Here are a few highlights of the decades that followed the construction of St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral.
In February of 1961 a special assembly was called to decide the question of an assistant priest. Prota Radovan Milkovich was elected and confirmed as the assistant priest. After a short time he left the Milwaukee parish, having been elected as pastor in Lorain, Ohio. At the semi-annual assembly it was decided to raise a pavilion between the church and Serb Hall and to buy a piece of property in Franklin.
The Patriarchal delegation with Metropolitan Damaskin at its head was cordially received in Milwaukee. On November 18, 1961. The Metropolitan served the Divine Liturgy and at that time ordained the graduate theological student Dragoljub Malich to the rank of Deacon. Fr. Malich was accepted as an assistant priest. He assumed the duties of director of the school.
By an official act of Bishop Dionisije dated January 8th, 1963 archimandrite Firmilian, the deputy to Bishop Dionisije was appointed the educational head of the Diocese.
At its special meeting of July 27, 1963, the Holy Epsicopal Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church elected V. Rev. Archimandrite Firmilian Ocokoljich as Bishop of the Midwest American Diocese. Preparation for his consecration took place at vespers on July 31, 1963, in the St. Sava Cathedral in Milwaukee. Vespers were served by Bishop designate Firmilian with 4 priests and a deacon. The local choir sang responses. The church was filled with people.
The next day, August 1, Divine Liturgy was served. Celebrating Liturgy were their Graces Bishops of Branicevo Chrysostom and Eastern America and Canada Stefan, with 25 priests and a deacon. During the Liturgy the consecration of Bishop designate His Grace Rt. Rev. Firmilian took place.
In November of 1964, because of reasons of health, Prota Milan Brkich was relieved of duties in this parish. A farewell banquet was held on November 29, and Rev. Sava Vujkov came as his replacement. This was to be a temporary exchange of parishes.
Fr. Vujkov came to Milwaukee and Prota Brkich went to Arizona. Fr. Vujkov served here for 4 years, after which he transferred to our sister Russian Orthodox Parish of Sts. Cyril and Methodious here in Milwaukee. Fr. Milan Markovina was elected through a concourse, and assumed duties on June 15, 1969.
In this same year the 750th Anniversary of the Serbian Orthodox Church was celebrated in our parish with Dr. Bozidar Furich and Vojvoda Momcilo Djujich as honored speakers.
In February of 1971 a contract was signed with Sirio Tonelli Arts Studios for renovation of the Iconostas in the Cathedral.
At the semi-annual meeting of July 10, 1971, architects showed the plans for the new Cultural Center of St. Sava. and the blessing of the cornerstone took place on June 4, 1972. The main speaker at the cornerstone blessing was Congressman Clement Zablocki.
The consecration of the Cultural Center took place on September 1st and 2nd, 1973.
In 1975 the board at that time had its hands full. The Serb Hall had to be renovated and the cathedral grounds had to be landscaped. More assistance was needed for the school. Preparations were being made for the celebration of the American Bi-Cenntenial. A new assistant priest was being sought. The congregation was obliged to extend financial help to the diocese for its court expenses. In August of this year Gary Monafo was ordained to the rank of deacon. After his ordination he traveled to Belgrade to continue his studies at the Theological Faculty. At the regular meeting of September 9th, Rev. George Kechanin was elected assistant priest.
In 1976 the American Supreme court recognized all of the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in connection with the case involving leaders of the schism and the defrocking of Bishop Dionisije. It reversed all the decisions of the courts in the state of Illinois and ordered that the decisions of the American Supreme Court be carried out.
Because of the exceptional success of the celebration of America’s Bi-cenntenial, Bishop of the Midwest American Diocese Dr. Firmilian was pleased to award an Episcopal Gramata to the pastor and the president of the congregation. In receiving the Gramata both the pastor and the president stated that the Gramatas do not belong only to them but also the the Stevan Sijacki Choir and the Serbian Sisters Circle for they put forth much effort to assure the success of this celebration as well as the success of the Vidovdan banquet and celebration in honor of Crown Prince Alexander.
In 1977 Fr. George Kechanin went to another parish and Fr. Peter Jovanovich came in his place and stayed just under a year, from March 1977 to February of 1978.
In 1980 the three new church bells in the cathedral were blessed by His Grace Bishop Lavrentija of Western Europe. The church congregation raised and blessed the headstone at the grave of Proto Milan Brkich in Libertyville, expressing its thanks for all the good that Proto Milan had done for the parishioners in Milwaukee. The blessing took place on November 29. This is only a token of the love and respect Proto Brkich deserved.
Final payment was made to the bank on the Cultural Center mortgage on October 8,1983. It was decided that there should be a celebration with the burning of the mortgage on November 13th and that at the same time we should mark the 25th anniversary of the consecration of St Sava Cathedral. It was decided that this celebration should also mark the decoration of our deserving pastor Prota Milan Markovina, whom the highest body of the Serbian Orthodox Church the Holy Episcopal Synod, decorated with the right to wear the pectoral cross. This triple celebration was a very meaningful day in the history of our church congregation.
At that time, the interior of our church was not yet completely decorated. It should be mentioned that in addition to individual donations for the interior decoration of the church, the Circle of Serbian Sisters have paid $209,850.00 for the installation of mosiacs, the Loyal Order of St. Sava paid $31,888.00 and Stevan Sijacki Choir paid $19,600.00, the local committee of Serbian Chetniks recently paid $5,000.00 and the Serbian Benevolent Society Jedinstvo #99, of the Serb National Federation also gave $5,000.00.
On March 7, 1985 a committee was organized for collecting donations for the National Cathedral of St. Sava in Belgrade at Vracar and to date more than $300,000.00 have been sent for that cause. Our church school congregation not only assumed first place in the entire Serbian Orthodox Church by doing this, but it manifested its high spiritual awareness and love for its patron teacher and enlighter St. Sava.
In Sept. 1987, Fr. Janko Trbovich was accepted as assistant pastor.
After paying the mortgage on the Cultural Center, preparations were made for further expansion to Serb Hall and with this new Serb Hall, the congregation entered into a new phase of its growth and progress.
How our future will be, rests in the hands of those who will lead us. It will depend on our unity, our understanding of that which is most important, which is best for the general interest of the St. Sava Cathedral Congregation which has grown and became what it is only because of the unselfish sacrifices of our old pioneers and all of the many workers of later generations.Our great Heirarch Bishop Nikolaj gave us a prayerful instruction which we should always have in mind and with which we will complete this historical resume of our congregation: