Patriarch Porfirije presided over the Holy Liturgy in the Cathedral Church of Saint Sava in Milwaukee
On 29 January 2023, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije presided over the holy hierarchical Liturgy in the Cathedral Church of Saint Sava in Milwaukee.
The 110th anniversary of the founding of the Church–School Congregation of Saint Sava, named after the first Serbian Archbishop, was celebrated with a festive divine service in the church filled with many pious people, who, despite the snowfall, came to meet their Patriarch in order to pray to God with him. Courageously witnessing the perseverance of the Orthodox faith and connection with their ancestors, the well-known Serbian immigrant community in Milwaukee succeeded in erecting the magnificent Saint Sava Cathedral, which represents the highest development of the Serbian Orthodox form of classical Byzantine architecture in the United States. Its mosaics in the altar apse are replicas of the most beautiful mosaics of the Church of Saint George on Oplenac. The parish continues to cherish and nurture the holy Orthodox faith, Serbian culture and ancestral traditions through the work of numerous organizations. Serbian youth in Milwaukee is gathering together at the Saint Sava Orthodox School, the Stevan Šijački Choir, the Šumadija Folk Dance Ensemble, the United Serbs Football Club, the Circle of Serbian Sisters…
Their Graces Bishops Mitrofan of Canada and Longin of New Gračanica–Midwestern America, together with numerous clerics and monastics, concelebrated the Holy Liturgy with His Holiness the Patriarch, in the prayerful presence of His Eminence Archbishop of Chicago kyr Peter from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
Bishop Longin: The arrival of Serbian Patriarch Porfirije gives us courage and strength to stay and persist on the path of Saint Sava, even though we are far from the land of our fathers
In his welcoming sermon, Bishop Longin recalled the history of Saint Sava Parish in Milwaukee and emphasized:
– Our joy is great, because our spiritual father, His Holiness Porfirije, Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade–Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, is here with us today. Our hearts are filled with joy. Your arrival is very significant for us, it gives us courage and strength to stay and persist on the path of Saint Sava, even though we are far from the land of our fathers. This Parish, unique and very significant for our Church in America, is one of the most organized in our Diocese. It is decorated not only by such a beautiful mosaic of this church, but above all by the souls of the people who live here, and especially of our children who go to Sunday school here, but also to the parochial school that has been operating here for almost three decades. They are our greatest wealth. They are our present, but also the future of this Church. The Parish of Saint Sava has always been among the first ones to help our people in the Motherland. They have always rushed to be the first to respond. All the joys of our people in the mother country of Serbia and throughout all Serbian countries were the joys of our people here, but we also shared all sorrows and every grief and pain with our Church in the Motherland.
Your Holiness, as I said, we are happy that our Serbian Patriarch is here with us today. You are a worthy heir of the great Patriarchs of the Serbian Church. We all rejoiced at your election and we hope that the prayers of the people from this place and from all over the globe, wherever there are Serbs, will help you in carrying the enormous burden and heavy cross of being the Patriarch of Serbia, guided by the spirit of our people in these by no means easy days, difficult days full of troubles, challenges and everything that, unfortunately, is not good. We thank you and ask you to bless these people with your patriarchal words, and I wish you good health, many days of living and many joyful and blessed years!
Patriarch Porfirije: Our name and surname is Rastko Nemanjić – i.e. Saint Sava. The one who did not frame himself in that name and surname, the one who did not frame himself in the icon of Saint Sava, he is a stranger to himself, and he is also a stranger to others.
Congratulating a significant jubilee to the faithful people of the Church–School Congregation of Saint Sava in Milwaukee, His Holiness Patriarch kyr Porfirije pointed out:
– Thank you for the wonderful and warm words of love, for the words of welcome. Indeed, my joy is immense today, because I know that nothing is by chance both in the life of an individual and in the life of a community. I also know that everything that happens inside of us and around us is an expression of God’s love. The Lord wanted us to celebrate Saint Sava here today, in a truly beautiful church dedicated to him, and even more in a community with these beautiful icons of God, people, brothers and sisters of the same origin, and what is more important from the same Church, with people who are the descent and children of Saint Sava.
We celebrate Saint Sava and there is not a day when we do not remember him. We remember him in various ways, but certainly the most correct and complete way, the one with which Saint Sava rejoices, is when we find ourselves in the church of God, when we pray to God, when we offer prayers not only for ourselves and our neighbors, but also for his people and for the whole world. Some people glorify Saint Sava as an enlightener, some as a teacher, some as a diplomat and peacemaker, and some glorify him as the one who taught his people to manage their property, to govern the country. Some see him as the one who took the first scholarly steps in the Serbian nation. Indeed, Saint Sava did all that, he was the first one doing those things and that makes him great. That is why the people loved him to such an extent that they saw his name and his seal everywhere and in every place, which is the reason why we have Sava’s Hill, Sava’s Valley and Sava’s Spring… Everything was named after him, but the most important thing is that we bear his name. We could say in one word that we Orthodox Serbs have no other name and no other surname. Our name and surname is Rastko Nemanjić –i.e. Saint Sava. The one who did not frame himself in that name and surname, the one who did not frame himself in the icon of Saint Sava, he is a stranger to himself, and he is also a stranger to others.
The question is whether we would remember Saint Sava to that extent if he was not first and foremost a saint of God. He achieved what we are all called to achieve. Man is not a being created to have his beginning here, in history, and to end his life and existence here. If this was so, everyone’s existence would be meaningless, and everyone’s life would be empty and without sense, regardless of one’s ups and downs, regardless of how much property one has, regardless of whether one holds any power in hands and regardless of whether one is glorified by people or not. If life were only something that lasts seven, seventy, eighty, let it be a hundred years, if man were only and exclusively a biological being, we know – by our faith, by our evangelical faith in God, in Christ’s word and in Christ Himself – that we have our beginning in history, but also that we were created for eternity and that this life was given to us to recognize Who represents the fullness and Who is the meaning of our life, to recognize that without God, without Christ, we are nobody and nothing.
Having loved Christ from his earliest childhood, Saint Sava despised assets, fame, wealth, power and authority, but not because he thinks that these should not exist in the life of the humankind, but because he knew that the earthly kingdom is transient, and heavenly lasts always and forever, because he wanted to give himself to Christ and to serve Him with his whole being. Likewise, he wanted his people to see not only with biological, material eyes, but to see with an inner, spiritual eye. The inner, spiritual eye gives sense to everything we are, including sometimes a failure, sometimes a trial, sometimes a difficulty. That is why Saint Sava went to Mount Athos and replaced the imperial palace with a monastic’s cell. From there, he returned to his country to sow the seed of Christ, in order that out of building peace and unity one and unique people, the people of God, would emerge from a multitude of individuals; but with the awareness that the true unity is exclusively and only in Christ, in the Church, and that any other association is most often an association against someone, not for someone. To be one in Christ means to be one in good, in virtue, in love.
You have proven it here by building this church, being missionaries and witnessing the Gospel of Christ so that others recognize His beauty and value. Therefore, it is important that the children are here with us. You should know that, if you give them the Orthodox faith and the Gospel of Christ, they will always preserve every other type of their identity. If you teach them just to be Serbs, and if they don’t know the Gospel of Christ, sooner or later they will forget their identity and their origins, and often those who have forgotten their faith forget their parents as well. You are here in the diaspora, but the homeland is also where we are what we truly are. The homeland is also here, because Saint Sava is also here, and where he is, there is our father, there is our homeland, there is our home. And as long as we belong to Saint Sava, that as long as we are Orthodox Christians, thus far every point of the globe will be our homeland. That is why you, brothers and sisters, are on your own here. You are here with Saint Sava and he is with you, so you can easily integrate into this country – which is a country of opportunities, open to people who want to make effort and work, who want to improve themselves –not having a feeling that you are lost and that you have given up on yourself, but on the contrary, that you enrich everything that this country offers you with Saint Sava, your Orthodox faith, your identity and your own self.
May the Lord give each of you good health, love inside the family, love between brothers and sisters, love between spouses, but also peace with those you live with and peace in this world. Be aware that, even though you are far from your motherland, you are always not only close to us, but always with us in our hearts and in our prayers, as well as that we feel not only joy for you, but also pride because of your faith, because of your faithfulness to Saint Sava, because of your love for your Church. May the Lord bless you all. May the Slava be blessed!
In the following days, Patriarch Porfirije will visit the Saint Sava Orthodox School of Theology in Libertyville near Chicago, where he will hold several meetings with the Dean, Administration, teachers and students of the only higher education institution of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the North American continent, and he will also attend the festive celebration of Saint Sava organized by teachers and students of that School. A meeting of His Holiness with competent Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America in the Monastery of New Gračanica on the Third Lake is also planned.