With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, St. George Serbian Orthodox Church will be hosting a Liturgical Music Workshop on Friday, February 8th and Saturday, February 9th. This workshop is open to the public, and participation is by donation only (all donated funds will go towards costs for meals, and the featured speakers).
This year’s featured speaker is the Protodeacon Jovan Anicic, PhD, the Director of Religious Education for the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Fr. Pdn. Jovan has hosted multiple musical workshops as a talented teacher and musician, schooled in not only the history and theology of liturgical music – but also in its practical application.
Saturday will feature two concurrent workshops – one for adults, and one specifically for children.
The current schedule is as follows:
Doors open at 6:00pm
Lecture at 6:30pm – “The Place of Musicians and Vocalists in Worship” – Pdn. Jovan Anicic
Social and fellowship hour will follow
Luncheon at 12-noon
Introduction by Pdn. Jovan near the end of Lunch
1pm – Session 1 – Adults (Sbdn. Milan and Mira Damljanović) – Choral Singing – Beyond the Basics
1pm – Session 1 – Children (Pdn. Jovan and Protinica Emily) – Instrumental and Reading Workshop
2pm – Break
2:15pm – Session 2 – Adults (Sbdn. Milan and Mira Damljanović) – Select Pieces and Chants
2:15pm – Session 2 – Children (Pdn. Jovan and Protinica Emily) – Junior Choir Workshop
3:15pm – Closing comments and Q&A
4:00pm – Great Vespers
Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Irinej
Protodeacon Dr. Jovan Anicic is currently the Director of Religious Education for the Eastern-American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox church. Apart from being a gifted musician, he has offered numerous theological and musical lectures and presentations all over the world.
Sbdn. Milan Damljanovic
Milan Damljanovic is the Music Director at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and St. George Antiochican Orthodox Church. Those duties include conducting the Njegos Choir, St. George Antiochian Choir, Melos Ensemble and Youth Serbian Chorus.
Mira Sokolovic-Damljanovic is a talented instructor, soloist, and leader for youth and adult choirs. Often working in tandem with her husband, Sbdn. Milan, she brings energy and passion for Liturgical music into every lesson and rehearsal.
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!
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.
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!
On October 20th, members of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church gathered together for a simple, yet remarkable family day.Although the weather did not cooperate, the cold, wet, and dreary day could not dampen the spirts of the gathered community.
Beginning with Great Vespers at 4pm, the faithful started the event in prayer before moving to the picnic pavilion.Food was in abundance as a roast pig was adorned with side dishes brought from the many families that attended.Children enjoyed tractor-driven hayrides as Chuck Tepsic joyful took them around the large property all afternoon.Luka Kraguljac, a self-taught and talented musician, played music throughout the evening.The people enjoyed kolo dancing, from the youngest to the oldest there present. Children enjoyed crafts with pumpkin painting supplied by Sally Hein.
The highlight of the cold evening was the entire group gathered around a roaring fire listening to the history of the Serbian people during World War I, before learning to sing “Tamo, Daleko”.Fr. Aleksa recounted the suffering and sacrifice of the Serbs as they bravely fought to maintain their freedom.Together, the community translated the song into English – and then learned, verse-by-verse, the beautiful hymn.
By the end of the event, the weather was not very inviting, however those who joined in the family celebration made everlasting memories.
On the 40th day following the repose of the Very Reverend Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dragan Filipovich, his community of many years, St. George in North Canton, Ohio, remembered him prayerfully.Immediately following Divine Liturgy on Sunday, the congregation gathered around beautifully prepared koljivo and offered a pomen in song and prayer.
Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich recounted Fr. Dragan’s many contributions to the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church, particularly in his tremendous gift of education. Fr. Dragan was not only a gifted pastor and liturgical celebrant, but a teacher.Universally, the people of St. George remember learning about the richness of their Orthodox faith from him.Further, Fr. Dragan was a proponent for conducting services in the language of the people, and encouraged the community to use more english so that richness of the Liturgy could be understood.
Fr. Dragan, as the community remembered, also encouraged his people to a life of piety and union with Jesus Christ through more frequent reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion.Although this was somewhat of a controversial stance at the time, Fr. Dragan encouraged the faithful to prepare and partake much more than two to four times per year.
On a personal note, Fr. Aleksa shared personal stories of Fr. Dragan, stories that had an impact on his life and his ministry. One in particular spoke to Fr. Dragan’s directness and pastoral love. During his first year as a priest, Fr. Aleksa was assigned to read the prayer behind the ambo during Diocesan Day at Shadeland Camp. With knees shaking, he walked to the center of the church full of campers, faithful, and over forty ordained clergy. With powerful lungs he read the prayer, and then went back to his place feeling that he had finally ‘made it’ as a priest, and didn’t make a fool out of of himself. Many other clergy smiled, patted him on the back, or gave him a thumbs-up. After service, however, Fr. Dragan sought him out immediately, put his hands on his shoulders and said… “Fr. Aleksa… that was too fast. Slow down. They need to understand you.”
As Fr. Aleksa recounted, his puffed up feelings were brought down to earth – but thanks-be-God, Fr. Dragan had the courage to say what needed to be said – out of his pastoral love for the church, and for Fr. Aleksa. Those words, more than many others as a young priest, helped him grow in ministry. As Fr. Aleksa recalled, Fr. Dragan was never afraid to say hard truths – the things that needed to be said, even when people were not prepared to hear them. Since that day, Fr. Aleksa always thinks of Fr. Dragan when he reads that prayer.
The faithful, likewise, were encouraged to remember the positive ways that Fr. Dragan had impacted this community, and each of them personally. With hope in the resurrection of Christ, the community partook of the koljivo and shared a fellowship hour remembering their former priest and pastor.
May the memory of Fr. Dragan Filipovich, parish priest at North Canton for more than thirteen years, be eternal!
By God’s grace, St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton was once again able to host the Talija Art Company – this year in Massillon at the Lions Lincoln Theater. Over 200 people gathered in the premier, century-old grand American Theater to enjoy live Serbian dance, music, and culture. This year’s performance was themed around the 100-year anniversary of Serbian victory in World War I.
As the show began, the theater darkened as a voice offered an introduction that set the tone for the emotional production:
“At the beginning of the 20th century, Serbia was a small country of about three million inhabitants. The Karadjordjevic dynasty ruled the country after the overthrow of dynasty Obrenovic. A large number of Serbs from still imprisoned parts of the Balkans were settling down in Serbia as a free kingdom, as well as the other Slavs from Austro-Hungary who recognized the freedom and prosperity in it. The idea of liberation and unification was present, making the relations between Austria and Serbia even worse. At the beginning of 1914, Serbs lived peacefully and enjoyed prosperity but Austria was seeking the cause for aggression.”
Heartfelt renditions of “Tamo Daleko”, “March on the River Drina”, and high-energy dances from all over the Balkans were offered throughout the remainder of the evening. Historical interludes, much like the one that opened the performance, were offered periodically as the audience was walked through the tragic, difficult, and heroic struggles of the Serbian people during that harrowing time.
During the performance, a number of Serbian refugees from the Second World War were moved to tears by the strong memories and spirit that the performance evoked in them.
Guests from all over northeast Ohio came to enjoy this production, as well as many people from the local community, including schools and colleges. The director of arts and culture for Stark County was also in attendance and was so moved by the performance that immediately following the performance she spoke with the host parish representative, Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich, and Talija Art Company, about doing a production on an even grander scale during their next tour.
With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, on Saturday, July 28th, twenty-three Orthodox pilgrims from St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton, Ohio embarked on a spiritual journey to the ancestral homeland of their Serbian Orthodox church.
Their journey began on Sunday morning where the pilgrims gathered with their guide, Jelena Miloradovic, in the crypt beneath the Temple of St. Sava on Vracar.This church beneath the temple was frescoed in glorious gold and bright colors, with the life of the chapel’s namesake – Tsar Lazar of Kosovo – depicted in iconographic form opposite the iconostasis. It was a beautiful service filled with a tapestry of faithful from young to old, including many young adults, joining together in thanksgiving.
Immediately following Divine Liturgy, the pilgrims journeyed through Belgrade enjoying the cosmopolitan sites, as well as the many beautiful churches.In particular, the pilgrims enjoyed the Saborna Crkva, Ruzica Church, and Chapel of Sveta Petka.
The following day the pilgrims journeyed to Zica Monastery, built by the decree of St. Stevan the First-Crowned and his brother, St. Sava the first-enthroned hierarch of the Serbian Church.The faithful lit candles and prayed in this 13th century architectural masterpiece, before continuing on to Studenica monastery where they stayed for the evening.As storms rolled through the hills that night, the faithful were lulled to sleep to the steady drumbeat of raindrops and the occasional crash of lightning.
In the morning, at 6:30am, the pilgrims arose for Divine Liturgy concelebrated by Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich.The group enjoyed the hospitality of the monastic community with coffee and conversation in the konak, where they met a couple from the Netherlands, Johan and Ankita, making their own pilgrimage to Studenica and Decani.The two had visited many years ago, hearing of the holiness of the Serbian monastic communities, and now make routine visits driving from their native land.
Later that day was one of the highlights of the trip as the pilgrims visited Djordjevi Stupovi.They climbed the hill leading to this beautiful monastery in time to join the Vespers service, celebrated by the Abbot, Fr. Gerasim.In a tremendous display of Christian hospitality, Fr. Gerasim invited all the faithful to enjoy refreshments and conversation.Fr. Gerasim immediately made friends with the youngest pilgrims, teaching the children, Ben Foltz and Lazar Pavichevich, to serve coffee and beverages to the group. He then brought the children instruments to play, and rejoiced as the third child on the trip, Sophia Pavichevich, sang the Resurrectional Troparion in tone one for everyone, and then danced a kolo with her brother, Lazar, at Fr. Gerasim’s request.It was, for the trip’s young people, a highlight of their journey.
The following day, the pilgrimage continued into Kosovo and Metohija where the pilgrims experienced, for the first time, the reality of life for the Orthodox faithful of this holy land. After a long journey south, the pilgrims were able to offer their prayers at Decani monastery, as they weaved through a road fraught with stone-blockers, guards, and fences. With a new understanding of the plight of the faithful in Kosovo, they prayerfully entered the monastery and venerated the relics of St. Stevan of Decani.
As had become customary for the pilgrims, they were once again greeted with love and hospitality by the monastic community. While rain began to fall, the pilgrims gathered on the portico and delighted by refreshments, and conversation with members of the monastery. The children were encouraged to play and stretch their legs to the delight of everyone.The pilgrims finished their day by visiting the Patriarchate of Pec, lighting candles, and joining for an evening Vespers service.
In the evening, the pilgrims experienced the best of Serbian hospitality as they were greeted with bread and salt as they arrived at Hotel Konstantin, before enjoying a magnificent feast and a traditional folklore performance.The spirit of the people was strong and loving, even as they stand surrounded by hostility in their native land.
The following day, the pilgrims began with Divine Liturgy at the Monastery of the Holy Archangels where, once again, they were treated to hospitality and an unexpected meal.Together with the small group of Orthodox faithful that still exist in the area surrounding the city of Prizren, they prayed, conversed, and broke bread.
During the rest of the day, the pilgrims walked from church to church in Prizren.The faithful priests of those holy churches talked joyfully with the group, and shared the challenges of life in Prizren while they minister to a group of less than 35 Serbian people who have not been driven from their home.
The priests in Prizren were exemplary models of faith and service. Despite the many challenges of daily living in such a tense and hostile environment, they maintain good spirits, always trusting in God for all things.The faith of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija was truly inspirational!The pilgrims finished their time in Prizren with a visit to the Seminary where, currently, fifty-five students are learning to serve in Christ’s Holy Church.
That afternoon, the pilgrims went to the village of Velika Hoca where a feast was prepared at a local vineyard, “Vinica Petrovic”.Once again, the pilgrims were awe-struck at the beauty and depth of faith in this little Serbian village where the people stayed, despite the threat and oppression that surrounds them.
The last day in Kosovo and Metohija, the pilgrims went to Gracanica Monastery before visiting Gazemistan, the memorial at the field of the battle of Kosovo. It was at this place where the pilgrims heard Fr. Aleksa, and their guide Jelena, recount the tale of this battle and its significance in European history as well as the culture and spirituality of the Serbian people.
As the pilgrims departed for the north, it was an emotionally difficult time as they reflected on the beautiful faith of the people in Kosovo and Metohija, and the challenging circumstances in which they live.The people of this region will forever be in their prayers, and the parish has committed to return to the region once again to continue to support those Serbian faithful who remain in that holy land.
During the final days of the trip, the pilgrims visited many monasteries as they continued their trip back to Belgrade. At Ravanica Monastery, the trip’s youngest participant, Lazar Pavichevich, was able to venerate the holy relics of Tsar Lazar of Kosovo.In full prostration, he prayed for the Saint’s holy intercession not only for them, but for those faithful still in Kosovo and Metohija today.
A little later, while visiting Manasija Monastery, the pilgrims received word that the Lilian Tumbas, aunt of pilgrim Mark Tumbas, passed away back in the United States. In a sign of loving support for their fellow pilgrim, the group gathered for a small memorial prayer together.
On the final day, the faithful departed for Novi Sad, where the pilgrims visited the cathedral church before walking up the hill to the fortress at Petrovaradin.While overlooking the Danube, and the dazzling landscape, they enjoyed a lunch and a time of peaceful reflection. They were saddened as their journey was coming to end, but rejoiced at the spiritual growth they experienced throughout the Serbian lands.
That evening they broke bread at “Dva Jelena” on Skadarlija in Belgrade.The pilgrims feasted together as they listened to traditional songs played live at their table.It was a time of thanksgiving, as they expressed their love and gratitude for the so many amazing experiences over the previous ten days.
They were thankful that their Hierarch, His Grace Bishop Irinej, blessed their pilgrimage to take place; they were thankful to God for their safe journey; they were thankful for the hospitality of the Serbian people; they were thankful for the inspiring faith of the Serbian peoples in Kosovo and Metohija; and they were thankful for the hardships they endured on what was a true, spiritual journey through the Serbian lands.
They all raised their glasses together, in the midst of the lively restaurant, and offered further thanksgiving as they toasted those who had journeyed with them from Dobrocinstvo – Vladan Seferovic, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the group;Jelena Miloradovic, whose knowledge of Serbian art, history, and architecture were unparalleled, and who radiated her true Orthodox faith every day; and their driver, Dejan Miletic, who, in faith and good spirit, took the pilgrims safely throughout the land.