His Eminence Bishop of Banja Luka Mr Jefrem
Bishop Jefrem (Ephraim) of Banja Luka (worldly name Mile Milutinovic) was born on 15th April 1944 in the village of Busnova near the municipality of Prijedor. In his birth place, he finished six grades of primary school, and the seventh and eighth grade, as well as the Grammar School, in the municipality of Sanski Most.
His Eminence Bishop of Banja Luka Mr Jefrem
Bishop Jefrem (Ephraim) of Banja Luka (worldly name Mile Milutinovic) was born on 15th April 1944 in the village of Busnova near the municipality of Prijedor. In his birth place, he finished six grades of primary school, and the seventh and eighth grade, as well as the Grammar School, in the municipality of Sanski Most. In mid 1964, he went for a novice to the Monastery of Raca, in the Diocese of Zica. He became a monk on 9th July 1967 in the Monastery of Liplje, Diocese of Banja Luka. In the same year, he enrolled in a Theological Seminary in the Monastery of Krka and he completed it in 1971 with honours. He ordained the holy order of deacon by Bishop Andrej of Banja Luka on 14th January 1968 in the Cathedral Church in Banja Luka. After he had graduated from the Theological Seminary, the hierodeacon ordained the holy order of hieromonk on 14th June 1970, on the Trinity Sunday, in the same Church and by the same bishop.
After he had graduated from the Theological Seminary in 1971, he was sent to continue his education at the Academy of Orthodox Theology in Moscow, and in 1975 he graduated with honours and with the title of the Candidate of Theology for the thesis “The Doctrine of Saint Vasilije (Basil) the Great on Monasticism”. The work was evaluated excellent and recommended for printing.
He was consecrated with the title of synkellos in 1975. In the same year, he moved from the Diocese of Banja Luka in the concatenation of clergy of the Diocese of Dalmatia and he joined the brotherhood of the Monastery of Krka. By the decision of the Holy Episcopal Synod, on 2nd September 1975, synkellos Jefrem became a deputy teacher at the Theological Seminary of the Holy Three Hierarchs in the Monastery of Krka. In addition to these duties, he performed the duties of a teacher and then the duty of a teacher in chief. In the monastery he acted as a parish priest of the monastery parish in Kistanje and he managed a part of the monastery economics.
On 1st June 1978 he was elected Vicar Bishop of Moravica. The chirotony was done on 17th September 1978 in the Cathedral Church in Belgrade by the Serbian Patriarch German, Bishop Stefan of Zica and Bishop Nikolaj of Dalmatia.
After two years spent in Belgrade as a Vicar Bishop, on 19th May 1980, he was elected the Bishop of Banja Luka. The enthronement of Bishop Jefrem took place on 1st June 1980 in Banja Luka, in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity by the Bishop Andrej of Srem, as a representative of the Holy Episcopal Synod and in the presence of the Dabro-Bosnian Metropolitan Vladislav and Lord Bishop Nikolaj of Dalmatia, Irinej of Nis, Milutin of Timok, Jovan of Lepavina, Vasilije of Zvornik and Tuzla, Vasilije of Australia and New Zealand, and most of the priests of the Diocese of Banja Luka and a large number of believers from Banja Luka and the wider area of the diocese.
Bishop Jefrem found a much more favourable situation in the diocese than his predecessors, Bishops Vasilije and Andrej. Many things had already been done in order to restore the Diocese and the political conditions were more favourable and significantly exploited.
Unfortunately, some tragic events happened, such as the destruction of the joint state and a civil war with other severe consequences for the Serbian people and Serbian Orthodox Church. In those times, people did what was possible and what the situation allowed. First of all, the canonical principles of the Diocese structure were empowered and it created the conditions for a stronger momentum in all areas of the church life and its results would be seen from the data mentioned forth below.
In the previous period (1980-2007) in the Diocese of Banja Luka, Bishop Jefrem consecrated 126 new churches, 38 churches were generally restored and 89 churches are currently under construction. At the same time, 33 parish homes were built and consecrated. The Bishop's Palace was generally restored and consecrated.
With a permit of the civil authorities and the blessing of the Bishop, religion as a regular subject in all primary schools was organized in the Diocese. The number of believers, communicants and church marriages has increased in all the parishes.
In the post-war period, which is extremely difficult, both in political and economic terms, the Church is increasingly taking its rightful place in the life of the Serbian people, showing a millennial eternal youth and vitality, and the Lord, as in apostolic times, adds and multiplies those who walk down the path of salvation.