Patriarch Porfirije Officiated at the Divine Liturgy at the St. Sava Cathedral in Milwaukee

On Sunday, January 29, 2023, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porfirije officiated at the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the St. Sava Cathedral in Milwaukee.

The 110th anniversary of the founding of the Church-Scool Congregation of Saint Sava, the first Serbian Archbishop, was celebrated with a solemn service in the church filled with the pious faithful, who, despite the snowfall, came in large crowds to meet their Patriarch in order to join him in prayer to God. Courageously witnessing the persistence of the Orthodox faith and spiritual ties with their ancestors, the notable Serbian immigrant community in Milwaukee succeeded in buidling the magnificent St. Sava Cathedral, which represents the highest development of the Serbian Orthodox form of classical Byzantine architecture in the United States. The mosaics in the altar area are replicas of the most beautiful mosaics of the Church of St. George in Oplenac. Through numerous organizations, the parish continues to maintain and nurture the holy Orthodox faith, Serbian culture and ancestral traditions. The Serbian youth in Milwaukee gather at the St. Sava Orthodox School, the Stevan Sijacki Choir, the Sumadija Folk Dance Ensemble, the United Serbs Football Club, the Circle of Serbian Sisters...

Concelebrating with His Holiness at the Divine Liturgy were His Grace Bishop Mitrofan of Canada and His Grace Bishop Longin of the New Gracanica-Midwestern American Diocese along with numerous clergy and monastics, in the prayerful presence of the His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago, from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

Bishop Longin: The arrival of Serbian Patriarch Porfirije gives us courage and strength to stay and persist on the path of St. Sava, even though we are far from the land of our fathers. 

In his welcoming address, Bishop Longin recalled the history of the St. Sava Parish in Milwaukee and emphasized:

- Our joy is great, because today our spiritual father, His Holiness Porfirije, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Patriarch of Serbia is with us. Our hearts are filled with joy. Your arrival means a lot to us, it inspires us with courage and gives us the strength to stay and survive on the path of St. Sava, even though we are far from the land of our fathers. This parish, unique and very important for our Church in America, is one of the most organized in our diocese. It is decorated not only with such beautiful mosaics which fill the church, but above all by the souls of the people who live here, and especially our children who go to Sunday school here, but also to the parochial school that has been operating here for almost three decades. They are our greatest asset. They are our present, but also the future of this Church. The parish of St. Sava was always among the first to help our people in the homeland. They always rushed to be the first to respond. All the joys of our people in the homeland of Serbia and throughout all Serbian countries were the joys of our people here, but we also shared in all the sorrows and pain with our Church in the homeland. Your Holiness, we are delighted, as I said, that our Serbian Patriarch is here with us today. You are a worthy heir of the great patriarchs of the Serbian Church. We all rejoiced at your election and we hope that the prayers of the people from here and wordlwide, wherever Serbs live, will help you to carry the enormous burden and overly-heavy cross of the Patriarch of Serbia, guided by the spirit of our people in these, by no means, easy times, days of difficultlies and full of troubles, challenges and all things which, unfortunately, are not good. I wish you good health, we thank you and ask you to bless the faithful with your patriarchal words and to give us long life and may God grant you many years!

Patriarch Porfirije: Our name and surname is Rastko Nemanjic, it is Saint Sava. The one who has not framed himself into that name and surname, the one who has not framed himself into the icon of Saint Sava, is a stranger to himself but also a stranger to others.

Congratulating the faithful on this most significant anniversary of the St. Sava Church-School Congregation in Milwaukee, His Holiness the Patriarch noted the following:

- Thank you for the wonderful and warm words of love, for the words of welcome. Indeed, my joy is immeasurable today, because I know that nothing is by chance both in the life of an individual or in the life of a community. I also know that everything that happens in us and around us is an expression of God's love. The Lord wanted us to celebrate Saint Sava today here, in a truly beautiful temple dedicated to him, and even more in a community with these beautiful icons of God, the faithful, brothers and sisters from the same family, and what is more important from the same Church, with those who are children of St. Sava.

We celebrate Saint Sava and there is not a day when we do not remember him. We mention him in various ways, but certainly the most correct and complete way, the one with which Saint Sava rejoices, is when we find ourselves in God's church, when we pray to God, when we offer prayers not only for ourselves and our neighbors, but also for our people and for the whole world. Some celebrate Saint Sava as an educator, some as a teacher, some as a diplomat and peacemaker, some celebrate him as the one who taught his people how to take care of their property, their country. Some see him as the one who took the first steps in the Serbian nation towards the sciences. Truly, Saint Sava is all of that and he is in all of that, he is the first in all and truly great. That's why the people loved him to such an extent that they see his name and his stamp everywhere and in all places, and so we have Sava hill, Sava valley and Sava fount... Everything is named, but the most important thing is that we bear his name. We could say in one word that we Orthodox Serbs have no other name and no other surname. Our name and surname is Rastko Nemanjic, it is Saint Sava. He who has not framed himself into that name and surname, the one who has not framed himself into the icon of Saint Sava, is a stranger to himself but also a stranger to others.

The question is whether we would remember Saint Sava to the same extent had he not, first and foremost, been a saint of God. He accomplished what we are all called to do. Man is not a being created to have his beginning here, in history, and to end his life and existence here in history. If that were the case, everyone would be without meaning, and everyone's life would be empty and meaningless, regardless of their ups and downs, regardless of how much property they had, regardless of whether held any power in their hands and regardless of whether people celebrated them or not. If life were only something that lasts seven, seventy, eighty, let it be a hundred years, if man were nothing but a biological being, we know that we have our beginning in history but also that we were created for eternity and that this life was given to us to recognize who is fullness and who is the meaning of our life, to recognize that without God, without Christ, we are nobody and nothing.

Having loved Christ from his earliest childhood, St. Sava despised possessions, fame, wealth, power and authority, but not because he thinks that these should not exist in the life of the human race, but because he knew that the earthly kingdom is for a short time and the heavenly always and forever, because he wanted to give himself to Christ with his whole being and to serve Him. In the same way, he wanted his people to see not only with their biological, bodily eyes, but for his people to see with an inner eye, the spiritual eye. The inner, spiritual eye makes sense of everything we are, including sometimes our failings, our temptations, our difficulties. That is why Saint Sava went to Mount Athos and exchanged the royal palace with a monastic cell. From there, he returned to his country to sow the seed of Christ, so that by building peace and unity from a multitude of individuals, one and unique people, the people of God, would emerge, knowing that unity is exclusively and only in Christ, in the Church, and that any other association is most often an association against someone, not for someone. To be one in Christ means to be one in good, in virtue, in love.

You have proven it here by building this church, being missionaries and witnessing the Gospel of Christ so that others recognize His beauty and value. Therefore, it is important that the children are here with us. You know, if you give them the Orthodox faith and the Gospel of Christ, they will always preserve every other type of their identity. If you teach them to just be Serbs and not teach them to know the Gospel of Christ, sooner or later they will forget their identity and their origin, and often those who have forgotten their faith forget their parents as well. You are in the diaspora here, but the homeland is where we are that which we are. The homeland is also here, because Saint Sava is also here, and where he is, there our father is, there our homeland is, there our home is. And as long as we are children of Saint Sava, that is, Orthodox Christians, then every part of this planet will be our homeland. That's why you, brothers and sisters, are at home here. You are here with St. Sava and he is with you, so you can easily integrate into this country, which is a country of opportunities, open to people who want to work, who want to work on themselves, and at the same time not feeling as if you are lost and that you have given up on yourself, but on the contrary, that you enrich everything that this country offers you with Saint Sava, your Orthodox faith, your identity and yourself.

May the God grant each of you good health, love and peace in your families, love between brothers and sisters, love between spouses, but also peace with those you live with and peace in this world. Know that, even though you are far from your homeland, because of your faith, because of your loyalty to Saint Sava, because of your love for your Church, you are always not only close to us, but always with us in our hearts and in our prayers, and also because of you we are not only joyous but also proud!  May the Lord bless you all. Happy Slava!



In the following days Patriarch Porfirije will visit the Orthodox Theological Faculty of St. Sava in Libertyville near Chicago, where he will hold several meetings with the dean, administration, teachers and students of the only higher education institution of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the North American continent, and will also attend the solemn celebration of St. Sava organized by teachers and students of that faculty. A meeting of His Holiness with the hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America is planned to be held at the New Gracanica monastery on Third Lake.


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