With prayer and a special blessing, clergy and church members broke ground Saturday on a new cemetery at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Merrillville, which will serve Orthodox Church members of all ethnic groups.
A solemn procession led by His Grace Bishop Longin and priests from several Orthodox parishes in Indiana and Illinois brought church members from St. Sava church building north to the site where the cemetery will be built.
Ground was broken with gold-colored shovels, and the dirt blessed before it was placed around a cross marking the location of the first grave site.
“It’s a beautiful project. It keeps us all together,” said the Rev. Marko Matic, parish priest of St. Sava, which has about 380 members. “It will be an Orthodox cemetery, allowing our parishioners to be buried with all the Orthodox customs and traditions.”
Of special significance, he said, was that the ceremony took place on St. Varnava (Nastic) Day, marking the day the Gary native was consecrated a saint.
“He was the first child baptized at St. Sava when it was in Gary. Today is his day,” Matic said.
The Rev. Bogan Zjalic, assistant priest at St. Sava, said a committee began working on bringing an Orthodox cemetery to the site five years ago because so many parishioners requested one.
Previously, many church members traveled as far as Gurnee, Ill., or New Carlisle, Ind., to bury loved ones in an Orthodox cemetery, he said.
About 40 acres owned by St. Sava in the 9100 block of Mississippi Street have been earmarked for the cemetery, with another 80 acres available if needed.
The new cemetery has had support from Russian, Greek, Romanian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in Illinois and Indiana, Zjalic said.
Church member Radmila Milivojevic said the cemetery is not only important for members of the Serbian church, but for all ethnicities of the Orthodox Church.
Three phases are planned, with 2,100 grave sites in the first phase, church president Danica Pejnovic said.
Planting grass and the remainder of the asphalt work needed for the first phase will be done in spring, officials said.
As Orthodox Christians we must carefully examine every aspect of our involvement in the world, its activities, holidays and festivals, to be certain whether or not these involvements are compatible with our Holy Orthodox Faith. For a while now everything in the outside world is reminding us that Halloween is near: at school our children are busy painting pumpkins, cutting and pasting bats, ghosts and witches and planning the ideal costume in which to go trick-or-treating.
Most of our schools, local community organizations and entertainment on television, radio and press will share in and capitalize upon the festival of Halloween. Many of us will participate in this festival by going to costume parties, or by taking our children trick-or-treating in our neighborhood after dark on October 31st. Most of us will take part in the Halloween festivities believing that it has no deeper meaning than fun and excitement for the children. Most of us do not know the historical background of the festival of Halloween and its customs.
The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples of Britain, Ireland and Northern France. These pagan peoples believed that physical life was born from death. Therefore, they celebrated the beginning of the “new year” in the fall, on the eve of October 31st and into the day of November 1st, when, as they believed the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. Instructed by their priests, the Druids, the people extinguished all hearth fires and lights and darkness prevailed.
According to pagan Celtic tradition, the souls of the dead had entered into the world of darkness, decay and death and made total communion with Samhain, the Lord of death, who could be appeased and cajoled by burnt offerings to allow the souls of the dead to return home for a festal visit on this day. The belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons. The living entered into fellowship and communion with the dead by this ritual act of imitation, through costume and the wandering about in the darkness. They also believed that the souls of the dead bore the affliction of great hunger on this festal visit. This belief brought about the practice of begging as another ritual imitation of the activities of the souls of the dead on their festal visit. The implication was that any souls of the dead and their imitators who are not appeased with “treats”, i.e. offerings, will provoke the wrath of Samhain, whose angels and servants could retaliate through a system of “tricks”, or curses.
In the strictly Orthodox early Celtic Church, the Holy Fathers tried to counteract this pagan new year festival by establishing the feast of All Saints on that same day (in the East, this feast is celebrated on another day). The night before the feast (on “All Hallows Eve”), a vigil service was held and a morning celebration of the Eucharist. This custom created the term Halloween. But the remaining pagan and therefore anti-Christian people reacted to the Church’s attempt to supplant their festival by increased fervor on this evening, so that the night before the Christian feast of All Saints became a night of sorcery, witchcraft and other occult practices, many of which involved desecration and mockery of Christian practices and beliefs. Costumes of skeletons, for example, developed as a mockery of the Church’s reverence for holy relics. Holy things were stolen and used in sacrilegious rituals. The practice of begging became a system of persecution of Christians who refused to take part in these festivities. And so the Church’s attempt to counteract this unholy festival failed. This is just a brief explanation of the history and meaning of the festival of Halloween. It is clear that we, as Orthodox Christians, cannot participate in this event at any level (even if we only label it as “fun”), and that our involvement in it is an idolatrous betrayal of our God and our Holy Faith. For if we imitate the dead by dressing up or wandering about in the dark, or by begging with them, then we have willfully sought fellowship with the dead, whose Lord is not a Celtic Samhain, but Satan, the evil one, who stands against God. Further, if we submit to the dialogue of “trick or treat,” our offering does not go to innocent children, but rather to Satan himself.
Let us remember our ancestors, the Holy Christian Martyrs of the early Church, as well as our Serbian New Martyrs, who refused, despite painful penalties and horrendous persecution, to worship, venerate or pay obeisance in any way to idols who are angels of Satan. The foundation of our Holy Church is built upon their very blood. In today’s world of spiritual apathy and listlessness, which are the roots of atheism and turning away from God, one is urged to disregard the spiritual roots and origins of secular practices when their outward forms seem ordinary, entertaining and harmless. The dogma of atheism underlies many of these practices, denying the existence of both God and Satan.
Our Holy Church, through Jesus Christ, teaches that God alone stands in judgment over everything we do and believe and that our actions are either for God or against God. No one can serve two masters. Therefore, let us not, as the pagan Celts did, put out our hearth fires and wander about in the dark imitating dead souls. Let us light vigil lamps in front of our Slava icons, and together with our families, ask God to grant us faith and courage to preserve as Orthodox Christians in these very difficult times, and to deliver us from the Evil One.
У недељу, 28 августа, у Манастиру Нова Грачаница је прослављено Успеније Пресевете Богородице – Слава Епархијског Кола Српских Сестара. Након Свете Литургије коју је Епископ новограчанички-средњезападноамерички Лонгин служио уз шест свештеника и два ђакона уследио је банкет у великој сали. На банкету је било око 300 људи, укључујући чланице кола свих парохија ширег чикашког базена.
На банкету су многи, почевши од кумова Славе, омладинаца и кампера Николаса Вукотића и Еме Маноловић истакли важност летњег кампа и његов успех ове године, као и прошлих година. Захваљујући раду Кола Српских Сестара летњи камп се одржава већ више од 70 година и формира Хришћанску и Српску свест младих генерација.
On Sunday, August 28, Dormition of the Mother of God was celebrated at the New Gracanica Monastery, as the Slava of the Diocesan Kolo of Serbian Sisters. After Divine Liturgy which was served by Bishop Longin of New Gracanica – Midwestern America, accompanied by six priests and two deacons, a banquet was held at the big hall. The banquet was attended by about 300 people, including members of the kolos of all the parishes in the greater Chicago area.
At the banquet, several people, starting with the Slava kumovi, campers Nicholas Vukotic and Emma Manolovich, pointed out the importance of the summer camp and its success this year, as well as previous years. Thanks to the work of the kolo sisters the summer camp has been held for over 70 years and it continues to form the Christian and Serbian identity of the young generations.
In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity, and in thy falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world, O Theotokos. Thou hast been, translated to life, as thou art the Mother of Life. And by thy supplications thou dost deliver our souls from death.
The tomb and mortality could not hold the Theotokos, who is untiring in her supplications and our certain hope in her intercessions. For, as the Mother of Life, she hath passed over to the Life Who dwelt within her ever-virgin womb.
Apostle Matthias, Afterfeast of the Transfiguration
On Monday evening 8 August 2016, I received at the Diocesan See, Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God Monastery “New Gracanica,” a group of present and former members from the organization now known as the Serbian American Museum “St. Sava,” which for most of its history was known as the Serbian Cultural Club “St. Sava,” founded by the well-known Serbian intellectual +Dr. Slobodan Draskovic, whose movement had as its foundation the teachings of the Father of our Serbian Church and Nation, St. Sava. This group of present and former members presented an eloquent letter/appeal requesting that our Serbian Orthodox Diocese become involved in the situation which is presently unfolding in the organization, regarding the potential sale of the building located at 448 W. Barry in Chicago and the future of the organization.
Being moved by the letter/appeal and by the heartfelt words of the group, I proceeded to meet on Wednesday 10 August with the President of the organization, Dr. Zivojin Pavlovic, at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Chicago, in the presence of V. Rev. Darko Spasojevic (Cathedral Dean), Desko Nikitovic (the former Consul General of the Republic of Serbia, Chicago-Belgrade Sister Cities Committee Co- Chair and organization member) and Ljubisa Milicic (Chicago-Belgrade Sister Cities Committee Co- Chair). At this meeting, a path forward was agreed to by Dr. Pavlovic, whereby many of the concerns presented to me by the group would be overcome, namely that the sale of the property would be placed with a highly-regarded commercial real estate brokerage which has no pre-existing fiduciary relationship to the organization and that our Serbian Orthodox Diocese, along with prominent leaders of the Serbian American community, would become direct legal decision-makers in how best to use the proceeds of the sale, since the Barry building is a historic legacy of the entire Serbian Orthodox community, not just the present localized membership of this once-prominent, world-wide Serb diaspora organization.
Unfortunately, I have learned from the group that Dr. Pavlovic thus far has not honored the 10 August agreement and that, therefore, the group has been left with no choice but to retain a lawyer. Today, I received a copy of the letter from their lawyer to Dr. Pavlovic and the present board of the organization. I am truly saddened by the fact that our Serbian Orthodox community, once again, is on the brink of a legal dispute. I call upon all involved to avoid litigation and specifically call upon Dr. Pavlovic to honor the agreement that was reached on 10 August.
Your intercessor before our Transfigured Lord,
Bishop of New Gracanica and Midwestern America Diocese
Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, Who didst show Thy glory unto Thy disciples as far as they could bear it, May Thine ever-existing light shine forth also upon us sinners through the prayers of the Theotokos. O Bestower of light, glory to Thee!
On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God; that when they would see Thee crucified, they would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth the Effulgence of the Father.
У недељу код прелепог манастира Нова Грачаница одржана је Видовданска прослава и прослављена 102. година Српске Народне Одбране у Америци, најстарије националне организације Срба на америчком континенту.
После Св. Литургије у манастиру одржан је помен бившим председницима и оснивачима, као и преминулим члановима, а потом је у великој сали манастира освештан славски колач у част и славу Св. великомученика Лазара Косовског, празника СНО који се слави од самог оснивања, и прочитана молитва пре послуженог славског ручка. Видовдан је одувек био заједнички именитељ свих националних прегнућа Срба како у Народној одбрани тако и свих Срба у Америци.
Водитељ програма Никола Марић поздравио је присутне и обавестио их да је претходног дана успешно одржан 75. конгрес СНО и да су делегати Конгреса са свих страна Америке, свесни још увек тешког положаја Срба у Србији, Републици Српској, Црној Гори, Хрватској и Македонији, и посебно на Косову и Метохији, донели резолуцију у којој их све поздрављају и моле да очувају јединство српског националног и духовног простора, уз посебан акценат на очувању српског Светосавља, језика и ћириличног писма јер су то наше највеће одреднице као народа. Уједно, поздрави су упућени и другим српским националним организацијама у расејању, уз позив свим Србима Америке да се прикључе нашој борби за опстанак Српства и да никада не забораве шта је СНО у заједници са Српском црквом, Српском братском помоћи и Српским народним савезом учинила за њихове очеве и дедове у тешким данима после Првог и Другог св. рата.
По други пут изабрани млади председник СНО Небојша Живковић посведочио је спремност Српске народне одбране на свакојаку жртву да се очува српски народ, вера, језик и писмо на тлу Америке, али и уз исти апел и Отаџбини. Видовдан је дан који нас спаја и говори да видовданско предање и етика јесу суштина српског бића и када год би се од њега одвојили настајало је пострадање. „Данас доказујемо да је Видовдан део нас и да ми у Америци нећемо изгубити свој корен“, рекао је председник СНО.
Домаћин Славе г. Драган Селаковић, који је само неколико дана раније изабран за председника Српске Братске Помоћи у Америци, обратио се гостима, поздравио све присутне и захвалио се на указаној части да буде домаћин.
Монах о.Петар Саиловић својом Видовданском беседом одушевио је све присутне и добио громогласан аплауз препуне манстирске сале. Ту је још једном потврђена чврста нит која веже Видовдан, Српску Цркву, Народну одбрану и српски народ у Америци, што је најважнија тачка живота у расејању и односа према свом истинском хришћанском предању које нам је дато да га чувамо и сачувамо ма где били.
Потом су се обратили г. Петар Самарџија као председник 75. конгреса СНО који је поздравио присутне и амерички глумац и продуцент српског порекла Владимир Рајчић који је поздравио присутне и захвалио се на позиву да присуствује овој традиционалној прослави.
На крају у једном снажном мотивационом говору обратио се и прослављени тренер младе репрезентације Србије у фудбалу која је освојила ФИФА Светско првенство прошле године г. Вељко Пауновић, као специјални гост, који је причао о походу на врх света са репрезентацијом Србије. Присутни су у тишини слушали и дивили се енергији овог младог стручњака, који је довео цео свој стручни штаб на традиционалну српску прославу.
После занимљивих гостију и поздрава, присутни су уживали у музици Мирјане Неговановић са оркестром.
A Celebration in Honor of His Grace Bishop Dr. MITROPHAN on His 25 Years of Service in the Eastern American Diocese and His Election as Bishop of Canada
Saturday, August 13, 2016
St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church Aliquippa, PA
Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, 10 AM
Reception & Testimonial Banquet to follow at the St. Elijah Serbian Center
This year marks His Grace Bishop Dr. MITROPHAN’s 25th Anniversary as Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Eastern America. It also marks a new milestone as he leaves the Eastern American Diocese for his new duties as Bishop of Canada. The clergy and faithful of the Eastern American Diocese are invited to thank His Grace for his years of faithful service as our Archpastor, and to wish him Godspeed as he assumes his new duties in Canada at this service and banquet in his honor. Complete details will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, save the date and plan to join us for this historic event.
The Saturday before Pentecost, this year on June 18, is the day the Orthodox set aside all other activities to remember the DEPARTED. This is one of the specially set Memorial Saturdays of the year when we who are yet alive, the Church Militant, still struggling against evil, gather at Church and the cemetery to pray for the souls of our relatives and friends, the Church Triumphant — together we are the body of Christ. The prayers offered are beneficial not only for the departed but for the living. On Saturday, DIVINE LITURGY was served at St. Sava (Libertyville) and also at Protection of the Virgin/Pokrov Church (New Gracanica), and was followed by a PARASTOS and BLESSING OF GRAVES at both cemeteries. The name of the newly departed +Milenko Vuckovich who attended church at Pokrov and was a faithful bass singer with the Episcopal Choir was mentioned at Liturgy and the Parastos.
Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life Come and Abide in us.
The glorious Feast of Pentecost, was celebrated on Sunday, June 19 at the Pokrov Church, New Gracanica which was decorated with the traditional greens representing the ever living Tree of grace and life, of joy and comfort. Thus says the Lord:
Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I your God am holy.