Workshop, Concert, and Lenten Vespers

The faithful Orthodox of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton, Ohio enjoyed a spiritually uplifting weekend surrounding the 5th Sunday of Great Lent.

Beginning on Saturday, March 24th, the St. George parish hosted its 3rd annual Lenten workshop entitled, “Soul Mending – The Mystery of Holy Repentance”. Orthodox Christians from various jurisdictions, as well as Protestants and Roman Catholics from the surrounding community, attended this open event meant to deepen the community’s understanding of sin and reconciliation according to the teachings of the Holy Church.  Host-priest, Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich, not only offered information to those present, but had them do group work exploring the nature of sin, death, and repentance.

Together, the workshop participants reflected on the difficulty with recognizing and acknowledging “sin” in this modern era, while learning how to prepare for confessing their sins in the context of the Holy Church. After the morning workshop, participants enjoyed a light, lenten meal, and fellowship.  As in previous years, this event was offered as free gift to everyone in the Stark County community.

The following morning, the faithful of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church showed up in great numbers to celebrate Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt. The church community was vibrant in anticipation for the busy day ahead, which would conclude almost twelve-hours after Proskomedia began in the morning.

Following Divine Liturgy, Orthodox Christians from throughout the Cleveland, Akron, and Canton region gathered at St. George for a spiritually uplifting concert offered by seminarians from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.  In the church, filled to capacity, the twelve choir members filled the magnificent space with hymns from a variety of Orthodox musical traditions.

Throughout the performance, the seminarians offered captivating explanations of the meaning behind the music, almost all of which was taken from music sung at the Feast of the Annunciation that was celebrated in many other Orthodox jurisdictions on that very day.  One choir member in-particular offered his personal growth in understanding the veneration of the Most Holy Mother-of-God, having come from an evangelical protestant background where such veneration was not permitted. The collection taken during the event directly benefited the scholarships of the choir members who, God-willing, will be future servants in the Holy Orthodox Church.

Immediately following the choir performance, all attendees gathered in the St. George Event Center for refreshments, and an opportunity to meet the seminarians and purchase items from the St. Tikhon’s bookstore.

Just a short time later, St. George hosted their second event of the day, Lenten Vespers with clergy from throughout the Cleveland Deanery including Fr. Sava (Medakovich), attached to New Marcha Monastery; Fr. Milan Pajic, parish priest of St. Archangel Michael in Akron; Fr. Bosko Stojanovic, parish priest of Holy Trinity in Youngstown; Fr. Vedran Grabic, parish priest of St. George in Hermitage, PA; and host-priest Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich.  In a near-capacity church, faithful Orthodox christians fervently offered their solemn prayers, together with the clergy, as the Kosovo Men’s Choir magnificently sang the responses.

Upon the conclusion of the service, all in attendance gathered in the St. George Event Center for a Lenten meal that included homemade soup, pogaca, falafel, fruit salad, and more. The many people in attendance enjoyed recounting the weekend’s marvelous and spiritually uplifting events as they dined together. Near the end of the meal, Fr. Sava (Medakovich) offered a lecture on the theme, “How do we come to know God?”.

As the workers of the St. George Serbian Orthodox church community began cleaning up from the various events they hosted during this busy weekend, their faces and spirits were not worn-down from all their labor.  In fact, quite the opposite – they rejoiced that God had blessed them to be able to host such wonderful events!

3rd Annual Lenten Retreat in NYC

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, on Thursday, March 1st, parishioners from St. George church in North Canton departed for their 3rd annual Lenten Retreat to New York City.  As in years prior, the group stayed in White Plains, north of the city, in close proximity to their retreat location at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Tuckahoe, New York.

Different from years past, the retreat began with a visit to the new Diocesan Residence in NewRochelle.  Located just north of the Bronx, and within ten minutes of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, this residence is in a prime location for visitors and guests to enjoy the hospitality of the Eastern-American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The group was blessed with an official tour of the residence by their hierarch, His Grace Bishop Irinej.  Every room was filled with items of great spiritual and historical value for all those in the Diocese, as well as Orthodox Christians everywhere. His Grace was a wonderful host, offering His time to the group and speaking with great knowledge about each item on display, providing the fascinating history behind the many icons, vestments, paintings, relics, fixtures, and furniture found in each room.

The retreat group was amazed that in such a short time, in the midst of the active work of the Diocese and the busy schedule of their Diocesan Bishop, the organizing the new Residence, including the unloading and sorting of the voluminous library and diocesan records, was well underway.

Highlights of the morning tour included Zora Pavichevich, age six, playing the piano for His Grace Bishop Irinej and the retreat group, as well as the group’s delightful conversation with His Grace in the conference room at the conclusion of their visit.

The Diocesan Residence will be a true center for the faithful of the Eastern Diocese – a place for visitation and pilgrimage – and a wonderful representation of the Serbian Church to visitors that pass through New York City from all over the world.

Following the tour of the Residence, the faithful travelled to nearby St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary to join the community for Presanctified Liturgy.  Both the male and the mixed choirs sang magnificently, lifting the spirits of all those offering their solemn prayers during the service. Immediately after, the retreat group was invited to join the seminarians for a late-lunch in the refectory, which provided a wonderful opportunity for the parishioners of St. George to get to know the students they regularly pray for, and the community they joyfully support.

The group then enjoyed a tour of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, led by Deacon Larry Soper, a seminarian from the Eastern-American Diocese and former deacon at the parish of St. George in North Canton. The group embraced their former deacon with love and affection, and listened intently as he took them through the various campus buildings offering bits of history and information.  The day concluded with a retreat group meal wherein Deacon Larry was happy to answer questions about life as a student and seminarian.

The following day, Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich offered a Lenten workshop entitled, “Forgiveness:  A Miracle”, to clergy from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America. This workshop was unique in that the clergy were gathered at a retreat center in Pennsylvania, and Fr. Aleksa was with his St. George parish retreat group in New York.  Harnessing the power and potential of social media, the distance between the two groups was bridged as the workshop was broadcast via Facebook Live.  To the delight of both Fr. Aleksa and the group of Ukrainian priests, a number of participants from all over the world joined the live workshop and actively participated by asking and answering questions, joining in the discussion, and sharing their thoughts and feelings about “Forgiveness”.

On the final day of the Parish Lenten Retreat, the group of faithful from North Canton joined the St. Sava Pro-Cathedral community for Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan. His Grace Bishop Irinej presided, joined by many Orthodox faithful filling every corner of their functional parish space, and concelebranting clergy including the Very Rev. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Zivojin Jakovljevic, Dean of the Pro-Cathedral; the Very Rev. Protopresbyter Aleksa Micic, currently attached to the St. Sava Pro-Cathedral; the Very Rev. Aleksa Pavichevich, parish priest at St. George in North Canton, Ohio; and Protodeacon Milos Zdralic, Diocesan Financial Secretary.

Following services, the Retreat participants departed for their home community of St. George in North Canton.  The weekend, as in years past, offered the participants a chance to deepen their relationship with Christ, grow in their Orthodox faith, and make connections within their Diocese, and with community at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Glory be to God for all things!

Годишње духовне вежбе у Њујорку поводом Великог поста

По благослову Његовог Преосвештенства епископа Иринеја, у четвртак, 1. марта 2018. године, парохијани из цркве Светог Ђорђа у Норт Кантону ишли су поводом својих годишњих великопосног духовних вежби у град Њујорк. Као и претходних година, група је одсела у Вајт Плеинс, северно од града, у близини локације њиховог окупљања у Православној академији Светог Владимира у Такахоу, у Њујорку.

Другачије него раније, духовне вежбе су  почеле посетом новој епископској резиденцији у Њу Рошелу. Смештена северно од Бронкса, и само десет минута од Академије Светог Владимира, ова резиденција је право место да посетиоци и гости могу уживати у гостопримству Источноамеричке епархије Српске Православне Цркве.

Група је имала благослов што ју је за време обиласка резиденције предводио архијереј, Његово Преосвештенство Иринеј. Свака просторија је испуњена предметима велике духовне и историјске вредности за све епархиоте, као и за православне хришћане уопште.

Група је била импресионирана што је за тако кратко време, усред активног рада Епархије, и густог програма рада њиховог Епископа, организација нове резиденције, са уношењем и сортирањем огромне библиотеке и владикиних списа, добро урађена.

Врхунац јутарњег обиласка били су сусрет са Зором Павићевић, 6-годишњакињом, која је свирала клавир за Владику Иринеја и групу из Норт Кантона, као и дивни разговори ове групе са Његовим Преосвештенством у сали за конференције на крају њихове посете.

Епархијска резиденција биће прави центар за вернике Источноамеричке епархије – место посете и поклоништва –  прелепо представљање Српске Цркве посетиоцима који пролазе кроз Њујорк Сити из целог света.

После обиласка резиденције, верници су обишли Православну Богословску академију Светог Владимира, где су се придружили верницима на Литургији пређеосвећених дарова.  Одмах после тога, група је обедовала са студентима у трпезарији.

После ручка група је била у обиласку Академијее Светог Владимира, а предводио ју је ђакон Лари Сопер, богослов из Источноамеричке епархије и бивши ђакон у парохији Светог Ђорђа у Норт Кантону. Дан је окончан вечером коју је ова група имала с ђаконом Ларијем, са којем се разговарало о животу једног студента богослова.

Следећег дана отац Алекса Павићевић је предводио великопосну духовну радионицу, под називом „Опраштање: Чудо“,  пред свештенством Украјинске Православне Цркве у Америци. Ова радионица је јединствена у томе што се свештенство окупило у центру за духовне вежбе у Пенсилванији, а отац Алекса са својом групом при парохији Светог Ђорђа у Њујорку.

Последњег дана великопосних духовних вежби, група верника из Норт Кантона придружила се заједници Светог Саве на Божанској Литургији у грчкој православној цркви Светог Елефтерија на Менхетну. Његово Преосвештенство Епископ Иринеј је началствовао Литургијом уз саслужење свештенства: протојереја-ставрофора др Живојина Јаковљевића, настојатеља прокатедралног; протојереја Алексе Мићића, тренутно придруженог прокатедралној цркви Св. Саве; о. Алексе Павићевића, парохијског свештеника цркве Светог Ђорђа из Норт Кантона, у Охају; и протођакона Милоша Ждралића, епархијског секретара, у присуству великог броја верника.

После службе, учесници духовних вежби вратили су се  у своју парохију у Норт Кантону.

Извор: Источноамеричка епархија СПЦ (са енглеског Информативна служба СПЦ)