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Proto serves Last Liturgy in Bedford

Parish priest Father Radmilo Stokić served his last Divine Liturgy in both of Bedford’s venues for worship.

At the start, he spoke of the long standing practice of Serbian Orthodox worship at St Paul’s Church, the largest Anglican church in Bedfordshire. So much so that parishioners think of the historic venue as ‘our church’, he said at his final service on 5th June. He exchanged gifts with Father Kevin and the Anglican parish team.

Co-serving with Father Radmilo at St. Paul's Church was Very Rev. Dragan Lazić from London, who delivered a beautiful sermon on the subject of the Holy Gospel. He also spoke endearingly about Proto Radmilo’s retirement and ended by presenting him with an exquisite gift - a cross!

Father Radmilo awarded members of the St Andrew parish board gifts of a beautifully rendered certificate of service and a prayer book each.

Attending the farewell festive luncheon at Church House and at the hall were Archimandrite Fr. Stefan Ponjarac from Oxford and Proto Branimir Jokic from Leicester with his family, as well as Proto’s former parishioners from Derby, Stoke-on-Trent and Leicester.

Later that evening a retirement party was very-well attended by parishioners and guests. The event marked a recognition of Proto’s and Protonica’s successes at the parish, which they have imbued with their own warm spiritual qualities.

Zoran and Andjela provided the music while the Kolo Srpskih Sestara provided savoury and sweet treats. The event also served as a recruitment and funding drive for the town’s folklore ensemble which will restart in September following the pandemic.

Parishioners took the opportunity to have memento snaps taken with Proto and Protonica as keepsakes.

Over the past eight years, Proto has invigorated the number of services across the parish. The facilities at Church House have been improved and in particular the chapel has been the venue of mid-month and other services in the town. He served his last Divine Liturgy at the chapel on the 19th June.

Again the space was full to capacity. Members of the board presented Proto and Protonica with gifts engraved as keepsakes with their warmest gratitude. The service was followed by sweet and savoury refreshments and in the good company of well-wishers.

At every venue Father Radmilo gave a speech where he praised the good work that had been achieved as parishioners and board members worked together with him since he was first appointed parish priest back in November 2014. He spoke of the desperately needed renovations at the Serbian Orthodox Church of St Elijah in Corby, which was a real parish-wide effort totalling some £100,000 in value.

Father Radmilo spoke warmly about his memories in the parish, his eventful journey through Diaspora parishes during his career in the church and most especially the contribution to his ministry made by his wife Protonica Seka. Under their tenure, the parish school has become the largest Church-based school in the country with over sixty children in regular attendance.

Under Father Radmilo’s tenure the parish went from a state of significant overall debt to a healthy outlook moving forward.

Proto Radmilo turned 66 officially on Friday 24th which leaves the parish without a priest while the board continue their search for another parish priest with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Dositej.

The whole board wishes Father Radmilo a very happy retirement with our heartfelt thanks for his selfless sacrifice and service over the past eight years.


Proto's Last Liturgy 5th June

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