Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, Stefan (Stephen) was born Stojan Veljanovski. He was born in the village of Dobrusevo in southern Macedonia on May 1, 1955. In 1969, he enrolled in the Macedonian Orthodox Theological Seminary of St. Clement of Ohrid in Dracevo. Here he graduated in 1974. That same year he went to Belgrade to study at the Theological Faculty graduating in 1979.
Upon his return to Macedonia, the Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church named him a teacher at the Theological Seminary in Skopje. In 1980, he left for postgraduate studies at the Institute of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy which specializes in ecumenical-patristic and Greco-Byzantine studies. In 1982, he received a master’s degree from this Institute.
The Road To Archbishop
To continue our church hierarchy, when he returned to Macedonia, Stefan became a lecturer at Skopje’s St. Clement of Ohrid Theological Faculty. He took his monastic vows at the St. Naum monastery in Ohrid on July 3, 1986. On July 12 he was named Metropolitan of Zletnovo and Strumica. Shortly thereafter he was enthroned as bishop of Bregalnica and Stip.
In the following years, Bishop Stefan served as dean of the Theological Faculty in Skopje. He was a spokesman for the Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, as editor in chief of the church’s official gazette “Crkoven Zivot” (Church Life). He also served as secretary-general of the Archbishop Ohrid and Macedonia.
In Ohrid on October 9 and 10, 1999 the Church National Assembly. A congregation of clerics and laymen elected Bishop Stefan as head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Reacting to concerns that Bishop Stefan was only 44 years old when he was elected. Protodeacon Slave Projkovski said the Macedonian Orthodox Church believed in Stefan’s intellectual and moral maturity. Projkovski added however, that the future of the church did not only depend on Archbishop Stefan. Since, as head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, he was merely the first among equals.
Archbishop Stefan largely refrains from interfering in politics, but has repeatedly urged politicians to support the Macedonian Orthodox Church in its longstanding feud with the Serbian Orthodox Church. Which has never recognized the legitimacy of the former.