St. George Parish in San Diego, California,
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Celebrated Patronal Feast Day – Hramovna Slava on St. Thomas Sunday
The liturgical day began with Vespers on the eve of St. Thomas Sunday continuing with Matins and the Hierarchical Liturgy the following morning. His Grace Bishop Maxim presided at the Liturgy co-served by the local clergy: Fr. Bratso Krsic, the parish priest, Fr. Velimir Petakovic, the priest emeritus, Fr. Milan Vukovic, the priest from the sister parish of St. Petka in San Marcos, followed by the cross-procession or litya around the church with the Gospel readings and the prayer for the faithful, the church, the city and every city and country.
When the disciples, all but St. Thomas, had gathered on the new Passover (Pascha), the Lord’s Day or Resurrection Day – Vaskrs, Jesus entered the room where they were – “the doors being shut…for fear of the Jews” – stood in the midst of them and showed them His hands and side. Christ then greeted them with that salutation, retained by the Church through the ages, with which the priest greets the faithful at each of the important parts of the Divine Liturgy and other services: “Peace be unto you.” This greeting has a profound meaning for believing Christians. It is a reality that the Lord, the Prince of Peace, is present in the midst of human existence.
When told by other disciples that the Lord is risen, St. Thomas because of the incredible reality of the resurrection, said: “…except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-26
So, “and after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. … ” (John 20:27)
“… Then saith he to Thomas … and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
The church explains St. Thomas’ unbelief as “good”, because it led to a greater manifestation of the reality of Christ’s resurrection in the flesh. This reality is expressed in the liturgical text of the feast day: “As the disciples were in doubt, the Savior came on the eighth day to where they were gathered and granted them peace, and cried unto Thomas: Come, O Apostle, and feel the palms in which they fastened the nails. O good unbelief of Thomas, which hath led the hearts of the faithful to knowledge! Hence, he cried out with fear: O my Lord and my God, glory be to Thee.” (Sticheron from Lord I have cried, vespers for St. Thomas Sunday)
Following the cross-procession His Grace gave his archpastoral blessings and gifts of Christ icons and crosses to all the faithful. He then led everyone to the social hall for the blessing of the Slava kolach. The Kumovi for this year Slava were Nikola and Nada Milicevic.
The program started with the junior choir singing “Ljudi likujte, narodi cujte…Hristos Voskrese – radost donese” and other selected songs. Senior Morava – folklore group dancers performed a wedding kolo dance from the Kosovo region. They were all greeted with a great enthusiasm and applause.
Fr. Bozidar Draskovic who faithfully served at St. George parish over 20 years was also present but did not serve the Liturgy. Fr. Simeon Corona from St. Gregory of Nyssa, El Cajon, with presbytera Joy and the children and Fr. Isidor Mayoll with his son joined the celebration during the Slava banquet prepared by Snezana Pantovic and Dobrinka Jojic and their
Christ is Risen!! Indeed He is Risen!!