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Priest

Protopresbyter-stavrofor Radmilo Ž. Stokić.

80 Empress Road, Derby DE236TE.

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Born on 24th June 1956 in the village Brzohode, in the municipality of Žabari, Serbia.

He completed his primary and secondary school education in his native village Brzohode, and after many difficulties, problems and obstructions from the then communist authorities, in 1972 he enrolled at Saint Sava Theology College (seminary), in Belgrade, which he completed in 1977.  He went down in the history of the theological college as the only student who played active professional football for OFK Belgrade, which was located across the road from the seminary.

Thanks to the distinguished professor Vlastimir Djorić, also a big football enthusiast, who managed to establish a football team for the seminary called "White Eagles". The team played in various respected football tournaments in Belgrade and also played against the Sremski Karlovac Seminary.  Which was at that time for the conservative view of the church, controversial for the theologians, it was an unthought-of idea.

After completing army conscription, he had to decide between professional football as a career or priesthood. That dilemma was quickly resolved.

He marries Dragica Seka Mitić from the village Veliki Popovac, she was brought up and educated in a Christian family, whose grandfather Ljuba was a well known cantor and leader of the prayers movement for Saint Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović in the Braničevo area.

He was ordained to the rank of deacon on Saint Vitus's day, and to the rank of priest on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, 7th July 1979 in Zaječar under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Timok Mr. Milutin and appointed to the parish in Zlot, near Bor.

After four years in Zlot, on the 20th June with his wife Dragica Seka and son Nemanja he arrives in the United States of America, primarily New York, and then Chicago, in the monastery Nova Gračanica.

There he started working with children in the summer camp, with the holy blessing of Metropolitan Irinej (Kovačević) in the grounds of the monastery and with the help of the Serbian youth of Chicago plus the surrounding area, they build a football ground and organise, for 4th July American Independence Day, their first football tournament.

In September of 1983 due to the needs of his office he goes to Kansas City, Kansas State, to the church of St. Archangel Micheal, his first American parish.  The parish had not had a regular priest for many years, and it required a lot of work to rejuvenate the Christian spiritual life in it.  The parish church school was established for Saturday and on Sunday the children came to church for Holy Communion, the choir was restarted, a folk dancing group was established (for children and adults) and also a football club and etc.  There, their second child was born son Stefan, who is now a professional footballer and works as a trainer in his birth place Kansas City.

Under the orders from Metropolitan Irinej, 1985 he goes to a new post in the town of Indianapolis, Indiana, at the church of St. Nicholas.  In addition to regular parish duties, started regular Sunday school, restarts the choir of The Circle of Serbian Sisters (KCC), also establishes the football club "Obilić" who competed in the cities league, starts parish news letter, folk dancing group, and enrols in college to actively learn the English language.  There, in 1987 third son Milutin was born, who is now a student of the Faculty of Theology at the Monastery St. Sava in Libertyville, USA.

For the requirements of the church and with holy blessing from Metropolitan Irinej, at the end of 1987, he takes charge of the parish St. Archangel Michael in Saratoga (San Jose) California.  He was there when the war started in the fatherland 1991, where he, with his church committee and parishioners establish the humanitarian "Krajina Fund", with the aim to help the devastated Serbian people, primarily in Serbian Krajina and then the republic of BiH where the following year (1992) war began.  The parish of Saratoga became the centre for all national and humanitarian activity for the so called San Francisco Bay area (parishes; in San Francisco, Oakland, Moraga, Cupertino, Santa Clara …) because of it's location, but even more for engaging a huge number of patriots to help the war troubled Serbian peoples.  The activities where varied; collecting medicines, food, clothing, shoes, medical equipment, organising different prayer gatherings "Prayers for Peace", collection of monetary donations, demonstrations in San Fransico, Washington …, taking care of the heavily wounded soldiers from the war, banquets in gratitude for doctors who were treating the wounded free of charge, the welcoming of his Highness Crown Prince Aleksander Karadjordjević and Princess Katarina, church hierarchy such as the late His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, Russian Patriarch Aleksej, the respectable Greek Metropolitan Anthony (a proven friend of the Serbs), Metropolitans Kristofor and Irinej, Russian bishops, also many respectable (though during the war few) American friends.  Serbian friends, such as; Major Richard Felman (whom the Četniks rescued during the Second World War), Peter Maher, Ronald Hatchet, congressman Jim Moody from Visconsin …etc. In parallel with these activities, during the war our priest with his wife Seka, regularly journeyed to the war zones with the mission to meet and help the wounded, war orphans, widows… etc.

In addition to these humanitarian (war) activities, the parish had there own regular activities. Established a professional choir and brought a conductor from Serbia, founding of a Serbian school with three year classes, establishment of two (children and adult) folk dance groups, organised a Sunday school for adults, established a parish newsletter which was printed every three months, organised diocesan golf tournament, bowling, annual football tournaments, established the football team "White Eagles" that was managed by former well known footballers Mirko Stojanović (ex goalkeeper for Red Star Belgrade and the national team) and Vlada Todorović (ex Partizan and national team player), and the club played in the league and were engaged in all the big Serbian tournaments in United States and Canada.

Due to the events of the war, the building of a new church was postponed, priority was given to help our own people in dire need, but at the same time was working intensively to unite the two parishes of Cupertino and Saratoga, and this was achieved with God's help after seven years of working together, it happened.  This spiritual and administrative unity has achieved so that the church in Cupertino was sold, and with that money a new church was being constructed in Saratoga. The biggest benefit of all was the united "living" Church of Christ, the spiritual involvement of the people, including a large number of young Serb intellectuals in church life, who are now at the forefront of the same.

After eleven years serving in this parish and fifteen in the US of A, this Proto (Protopresbyter) accepted the "challenge" from His Grace Bishop Anglo-Scandinavian Mr. Dositej to establish the office, i.e. activate the spiritual and national life of the parish of St George the Martyr in the kingdom of Denmark. This duty of priest was received in September 1998 in Copenhagen, in the Danish Lutheran church. The next nine and a half years were "challenging" in more ways than one.  Without our own church, parish committee, without means (prohibitively expensive) to live with his family, the parish encompassed the four states of Denmark, as well as the new horrors of the devastating war in Kosovo and NATO bombing, there was need to help our people again … with non-existent means one had to organise regular spiritual and economic life in the parish.  Basically, so to speak, the church was in ones suitcase along with the Proto travelling by bus and train, regularly sleeping in homes of believers and more often than not adhoc church services all over the country from week to week.

Despite all these challenges, the priest wife Seka (travelling as required from Serbia) established The Circle of Serbian Sister's "St. Petka", eight other worshipping places were also established (Copenhagen, Hilerod, Frederiksverk, Helsinger, Nestved, Odense, Silkeborg and Aalborg) and a choir.  After two years of lobbying the Bishop of Copenhagen, we managed to receive on a long term basis, free of charge, the use of their church and surrounding buildings. Founding the Serbian School "St. Sava", which after a few years of being, 2005, the school gained the status of school for the Diaspora, under the patronage of the Ministry of Education of Serbia, with two hundred and ninety three pupils divided across seven Danish cities, founded the parish newspaper "Zvono" (Bell), humanitarian fund 'St. George' (for the duration of the NATO bombing) which addressed and sent two thousand five hundred parcels to Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija) and re-homing displaced people in the Monastery of the Tracts of St George in Berane, Montenegro.  
Organised to celebrate important events with reputed guests, certainly the most important event celebration "200 year anniversary of the first Serbian uprising" in 2004 , distinguished guests were Their Grace's Bishop's Dositej and Joanikije, Prince Vladimir and Pincess Brigitta Karadjordjević, actor Danilo Lazović and the choir St. Seraphim from the fatherland, Denmark's Minister for Religion, Russian, Greek, Cypriot and Serbian ambassadors, the Serbian Consulate of Malmo in Sweden, Deputy Bishop of Copenhagen … Russian princess from the Imperial house of Romanov… and other distinguished guests.  Many writer's, poets and actor's, such as Matije Bećković, Danilo Lazović, Radovan Kalabić, Mirko Babić, Miša Vujović… and other's were guests of SPC (Serbian Orthodox Church) in Copenhagen, even though in leased premises, but always Serbian and fraternally welcomed and hosted.

Out of necessity and designation by His Grace Bishop Dositej, Father Radmilo arrives in 2008 at his new post in England UK, to the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul Derby, the thirteenth priest by order.

Father Radmilo was ordained by the Metropolitan of Novo Gračanica - Irinej for his pastoral and national work in the United States and was awarded the right to wear the red sash and the rank of Proto Governor in 1994., by Bishop Longin the rank of Protopresbyter in 1997 and by the Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia Dositej in 2004 the rank of Protopresbyter-stavrofor i.e. becomes a pectorale priest (cross bearing priest), which is the highest priestly vocation and only given to priests of exceptional merit.

Professor Aleksandar Ćirić had a saying he would repeat to his students; "a good priest's wife is two thirds of a priest", which was regarded by the students as a good joke.  But, in practice this saying actually confirms that Seka is the right hand of Proto Radmilo both in and outside the church, even today.

The spiritual health of the entire area of Great Britain (which was a serious discussion at the diocesan meetings) and therefore refers to the Derby / Leicester parish is not good.  However it is hoped that this internet site will be "helpful" (essentially for those with access to a computer) in order to educate us about the teaching of our Orthodox faith, and to inform, with the hope that it will attract you to the life and work of our parish.  This is an open hearted invitation to all parishioners to take an active part in the life and work of our, living "the church of Christ", that is our parish.

How will further development of our spiritual life in the Derby - Leicester parish progress?  This depends on each individual and upon all of us together!

Long Live Our Father Protopresbyter-Stavrofor.