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St George, Serbian Orthodox Church in Cincinnati Ohio, celebrated St Sava day this year on January 30th, 2022. Like many years before parishioners have gathered to pray to St. Sava for their health, peace, and wellbeing overall. The celebration began with divine liturgy, led by the Very Reverend Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Petar Petrovic with Ms. Velislava Franta leading the choir. At the end of the holly liturgy Fr. Petar addressed the present parishioners and reminded everyone about the St Sava importance for Serbian Orthodox church and Serbian nation overall. After the divine liturgy, Fr. Petar proceeded with cutting of the “Slavski kolach” - the festal bread. Surrounded with the children from the parish Fr Petar blessed the “Slavski kolach” as it has been done by many centuries according to the Serbian tradition. Kumovi for this year were Droca family and they handed half of the bread to Nikolic family. Nikolic family took responsibility on themselves to sponsor and prepare St Sava slava for 2023. Once the ceremony of cutting the festal bread was over, the gathered parishioners headed to the church hall to attend a special program prepared by Sunday School teachers, Djuka Sebez and Danijela Zubic, with their students. Mr. Mirko Sebez, president of the church board, and Ms. Danijela Zubic, Sunday school teacher, welcomed everyone in the opening speeches. In their very emotional speeches, they first showed gratitude to Fr. Petar on his blessing, and they also thanked all the parents and parishioners for their continuous help and support of Sunday school. As Mr. Sebez stated, “The beauty of the divine liturgy was emphasized today with all of the children in church. It is a real blessing to see them in this big number to be present here. St Sava needs to hear and celebrate that Serbian churches are still full or children, that his legacy continues to this day.” They both stressed the importance of Sunday school and continuous work with children if we want to preserve our Serbian language and our heritage far from the home country. They also talked about the challenges that parents are facing today. Family as the core of our society is being attacked and its importance diminished. Many interest groups are lurking to segregate our children from their family, they stated. “Gathered around our church, our holly mother, we have to teach our kids just opposite of they have been bombarded with today. We must teach them the importance of family. We must educate them in pure Christian orthodox fashion, so they grow into good and faithful Christians,” Mr. Sebez stated at the end. After the opening notes, teachers and children proceeded with joyful celebration. First in chorus then individually they all sang hymns, recited poems, and told stories about St Sava and his life. St George, Serbian Orthodox Church in Cincinnati Ohio, is one of the smallest parishes in North America. For a long period of time the church did not have Sunday school or any other program designed specifically for the youngest ones. This year, with the blessing of Fr Petar, Djuka Sebez and Danijela Zubic decided to dedicate their free time and knowledge to start with the Sunday school. Love toward the kids and educational background is what connected the two energetic teachers a few years back. They met during their freshmen year at the Faculty of Elementary Education, University of Banja Luka. They become very close during their years of study and continued their friendship after the graduation. Eventually a few years later, they both found themselves in Cincinnati Ohio. “God has blessed us with our families and our children. We each have three children and we felt that through Sunday school we can show our gratitude for this blessing. We felt that we can thank God by teaching our children how to be faithful Christians and how to respect and love others,” they stated during our conversation. They also talked about the difficulties of raising children in a foreign world, far away from the mother land, and still preserve the Serbian language, heritage, and identity. “We feel the pain of all parents balancing between two very different cultures, between two different languages and customs. We are all doing our best to teach our children Serbian language at home, and to teach them our tradition. However, we feel that we need support of some institutions, and one of them being our holly church. In our opinion it should be essential for Serbian orthodox church in foreign countries to work on perseverance and determination to nourish and preserve the Serbian language as core of Serbian national being,” stressed teachers Danijela and Djuka in our conversation with them. St George, Serbian Orthodox Church in Cincinnati Ohio, never had a luxury and finances to invest in any sort of educational space devoted to the Sunday school. Sunday school teachers, with help of other parishioners, were able to clean up a modest portion of the small church hall for needs of Sunday school. As they said current working conditions are far from ideal, but they pray and hope that next year they will be able to build and organize a small classroom for their children. As they stated, “We all have to come together as a community and build a space where our children will enjoy and look forward to come back to. They need a warm and welcoming space where they will be able to meet new friends, enrich their education, and enjoy play time.” Sunday school has about 20 children now, ages 4 to 12. It started in October of 2021 and parents whose children are attending the school have nothing but positive feedback. At the end of our conversation Sunday school teachers concluded how they will use this year mostly as guideline for future. “This year we are the ones who listen and learn what would our children and parents would like to see going forward!” they stated at the end of our conversation.

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