Posted on: Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 2010 Slava Celebration

The title states it all – we had a wonderful Slava Celebration.  From the first person who entered our Church Saturday morning, August 28th to the person who turned out the Serbian hall lights Saturday evening, every one of us had a “day to remember”.
We actually began our celebration on the Eve of the Feast Day, Friday evening the 27th.  Our Vesper service responses were sung by eight members from the Belgrade Theological Seminary Choir.  Even though they had only arrived in the United States in the early morning hours of Friday, their voices were strong and pure.  All who were in attendance felt moved by the 45 minute service.  What a wonderful way to put our hearts in order for our Blessed Virgin’s Feast Day.
Approximately 40 of us stayed to share in an evening meal.  Nevenka Kordic featured tilapia.  Her daughter, Natasa Kordic, offered the delicious apricot cobbler as the dessert.
On Saturday morning, we began Orthos at 9 a.m.  The Choir members and a good number of parishioners were there early to join in the prayers.  Our Kumovi, Zlatko and Kim Theodorovich were in the honored place before the Memorial Table standing in patient readiness.  Even though the morning was cold, the two young ladies who were to greet the Bishop were found standing outside the church doors so they would not miss him.  Anastasia Turan and Corina Badea clutched their bouquets to their breasts as they waited expectantly for Vladika to arrive.  Their shy smiles of welcome when he arrived were lovely to behold.
Words cannot describe the beauty of our Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on that day.  The 8 young men who had traveled thousands of miles to share in our Slava sang the responses and read the prayers with such beauty that our hearts swelled with love.
Bishop Maxim led the Divine Liturgy with solemnity.  He was surrounded by a number of priests most of whom have shared in our Slavas in the past.  Our own V. Rev. Stavrophor Fr. Dane Popovic and Fr. William Weir were joined by our retired V. Rev. Stavrophor Fr. Miladin Garic, retired Priest V. Rev. Protopresbyter  Fr. Demetrius Dogias, of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Sacramento, Rev. Hieromonk Fr. Jovan Babich of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Alhambra, Rev. Fr. James Barfield of Holy Martyrs Church in Reno, NV, and Hierodeacon Fr. Panteleimon of Australia.  Adding to the beauty of the service was the great number of our own alter servers who were resplendent in new blue or white robes.
Just before the entrance into the Sanctuary with the Gospel took place, the service was halted for a few moments.  Fr. William was brought to stand before Bishop Maxim.  Vladika then said a Blessing over Fr. William.  Vladika then instructed Fr. Dane to read a Proclamation.  Fr. William has been awarded the title V. Rev. Protopresbyter as of the date of our Slava.   Tears of joy glistened in many eyes as the realization of the new honor bestowed upon Proto William was recognized by all.
Even though we all stood for the entire service, the Divine Liturgy progressed quickly.  In the Sermon offered by Bishop Maxim, he reminded us that “all things are possible with God.”  He encouraged us in our personal prayer lives, but also emphasized that we must also come together to pray as a Body in Church – as the Body of Christ.
At the conclusion of the service, we had a procession around the outside of our Church.  We were reminded that this representation was to proclaim to the world that we are not only celebrating our Feast but also proclaiming Christianity to the world.
As the procession came to an end before the outer doors, Bishop Maxim once again halted the service.  Fr. Jovan Babich stepped forth and read a Gramata recognizing Lazar Saraba and his devotion to the Jackson Children’s Camp.  For the second time that day, eyes glistened with joy that one of our own had found favor in the eyes of our earthly hierarchy for his churchly endeavors.
As we entered our Serbian Cultural Center, we were greeted with the wonderful smells of good food.  Under the able leadership of our Church President, Miroslav Milovanovich, the luncheon was a huge success featuring roasted pig.  Mikhail Kruska had a crew of pig roasters working from 4 a.m. till we ate at 1 p.m.  The Theodorovich Family assisted ably by offering willing hands, serving the food and making desserts.  As an added offering of theirs, they cleared all the tables at the conclusion of the event!  All served with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts.
The children’s program of songs and dances was received enthusiastically.  It is always a joy to watch the young people take part in the life of our Church.  As we watch their physical bodies grow and mature, we pray that their souls are also nourished with the prayers and guidance they receive in Church and our Sunday school program.  Under the loving teaching by Jasmina Radmanovich and Aleksandra Kordic, our young people are learning our cultural dances and songs.  Under the loving teaching by Fr. Dane, Fr. William and the Sunday school teachers, our young people are learning our beloved Orthodox Faith.
The program continued with several songs offered by the Belgrade Theological Seminary choir.  Most impressive was that their Professor, Nenad Milosevic, remained seated at the head table while the young men sang for us.  Their harmony was so perfect and sweet one only felt inspired.  How blessed we were to have them come to us.  A bag of Thanks was given to each of the young men.  Inside each bag was found:  an icon of the American Saints; an explanation of the icon and brief history of each Saint; chocolate candy bars; bags of peanuts; granola bars; Sacramento key chains; postcards of Sacramento scenes;  and $ 50 cash.  We wish them well and look forward to their next visit.
As Thanks were being offered to all for coming and as Thanks were offered to all those who assisted in making this such a wonderful celebration, we were all reminded that some of our loved ones were unable to be in our midst due to illness.   Two people in particular missed the Slava celebration this year.  Danica Ryder Gojkovich and Boris Petrovich were unable to attend.  Large “poster board” get well cards were available for all to sign before they left the hall.  Many people availed themselves of the opportunity to write a few words.  The love expressed to these two people was wonderful to witness.  We humbly ask God to restore them to good health and return them to our midst.
After the closing prayer, our young people turned up the volume of the Kolo music and the dancing began.
Music ended the day just as it had begun the day.  We began with prayers and love and we ended with laughter and love.  May we continue to learn to love and embrace each other.  May we continue to pray for each other.  May we remember to Thank God for the opportunity He has bestowed upon us by giving us such a beautiful Church in which to gather and pray and honor His Mother.  As the sun sets on this year’s Slava celebration, we look forward to next year’s Slava celebration.
May God Bless Each Person who offered assistance this year.
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