St. Sava Monastery, Libertyville, IL, Feb. 25, 20102
With deep regret it was learned that His Eminence Metropolitan +CHRISTOPHER, our beloved Archpastor and spiritual father, has reposed in the Lord on August 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm, following a short and serious illness at the age of 82.
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, and at the same time he was active in the defense of unity and canonical order in his church during a period of schism. 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.
May the Lord our God grant blessed repose and eternal rest to His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher.
MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010
- Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, 10:00 AM, Monday, August 23, 2010, at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631.
- Funeral Matins, 7:00 PM, Monday, August 23, 2010, at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010
- Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Requiem Service, 9:00 AM, Tuesday, August 24, 2010, at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery 32377 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, IL 60048, followed by burial at grave on south side of church.
A memorial lunch will be served at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631, following interment.
FIRST AMERICAN BORN BISHOP TO SERVE THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX DIOCESE IN AMERICA
Read more about Metropolitan Christopher at this link called
which speaks more about how Metropolitan Christopher was born on December 25, 1928, the son of the late Petar and Rista Kovachevich.
It lists his sons Petar, Paul, and Velimir, and their wives Michele, Roxanne, and Pamela, and the Metropolitan's daughter, Valerie Backo, and her husband, Simo Backo.
Here is the Kosovo Men's Choir singing "Oce Nas" in Trebinje
I wrote on Facebook:
I always valued him as being my priest at St. Sava's Church on 21st and Sidney Streets in Pittsburgh (no longer there as the parishioners are now part of Holy Trinity Cathedral) while I was in my teen years. He was our "Father Vel" then. (...Velimir).
While he was very important to the SSF, we can't forget his wonderful contributions to Shadeland Camp. Most people don't know the early history, but he and Fr. Savich (also of Pittsburgh then) used to pretend they had a rivalry going between the two churches to see which one could raise more money for the wooden cabin (now gone) and the other buildings that followed "The Shadeland of Tomorrow" architectural drawings done by George Voinovich, father of Senator George Voinovich.
Thanks to his communication savvy, and with the help of Milan Tomich, a full-page article with lots of photos taken by my dad, Milan Karlo, appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph about the early cabin that was to be built. Hence, he was able to raise money from others not of Serbian descent who read and agreed with the camp concept too.
He was always busy connecting with the media to gain exposure for the Orthodox religion via the radio, TV, newspapers, etc. for holidays. I recall with pride how everyone in the Pittsburgh tri-state area heard our Christmas services (Jan. 6 midnight/Jan. 7) on the radio each year. He was a great communicator.
He also worked hard with the Orthodox students attending Pitt.
With him goes a great treasured memory too, as he could recall items precisely.... he was very smart, and although he loved us all, he never forgot his Galveston, Texas roots either....
My sister, Rose and I had the greatest thrill of all when we were in Belgrade for church services in Vracar previous to us traveling down to Kosovo for the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo-1389-1989. Metropolitan Christopher had on his robe akin to St. Sava's one one with the crosses on it. Although there were hundreds of clergy in attendance and THOUSANDS of faithful watching the procession, he took time out to acknowledge us lining the route (Rose and 'Snow White'). Beforehand, Rose had said, "He'll never remember us....." It was that memory working full-time as always!