St. George Serbian Orthodox Church
WELCOME to our St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana. Our parish and church-school organization was founded in 1911, in East Chicago, Indiana. In 1980, our dedicated members and parishioners erected a new magnificent church in Schererville, IN. Our parish priest is the V. Rev. Dobrivoje V. Milunovic. The interior of the church is beautified by the Serbo-Byzantine style frescoes painted by Mr. Miloje Milinkovic.
Divine Liturgy begins at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday. Weekday services on feast days begin at 9:00 a.m. Vespers on Saturdays start at 6:00 p.m. Church School begins every Sunday following Holy Communion. You and your family are more than welcome to join us!!! We have a wonderful Bishop Stefan Lastavica Choir, Circle of Serbian Sisters, Church School, Serb National Federation Lodge #171, Chetniks, Tromedja folklore organizations, and our Halls of St. George which is the most spectacular banquet facility in the Northwest Indiana area.
Monday-Tuesday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Thursday-Friday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
St. George The Great Martyr Parish Highlights
As you read about history of the St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana, at this website, you will note that commitment action and progress are continually captured page after page.
The early years
The earliest Serbian settlers arrived in the Calumet region in the early 1900's also to escape the tyranny of their homeland. History repeated itself in the aftermath of World War II and yet again throughout most of the 1990's when a large population of Serbs were forced from the homes and lands which had been rightfully theirs for generations. These large migrations of Serbs led to the genesis of the St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in East Chicago, as well as to the continued growth of our present parish in Schererville, Indiana.
On October 30, 1911, a group of Serbs met in a hall at 3438 Pennsylvania Avenue in an effort to organize the first parish in Indiana Harbor (East Chicago). Less than a year later, on May 6, 1912, the Patron Saint George Day, the first Serbian Church in Indiana Harbor was dedicated to the glory of God and St. George the Great Martyr
In 1920 a temporary building was purchased from East Chicago Washington High School and by 1923 a parish home and hall were constructed. The hall came to be the gathering place for many newly organized groups including the Kolo and Choir. The community began to actively carry out Serbian tradition in spite of the Great Depression which plagued the United States.
In the late 1940's, with the help of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America, the immigration of the homeless Serbs began. The concentration of immigrants in the Calumet Region caused the population to practically double overnight.
In Indiana Harbor the hard working immigrants were welcomed with open arms. Their love for the church and their desire to preserve the Serbian culture and tradition made for a prosperous St. George Church.
On August 12, 1949, a formal groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the building of a new auditorium for the parish that suffered growing pains. Through the joint effort of the pioneers and the newcomers to the parish, the auditorium was ready for dedication on April 30, 1950. The people became one family; the newly arrived Serbs had settled into a new home and began making their mark in history by carrying out the rich Serbian tradition.
With the new decade of the 60's came a sad chapter in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The schism that developed within created an unfortunate split in the churches. The result of this split led to the election of a new Church Board in 1967 and the resumption of religious life for many at the Saints Peter and Paul Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in East Chicago Indiana.
In May 1967, the East Chicago parish received their blessing and His Grace, Bishop Firmilian designated Reverend Hrisostom Stolich spiritual leader of the parish.
The beloved Father Hrisostom will be remembered as the foundation of the reconstruction of the St. George Church parish. He actively organized the first Serbian language and Church schools as well as the first choir. Father Hrisostom aroused the interest and activity of the newly organized parish.
It was during Father Hrisostom's service as priest that a motion was adopted at the annual meeting of December 29, 1968 to form a committee for the purpose of seeking land to accommodate the expansion of the growing parish.
With plans underway to find land suitable for the progressive needs of the church, the parish found itself without a spiritual leader. Father Nedeljko Lunich, then assistant priest of the St. Lazarus Church in Detroit, Michigan, was transferred to the Indiana Harbor parish, and on May 25, 1969, celebrated his first Divine Liturgy as parish priest.
As we remember Father Hrisostom to be the founder of our parish, we recognize Father Nedeljko as the builder. The young priest's enthusiasm was contagious; soon after his arrival, the land committee the late Ilija Zukanovich, the late Mirko Marich, the late Anne Tumbas, Drago Vukas and the late Marija Jandrich - compiled a report proposing purchase of a 15½ acre land site.
Members vote to purchase landOn June 9, 1969, another special session was called for the purpose of voting on the purchase of the land in question. Enthusiastic hope for the future of the parish was so great that before the session's end, enough money was given and promised that it was possible to pay the entire sum of $24,000.00.
On July 26, 1970, over 1,500 people from four neighboring states and eight parishes gathered at the land site to join in the ceremonies of the land dedication. The Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop the late Firmilian with the assistance of Father Nedeljko, parish priest, and the visiting clergy, in a most fitting setting. Amongst the natural scene that the Almighty had created was set a chapel that the men of the St. George Parish had built for the day. With the sun shining, the sky created a roof and the trees surrounding the parishioners created the walls of God's most natural church; the people had gathered to thank Him for His immeasurable gift. The late Ilija and the late Stana Zukanovich were Kumovi for the auspicious occasion.
In February of 1971, a contract was signed in the amount of $79,850 with Pitzel Masonry, Inc. of Hammond, Indiana, to build the recreational hall. The architect for the project was Ernest A. Diana.
Construction of the hall began March 15, 1971 and during the months to come our parishioners, along with the building committee, gave unselfishly of themselves to complete the interior of the hall, as well as some of the work on the exterior. It was not uncommon to find whole families on the grounds - women cooking, men working, children alongside, helping in whatever manner they could. The parish was truly one spiritual family.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in an open-air service on the patio of our church hall. Bishop Firmilian, assisted by Father Lunich and other clergy, served for the memorable occasion. Kumovi for the hall dedication were Peter Tumbas and Mary Radjenovich. The building of the church hall was significant in that it paved the way for additional progress. It provided the parish with the instrument to promote culture and preserve traditions. The purchase of the land and the building of the hall became a symbol to the parish of what can be obtained through ambition, Christian work and love for one another.
In August of 1974, Father Nedeljko, who had guided and advised the parish through a period of physical and religious growth, was about to leave the parish that had grown to love and respect him for the help he had given it. Father Nedeljko was transferred to the St. George Church in Joliet, Illinois. Upon Father Lunich's departure, Bishop Firmilian sent Father Miodrag Antich to the St. George Church, to serve as temporary priest.
Father Dennis Pavichevich was assigned to the St. George church to serve his first parish. Arriving July 10, 1975, Father Dennis served his first Divine Liturgy in the Sts. Peter and Paul Church on July 12. Father Dennis immediately, and with great interest, became involved in every phase of parish life. His vigor attracted the youth of the parish; his religious devotion resulted in a strong church and church congregation.
Members vote to build churchGroundbreaking ceremonies for the future construction site of the church took place September 5, 1976.
After six months of research and contractor bid analysis the building committed reached a decision and awarded the construction contract to Fred Berglun and Sons, Inc., from Chicago, Illinois for the price of $795,000.
Actual construction of the church began on August 3, 1977.
Through donations and special projects, the financial situation of the parish improved and at the beginning of 1979, discussions regarding building of a parish home began. On May 11, 1980 the parish home was blessed simultaneously with the celebration of our St. George Slava.
Consecration of new ChurchBy far the most significant event for the St. George parish occurred on during the weekend of July 25th, 26th and 27th, 1980, the Consecration of our beautiful new Church. The Consecration service was officiated by His Grace Bishop Firmilian, His Grace Bishop Stefan, Archemandite Hrisostom Stolic and Very Reverend Dennis Pavichevich. The participation by the alter boys and the church choir under the direction of the late Very Reverend George Lazich made this an unforgettable spiritual celebration. The late Proto Lazich volunteered countless hours of his time rehearsing with and directing the choir for this special celebration. Honored Kumovi for the Consecration were the late Steve and Mitzi Tumbas.
The completion of the construction of our new church, parish home, sewer and water installation, parking lot, custodian residence and land improvement brought to end a chapter of intense and rewarding work for the parishioners of St. George.
The new focus and goal of the congregation was to remove all existing indebtedness. This working class community generously donated monetarily as well as physically through fund raising activities, which allowed repayment of all debt in less than five years.
Our new church renewed and revitalized the spiritual life of our congregation. The faithful regularly filled the church during the Divine Liturgy. Sunday school and church attendance was inspiring.
After seven years of dedicated service to the parishioners of St. George, Father Dennis Pavichevich was granted his request to relocate to the parish of St. Stevan's Cathedral in Alhambra, California. Father Dennis celebrated his last Divine Liturgy at St. George in Schererville on September 1, 1982.
Upon the announcement of Father Dennis's immenent departure, The Very Reverend Milan Savich, then Diocesan Secretary in Libertyville, Dean of the Chicago Deanery, and simultaneously serving the St. George Church in Racine, Wisconsin and St. Nicholas Church in Waukegan, Illinois, expressed an interest in becoming the new parish priest in Schererville. A special meeting was held in June 1982, and Father Savic was voted the new parish priest by the parishioners of St. George.
In 1986 the congregation purchased the additional 54 acres of land adjacent to our east property line. This land transaction was completed on July 2, 1986 for a purchase price of $162,122.50, ¾ acre parcel of property with a small home, this purchase was completed and our church property totals approximately 75 acres.
The original Church Hall continued to serve its function and was a second home for our parishioners.
However, the heavy usage and the general need for larger accommodations placed us at a disadvantage.
Consequently, in 1988 the annual assembly voted to start developing plans for a new Cultural Center.
Wars breaks out in YugoslaviaThe planning process by the building committee continued through the early 1990's. The initial plans developed by VRA Architects, of Chicago, Illinois, included a new cultural center combined with a sch
During most of the 1990's the members of our congregation were devastated as they witnessed the aggression waged against our Serbian people and lands
The congregation committed itself to provide financial assistance to our brethren in the homeland as well as the influx of refugees to our area. The congregation generously gave to Serb-Net that worked to represent and promote the truth of this tragic conflict. Our members and various organizations generously donated to the "Covekoljublje" relief effort and supported the efforts of the IOCC. The St. George parish also worked closely with other church organizations to regularly conduct food, clothing and general supply drives which were then packaged and shipped to our homeland.
The efforts to assist our refugees continue to this day. The parish, through its own initiative, chose to take a more proactive leadership role in assisting our displaced Brothers and Sisters. By mid-1998 many Serbian refugee families out of Bosnia and Krajina were relocated out of Belgrade by U.S. Humanitarian Organizations to the United States. Later in 1999 refugee families from Kosovo, many of who were originally displaced from Bosnia and Krajina, were being relocated to the United States. Although the refugees were extremely grateful to have been removed from the war ravaged former Yugoslavia, most found themselves scattered across the country in low-income housing communities, even ghettos, and far removed from any Serbian Orthodox Church Communities.
In early 1999, the Church Board recognized the urgent need to continue to provide assistance to refugee families without family contact in the United States. The Church Board formally instituted a refugee loan assistance program. The loan program implemented contained specific criteria which allowed immediate financial assistance for those who qualified. The loan program provided for one month's rent, which was a gift from the Church, a security deposit and loan proceeds of up to $3,000. Additionally, based on need, funds were provided for relocation. These proceeds provided a means to continue to meet housing expenses and obtain a means for transportation.
Plans for future set into motionIn 1996 the church annual assembly under the leadership of President Ray Vukas agreed to re-activate the Building Committee and revise the existing plans to include the construction of a new Cultural Center versus the more elaborate initial project.
During this same period in 1996 our parish entered into an agreement with artist Miloje Milinkovic to complete the fresco painting in our church. Miloje was chosen after an extensive search which involved visiting various other Serbian Orthodox Churches.
On April 5, 1998 a special assembly was held by the congregation Cultural Center, with an estimated cost of $4.5 million.
In the fall of 1998 Father Milan Savich, our dedicated spiritual leader for over sixteen years, announced his intention to leave our parish at year-end. Father Savich celebrated his last Divine Liturgy with the parishioners of St. George on December 27th, 1998.
The parishioners of St. George will be forever indebted to the late Father Lazich who committed himself to our parish until a permanent priest was selected.
On March 28th, 1999 the St. George Parish overwhelming elected Father Dragoljub Popovich, then parish priest of St. Simeon Mirotochivi of Chicago, as our permanent parish priest. By nature, and quiet, father Dragoljub was loved and respected in all the places of his service and comes to the parish with great experience. On Sunday May 2, 1999 we entered a new era under the spiritual leadership of Father Dragoljub. Father Dragoljub's deep spirituality and energy are evident in every aspect of our parish life. Father Dragoljub's commitment to our youth has revitalized the Church and Serbian School program.
Construction new Cultural Center beginsAfter an extensive bid solicitation and review process, the building committee on June 16, 1999 awarded the project contract to Skinner and Broadbent of Indianapolis, Indiana for a cost of $4,585,575.00.
The St. George parish reached yet another milestone on August 29, 1999 with the Blessing of the Land and Cornerstone for our new cultural center and banquet facility. The day began with a Pontifical Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher along with Father Nektarije, representing Bishop Longin of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate, our own Father Dragoljub Popovich and Protodeacon Dr. Stanimir Spasovic. Our faithful and dedicated Bishop Stefan Lastavica Choir responded beautifully.
A committee was formed with the specific task of hiring a facility manager. After a search and interview process was completed the Church Board in March 2000 hired our life long parishioner Milorad Samardzija to manage the Center.
With construction progressing as scheduled, a Consecration date was set for July 22nd and 23rd, 2000. Chairman for this occasion is Dan Serdar who along with his committee set the wheels in motion for planning this historical event.
By the third weekend of July 22-23, 2000 everityng was ready for another grandiose celebration in our parish. The Center was completed and scheduled for dedication. His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher along with parish Priest Father Dragoljub Popovich and Protodeacon Stanimir Spasovich served Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at our beautiful church. I the afternoon hours the Center was dedicated in the presence of over a thousand elated faithfull parishioners. Kuvovi for the New Center were Mr. and Mrs. Milorad and Seja Vajagich. It must be noted here that Mr. Vajagich was a very instrumental during the proces of building the center. He was at the work site every day ensuring that everything goes as planed, and it was.
While planning for this major event, plans were underway for the hosting of the 59th Annual S.N.F.golf tournament by our parish in conjunction with S.N.F Lodge #171 July 26-July 30th. The co-chairman for this event were Tom Ostoich and Mike Radjenovich.
As the accomplishments of the early settlers in the 1900's and the immigrants displaced after World War II inspired this generation, may this gift from God we are celebrating today serve as an inspiration to future generations. History does and will continue to repeat itself, let us continue or efforts to remain unified in the preservation of our Serbian Orthodox faith and deep-rooted traditions and customs. May God grant us the strength to continue to face obstacles and adversity as spiritually strong faithful Orthodox Christians. Let us honor the deeds and commitment of those before us, as well as those of us here today, by educating our youth in the teachings of the Serbian Orthodox Church and encouraging their continued involvement in all aspects of the St. George parish life.
The growth of this Parish has been so signficant that summarizing the major events chronologically makes the point even greater. Those of you that were part of this should take great pride as you reflect back.
June 1969 - Initial Land Purchase
July 1970 - Land Consecration
Sept 1971 - New Hall Dedication
Sept 1976 - Ground Breaking for Church Site
Oct 1977 - Cornerstone Blessing
May 1978 - Land Purchase #2
May 1980 - New Parish Home Blessed
July 1980 - Church Consecration
July 1986 - Land Purchase #3
Aug 1999 - Blessing of Land and Cornerstone for New Cultural Center
July 2000 - Consecration of New Cultural Center
October 2001 - Fresco Dedication