In March 1963 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bolan, 18 families came together and agreed that there was a need for another Serbian Orthodox Church on the north side of Chicago. The late Bishop Dionisije sanctioned their petition and 35 chartered Members began their journey toward a new church.
Our first parish priest was Father Peter Bankerovich who later became Bishop of our Australian and New Zealand Diocese. The few but faithful founders met in each other’s homes and with the guidance of Father Peter, their dream for a church started to become a reality.
With God’s love and guidance, and adaptable church became available and their dream now was taking shape. Everyone worked hard. They offered services that they knew; they sacrificed their time and money. Reverend Milan Grinchich offered to lead the parish and refused to accept a salary, and any other money he received he deposited in the Church Treasury. Such unselfish devotion was instrumental in our ability to pay off the mortgage so quickly.
Father Milan encouraged the founders to organize a Sunday School Program. Violet Orloff organized the school curriculum. Their first classes enrolled 25 children, and worked with religious materials and books supplied by our Diocese. First Serbian language Professor was Milan “Lane” Popovich.
Father Milan and Peter Bolan founded the Alexander Savine Choir in 1964. An accomplished violinist, Peter Bolan became the Director.
During the church’s first decades, the altar was a simple design with all the icons painted by artist Dobro Kovacevic, a great Serbia Byzantine oil painter. These sacred paintings were replaces years later with the current life-size icons that adorn the beautiful altar. The old icons still have a place of honor behind of altar. The Church’s entire interior was donated and paid for by the founders and subsequent members.
From 1970 to 1978 Father Janko Trbovic served as parish priest. Subsequently, Father Nikola Gazdic came out of retirement to serve us for almost three years. Father Nikola, a musician himself, was very helpful with the choir and also added more structure to the Sunday School Curriculum.
In the 1980’s St. Stevan was blessed with the services of Father Sava Jurich, who made the weekly drive from the Monastery where he resided and worked for Diocese. Father Sava was a spiritual leader and during the five years of his service St. Stevan prospered spiritually. Now Father Sava is Bishop Sava and works in Serbia for our people.
For the past 20 years, very reverend Aleksandar Ivanovic has been our spiritual guide. Currently under Father Alex’s leadership, St. Stevan has held onto the traditions that makes this church special but has also kept up with the times and implemented changes which keep the church modern and appealing to the youth of our Serbian community.
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