Chicago, IL - At 7:45 this evening, Wedesday, August 18, 2010, on the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Eminence +Christopher, Metropolitan of Libertyville-Chicago, fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 82. Clergy are asked to serve a small pomen at tomorrow's Divine Liturgy.
Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.
May His memory be eternal.
Born in Galveston, Texas, and baptized Velimir Kovacevich, the future Metropolitan Christopher was the ninth of twelve children of Serbian immigrant parents. After graduation from high school, he attended Nashotah House and graduated from St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois. After marriage, he was ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood. Continuing his education, he earned a B.A. (Philosophy), Master of Letters (History) at the University of Pittsburgh; the Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, and completed courses and examinations for the doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Father Velimir ministered to parishes in Pennsylvania and in Chicago, also serving as chaplain to four universities. He assisted his parishes to become bilingual in their worship and education programs. As a priest, he served as spiritual father, counselor, youth worker, administrator, educator, and, above all, in priestly ministry at the Holy Altar. Widowed in 1970, he is the father of four, as well as the grandfather of nine.
Elevated to the episcopate in 1978 by the Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade and tonsured with the monastic name of Christopher, he became the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of his church in North America. As Bishop of Eastern America and Canada, he soon developed a diocesan-wide program in religious education. Active also in ecumenism, he has served on the joint commission of Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops and on the Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue, and has represented his church at high levels in both the National and World Councils of Churches. In 1991, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan, thereby becoming Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S. and Canada.
In recognition of his exemplary ministries as parish priest and diocesan bishop, his courageous support of education, ecumenism, and monastic life, his championing of church unity, and his outstanding leadership of the Serbian Orthodox Church in this country, Nashotah House is proud to number Metropolitan Christopher among its former students. Continuing the tradition of this House in Anglican friendship with the Orthodox churches, of which the exemplar and patron is our honorary alumnus, St. Tikhon of Moscow and New York, it is with great joy that we confer upon His Eminence, Metropolitan Christopher, the degree Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.
May the Lord our God grant blessed repose and eternal rest to His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher.