In anticipation of soon returning to their own Cathedral Church, which has completed the Secure and Enclosure Phase of its reconstruction, and its Center, the Serbian community in New York City celebrated their parish Feast Day – Slava of Saint Sava on Sunday, January 31st, 2021 at the Greek Orthodox parish of Saint Eleftherios in Manhattan.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was officiated by His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America. His Grace was joined in concelebration by the Very Rev. Presbyter Milan Dragovic while the students of Theology and diocesan staff, together with the faithful, sang the responses.
In his homily, Bishop Irinej addressed the numerous faithful that had gathered by quoting Vojislav Ilic and his famous poem about how Saint Sava had knocked on the heavy monastery door at the hour of midnight, asking the monastics to let him enter. His Grace emphasized that to this day, the young Rastko is continuously knocking at the door of all our hearts, just as through the centuries he asks of us to open our hearts. It is our responsibility to open our hearts and follow him, as he followed Christ. By giving himself to Christ, Saint Sava, through his holy intercessions will guide us, as we sing in his troparion, “on the path which leads to life”, toward Christ and His Heavenly Kingdom.
Following the prayer behind the ambo, the children gathered around His Grace to witness and partake of the blessing the Slava gifts of Wheat – Koljivo, wine and Festal Bread – Slavski kolach, and to their great joy turning the bread together. Then, watching with delight as the Bishop and the Host of the Slava, Mr. Branko Radulovic broke the bread, the children knew that the Bishop would reward them with the decorations from the beautifully embellished bread. At the conclusion of the Slava Service, Ana and Andrew Ludemann, together with their young son, Stefan, accepted to be the hosts for the following year, by receiving a quarter of the blessed bread from the hands of this year’s host.
After the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, everyone joined together in the joyous singing of the Hymn to Saint Sava – Uskliknimo s’ ljubavlju, the children presented how well they prepared their songs, recitations, and even drawings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second portion of the presentation was virtual. The faithful, in the presence of their hierarch, viewed a video compiled of works and presentations of the children who were not able to be physically present.