Bishop Sava [Sarachevich] of Edmonton, Canada

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Bishop Sava [Sarachevich] of Edmonton, Canada

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Jovan (John) Saračević was born in 1902, in the Serbian city of Ljutavic, near Belgrade, Serbia. A good student, he finished high school in the cities of Čačak and Kragujevac.

He entered the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade.

Since he excelled beyond his colleagues, he was appointed to be a judge in the cities of Trelog, Čačak, Gnjilane, and Belgrade. Worldly success, however, could not satisfy his soul ; and in the intervals between his duties as a judge, he pursued a programme of studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Belgrade.

During these years, he was politically active (without belonging to any one party), and he promoted Orthodox Christian mentality in everything he said and did.

He also received spiritual formation by both Bishop Nikolai (Velimirović) and Bishop John (Maximovitch), and with whom he maintained a lifelong spiritual bond of Christian love and respect.

In the anarchy and unrest that followed World War II, as an educated Christian and a "member of the old regime", he was undoubtedly a target for the communists . Therefore, the future bishop decided to emigrate.

He arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in early 1948. Shortly after his arrival in South America, he decided to join Bishop Leonty (Filippovitch) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in Paraguay, and he went to the monastery that the bishop had established there. Seeking to offer his talents in the service of the Heavenly King, the former judge of men left earthly society, and abandoned his secular life for the monastic life.

In 1948, Bishop Leonty (Filippovitch) tonsured him to be a monk, and gave him the name Sava.

In 1948, Bishop Leonty (Filippovitch) ordained the Hierodeacon Sava (Saračević) to the Holy Diaconate.

From Paraguay, Hierodeacon Sava (Saračević) returned to Buenos Aires, where Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) of Buenos Aires and Argentina ordained him to the Holy Priesthood in 1949.

The Hieromonk Sava (Saračević) was assigned to the Holy Trinity Cathedral (some report the name as Holy Resurrection Cathedral) in Buenos Aires, and he served there for more than 6 years.

In 1956, Bishop Athanasius (Martos) of Argentina assigned him to care for the flock of the Holy Protection Church in Temperley, in the Buenos Aires province, where he served until his departure for New York in 1958.

By a decree of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, the Hieromonk Sava (Saračević) was elected to be the Bishop of Edmonton (in Alberta), a Vicar-Bishop of the Canadian Diocese under Archbishop Vitaly (Ustinov) of Montréal, the future Metropolitan of the ROCOR. Bishop Sava (Saračević) was ordained to the Holy Episcopate in the Synodal Church in New York City in 1958.

Bishop Sava (Saračević) was assigned to serve as a Vicar-Bishop in Edmonton, Alberta, and to oversee Western Canada. He was the assistant to Archbishop Vitaly (Ustinov) of Montréal, Québec.

Although he was the bishop of an isolated and distant region (as some mistakenly describe it), and although he lived in very modest monastic conditions, he was an active and influential hierarch.

From the pages of “Orthodox Russia”, Bishop Sava (Saračević) called the Russian-speaking people to be aware of their faith, and he warned them about the impending apocalyptic times and the danger of losing the Holy Orthodox Faith through negligence and carelessness. In his first years as a bishop, he called for the formation of “Brotherhoods of Spiritual Renewal” to revivify the spirit of Holy Russia. In his later years, he called all to pray and redouble their prayers for suffering Russia. Although the turbulent and difficult conditions of life for the Russian emigration dampened the prospects for any substantial immediate response, Bishop Sava preserved, through his appeals, a light of hope for the future resurrection of the Russian land.

Serbian Canadians living in Edmonton embraced Saint Vladimir’s Church as their parish, and Bishop Sava (who lived at the church) as their wise and beloved pastor.

Bishop Sava recognised that Christ is the salvation of mankind and he did not keep Orthodoxy as a secret treasure for Slavic peoples alone, but worked for the salvation of new converts as well.

Vladyka Sava (Saračević) maintained a wide correspondence with English-speaking converts across Canada and the USA.

Bishop Sava knew Archbishop John of San Francisco very well, and he recognised the qualities of saintliness in this holy bishop. Following the repose of Archbishop John, he was determined to proclaim his virtues and sanctity, and to this end he undertook the holy labour that he is primarily remembered for – that is, he worked for the glorification of Saint John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco. In “Orthodox Russia”, he pointed out that it was a Serbian, Bishop Saint Nikolai (Velimirović), who largely motivated the glorification of Saint John of Kronstadt by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Because of God’s blessing, and largely through the labours and dedication of Bishop Sava to Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Saint John the Wonder-worker was glorified in 1994.

Bishop Sava (Saračević) reposed in the Lord in Edmonton, Alberta, on 30 January, 1973, after having served as a bishop for 15 years, all of it in Canada.

After the funeral services, his body was interred in the cemetery of the Bluffton Monastery of the Protection of the Theotokos south of Edmonton.
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