Journalist: Teodora Vranjesh
Director of photography: Sasha Jakovljevich
For over a decade father Gabriel, Abbot of the monastery Lepavina, proves that Internet can be a useful tool for spreading the word of God and for Orthodox missionary work.
Monastery Lepavina, which is located near Zagreb, was founded in 1550. by monk who came from monastery Chilandar. In the late seventeenth century, His Holiness Patriarch Arsenije III Carnojevic lived in the monastery. Monastery brotherhood was persecuted for centuries, and after destruction in German bombing in 1943, monastic life was extinct.
With the arrival of Metropolitan John in 1977, ties of monastery Lepavina and Chilandar were revived again. In 1984, father Gabriel came to the monastery. Together with the miraculous icon of the Holy Theotokos of Lepavina, which is dating from sixteenth century, Abbot Gabriel is the symbol of the monastery today.
Radomir Vucic – collaborator of the missionary project “Monastery Lepavina”: Geographically, monastery Lepavina is located on the “periphery” of the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, it became the center, thanks to the miraculous icon of the Holy Theotokos and father Gabriel’s spiritual work. Historically, Lepavina is located at the crossroads of spiritual influences and traditions of Western Judeo-Christian religion and Orthodoxy. However, in modern time, one monk from Mount Athos managed to make synthesis of this unusual mix - although it is only a sketch, what father Gabriel is doing and what he could accomplish. But I think, from this seed a significant spiritual impulse may grow…
Very well attended lecture about monastery Lepavina and father Gabriel’s Internet missionary work, which was hold in Belgrade, testified that Abbot of the monastery Lepavina found the right way to reach hearts of believers, especially young people, taking advantage of communication over the Internet for Orthodox missionary work. A new monastery’s website will mark a decade of existence this year. A tool that helps father Gabriel in missionary activities is Internet radio Blagovesti (radio Annunciation). He uses Facebook and Skype for contact with his spiritual children, which allowed him to communicate with 15,000 interactive visitors.
Nenad Badovinac – collaborator of the missionary project “Monastery Lepavina”: Statistic says that more than 3,000 visitors daily visit monastery’s website. That is a vast number. During a month, they upload more then 2 million father’s web pages. That is the number which cannot be compared with any other website of spiritual content, of ecclesiastical matters. This figure of 2 millions uploads is driven from 6,000 articles, which are published on the monastery website. We can say that complete Orthodoxy in small is located on this website. People can find all spiritual topics that interest them here.
Looking for advices, consolations, answers on spiritual dilemmas and problems that burden the contemporary faithful person, people turn to father Gabriel. Geographically, all other constraints capitulate before benefits of modern communication and we use them for common good.
Nenad Badovinac: Father Gabriel recognized advantage of Internet communication, because every user can interactively communicate with him. That is the way in which father’s book of spiritual conversation was written. Young people were contacting father and reported him their problems of a spiritual nature. Father could answer on their problems. If there were no Internet, no new technologies, many young people would have lost valuable information such as spiritual conversations with father Gabriel.
Father Gabriel is one of the oldest and most important Hagiorites, and his activity and treasure trove is knowledge about Holy Mount.
Radomir Vucic: Father Gabriel has a blog about Holy Mountain. That is one part of his activities. This blog constitutes a set of articles about Holy Mount. Why is this important? Father Gabriel is one of the oldest Hagiorites, he has insight into the life of Holy Mount, which may not be present in our church today. So it is that his blog might be unique in the world. He associates something that is essential for Serbian cultural heritage, for Holy Mount heritage, with modern technologies, combining seemingly opposite. It is unique. This is a model and form, which should be used by the whole church and the community in general. This is in line with global trends, and with thinking and spiritual dilemmas other religious groups, traditional and modern.
One third of the world population uses the Internet and number of users is growing daily. Forty five percent of users are younger than 25 years in Serbia, and more than forty percent of household has Internet. Those indicators attest about father Gabriel’s missionary work. He is among first who recognized potential to spread the word of God in a global network. The daily increase in the number of people who are contacting him shows that he chose the right way to indicate to others the right path.
Translated by Bojana Srbljak