Orthodox America

  An Appeal from Milkovo

According to tradition, Milkovo Monastery, which is located on the banks of the Great Morava River near the village of Svilaynac, was built by the Despot Stefan Lazarevich, and was known under the name of Bukovica. Between the 18th and 19th century, there was at the monastery a school for local children.  In 1893, a bell from the monastery was taken to the city of Kragujevac, that was to prove to be the first to announce the liberation of Serbia.   In World War I, the monastery was a haven for people fleeing from Machva.  In 1925 the first Russians come to Milkovo monastery, and that was the beginning of the spiritual blossoming of this small monastery. In 1926, Hieromonk Ambrose (Kurganov) was placed in charge of the monastery.  He gathered around himself Russian immigrants and intellectuals, together with the finest ideals of Russian monasticism, thus making this monastery an oasis of monasticism in Serbia, which was still struggling from the aftereffects of the war.  The strict life of Father Ambrose, his asceticism and a proper monastery rule attracted to this monastery many Russians as well as Serbs.  Some frequent visitors of that time included Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galicia, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, as well as intellectuals of that time.  The materially poor but spiritually rich lives of the monks in this monastery attracted John Maximovitch, who received his monastic tonsure here and later became an archbishop and a new illuminator of Orthodoxy.  Several monks from this brotherhood were later made bishops.  Elder Ambrose reposed in 1933 as a schema-archimandrite, and he was buried behind the altar of the monastery church.  Every year, on the day of his repose, a great number of his disciples come here to take part in a memorial service.

In 1952 this monastery became a convent.  The walls of the monastery church, dedicated to the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, were frescoed by Hieromonk Nahum Andrich, who was one of the brothers of the monastery.  In front of the church's entrance is a copy of the miraculous Vatopedi icon of the Mother of God called "Otrada" or "Comfort." Inside the chapel is a throne with the miraculous icon of the Mother of God, "Akhtyrskaya," before which is a perpetually burning icon lamp.  The gifts of silver placed upon this icon reflect the great respect of the Serbian people towards this holy object, which was so sacred to all Russians.  In the monastery there are also the relics of St. Arseny of Srem, the successor of St. Sava, as well as those of Martyr Pelagia of Tarsus, and a piece of scarf belonging to St. John of Kronstadt.  Today, there are about ten nuns who are, through their daily monastic rule and services, preserving the spiritual life of this holy family.

Since it became a convent, much of the physical plant has been improved.  A few years ago, a new building was started.  According to Abbess Dorothea's plans, this new building will consist of a refectory for the nuns and visitors, a library, and a new chapel dedicated to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.

From these plans, it is easy to see the desire of the Abbess to restore once again the spiritual life of this monastery, and to offer it to all those thirsting for spirituality that is now awakening once again in Serbia, just as it was some sixty years ago under Fr. Ambrose.  But desires are restricted by abilities.  We have previously asked friends and followers of this holy community to help with funds, books for the new library, or in any other way; and we have had some success, but unfortunately not enough.  This is why we find it necessary to appeal for help to all of you to whom this holy community and holy site may mean something.  In addition to finishing the new buildings with the library and chapel, our desire is also to renew the publishing activity which existed at the beginning of this century, so that we might give spiritual food to our peoples, which they need so much in these difficult times.  Only then will Milkovo Monastery truly become a tranquil refuge in the stormy sea of life. Only then will we be able to continue the work begun by the blessed Elder Ambrose, and preserve this work of his for future generations.  For more information, write:

Milkovo Monastery Fund 582 Macopin Road West Milford, NJ  07480 Tel: 201/492-0538

Donations may be channelled through the Orthodox Benevolent Fund-P.O. Box 743, Rye, NH 03870; or through the Fund for Assistance-75 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128-1390.  Earmark clearly for "Milkovo Monastery Fund."