I wish to use this opportunity and greet all of you, dear brothers and sisters, and to thank you, the faithful people of Saint Sava parish in New York, for your love, care and dedication for our Holy Church. This is exactly what matters and this is exactly what we need at this time and distress in this parish due to the loss of our church.
Abraham Maslow, speaking about children and what they need in order to learn, came up with a hierarchy of needs. He said that in order to learn and focus effectively, children need, food, shelter, safety, and love. However, I would reorder his criteria and say: we all, as human beings, need love first. To me personally, this is the foundation of our faith, tradition and identity. Holy Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović, who had a very big heart for the entire world, thanks to which, he obtained our Saint Sava church, virtually as a gift, expressed this identity in one of his conversations with my parishioner from Cleveland, Dragan Čupković. The Bishop said: “See Dragan, this world is a dish full of food and the Serbian people are its salt. God dispersed Serbian people all over the world to give taste to this food.” What do you think this salt is? I would say love, heart, and soul. It is especially important to keep this in mind now when our people in New York City need comfort, encouragement, and motivation to move forward at this time of grief. I emphasize these principles because I think they matter. When Spartans addressed their leader and asked him to build strong and tall walls around Sparta, in order to protect it from enemy, he replied: “Absolutely not! The strongest and the most powerful walls of Sparta are its sons.” I have witnessed this truth myself on many occasions. Namely, most of our people came from the Old Country to the United States with “one suitcase”. But they had love for each other, loyalty, affection and trust. They have not only made it in this country, but have exceeded their potential. On the other hand, I have seen people who have inherited wealth from their parents and grandparents, yet they were missing these principles, their inheritance dissipated on its own. Thus, while we are planning to build our church, let us keep in mind that we are not novices in this project. Building is a tradition in our people’s blood. Look at our churches and monasteries, how in spite of centuries of hardship and affliction, they stand tall. Some of them stood without a dome, uncovered for centuries, but the vision and sincere desire, faith and sense of collectivism has always been present and alive. This does not mean that to build and sustain these edifices was an easy task. On the contrary, it was a very bitter experience. And we should not flee from it either, as everything that is authentic requires effort, sweat, and tears. Ultimately, it will not be the completion of the church that will bring the joy, but rather the effort, the struggle and the zeal that is required to complete it.
V. Rev. Živojin Jakovljević