Sixth anniversary of March Pogrom commemorated with memorial service in Kosovo Polje

His Grace Bishop Atanasije today (Mar 17) served a brief memorial service for the victims of the March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija in the crowded church of St. Nicholas in Kosovo Polje. This church was torched during the March 2004 pogrom and subsequently rebuilt. Bishop Atanasije addressed the faithful in attendance with words of hope and encouragement:

"We walk on this earth but we are guided by heaven – that is our Kosovo covenant. Good cannot be realized in a bad way. We are people of faith and people of life, not a people with a cult of the dead, not a people of hatred but a big-hearted people, a people who have the knowledge and ability to accomplish and sometimes the ability to flee but most important of all to exist in a terrible place.

“This is our ability to survive and exist, to endure without waiting for anybody's commandment except God's. God always has the last word but God is slow, although He is attainable. God is tolerant and we thank Him for putting up with us. We wish every good wish to everyone, in good, in justice, in philanthropy, in humanity, in humaneness. Please let this be an incentive and encouragement to us not to hate, not to slander, not to speak ill of each other, not to trip each other up. If we have troubles let us not blame others for them for as one of God’s Saints says, let us not permit our weaknesses and troubles to fuel for the fire of malice. He speaks wisely, for when a man has troubles, he should not accuse everyone and everything for them and add fuel to the fire of his malice but endure, just as God endures us and we think Him for enduring us.”

Bishop Atanasije, who in recent weeks has served in several churches that were destroyed or damaged, and subsequently restored, announced that on Saturday he would serve in the church of Bogorodica Ljeviška (the Holy Virgin of Lyevish) in Prizren.

The pogrom commemorated today in many churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church started on March 17, 2004. In three days of attacks Albanian extremists expelled 4,000 Serbs from Serbian enclaves, killed 19 people, and destroyed and torched 35 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries and over 800 Serbian homes.