St. George Free Serbian Orthodox Church (Forrest, Australian Capital Territory)
The St George Free Serbian Orthodox Church in Forrest, Australia, was formed in 1955, ended in 1963, and resurrected in 1992. From 1963-1992, a group of former Yugoslav Royal Military officers registered the 'Free Serbian Orthodox Church St George Inc' organisation with the ACT government. The parishioners acquired land in the suburb of Forrest, built a church building, a hall which they call to this day 'Serbian Centre Draza Mihailovic', accompanied by a monument to Cetnik (Royal Yugoslavian Armed Forces) General Dragoljub 'Draza' Mihailovic.
The First President of the Church-School Community (in 1955) was Vojislav Miletic, who, together with his wife Jelena, became a major benefactor to St Sava Monastery in Elaine, Victoria.
The interior of the church was painted by Czech artist Karl Matzek in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily in the Western mural style.
Since 1992, when the schismatic 'Free Church' came into the Serbian Patriarchal fold, it has been visited by several canonical Orthodox bishops, including the Serbian Patriarch Pavle in November 2004.
During the early 1990’s the Church was fortunate to be recognised amongst the Australian Capital Territories Heritage listed sites and remains a Icon of the Australian Nations Capital City to this day.
In August 2006, Bishop Milutin removed the antimension from the altar of St George's. It is reported that this is due to the church's connection to the Serbian anti-communist freedom fighter Draza Mihailovic: a plaque carrying a dedication to Draza appears at the entrance to the church along side the monument to this Serbian World War hero.
In the Year 2007, the Church was blessed with the restoration of the beautiful fresco’s that line the ceiling and walls allowing its parishioners to once again enjoy their beauty. These Fresco’s have become an icon amongst the Nations Capital, summoning many tourists to share the beauty of Serbian Orthodoxy depicted in these fresco’s whilst learning about several significant events that shaped our Serbian Orthodoxy.
In March 2008, Bishop Irinej removed the antimension from the altar for the second time in two years, and authorised for chains to bar the main gates, refusing access to many Christian souls. It is reported that this was due to a dispute with the majority of parishioners that were regular church attendees here. In reality, Bishop Irinej removed the antimension from the altar after a failed attempt to excommunicate a vast majority of these parishioners and install a committee selected by his will.
During 2008, the Church and its parishioners were abandoned by Bishop Irenej and began the process of slowly rebuilding itself both socially and religiously.
In the Year 2009, The Free Serbian Orthodox Church St George In Canberra Diocese for Australia and New Zealand Inc. has been blessed with new religious guidance in the form of Father Dragan Saracevic. With the experience and leadership of Father Saracevic the future of the church has been given a new hope and her parishioners look forward to exercising their Orthodoxy without fear of reprise.
The Church “Saint George” hopes to continue its development and remain open to people of all denominations to come and bask in the glory of our Orthodoxy, without prejudice.
“GOD PLACES THE HEAVIEST BURDEN ON THOSE WHO CAN BARE ITS WEIGHT”
- Fr Dusan Popovic (19??-1963)
- Fr Jakov Jovic (1992-2004)
- Fr Stanisa Ostojic (2004-2006)
- Fr Nikola Bilic (2006-2007)
- Fr Dragan Saracevic (2009-present)
Address: 32 National Circuit, Forrest, ACT
Postal Address: PO Box 3339, Manuka ACT 2603