 1992.[2] After a long and serious illness, he retired on 2 February 1999 in the monastery of New Gračanica. He was buried on 8 February 1999 at the same monastery.[2]


  1. Милановић, Милена (1999). "Срби у свету--ко је ко 1996/99: биографски лексикон".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Читуља на енглеском
  3. Chandler, Edgar H. S. (1959). "The High Tower of Refuge: The Inspiring Story of Refugee Relief Throughout the World".
  4. "The Old College, Dorchester, Oxfordshire".
  5. Serbian Elite. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. 2001. ISBN 9788672080346.

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