The Silver Anniversary of the Priesthood of Protopresbyter George Gligich
On Saturday, November 19, Protopresbyter George and Protonica Elena Gligich of St. Peter’s Serbian Orthodox Church in Fresno, California, were honored with a banquet on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Fr. George’s ordination to the holy priesthood.
The evening began with Vespers at St. Peter’s Church. The church was packed for the service, with standing room only. Afterwards, the banquet began in the church hall. Over 200 people attended, including five priests and two deacons: Protopresbyter George, Protopresbyer Miladen Garich (St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, Jackson, CA), Protopresbyter Dane Popovic (Holy Assumption Serbian Orthodox Church, Fair Oaks, CA), Protopresbyter James Pappas (St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Fresno), Priest David Thatcher (St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church [OCA], Merced, CA), Hieromonk Damascene (St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, CA), Protodeacon Brad Matthews (St. Peter’s, Fresno), and Protodeacon Triva Pavlov (St. Sava’s, Jackson). Many people came from parishes in northern and southern California, some of whom were kumovi of Protopresbyter George and Protonica Elena, and some of whom were childhood friends of Protonica.
During the banquet, photographs were projected of Proto George and Protonica Elena’s life in the parish, compiled by their son John Gregory. Musical performances were given, beginning with a video recording of the children of the parish singing a touching song for and about Fr. George. The choir of St. Peter’s Church then sang the Serbian folk song “Sumadijo,” and John Gregory Gligich and Nick Vezmar performed a medley of Serbian folk music. Lisa Milena from Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra, CA, accompanied by Karen Wayne, sang Byzantine and Russian liturgical hymns, as well as American songs, finishing with a rousing “Those Were the Days,” with lyrics specially written for Fr. George and Protonica.
Following the musical performances, a congratulatory letter to Fr. George and Protonica from His Grace Bishop Maxim was read by Hieromonk Damascene. Fr. James Pappas then presented Proto and Protonica with a gift on behalf of St. George’s Greek Church in Fresno. Bill (Branko) Cucuk, who has been at St. Peter’s since Proto and Protonica first came there, presented congratulations on behalf of the parish and shared some meaningful reminiscences. Gene Bowan from St. Steven’s in Alhambra expressed his admiration for Fr. George as a priest and as a friend. Mike Castro, President of St. Peter’s (who was the Master of Ceremonies at the banquet), then spoke in gratitude of Fr. George, and his wife Annabelle spoke in appreciation of Protonica Elena. Then Protonica Elena and Proto George thanked the parish and all in attendance, and told some reminiscences of their own. It was moving to hear them speak with great love about their parish family, and to feel the palpable love and appreciation for them from those who came to the banquet. Proto George also honored the memory of some of the dedicated parishioners who were at the parish when he first arrived, and who have since reposed.
The whole atmosphere was quite joyful, and the whole event was a fitting tribute to the sacrifices and labors of Proto George and his Protonica throughout a quarter century at St. Peter’s. May our Lord grant them many more years of faithful and loving service to His Holy Church!