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A dignified traditional Serbian Orthodox funeral

In accordance with our centuries-old Orthodox tradition, it has been observed by our ancestors since time immemorial. This respect for their tradition has helped them preserve their identity through the many trials and tribulations of history, from wars to occupations, from godless communism to mindless atheism.


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The Most Reverend Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER (1928 - 2010)

The Most Reverend Metropolitan Christopher, age 81, beloved Archpastor and spiritual father of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of  Libertyville-Chicago, was  reposed in the Lord on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Born on Christmas Day in 1928 in Galveston Texas, to the late Petar and Rista Kovacevich, baptized Velimir Kovachevich.

His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher is survived by son Petar (Michele) Kovacevich, Paul (Roxanne) Kovacevich, Valerie (Simo) Backo and Velimir (Pamela) Kovacevich; grandchildren Alexandra, Elizabeth, Christopher, Lauren, Taylor and Benjamin Kovacevich and Crista, Nicholas and Luke Backo; sister Gertrude (Gospava) Popovich, sister  Vida Rector, brother Blazo Kovacevich and sister Joyce (Radosava) McDonald;  His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher is preceded in eternal life by brothers Ilija, Veljko, Djordje, Danilo, Ljubomir, Janko and sister Rosalie (Ruza) Kovacevich. 

His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher will be sorely missed by numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives, devotees and friends world-wide.

May the Lord our God grant blessed repose and eternal rest to His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher.

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy Monday August 23, 10 a.m. at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631. Funeral Matins 7 p.m. at the Cathedral. 

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Requiem Service Tuesday, August 24, 9 a.m. at the St. Sava Monastery, 32377 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Libertyville, IL 60048. 

Interment immediately following at the St. Sava Cemetery.

Donations in memory of His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher to the St. Sava Monastery Fresco Fund in the name of Metropolitan Christopher will be appreciated.

For more information please call SVETA GORA, Serbian Orthodox Funeral Home at 773.588.2200.

Metropolitan Christopher Kovacevich
59 Years of Priesthood
1951 - 2010

Metropolitan Christopher was born Velimir P. Kovacevich on December 25th, 1928 in Galveston, Texas.  His parents, Petar and Rista, both emigratd from Montenegro. In fact, his monther had just boarded the ship to travel to Texas to meet her future husband when Gavrilo Pincip assasinated Archduke Ferdinand and all ports were closed.  Luckily, her ship was allowed to leave to come to America.  Velimir was one of 12 children born to Petar and Rista, being the seventh sone of eight boys and four girls.  As a young boy, Velimir was also referred to as Chris, being born on Western Christmas.  It was clear that from a young age, the hand of the Lord touched him and call him to His service. He was a faithful altar boy to the Russian priest who served the Galveston parish, now one of the oldest Serbian churches on the continent.  Even in his pretend play, he would hold services and would enlist his younger brother Blazo to assist in funeral services for dead birds.
 
While attending Ball High in Galveston, he held several jobs, working before and after school delivering milk and working in a bakery.  His older brothers also had him use his advantage as a lefty by entering him in a number of local boxing matches.  Upon graduating from high school in 1945, he traveled north to attend the newly established St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary at the Monestary in Libertyville.  He first went somewhat farther north to attend the Nashotah House Anglican seminary in Wisconsin.  While at the seminary in Libertyville, he was a student of the late Bishop Nicolai Velimirovich.  In one of his duties as driver for the local bishop, he visited many of the area parishes, including South Chicago, on a regular basis.
 
He graduated from St. Sava Monestary in 1949 and moved to Ohio where he attended the Univesity of Akron.  It was in Akron that he met his future wife, Milka Raicevich.  They married on September 20, 1951, and on November 25th of that same year, he was ordained a deacon in Clairton, Pennsylvania.  One week later, he was ordained a priest and installed in his first parish at St. Nicholas Church in Johnstown, PA.  In subsequent years, he continued his education and earned a B.A. in philosophy and a masters degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh.  It was in Johnstown that two of his children, Petar and Paul, were born.  In 1954 he became the parish priest of St. Sava Church in Pittsburgh.  His daughter Valerie and son Velimer were born in Pittsburgh.  In 1962, he and his family moved to Chicago where he became parish priest of St. Archangel Michael Church.  In 1960 he was decorated with the red sash and on Christmas Day in 1964, Bishop Firmilian elevated him to the rank of Protopresbyter.  In 1970, he was widowed when Milka passed away at the youg age of 40.
 
While being a parish priest in Western Pennsylvania  and Chicago, Father Vel also served as chaplain to four universities.  He assisted his parishes in becoming bilingual in their worship and education programs, and held the postions 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.  He organized the first SOTAYA chapter in South Chicago in 1962, being very active in providing religious education to Sunday School teachers.  He was also extremely involved in the defense of the church during the period of schism, spending countless hours translating volumes of church documents from Serbian to English and assisting in the court trials that used these documents.
 
In 1978, the Holy Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade elected him to the episcopate.  After being tonsured and taking the monastic name of Christopher, Patriarch German consecrated him as bishop on Pentacost Sunday.  He became the first American born bishop to serve a diocese in North America.  As Bishop of Eastern America and Canada, he of course left his South Chicago parish and moved to the diocesan residence in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.  Prior to becoming bishop, he earned his Masters of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Massachusetts, and completed all the courses and examinations for the doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.  In the Eastern Diocese, Bishop Christopher developed a disocesan wide program in religious education and introduced computerization of all chruch administration and publications.  He also represents his church on the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).
 
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.  In moving to St. Sava Monestary, now the See of the Metropolitanate of Midwestern American and Headquarters of the Episcopal Council and Central Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada, Metropolitan Christophers life again took him from the Pittsburgh area to Chicago.  In 1997, the Nashotah House, in recognition for his exemplary ministries as parish priest and diocesan bishop, his courageous support for eduction, ecumenism, and the monastic life, his championing of church unity, and his outstanding leadership of the Serbian Orthodox Church in this country conferred upon Metropolitan Christopher, the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.
 
Metropolitan Christopher 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 had worked tirelessly on the administration of the metropolitanate and being the presiding bishop of the Central Council.  Monstary Church grounds and cemetery improvements have been major projects under his leadership, as well as the longstanding attempts to bring true administrative unity to the Serbian Orthodox Church on this continent.  He has been a frequent visitor to Washington as an official representative of our church to address the break-up and wars in Yugoslavia, and particularly its effect on the churches, monasteries and Serbian faithful in that region.
 
Metropolitan Christopher has served the church faithfully for almost 60 years while continuing to be a loving father to his children and Djedo to his nine grandchildren.

For more information please call SVETA GORA, Serbian Orthodox Funeral Home at 773.588.2200. 

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CONDOLENCES

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Lisa Trotto (Philadelphia, PA) • 02/01/2014
 I express my sorrow at Metropolitan Christopher's death. He was a very good person. May his memory be eternal!
Ljubi Ostoich Hayden (Lansing, IL) • 08/25/2010
 Dearest Friends, Our deepest and most sincere condolences to all of you on the passing if your Dad and Djedo. His love and caring for all of his family never waivered and was so evident whenever he talked of you and saw you. My childhood and formative years were very much shaoed by his guidance and teachings and I am forewver indebted to him for so much of what I believe and who I am, today. May all of your wonderful, happy memories of him bring you some comfort and know that we outside your family circle. are reliving our memories of him and the positive impact he had on our lives. Vjecnaja Pamjat! Love, Ljubi
Sally Bray (Toronto, Canada) • 08/22/2010
 Dearest Valerie, Peter, Paul and Vel, Please accept my heartfelt sympathies on the passing of your father. He was a remarkable man in so many ways and touched the lives of countless Serbian Orthodox youths. The first time I ever saw him, he was wearing a sweatshirt with a whistle hanging from his neck and driving the train around Camp Coloma. I remember thinking "what an awesome priest!" Not only did he lead our many informative religious education classes, but I smile when I remember his skill at playing the piano and roller skating. I was fortunate to be in Belgrade with all of you when he was elevated to the rank of Bishop and also again when he became the Metropolitan. He led our church well through some difficult times but never forgot the importance of our youth. This was so evident whenever I saw him at St.Sava camp and we would laugh about the "old days." He impacted so many lives and we will all miss him. Vjecnaja Pamjat.
Metropolitan Alexis n/a (Ft. Myers, Florida) • 08/22/2010
 Our prayers for the repose of the soul of the servant of God, Metropolitan Christopher. It was (the then) Father Velimir, who chrismated me upon my conversion to Orthodoxy at St. Archangel Michael church in 1968. We will always fondly remember him and his wise counsel. Our heartfelt prayers, also, for his family and loved ones. VYECHNAYA PAMYAT
Kata & Art Anderson (Detroit, Michigan) • 08/20/2010
 To the family of +The Most Reverend Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER we extend our sincerest condolences on the loss of your Father,Brother,Djedo. Vjecnaja Pamjat. Rest in Peace and watch over us from above.
Danella Winovich (Pittsburgh, PA) • 08/20/2010
 To the Family: I would like to express my very deepest sympathies on behalf of my family to all of you. The loss of this great man and spiritual leader can only be imagined. He touched so many lives, on so many levels, across so many lands. On a personal level he touched the hearts and souls of my family and we were better for it. Vjecnaja Pamjat.
Martha Ostoich Teshich (Sterling Heights, Michigan) • 08/20/2010
 Dearest Friends, Your father, our Father Vel, played such a huge role in the lives of the youth of the South Chicago parish during his many years as our priest. His attention to making sure we had a superior religious education and also on Wednesday afternoons at Serbian School, endeared him to us all and made growing up in our parish a treasure we all hold to this very day. His door was never closed and the love and counseling he gave us when we needed it was an example of his love for us all. It was a joy singing with him in Sloboda and responding to his mellow, distinctive voice on Sundays. Even as a Bishop and Metropolitan, his voice always took me back to a comfort zone from my childhood. His laugh was infectious and he loved to laugh with us. Camp Coloma, his religious classes, ghost stories, and THE TRAIN are memories that all brought smiles to my face the past there weeks as I said goodbye to him in my memories and in my heart. I was lucky that he was also the father of my friend and my family and that gave me the extra opportunity to get to know him. We will miss him but most of all, we know the love and care he gave to you all, and the pride that he had with each of you and your wonderful spouses and his treasured grandchildren. We are all better adults, parents and people because we were fortunate to be able to call him OUR Fr.Vel. Vjecnaja Pamjat!
Pete & Tootsie Vranjes (Lackawanna, NY USA) • 08/19/2010
 Please accept our condolences. As well as an Ideal Spiritual Leader, he was a dear friend.
Georgia Somma (Bloomfield Hills, MI) • 08/19/2010
 Dearest Family, Please accept our sincere condolences in the loss of your beloved father/Djedo. We feel blessed to have witnessed the love he had for his church and, also, the love he gave so freely and generously to his family. May his memory be eternal. Vjecnaja Pamjat. Gig & Rande
Mark Popovich (Houston, Tx.) • 08/19/2010
 To my cousins and their families, my deepest sympathies. I will miss my drives from Houston to Galveston in his company along with the history lessons. Memory Eternal.
Mim Bizic (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) • 08/19/2010
 It was always a delight to travel far and near and spy Bishop/then Metropolitan Christopher at a Serbian religious, heritage or cultural affair. I could always expect the warmest smile with twinkling eyes and lips that uttered, "And how are you, SW?" As a pre-teen, I had an autograph book wherein he wrote as my parish priest, "May you grow to be the joy of your father and the glory of your mother." How many times I used that same message in signing similar notes to students. He was an inspiration to all with his wonderful memories of Shadeland, his leadership in developing great Sunday School materials for us, and always valuing the sounds of a good church choir. I was proud to say I was with him at Vracar and at Kosovo, 1989. Vjecnaja Pamjat.