Bozo Joksimovic Choir of St. George goes Caroling

On Sunday, December 30th, the Bozo Joksimovic Choir of St. George Orthodox Church in North Canton gathered for their annual caroling event, visiting members of the community that currently reside in care facilities and nursing homes throughout Stark County.  The day began with Divine Liturgy, sung magnificently by members of the choir ages seven to seventy!  

During service, the church was full, and children were abundant.  Numerous altar servers assisted Father Aleksa, including first-time server Oliver S., who travels with his parents from far-away Medina for Divine Liturgy.  This week’s Epistle was read by first-time reader, Jovana S., who spoke with beautiful clarity and appropriate volume.  All throughout, the choir led the congregation in song and response.

Following Divine Liturgy, the entire community stayed for the 40-day parastos for the newly reposed servant of God Milan Aralica, father to two of the St. George Church School teachers, and grandfather to four Church School children. The Aralica family hosted a luncheon following a visit to the cemetery for prayers. 

When the afternoon had finally settled, the choir members gathered in a number of cars and visited Lucille Rogich, a matriarch of the church who offered much of her time and life to building up the church community.  In addition to the many gifts she offered, she gave one son to the priesthood, Fr. Dan Rogich, current rector of nearby Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.  Lucille’s smile widened as she joined the choir in singing traditional Christmas songs, including the festal tropar, “Thy Nativity”.

The choir then visited Nellie Evans, another matriarch of the church who gave much of her life and time into the building up of the St. George community. In addition to her many gifts given over the years, she raised up a daughter who manages catering for the church, a son-in-law who takes care of repairs big-and-small, grandchildren that participate actively in the life of the church, and many beautiful great-grandchildren. Nellie was so delighted at the visit from her church family that she was almost brought to tears.  Again, the choir sang traditional songs and spent some time expressing their love and admiration.

The day concluded with a choir social that included preparation for next week’s celebration of Badnje Vece – over Lenten food and beverage, the choir members continued practicing festal music for church.

It was a beautiful day of community, family, and Christian outreach for the faithful of St. George – Glory to God for all things!

Joyous St. Nicholas Celebration at St. George

On Sunday, December 16th, the St. George parish community rejoiced in two wonderful events celebrated on the same day – the baptism of Lex Bowers, and the annual church school St. Nicholas program.

Festivities began just prior to Divine Liturgy as the community gathered early to begin the baptismal Divine Liturgy.  Prior to the Little Entrance, Lex was anointed, washed in the baptismal waters, and christmated into the Holy Orthodox Christian church.  Lex’s journey into the church began with his love of the community by joining Slava celebrations throughout the years. In the summer, he joined the parish on their pilgrimage to the holy and historical sites of Serbia where he was profoundly moved by the deep faith and  spirituality of the Orthodox faithful and monastics. Traveling with parishioners from St. George Serbian, he journeyed throughout Serbia visiting the ancient monasteries and churches, and spending time praying with and visiting the suffering and oppressed Serbian Orthodox faithful in Kosovo and Metohija.

Upon returning to the United States, Lex and his wife Paula began attending services weekly at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church – and, together, they undertook a catechetical regimen to prepare for Lex’s entrance into the Holy Church.  In close proximity to the day of his baptism, the church celebrated the great Apostle, St. Andrew the First-Called, which is now Lex’s namesake and heavenly Patron.  The entire community joyfully and prayerfully gathered around him and welcomed him into the body of Christ!

Following the Divine Liturgy, the faithful gathered in the St. George Event Center for their annual St. Nicholas celebration. This year’s program was organized by the Kochovski and Laskvoski families – two involved, faithful families in the church community.  They decorated the hall, prepared food, and put together a wonderful and education program for the children of the church.

As soon as the children arrived at the hall, they took off their shoes and lined them up against the wall, hoping that St. Nicholas might drop-off gold coins as they learned he was famous for doing. They discussed the life of the great Saint and Wonder-worker of Myra in Lycia, and completed a craft wherein they constructed beautiful hats. The program concluded with an opportunity to greet St. Nicholas himself, sit with him, and ask questions.

With support from the Circle of Serbian Sisters, all participating children received gifts as a token of love from the dedicated women of the church.  The afternoon was filled with delight, from young to old, as the children laughed and played, learned about their faith, and continued to grow the bonds of friendship that unite them to their church community – and to each other.

Glory to God for this wonderful day!

Christian Education at St. George

This liturgical year at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, the community focus has been on engaging with our Orthodox faith through education. Our first outreach is to the children of our parish, which have a team of teachers, including Marina Quinn, Svetlana McCully, Rajko Radonjich, Sally Hein, and Gligo, Anastasia, and Jovana Sekulic, educating them at the preschool, elementary, and middle school levels.  These classes are supplemented by our St. Sebastian Youth Association, led by Subdeacon Mark Resanovich, our Youth Choir, led by Protinica Emily Pavichevich, and our Culture and Folklore taught by Marina Quinn.

The parish committee on Enrichment recognized, however, that a children’s education must find a firm grounding at home if it is going to be successful.  As such, a number of educational opportunities for adults have been added this year, and continue to grow in size. First, prior to Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich and Subdeacon Mark Resanovich co-teach adult education classes that follow the flow of Fr. Thomas Hopko’s series on “The Orthodox Faith.”  Each Sunday, a number of adults and a few teens come early to church for a fifteen-minute lesson, a question and answer session, and then the reading of the hours.

New in November, the parish began a Bible Study led by Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich.  This ongoing, bi-weekly program is coordinated by parishioners Tiffany Kochovski and Melissa Laskovski.  Beginning with the Gospel according to St. Mark, the participants will not only learn about Holy Scripture, and how reading it can impact their lives, but they are also learning about “how” they should read it in light of the Orthodox faith and Holy Tradition.

For parents in the church, quarterly workshops are offered to help families navigate the challenges inherent with raising children in the 21st-century.  The first workshop was on “Faith, Children, and Technology”, where a group of parents not only learned about some of the risks that our children face in this digital world, but also strategies to address those risks.  As usual, these workshops are not merely lectures, but provide group activities and workshops to get participants engaged and working together!

In February of 2019, St. George will host a Liturgical Music Workshop under the direction of Protodeacon Jovan Anicic, director of Religious Education for the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  This event will be Pan-Orthodox and have sessions aimed at helping faithful Christians better engage with their worship through music and song.

As always, the parish also offers annual and bi-annual pilgrimages to give the faithful people opportunities to connect with their Orthodoxy as they visit holy sites throughout the world.  Each Great Lent, the parish takes a retreat to New York City to spend time at the Diocesan Center, visit St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and join the St. Sava Pro-Cathedral community for Divine Liturgy.  Beginning in 2018 with a successful trip to the holy and historical sites of Serbia, St. George parish is already looking forward to future pilgrimages – the next in 2020.

All of these are in addition to seasonal opportunities to grow in the faith, including the annual KSS-sponsored Lenten Workshop, Lenten Seminar with a guest speaker from the Cleveland Deanery, and a guest speaker brought in by the Stark County Clergy Brotherhood for the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

It is with great joy that the faithful parishioners of St. George parish seek life in their faith through continual catechism. As their understanding of their orthodox faith in Jesus Christ continues to grow, their experience at Divine Liturgy not only deepens – it expands outside the doors of the physical church structure and into their lives!