Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand

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Serbian Orthodox Church - Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
Jurisdiction Church of Serbia
Diocese type Dioceses
Founded 1974
Current bishop Bp Irinej (Dobrijević)
See(s) Australia and New Zealand
Headquarters Sydney, NSW
Territory Australia, New Zealand
Liturgical language(s) Serbian, Slavonic, English
Musical tradition Serbian Chant
Calendar Julian
Population estimate 42,405

(Census 2001)

Official website Dioceses of Aust. & NZ

The Serbian Orthodox Church - Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand is the local metropolitanate for Serbian Orthodox parishes in Australia and New Zealand. It is headquartered in Sydney, NSW, and is headed by Irinej (Dobrijević) of Australia and New Zealand since October 21, 2006.

Prior to June 2011, the Metropolitanate was composed of two parallel dioceses: the Patriarchal Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, headquartered in Sydney, NSW; and the New Gracanica Metropolitanate - Serbian Orthodox Diocese for Australia and New Zealand, headquartered in Canberra, ACT.



After World War II, a number of Serbs emigrated to Australia. They were under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church's American-Canadian Diocese, until 1952 when the Patriarchate took the diaspora (where there was not an established diocese - including Australasia) under it's omophorion. In 1963, an attempt to divide the American-Canadian diocese into three separate dioceses caused a schism, with 14 Serbian Orthodox Church-School communities in Australia aligning with the 'Free Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese for Australia and New Zealand' (and 4 remaining with the Patriarchate in Belgrade).

Free Serbian Diocese

The first Assembly of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese for Australia and New Zealand was held in October 1964, and a Diocesan Council was formed, dividing Australia into two administrative regions and elevating two priests to archpriest to administer it on his behalf, with Archimandrite Dimitrije (Balak) consecrated bishop in America in 1966 by Bp Dionisije & Irenej, and then Archim. Petar (Bankerovic) was consecrated to be his assistant in November 1977 by Bps Irinej and Dimitrije. Bp Dimitrije reposed in May 1979, and Bp Petar succeeded him in December of the same year.

The idea of building a monastery, a home for the aged and a home for orphans was considered in 1972, but it was not until Dec 1978 that moves were taken to make this happen. Bp Petar (then Bishop-Administrator) sent an appeal to the parishes in the diocese, requesting funds, and the property was purchased in 1980 and blessed in January 1981 by Bp Petar. Considerable donations were received - financial, material and labour - through the 1980s, and the loan was paid off by the end of 1991. It was used as a monastery at various times in its history.

An extraordinary Assembly was held in August 1984 in Illinois, USA, by delegates of the three Free Serbian dioceses, unanimously proclaiming the formation of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church.

Bp Petar reposed on Nov 1988. Metropolitan Irenej (in America) became its administrator, Archim. Sava of St Mark's Monastery, USA, as his deputy administrator. St Sava's Monastery, in Wallaroo, was completed in Jan 1990, and consecrated by Metr Irenej with Bp Vasilje (of the Western European Diocese). In March 1991, Bp Vasilje was elected as the new bishop for Australia and New Zealand.

Patriarchal Diocese

The Patriarchal parishes were organised within the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe and Australia in March 1969, and separated in June 1973 to be the Serbian Orthodox Diocese in Australia and New Zealand. While it began as a much smaller entity, the patriarchal Diocese grew over time to be a little larger than the Free Serbian Orthodox diocese over the same territory.


In December 1990, Bp Pavle was elected Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He invited the Free Serbian Orthodox to talks in Belgrade, which occurred in Apr 1991, where a Reconciliation Proposal was made, the Free Serbian Orthodox were accepted under the Patriarchate as the 'New Gracanica Metropolitanate' (among other constitutional edits), and this was finalised through concelebration in Belgrade in February 1992. As a temporary situation, this meant that there were now two directly overlapping dioceses in Australia and New Zealand, which were administered by two bishops, one each in Elaine and Canberra.

Amidst a wide variety of complaints from laity opposed to the merger, Bp Vasilje was transferred to a different (patriarchal) diocese, and Bp Sava (Juric) was consecrated Bishop of Australia and New Zealand in May 1994. He reported in 1996 that the New Gracanica diocese had 15 parishes, and that he and Bp Luka co-operated in serving the needs of faithful of both dioceses. Bps Sava & Luka jointly petitioned the Holy Synod for the unification of the dioceses and its elevation to Metropolitanate, headed by a new hierarch.

This was partially implemented in May 1999, when Bp Sava was transferred to Slovonia (Croatia) and Bp Luka was transferred to Paris, and Bp Nikanor was appointed bishop of the New Gracanica Diocese and Administrator of the Patriarchal Diocese.

In 2000, Bishop Nicanor became the first sole bishop in Australia and New Zealand, being appointed reigning bishop of the New Gracanica Diocese and also administrator of the patriarchal diocese. He established a joint legislative committee in 2002 which was to work on a new constitution. In 2003 his successor, Bishop Milutin was appointed bishop of the New Gracanica diocese and administrator of the patriarchal diocese. He experienced the first direct problem with the 'Property Trust Company' which then administered St Sava's Monastery in Wallaroo.

In 2006, on Bp Milutin's transfer to the newly-formed diocese of Valjevo, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church elected Hieromonk Irinej Dobrijevic as Bishop of Australia and New Zealand[1]. On 15 July, Archimandrite Irinej was consecrated at St Mark's Cathedral, Belgrade, and he was enthroned in Australia at St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, Elanora Heights, Sydney, on October 21, 2006[2]. In contrast to previous bishops, he was appointed the bishop of the patriarchal diocese and administrator of the New Gracanica diocese. He continued to work on the unification of the two dioceses. Implementing a decision of Bp Milutin's (in May 2004), Bp Irenej moved the administrative centre of the Diocese from St Sava Monastery to Sydney.

Bp Irenej became the focus of attacks by dissident former-members of the Free Serbian diocese, including the Property Trust Company and directors thereof, stretching from 2006 to 2015 (including a NSW Supreme Court case decided on in May 2015). From 2007, there were disputes with representatives of a number of church-school communities, including St Nicholas (South Brisbane), St George (Manuka/Forrest), Saint Stefan of Dechani (Carrum Downs) and Saints Peter and Paul, Wodonga - each of whom had invited schismatic clergy from the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance) (or, in St Nicholas South Brisbane's case, the Russian True Orthodox Church). Parallel assemblies of both dioceses were held in September 2010 to approve a new constitution, combining the dioceses into a metropolitanate, which was joyfully received in November 2010 by the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church[3] and approved by the Holy Synod in May 2011[4], and the dioceses became the 'Serbian Orthodox Church - Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand' soon after.


The Serbian Orthodox Church - Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand is a single metropolitanate across the geographical territory of Australia and New Zealand. Currently there are 41 parishes in Australia and New Zealand, with two monasteries and one skete.

The Patriarchal Serbian Orthodox Diocese was a founding member of SCCOCA, and the Metropolitanate represented in the Episcopal Assembly of All Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Oceania by Bp Irenej.

This article forms part of the series
Orthodoxy in
Orthodoxy in Australia Timeline
Orthodoxy in New Zealand Timeline
Antiochian Orthodox
Gk Orthodox Archd. of ANZ
GOA Aus - Abp Stylianos
Antiochian - Met Abp Paul
ROCOR - Met Hilarion
Serbian - Bp Irinej
Romanian - Bp Michael
GOM NZ - Met Amphilochios

Bishopless Jurisdictions

Pan-Orthodox Synaxes
Episcopal Assembly of Oceania
Antiochian Orthodox
Greek Orthodox (Aus)
Notable Monasteries
Complete List
St Anna
Holy Cross
O.L. of Kazan
Proph. Elias
St John Mtn
St Sava (Elaine)
Archangels, NZ
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nb. Only parishes with articles listed

The Episcopacy

Diocesan Bishop

Former Hierarchs of Australia and New Zealand, Patriarchal Diocese

Former Hierarchs of Australia and New Zealand, Free Serbian (1963-1992) and New Gracanica (1992-2000)

Considered schismatic by the Church of Serbia until reconciliation in 1992.

Former Hierarchs of the New Gracanica and for the Patriarchal Dioceses

Between 1999 and 2006, the bishop of the New Gracanica diocese administered the Patriarchal diocese

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