New Gracanica Monastery celebrates one of its best Slavas

by: Fr. Tom Kazich

New Gracanica Monastery celebrates one of  its best Slavas
Over 500 people attend

An overwhelming crowd of faithful attended the Krsna Slava of the Monastery of New Gracanica in Third Lake, IL on Sunday, October 14th.  Considering the weather over the weekend – storms, wind and a thunderous downpour of rain – it was an unexpected joy and celebration!  It is to the Most Holy Mother of God,  our Patron, that we owe our gratitude.
The feast commemorates the event in 903 when  during the siege of  Constantinople worried citizens gathered in the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae, imploring the Theotokos’ intercession in the face of impending danger from invaders.  Not only did the Mother of God  respond, but she appeared and held her veil over the faithful as a sign of protection from all visible and invisible enemies.  From that moment on, people knew they could turn to her.
The Slava day began with Divine Liturgy served by His Grace Bishop Longin, who was  assisted by twelve priests and three deacons.  The Episcopal Choir, under the direction of Marya Savic-Milicic, sang the responses, with students from St. Sava’s Theological School rendering the tropars.  Voices raised in praise and thanksgiving to God filled the church and lifted the faithful in their individual prayers.
A pomen was served for late of blessed memory Metropolitan Iriney and all who helped to build the monastery church.  This was followed by the Cutting of the Kolach with members of the brotherhood  and kolo sisters participating.
The Slava luncheon was prepared and served by the Diocesan Kolo, local KSS of St. Petka, and the two kolos from Racine churches (State Street and Braun Rd).  Sisters from the Nativity Monastery in New Carlisle also joined us  on this day.
The program was rich and included greetings from Desko Nikitovic, Consul General of Serbia; Slavko Panovic, President of SND; Prota-Stavrophor Zarko Anicic visiting from Belgrade (and guest Fr. Vojislav Kostic); Mira Andjelkovic, Diocesan Kolo President; dancers from the Middle Folklore Group of the monastery; Guslar Djordje Koprivica; and Protodeacon Milovan Gogic.
As an added treat,  Fr. Anicic with his family (who had come for the marriage of son, Jovan) offered several choral renditions that hushed the happy guests by their sensitive singing.  This included:  sons Pavle, Savo, Jovan, and Kum Branko Lazicic and Protinica Milena.
Finally Vladika Longin greeted everyone, recognizing all who came from Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, and even further.  He reminded us of the power and strength of the newly acquired copy of the Icon of the Theotokos with Three Hands that now graces the monastery church.  He said that not only does the Theotokos draw Serbs to her icon, but  many  of our Orthodox brothers and sisters who come to the monastery to pray to her.
In closing, let’s never forget that our Patron, Presveta Bogorodica wants to be remembered not only on her Slava and major feasts, but every day.  She wants to be part of our life on a daily basis.  She wants her thoughts to be our thoughts, her feelings, our feelings, her plans, our plans.  If we turn to her, she will continue to protect us, and help this little oasis of hers in America to grow only as the Lord wills.

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