On Monday, August 28, 2023, the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, His Grace, our beloved Bishop Irinej welcomed clergy and Circle of Serbian Sisters representatives from throughout the Diocese to the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
The faithful and clergy filled the Church from surrounding communities, welcoming His Grace to the church, and from that point on, until the final “Amen”, the glorious fullness of our Holy Faith was in evidence: His Grace bringing out the beautiful Holy Epitaphios of the Mother of God with the combined ‘Deanery Choir’ of parishes from the Pittsburgh Deanery under the talented local director, Nicholas Medich of the St. Sava Choir, singing the responses for the the vesting of His Grace, the Great Doxology, and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy; the ordination of our beloved Reader Nebojsa Varagic to the Sub-Diaconate and the Holy Diaconate, in the presence of his family and clergy brethren from throughout the Diocese, and Serbia; the offering of a Memorial Service for the deceased founders of the CSS and the members of the Diocesan Federation, and the Patronal Rite - Slava Service with the cutting of the Festal Bread - Slavski Kolac by His Grace and the Honored Hosts - Kume, Barbara Topich, Danica Wess (in absentia), and Patricia Neil.
In his Festal Homily, His Grace spoke eloquently and passionately of the importance of the day, which is known as the Second Pascha, not only for the sisters of the Diocesan Federation CSS, but also for the now Subdeacon Nebojsa Varagic, awaiting ordination to the Holy Diaconate. Pointing to the example of our Holy Mother of God, the Bishop noted that this is the ideal all of us must strive to emulate in our service to the Church as a whole, but also to our individual parish communities. He stressed that the Gospel lection for this day and for most of the Feasts to the Theotokos of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, and their differences in how one served and the other listened to Christ, calling on all of us to both serve the Church, but also “hear the Word of God and keep it”, as did His Mother (Luke 11:28).
At the Festal Banquet in the packed Church hall, our Mistress of Ceremonies, Dr. Sari McNamara recognized the Honored Kume and designated speakers for the day: Diane Baskot, President of the local parish Holy Trinity Circle; Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Stevo Rocknage, Pastor of the St. Sava Parish and Dean of the Pittsburgh Deanery; Steve Kracinovsky, President of the St. Sava Church Board; Millie Radovick, President of the Eastern Diocesan CSS Federation, and Mr Radomir Ilic, First Advisor to the Ambassador of Serbia to the United States, and His Grace Bishop Irinej, who spoke of the history of the founding of the Circle of Serbian Sisters on August 28, 1903 in Belgrade, and highlighted the truly sacrificial service of two among the founders, Nadezhda Petrovich and Delfa Ivanich. The Bishop also conveyed the greetings of Senka Durutovich from Niksich, Montenegro, President of the Assembly of Circles of Serbian Sisters of Serbia and Montenegro.
All of the speakers were well-received by the faithful present, but the obvious highlight of the Banquet festivities was His Grace awarding both Milica - Millie Radovick and Danica - Diane (DeeDee) Baskot, with the Blessing of the Holy Synod of Bishops, with the High Order of Empress Milica – Venerable Mother Eugenia – for their distinguished service to the Mother Church and especially to the beloved children of our Shadeland Youth Camp in our Diocese.
Finally, special congratulations and heartfelt gratitude are offered to our beloved Bishop Irinej for spearheading this remarkable occasion, the Federation of Circles of Serbian Sisters, as well as the St. Sava Parish Community, their beloved Fr. Stevo Rocknage and Church Board, the Holy Trinity CSS, and the combined Deanery singers, all for their combined talents in creating this memorable event, which all who were present will keep in their hearts forever.
God Grant Them All Many Years!
Greetings of Senka Durutovic, President of the Assembly of Circles of Serbian Sisters of Serbia and Montenegro, to the Eastern American Diocesan Federation of Circles of Serbian Sisters
Поздрав Сенке Дурутовић, председнице Сабора Кола Српских Сестара Србије и Црне Горе, Савезу Кола Српских Сестара Источноамеричке Епархије