Nationwide gathering at the Serbian Cathedral in Chicago
On Sunday, February 27, 2011 His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia officiated at the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago. Patriarch was greeted and welcomed by the children of the cathedral parish.
Concelebrating with His Holiness were Bishop Longin of New Gracanica-Midwest America and Bishop Peter of Cleveland (Russian Church Abroad) and thirteen priests and seven deacons.
In his homily the patriarch greeted the faithful people commending them to preserve their Orthodox faith, the testament of St. Sava and the Serbian language and culture and once again stressed the need to preserve peace and unity. The Patriarch especially praised the efforts of the cathedral parish in Chicago in educating the children and youth. The many faithful who filled the church that morning received a special joy as everyone individually received a blessing from the Serbian Patriarch.
A celebratory banquet in honor of His Holiness' visit was prepared by the Circle of Serbian Sisters and many volunteers. A program followed the luncheon led by Deacon Damjan Bozic who served as master of ceremonies.
During the program all parish organizations were represented. The "Branko Radicevich" choir and the children's choir "Brankici", directed by Jelica Neskov and Milica Barjaktarevic respectively, sang a few spiritual and ethnic songs from their repertoire. The children from the Church School and Serbian school, through the efforts of Snezana Denker and Gordana Savcic, greeted His Holiness with a recital. Also, the St. Sava Academy performed, the youngest group stood out the most with a song their teacher Ljiljana Burza wrote especially for this occasion. The folklore group "Soko" performed, showcasing their talent. Besides them, a number of St. Sava campers from the St. Sava Camp in Libertyville performed. Many of them traveled from distant Minnesota so that they might receive a blessing from their Patriarch. Directed by Aleksandar Starcevic they sang a few songs. Each of them individually received a blessing from His Holiness. As they themselves stated, they will remember this day all their lives for they were given the rare honor and opportunity to showcase their knowledge and talents to the Serbian Patriarch and to receive from him his blessing.
Greeting the patriarch during the program were His Grace Bishop Longin, V. Rev. Stavrophor Dennis Pavichevich, the Episcopal Deputy of the Metroplitanate of Libertyville-Chicago, V. Rev. Djokan Majstorovic, the dean of the St. Sava Cathedral in New York City and the President of the Clergy Brotherhood of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, Rev. Darko Spasojevic, the dean of the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Chicago, His Excellency Mitar Kujundzic, ambassador of Bosnia-Hercegovina to the United States, Biljana Sevic, president of the church board at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Jelena Stojakovic, president of the "Branko Radicevich" choir, Mira Djordjevic, president of the Circle of Serbian Sisters and Marko Bojovic, principal of the St. Sava Academy. At the end, the cathedral dean on behalf of all the parishioners presented an episcopal panagia to His Holiness.
Following the program Patriarch met with the St. Sava Monastery women's auxiliary and members of the summer children's camp. As the patriarch was already familiar with their plans he gave them his blessings for continued work as the administrator of the Metropolitanate of Libertyville-Chicago. He gave special praise for their efforts in the upkeep of the St. Sava Monastery. Protodeacon Dr. Stanimir Spasovic, who accompanied His Holiness from Serbia, stressed the significance of this holy monastery stating: "What Studenica and Zicha are in Serbia for Serbs, that's what St. Sava Monastery is for Serbs in America."
His Holiness, on the following day, will visit the St. Sava Cathedral in Milwaukee and their parochial school. In the evening His Holiness will meet with the hierarchs and representatives of the various Orthodox jurisdictions headquartered in Chicago.
Rev. Vasilje Vranic
Photos: Sava A. Vojcanin