Archpriest Slavoljub Knezevic of Split says there are no wedding or baptism ceremonies in Orthodox churches, or religious classes in Split any more, while priests are only left to bury the remaining elderly population.
Archpriest Slavoljub Knezevic of Split in Croatia asserts that 150 Orthodox families in his parish are celebrating Easter on Sunday under difficult conditions, but send messages of peace, love and hope for better days despite everything.
“The life of our faithful in the area of Split is not good because there is still a great amount of fear over the 1990s war events. It is certain that the Serbian Orthodox Church /SOC/ in these parts does not have a good potential of the faithful people and I’m afraid things will remain as they are,” Knezevic told Srna for the greatest Christian holiday, Easter, saying that more than 20,000 Orthodox Christians had lived in Split before the war.
For the most part, only the elderly have remained to live there.
“Twenty-two years after the war ended, one can steel feel and see that our wounds have not healed yet. The only bright spot in all this is our church which is trying to rally the Serb people, free them from fear and encourage them to celebrate their origin and their roots, in the spirit of resurrection,” added Knezevic.
He pointed out that the Orthodox faithful in Split have a small chapel and an unfinished St Sava Church dating from 1937, as well as four affiliated churches in the city’s suburbs.
“Of the 150 families, half visit our churches during the biggest holidays, while a smaller number of them regularly attended church services. Unfortunately, this is our painful reality,” said Knezevic.
The priests in Split invest maximum efforts in keeping the Serbs together and protect their churches.
“I have never been a pessimist, but I’m afraid that the Serbs will disappear from these parts, even though they have deep roots in Dalmatia, which is proved by numerous churches,” asserts Knezevic.
There are no more baptisms or weddings in the Orthodox churches in Split, he said.
“Unfortunately, there are neither baptisms nor weddings in our temples in Split, neither are there any religious classes. What’s left for SOC priests is to bury the remaining elderly residents,” noted Knezevic.
The SOC in Split was established in 1924, but had been closed during the 1990s war.
“When we’re talking about Split, we have to mention the St Sava Church, which has been unfinished for more than 75 years. Since the Second World War we haven’t been able to get an approval to finish the church, which is dedicated to the most respected saint of the Serbs,” said archpriest Knezevic.
The Archpriest of Split wished a Happy Easter to all Christians celebrating the biggest holiday on Sunday together.
The Serbian church at Obrovo in Split was designed by Aleksandar Deroko, co-author of the St Sava Church at Vracar in Belgrade.
The St Sava Church in Split is a martyr temple. Its construction began in 1937 and has never been finished.
After the Second World War, eight-metre walls were built and the building stopped then. It remains standing there like that to this day.