Saint Sava in Cincinnati

On Sunday, January 25, 2015, parishioners of Saint George Serbian Church gathered to commemorate one of the most important and significant saints of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Saint Sava. This very important celebration reminds Orthodox Christians, and especially Serbian people, of the tremendous impact Saint Sava has on our lives. Saint Sava, who was born Ratsko Nemanjic in 1174, was a Serbian prince, first Archbishop of Serbia, and one of the most influential figures in Serbian law and literature. He left a life of royalty to become a monk in his youth; he influenced his father, Saint Simeon, to do the same, and subsequently founded Monastery Hilander on Mount Athos, which is still to this day one of the most revered cultural and religious centers for Serbian people. Saint Sava is surely one of the most historically and culturally significant saints in the Serbian Orthodox Church. I grew up understanding that Saint Sava was the patron saint of all Serbian people, and especially, Serbian children. Celebrations on this day give Serbian people the great opportunity to express their attachment to the Fatherland, wherever they may live throughout the world, and to remember the example our beloved Saint Sava has given us in regards to how to live our lives according to the Orthodox faith.

Divine Liturgy began at 10:30, led by Father Petar Petrovic. Helping Father in the altar were Thomas Frazier, Veljko Uverici, and Marko Petrovic. The Church choir, led by Nancy Helbich and Protonica Gordana Petrovic, sang responses. Especially important on this day was the hymn to Saint Sava, “Uskliknimo”. Kumovi for the celebration was Zdravko and Aleksandra Vidovic, with their children, Natasa and Sonja. Father Petar pointed out how nice it was to see such a packed Church; the pews were full and many people had to stand in the back of Church. Many children came forward at the end of Divine Liturgy to help Father Petar turn the Kolach. After the prayers and cutting of the Kolach, Father Petar appealed to the parishioners for volunteers to be Kumovi for the celebration next year. It wasn’t long before Rade and Verica Droca with their son Stevan came forward and enthusiastically took a piece of the Kolach and pledged their support to be sponsors for 2016. In his homily, Father Petar reminded everyone of the cultural and religious importance of Saint Sava. Father applauded the Vidovic family for being Kumovi and everyone present for all the sacrifices made for the sake of the Saint George Church.

After Divine Liturgy, a delicious lunch was prepared by the Vidovic family, consisting of barbeque pig, salads and various traditional Serbian food. Sunday School teachers Dr. Slobodan and Eileen Stanisic worked hard to prepare the young children for their recitations of poems in Serbian and English. After lunch, the children all recited poems, and Father Petar congratulated each of them. Children received Illustrated Bibles and gifts donated by Dr. Slobodan and Eileen Stanisic and also a very nice book published by Father Petar’s son, Father Dragan Petrovic, which was a gift from the Church. Everyone listened to live Serbian music by Anica Milenkovic and Bojan Boki Jovanovic. The musicians generously did not charge the Church for performing.

This was surely a successful event due to the efforts of all parishioners under the guidance of Father Petar. We remember the importance of Saint Sava, and through these types of celebrations his legacy continues. Father Petar reminded us, “These kids gathered around the Holy Sava Icon are our treasure; this is the most beautiful thing we can offer this world, especially the world in which we live today. If we build on this foundation, we will not worry about the future”. We can ask ourselves, why has Saint Sava’s legacy survived for eight full centuries? The answer is, because his work is celebrated everywhere in all parts of the world wherever Serbs live. Now and always, let us be happy and celebrate our teacher, Saint Sava. AMEN.

Joshua Savage

Source: Eastern American Diocese