On Sunday, October 30th, 2022, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America, Saint Luke Serbian Orthodox Church of Washington, D.C. celebrated its Patronal Feast.
The festivities began on Saturday, October 29th with Great Vespers. His Grace lead the gathered faithful in prayerful celebration. Vespers was served by guest clergy, Rev. Presbyter Christopher Rocknage and Rev. Deacon Bojan Gligorevic of Steelton, Pennsylvania. The responses were sung by the local Serbian Singing Society “Lira,” lead by Protinica Jelena Vranic. The host clergy, V. Rev. Protopresbyter Vasilije Vranic, the Episcopal Dean of the Washington Deanery, together with Rev. Economos Miroslav Lazarevich, Rev. Presbyter Milisa Petronijevic, Rev. Deacon Darko Tripkovic, Subdeacon Miodrag Lazarevich, Subdeacon Dejan Bujak, and Reader John Buffalini chanted the festal hymns.
Following the service, a meal was organized for all clergy and members of the Parish Trusteeship to provide an opportunity for fellowship and conversation with our Bishop.
On Sunday, October 30th, His Grace Bishop Irinej, assisted by the local clergy, celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The responses were again beautifully sung by our parish choir, SSS “Lira.” Many children gathered that day to hear the always inspirational sermon of our Bishop and receive his blessing (and a piece of the Slava bread decoration) following the consecration of the Slava offerings.
The Kuma – host of this year’s Slava was Natalie Visnick, with her husband Dimitrios Karanikolidakis and their son George Milan. His Grace gave a blessing to the family of Aleksandar Dukic and Jelena Tasic to be kumovi for our Slava next year.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the local Circle of Serbian Sisters prepared festal Slava luncheon. The short program in honor of our Slava was offered by our children’s choir and children’s folklore groups, led by Protinica Jelena Vranic and Radmila Bozic respectively.
During the Slava luncheon, His Grace Bishop Irinej bestowed Episcopal Grammaton on Dobrila Nina Lojanica in recognition of her many years of service to our Serbian community in Washington, the last five of which were in the capacity of President of the Church Circle of Serbian Sisters.
Among the honored guests were representatives of the Embassy of Republic of Serbia: Andon Sapundzi, Deputy Chief of Mission, with his family, the family of Ambassador Djuric who could not be present due to a trip to Serbia, and Jovana Nedic, the First Counselor in the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia. Ambassador Bojan Vujic of Bosnia and Herzegovina could not attend in person due to illness but sent a letter of congratulations. Brigadier-General Nick Ducich, former commander of Camp Bondsteel, together with his family, was in attendance. The Master of Ceremonies for the Slava program was the Honorable Branko Terzic, Commissioner in the U.S. Government, and Adjutant to the Crown Prince of Serbia.
This year’s Slava was made special for all our parishioners and the wider Orthodox community in the National Capital area by the presence of two new great blessings. Just a couple of weeks before the Slava celebration, an exact copy of her “Three-Handed” Icon of the Mother of God (Trojeručica) was installed in our church. The icon was entirely financed through specially dedicated good will donations of our parishioners and it was commissioned from Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos.
The second great blessing was the presence of relics of our patron saint – Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. We received his relics as a gift from Protodeacon Leonid Mickle of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. A special reliquary, made entirely in sterling silver and plated in gold, was commissioned in Greece to house the relics. It arrived a few days before our Slava celebration. Through the kindness and paternal blessings of our Bishop, we acquired a piece of wax mastic, necessary to place the relics into the reliquary. We are especially grateful to V. Rev. Protopresbyter Ljubisa Brnjos of Orlando, Florida, through whose generosity the wax mastic arrived in time to prepare the relics for veneration on our Feast Day.
This year, our church hall was too small to accommodate all parishioners who came to celebrate our patron saint and receive the hierarchical blessing from our Bishop, but everyone was received warmly and offered a Festal – Slava meal, which they could enjoy on our church property due to fair weather with which Saint Luke blessed us.
We are grateful to the Mother of God under whose protection we now live and to our patron Saint Luke for the many blessings which they continue to bestow on our parish. May they continue to bless our church and community for many years!