On Sunday, December 3, 2023, the Meeting of Our Lord Mission Parish in Naples, Florida celebrated the historic first Slava and patronal name of the newly formed ‘Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos’ – Vavedenje Circle of Serbian Sisters in Naples, Florida.
His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America, under whose omophorion the mission parish was established, celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, concelebrated by the Very Reverend Protopresbyter Milan Jovanovic, parish priest of the mission, and assisted by the Reverend Deacon Sreten Stanojevic, and Readers John Buffalini and Michael McDonald.
Following the reading of the Gospel, Bishop Irinej preached in both the Serbian and English languages. In the first part of his homily, His Grace spoke about the Gospel lection of the day and the meaning of riches. In the Serbian language, as he noted, the word for riches, Bogatstvo, begins with Bog – God. The person who is truly rich has God in their heart. Following such, the Bishop addressed the nature of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, wherein she who entered the temple became a temple of the Living God, and she, who was taken into the Holy of Holies, herself became a tabernacle by bearing Christ in her womb. This gift of transformation, through her Entry, is made possible to all of us through the reception of the Holy Eucharist: Christ enters into us through receiving His Body and Blood, and in so doing, we become one with Christ.
Responses to the well-attended Hierarchical Divine Liturgy were beautifully rendered by singers from the Naples mission parish, capably led by Protinica Zeljka Jovanovic.
Following the Divine Service, at which many of the faithful approached the Chalice to receive Holy Communion, Bishop Irinej celebrated the Rite of the Patronal Feast, with the cutting of the Festal Bread - Slavski Kolach, and the blessing of the Wheat - Koljivo. The Kuma for this first Patronal Feast Day was Danka Malivuk.
To the joy of all present, His Grace presented the Sisters with an Hierarchical Grammaton, blessing the formation of the ‘Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos’ Circle of Serbian Sisters in Naples. A congratulatory letter on the first patronal celebration was read from Millie Radovick, President of the Federation of the Circles of Serbian Sisters, welcoming the new Circle to the Eastern American Diocesan Federation of the Circles of Serbian Sisters.
Bishop Irinej, among all else, noted that his personal joy was fulfilled in that this newest Circle of Serbian Sisters has come into being during the celebratory year, 2023, embracing the 120th Anniversary of formation of the Circle of Serbian Sisters in Belgrade, 1903; and the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Nadezhda Petrovich in 1873, who was instrumental to the founding of the Circles of Serbian Sisters.
An exuberant rendering of traditional Serbian dances followed the presentations, choreographed by Bianca, who also sewed matching Serbian folk costumes for the members of the Circle of Serbian Sisters. A celebratory festal luncheon was prepared by the Circle of Serbian Sisters, and Milos Ljubenovic, as a donation from his restaurant, Mediterrano.