Diocesan News

His Holiness Patriarch Irenej Visits Cathedral of ROCOR in San Francisco

20150908 patriarch visit rocor featureOn September 8, 2015, the Feast of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, a very special event took place in the life of our diocese. His Holiness IRENEI Patriarch of Serbia visited our Diocesan Cathedral of the Mother of God dedicated to Her Icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in the company of many Serbian Orthodox bishops, clergy, seminarians from the theological seminary in Prezren and others.

As the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church His full title is His Holiness the Archbishop of Pec (Pech), Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci (Karlovtsi), Serbian Patriarch Irinej. As a young man upon completing his theological education and military service, His Holiness was tonsured a monk in 1959. He then became a professor at the Theological Seminary in Prezren, and later its Rector, in the meantime completing postgraduate studies in Athens. His Holiness was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Moravica (Moravitsa) in 1975 and soon after that was elected Bishop of Nis (Nish). After heading that diocese for 35 years, he was elected Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2010.


Historic Weekend in Western Diocese Comes to a Close

angier 150906 st stevens hierarchal liturgy 2738"How beautiful and what a great blessing it is to be gathered here in church, in God's house," His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej exclaimed with joy at the conclusion of the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the third and final day of this year's Diocesan Days. And truly what a blessing it is each and every year when the entire diocese - the clergy and laity - come together and gather in one place, around one altar, around their hierarch on that most sacred day of Sunday, the Lord's Day, for the Holy Eucharist. This year the faithful of the Western American Diocesan had the added joy of having the first hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, lead them in that eucharistic joy.

In his homily following the gospel reading, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West interpreted the morning's gospel reading of the marriage feast and the need for us to lead such lives that our garments be without blemish when we too are called to the feast. The bishop touched upon St. Sebastian's many great qualities and the great blessing of his glorification that he be an example not only to the Serbian community, but to all Orthodox. He thanked Bishop Maxim and presented him with an icon of St. Sebastian holding the Russian church he grew up in as a child in San Francisco. 

The faithful who filled the church for the morning's liturgy filled both the main hall and patio for the banquet. The host priest, Protopresybter-Stavrophor Nikola Ceko, emceed the program which included a performance by the Phoenix singing group "Breza" and a reading of the life of St. Sebastian by Zeljka Gortinski. A wonderful moment during the banquet was the bestowing of the Order of St. Sava to Ron Radakovic and Brian Gerich, two instrumental members of the Western American Diocese and active members of their respective home parishes. His Holiness, in his keynote address, could not contain his delight at the gathering, not only of the Serbian community, but the pan-Orthodox community which gathered this weekend for the canonization of not only a Saint of Serbian origin, but for the entire Orthodox Church. It is true, the patriarch noted, we are divided administratively, but we share one faith, we are one church! 

The Diocese of Western America, with the glorification of the new St. Sebastian, established a new award of recognition, the Order of St. Sebastian which, during the banquet, was bestowed to two very active parishioners and stewards of the church, Pance Smirkovic from the St. Petka Church in San Marcos and, His Grace Bishop Maxim surprised the receipt of the third Order of St. Sebastian, Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Nikola Ceko, for his many years of dedicated and selfless service.

With the conclusion of the banquet, the rest of a very beautiful Sunday afternoon was spent in fellowship. Many of the faithful who came from the different diocesan parishes departed and began their journeys home, while other local guests stayed for the final evening meal with His Holiness, guest hierarchs, and clergy.  


"In the Footsteps of Saint Sava" Canonization of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson

angier 150904 st sebastian canonization 1557The beautiful and spacious St. Steven's Cathedral in Alhambra was too small to receive all the faithful who came from many directions to witness the canonization of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson on Saturday, September 5, 2015. The parking lot was nearly full before Matins even began.  Visiting clergy from the pan Orthodox community could not contain themselves in expressing their great joy at being given the opportunity to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Diocesan clergy as well as visiting clergy from the Diocese of Eastern America, New Gracanica and Midwestern America, as well as Canada, not to mention the many clergy from the Pan-Orthodox community of greater Los Angeles formed a long line, escorting His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and all the hierarchs into the overfilled church with many faithful standing at the front steps, as well beside the church where seating and television screens were prepared for the faithful to be able to watch the liturgy from outside the church. 

In addition to the Serbian Patriarch, the participating hiearchs were: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence Archbishop Alejo Mexico City and all Mexico, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, vicar of the Moscow Diocese,  His Grace Bishop Sava of the Georgian Patriarchate in the US, His Grace Bishop Daniil of the Bulgarian Diocese, His Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, His Grace Bishop Mitrophan of Eastern America, His Grace Bishop Justin of Zicha, His Grace Bishop Grigorije of Hercegovina and host hierarch His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America. 

Arrival of His Holiness Patriarch Irinej marks beginning of Diocesan Days


Alhambra, CA - WIth much joy and anticipation the Diocese of Western America welcomed His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej on Friday, September 4, 2015 at the onset of this year's annual Diocesan Days, traditionally held Labor Day Weekend. This year's annual celebration is both historic and unique as the highlight will be the glorification of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson. This is the reason for His Holiness' visit, and of the many other Heirarchs participating in the liturgical celebration.  Arriving at the diocese today, in addition to His Holiness, were: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Archdiocese, Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, His Grace Bishop Mitrophan of Eastern America, His Grace Bishop Justin of Zicha, His Grace Bishop Benjamin (OCA), and His Grace Bishop Savas of the Patriarchate of Georgia. 

His Holiness was welcomed by the diocesan bishop, His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America and the diocesan clergy. Upon the patriarch's arrival a Doxology service was served after which Bishop Maxim welcomed His Holiness and the visiting hieararchs and expressed his joy for having them participate in this great event of the glorification of the new American saints which will last all year. Today's glorification of St. Sebastian will be followed by that of St. Mardarije of Libertyville to be held later this year. His Holiness thanked Bishop Maxim for his kind words of welcome and expressed his joy at once again being in the beautiful Saint Steven's Cathedral in Alhambra and the great joy which is the occasion for this visit. The patriarch noted the work of St. Sebastian who preached and spread Orthodoxy to both Serbs and non-Serbs alike and this, the patriarch noted, needs to be the mission of the church to this day, that our doors be open to all who desire to open their hearts to God.

After lunch the patriarch led a Clergy Symposium for all diocesan clergy. He touched upon many matters, especially pastoral duties of the priests calling upon them to lead Godly and pious lives. The eyes of the community are ever upon both the priest and his family. and the priest needs to always take particular care in the upbringing of his children. His Holiness also noted the need for the use of Serbian in the homes, noting that when he was in Prizren he knew of many children knowing three languages: Serbian, Turkish and Albanian. The symposium concluded with a discussion.

The first day of the 3-day Diocesan Days event included meetings of both the Diocesan Council and later the Diocesan Assembly.

At six o'clock everyone met once again in the beautiful Saint Steven's Cathedral for the festal Vespers officiated by His Holiness. The hymns to our holy and God-bearing Father Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson were composed by Deacon Veljko Vasiljev and sung beautifully at the Vespers by the seminarians from the Prizren Seminary. Following Vespers Patriarch Irinej addressed the clergy and faithful who filled the church. He expressed his joy at this great moment, not just for this diocese or our Serbian Orthodox Church, but the entire Christian Church. In his homily, in speaking of the life of St. Sebastian and his many deeds in the missionary field, His Holiness noted how St. Nikolai of Zicha, who buried Fr. Sebastian at Zicha Monastery, referred to him as a saint.   

The hall was full for the dinner served after Vespers. Protopresbyter Nikola Ceko, Cathedral Dean, greeted all the visiting hiearchs and special guests and announced the next day's events which begin at 9:00 a.m. with Matins.


Welcoming Patriarch Irinej to Los Angeles

angier 1509 hh irinej alhambra 0122Alhambra, California - His Holiness Patriarch Irinej arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday, September 3rd where he was greeted by His Grace Bishop Maxim, guests Hierarchs, clergy, and the faithful.

He was warmly welcomed by the youth of the Diocese who were dressed in full traditional serbian costume, and who greeted His Holiness with the traditional bread and  beautiful bouquets of flowers. 

His Holiness was then escorted out of the terminal to and taken to the Langham Hotel in Pasadena to rest before an evening dinner with the other honored guests who also travelled great distances to join in the Celebration of the Canonization of Sts. Mardarije and Sebastian. 









Feast Day Celebration in Sacramento, CA

angier 1508 dormition slava fair oaks 2482The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Fair Oaks, CA, has once again concluded a true celebration in honor of Its Protectress - this year with Bishop Justin of Zhicha, Bishop Maxim of the Western America,  Fr Stamatis Skliris from Athens, Fr. Hilarion from Kosovo, Fr. Dane Popovic, Fr. William Weir and Deacon Dragan Stojanovich from Jackson, CA. May God Grant Many Years to each person who assisted in preparation for this historical celebration.



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