of Libertyville, Illinois
August 18, 2010
May the Lord our God grant blessed repose and eternal rest
to His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher.
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 Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois. After marriage, he was ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood. Continuing his education, he earned a B.A. 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 in 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 Council of Churches. In 1991, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of the Midwestern Diocese of his church, thereby becoming also Primate.
Doctor of Divinity
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.
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