CHRISTMAS EVE IN WINDSOR’S GRACANICA
As every year, this year too our community prayerfully and solemnly welcomed and celebrated the joyous feast day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This year's celebration was especially anticipated, first of all because of the joy of the feast, but also because of the impossibility of getting together during the previous two years.
Feast days in the Church were always celebrated first and foremost prayerfully (liturgically), and on Christmas Day itself, the Divine Liturgy followed by the traditional consecration of the badnjak which had already been brought into the church. In the afternoon, Great Compline was served with the blessing of five loaves of bread. Immediately after, in the organization of the Board of Directors of our church, a traditional gathering of our entire community took place in the Serbian Center, in order to offer a prayer together and gather at the table of love.
First, the badnjak was brought in, which is traditionally done by the president, with the help of the members of the Board of Directors. Mr. Goran Todorović, the president of the Board of Directors, together with all the members of the board and all affiliated organizations, made a special effort to make this year's celebration festive, meaningful and memorable. Mr. Goran Todorović made available to the community professional photographers and videographers who successfully recorded some of the moments of this wonderful evening which we are delighted to share with the rest of our community.
Immediately after, to the general delight of everyone, the students of the "Gračanica" Church School in their own and unique way conjured up and brought to life the events of that holy and silent night when the Lord Jesus Christ was born in a cave. All present with great care watched the children who worked diligently for days on the preparation of their program. We take this opportunity to express our special gratitude to the director of the Church School, Mirjana Vujanović - Knežević, and to all the teachers who selflessly and continuously dedicate their time to our children. It turns out time and time again, that their efforts are always to the great joy and pride of our community here in Windsor. And, no less gratitude do we extend to all the parents who regularly brought their children and worked extra with them preparing them for participation in the program.
The traditional Vertep was followed by the consecration of the badnjak. During the bringing in, the Vertep and consecration of badnjak, the choir at our church SSF Gračanica, persistently preserving from oblivion the traditional songs that are sung on this occasion, prayerfully sang responses. We especially thank them for their persistent effort and work in our community.
Immediately after the consecration and distribution of the Christmas tree, there was an appropriate address by Mrs. Jelena Jelić about the activities of the youth group Association of Serbian Student Philanthropists (ASSP), who directed a large part of their energy towards helping the humanitarian organization "Serbs for Serbs Canada", in close cooperation with Mrs. Dara Gidak , who has devotedly run the chapter of that organization here in Windsor for years. Their efforts and great success in collecting funds to help the most vulnerable are presented in detail. Mrs. Jelena Jelić successfully presented how charitable work brought together a large number of people from our community who were ready to express their active love for those who currently need help the most.
A special blessing for our community was also the presentation of the new cross, which, God willing, will be placed on the central dome of our church.
Then followed the traditional burning of the badnjak in front of the Serbian Center. Mr. Tomislav Dobrić made sure that the fire burned quietly throughout the evening, warming those around it and keeping it ready to welcome the badnjak, which was burned with the singing of traditional songs.
We express our special gratitude to the Circle of Serbian Sisters, led by teta Đuja Kričkić, who this year also prepared a Lenten, yet festive meal for hundreds of people who gathered for the traditional meal of love.
After the table of love, Christmas Matins service followed in our church, which was filled with the faithful.
Wishing everyone God's blessing in the coming New Year of the Lord,
Rev. Vladimir Vranic