Monday, August 23, 2010
Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Christopher 1928-2010 / Obituary and Funeral Arrangements
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 the 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.
From the Chicago Tribune Sunday August 22, 2010
Serbian Orthodox primate was first American-born bishop to serve a diocese in his church
His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher Kovacevich, spiritual leader of the Libertyville-Chicago diocese and primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada, died Wednesday, Aug. 18, in Chicago, according to clergy members.
Metropolitan Christopher, 81, was recently diagnosed with bone and brain cancer, for which he was undergoing treatment, according to a statement from the Orthodox Church in America.
For most of his 60 years of service in the Serbian Orthodox church, Metropolitan Christopher worked as a priest, counselor, youth worker, administrator, educator and bishop before becoming leader of the church in U.S. and Canada.
The head of the worldwide Serbian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Irinej, who is based in Belgrade.
As leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America, Metropolitan Christopher was known for his efforts in helping Serbian parishes become bilingual in their worship and educational programs. In 1978, he made history by becoming the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America.
"He was a great leader and contributed a lot to our church," said the Rev. Darko Spasojevic, dean of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago. "We started as a church of Serbian immigrants, and he helped integrate the church into American culture and life."
He was born Velimir Kovacevich, on Dec. 25, 1928, in Galveston, Texas, the ninth of 12 children of Serbian immigrant parents, Petar and Rista Kovacevich.
Upon graduating from high school in 1945, he traveled north to attend the newly established St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Libertyville, graduating in 1949.
He moved to Ohio, where he briefly attended the University of Akron and met his future wife, Milka Raicevich. They married in 1951, and later that year, he was ordained an Orthodox priest and became known as "Father Vel." His first parish assignment was St. Nicholas Church in Johnstown, Pa.
In subsequent years, he continued his education and got a bachelor's in philosophy and a master's degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1954, he became parish priest of St. Sava Church in Pittsburgh. In 1962, he and his family moved to Chicago, where he became parish priest of St. Archangel Michael Church.
As a priest in western Pennsylvania and Chicago, he devoted his ministry to education, and assisted parishes in becoming bilingual in their worship and education programs. He held the positions of secretary to the church central council, diocesan director of religious education, director of diocesan summer camp and editor of two church journals and other publications.
In 1978, he was consecrated as bishop and took the name "Christopher." In that position, he developed a diocesan-wide program in religious education and introduced computerization of all church administration and publications.
In 1991, the Serbian Holy Assembly of Bishops elevated the Midwest diocese to the status of metropolitanate and elevated Bishop Christopher to the rank of metropolitan, leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada.
Metropolitan Christopher also served as dean of the St. Sava Orthodox School of Theology, which was re-established in 1986. He was instrumental in getting official recognition from the Illinois State Board of Higher Education for the school, which grants it authority to confer a bachelor of divinity degree.
He was a frequent visitor to Washington as an official representative of the church to address the breakup and wars in Yugoslavia, and the effect on the churches, monasteries and Serbian faithful in that region.
He is survived by a daughter, Valerie Backo; three sons, Petar, Paul and Velimir; three sisters, Gospava Popovich, Vida Rector and Radosava McDonald; a brother, Blazo; and nine grandchildren.
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