The Saint Sava Church-School Congregation is divided into four parishes. The First and Fourth Toronto parishes are cantered around Saint Sava Church on River St. in Toronto and Second and Third Parishes around the All Serbian Saints Cathedral Church of Mississauga. Adjacent to the Church in Mississauga is The Serbian Church Center, and adjacent to the Saint Sava Church are two smaller halls.
First Serbs in Toronto
One of our first immigrants in Toronto was Sremac Herceg. He arrived in August 1903, while his wife arrived in December 1910. Ilija Joksimovic, from Belgrade, settled in Toronto in 1904. In 1907 Dimitrije Belic arrived in Toronto from Negotin. There is no evidence of Serbs arriving in Toronto between 1907 and 1911. Our immigrants started again to settle in Toronto in 1911. Among the first Serbs that arrived during that year were Todor Pejcic, Mladen Ristic and Vaso Tomic.
A large number of our immigrants that arrived in 1912 were from around Nis. Among them were Bozidar M. Markovic from Rogacice. A few Montenegrins also arrived. Among them were Radojica Bulatovic, who returned back home to participate in the Balkan Wars, and Zarija Janketic, who helped our people to find employment and to accommodate to Canadian life style. His son Milivoj, joined the Canadian army dyring the First World War and was killed in battle on the French front. Zarija returned to Montenegro after the war.
Zarko Trumis from Sabac and his younger brother, Milos, arrived in America in 1907. Five years later, Zarko and his wife Katarina, maiden name Vrbaskovic, and brother arrived in Canada, and in 1913 they settled in Toronto. This was first Serbian family in Toronto. First Milos, and then in 1917 Zarko Trumis and his wife, joined the Serbian army as volunteers, he as an interpreter with the English mission and she as a nurse. After the war they came back and settled in America.
Between the Balkan and First World Wars there were more then two hundred Serbs in Toronto. The majority of them were bachelors. Most of the immigrants were from villages with limited education. They dug ditches and worked the hardest manual jobs for 25 cents per hour. A smaller number of them advanced, got man-ied, brought their families and established roots in the New World.
It wasn't until after the Second World War that the Serbs congregated in significant numbers, so that in February 1948, a Temporary Board was founded with Bozidar Markovic as chairman, whose goal was to find and purchase property for the building of a church and hall. Property was found at 221 Seaton St. and other locations, but the location finally chosen was the corner of Gerard and River St.
Disturbances and Schism in the Early Sixties
At a special Assembly of the membership held on July 14, 1963, a resolution was adopted in which at the beginning was stated: "Our St. Sava Church-School Congregation in Toronto stands on the position that the holy Serbian Church is one and indivisible for all times. Therefore our Congregation remains even further as a constituent part of the holy Serbian Church in the fatherland and under the Holy Synod."
At the session of the Board, held on November 24, 1963, it was decided that a special Assembly would take place in December, so members would be able to express whether they are for unity with Serbian Orthodox Church or for separation. At this time Father Aleksej Sevcenko was asked not to mention the name of Bishop Dionisije at the divine services.
At the special Assembly, held on December 22, 1963, of the 119 members present, 27 members left the meeting and 92 remained in the Hall and voted for unity with Mother Church. A few days later, on November 29, 1963, a new priest, father Simeon Grozdanovic, attended the meeting of the Board. He would serve in the St. Sava Church one year, after which time, because of illness, he was replaced by Father Nikola Stojsavljevich, who stayed and served until August 15 1972.
The Church School Congregation, despite the problems it encountered in 1963, continued its normal activities and even showed significant progress. At the regular Assembly of May 2 1965, it was noted that the membership grew from 97 members to 223 members, and that 81 applications for membership were received. The choir lost 21 members, but 30 new members were registered.
On February 9, 1964, as proposed by Rade Skopljak, a Charity Board was founded, with the priest as president and three members. A folk dance group was founded again. On September 27, 1964 it was decided to start a publication of the Toronto parish, entitled "Glasnik" or "Herald." The publication board included Father Nikola Stojsavljevich and five members. Humble in size and appearance, the "Glasnik", began marking the most important events of parish life. In late May, 1964, Kosta Joksimovic proposed that the Church School Congregation have its own Slava as other congregations have, and that on this day a celebration and program be prepared. The first Slava of Church-School Congregation was held on January 31, 1965.
In May 1964, a parish apartment was purchased.
In 1966 the Serbian Sunday School had four classes and 84 students. The teachers were Miro Miketic, Velimir Jovanovic, and Kosta Joksimovic and his wife. The school had its folk dance group, which was led by Dragoslav Radosavljevic. From February 23 1964. Dragoslav was accompanied in his work by Radisav Dodic, and from then these two hard workers helped each other regardless if it mattered the folk dance group or the Sunday school or activities with adults who were members of Choir. From September 27 1964.
Dodic was replaced by Ana Grajpel, and Ana would receive help from Mimica Zivkovic and Danica Novakovic, and on December 8 Dragoslav Radosavljevic would assume the work with adults. The president of the Choir was also the president of the Folk dance group at the same time.
In the Seventies, parish life was at full strength. In addition to the St. Sava Choir, the youth Choir and the Tambura Orchestra were active. The Sunday School had 60 students. In October 1971, thanks to the assistance of Professor Jovetic and many other book contributors, a library and reading room were established with 350 books.
During this time Kosta Joksimovic continued to lead the Church School Congregation and his hands were full of work. At this time it became apparent that the Executive Board should be elected for one year at a time, and the Assembly rendered such a decision in 1971. Professor Jovan Jovetic drafted new by-laws that were presented for discussion and amendment.
During the presidential mandate of Vasa Kosevic, serious thought was given to purchasing Church property as well as buying part of the park behind the St Sava Church. Father Miloje Raicevic left the parish on November 30, 1975, and was replaced by father Zarko Mitrovic on December 1, 1975, who stayed until his death on May 16, 1980.
(Taken from the 25 Anniversary Book of the Church-School Congregation, based on the book, “The Immigration of Serbs to Canada and their activities,” by Olga Markovic)
Building the new Church in Mississauga
Back in 1983, the Church-School congregation purchased the building and property on Dixie Road, not far from the Dundas intersection. From the moment late in 1982 when the "for sale" sign appeared until June 1983, a relatively small but energetic and decisive group of people did everything to acquire this very attractive location at auction, to collect funds, to secure credit, to finalize the purchase and to begin work on the property.
After the purchase was completed, the lower level of the Center was adapted for liturgical purposes, while the upper level had for many years been a fine hail for large and small occasions. The Center building was reconstructed and extended in 1984-1985. The lower level was renovated into a temporary chapel. Late in 1989 a new iconostas was consecrated for the chapel. The Iconostas was designed by architect Rastko Misic, and constructed by wood craftsmen Zivan Mirkovic and Sinisa Gajic. The Kum of the iconostas was Dusan Radjenovic and his wife Andjelka. All the icons were written by Dragan Marunic, while each icon was donated by one of the faithful.
In 1986 the reputed Belgrade architect Predrag Ristic, builder of many churches in the fatherland, was hired to design the new Church. His design united elements of our most famous medieval monasteries. The plans and model of the Church were made. However these plans were not realized, because the architect, Mr. Ristic, was not authorized to build in Canada.
His plans passed several modifications, and were finally, following a Special Assembly of the church-school Congregation in 1993, given to the reputed Toronto architect Miiutin Kops to be completed. Honoring the Serbian-Byzantine style architecture of the original of Pedja Ristic, the architect made his own contribution in order for the plans of the new Church to achieve realization. Today it represents not just an adornment of the eastern part of Mississauga, but a modern and functional solution to our liturgical needs.
The corner stone was blessed and laid by Serbian Patriarch Pavle in June 1994, during his visit to Canada. The foundation of the new Church was blessed on November 26 1995 by Bishop Georgije of Canada.
Due to the wars in our fatherland, further building of the Church was halted. Serbs were too busy helping their relatives, refugees and the entire nation. That is the reason why we waited so long to begin construction of the Church.
The construction of this beautiful temple was resumed in 1999, with great involvement of the Church-School Congregation with its president Zoran Curcic and the Protopresbyters Prvoslav Puric and Mihajlo Doder, along with the great support from many contributors. At the Church Slava, September 12 1999, $200.000 was collected. Church construction continued without interruptions. There was a hope that the consecration would take place in September 2001. However, in spite all the hard work, due to number of legitimate reasons, construction was finished in the Spring of 2002.
This beautiful Church was built in the Byzantine architectural style, traditional for Orthodox churches. The new temple has three balconies for choirs, and a hand-crafted iconostas with icons prepared in one of the most prominent studios in Belgrade.
The main characteristics of the church, dedicated to the Synaxis of the Serbian Saints, are as follows:
The church was designed in the traditional Serbian-Byzantine style, cruciform in a square, with only one cupola above the central part of the Church.
The main part of the Church (nave) has dimensions of 17 by 17 meters. The total length of the Church is 39 meters, and the width is 25 meters.
The total area of the church is 637 square meters, and the lower level—basement—of the Church, which has rooms for coats, sanitation equipment, heating and cooling equipment, is an additional 300 square meters.
- Average height of the Church from nave is around 12 meters, and the top of cupola is 24 meters from the Church floor.
- The top of the cross on the cupola is 30 meters from the ground.
- Church can receive about 800 worshippers.
- The external walls are made of synthetic concrete stone, and the roofs are covered with tin plated copper. This ensures longevity and minimal expense for building maintenance.
Future plans for the property include the building of a large hail for banquets and events, and an old age home for our community.
Consecration of the Cathedral
On Saturday, June 15, 2002, the consecration of this beautiful Church in Mississauga took place. The end of construction was marked with four days of celebration, June 13 to 16, 2002.
The solemn celebration was attended by church dignitaries from the fatherland, Canada, USA and Europe: His Grace Georgije Bishop of Canada, His Eminence Jovan Metropolitan of Zagreb-Ljubljana, His Eminence Amfilohije Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, His Grace Longin Bishop of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate for USA and Canada, His Grace Dositej Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia, His Grace Konstantin Bishop of Central Europe, His Eminence Sotirios Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Canada, His Eminence Yurij, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Grace Seraphim Bishop of Canada, Orthodox Church in America, His Grace Ignjatije Bishop of Branicevo, and His Grace Grigorije Bishop of Zahum and Hercegovina.
This significant event for all Serbs in Canada was attended by Crown Prince Aleksandar and Princess Katarina Karadjorjevic, Mr. Miodrag Perisic, FRY Ambassador to Canada the FRY Minister of Faith, Minster of Immigration Affairs in Ontario and others.
During this beautiful celebration a varied cultural program was organized, with the participation of: the St. Sava Choir, the Kir Stefan the Serb Choir, the Holy Trinity Choir; the folk dance groups: Oplenac from Burnamthorpe, Kordun, Strazilovo, Hajduk Veljko, Kolo, Makienovi Veterani and Oplenac from Dixie; the orchestras Kolo, Frula and Novi Zvuci, and the vocal ensemble Savice.
During these four days the following artists took part in this cultural and artistic program: Dragan Varagic, with children from the April School of Acting, poets Radovan Gajic, Milan Jankovic, and Milena Cvetkovic, actor Dimitrije Porobic, Ned Vukovic, guitarist virtuoso Bozidar Hadzi-Vitkovic, Milorad Lukovic and Vesna Vukisic.
The cultural and artistic program was varied and offered the participants the opportunity to display our culture and customs in a worthy manner.
The dinner in honor of Prince Aleksandar and Princess Katarina, held in the beautifully decorated hail of the Serbian Center in Mississauga, with varied flower arrangements and tastefully selected details, served to show ourselves to all our guests as truly good hosts and a people with a history and a rich culture.
The many guests made generous contributions to the Building Fund. The Prince and Princess addressed the guests at this time, and the Mayor of Mississauga emphasized in her remarks how proud she is that this beautiful church is a part of Mississauga.
The honor to be Kum and Kuma of the All Serbian Saints Church was given to Mr. Jovo Vujsinovic and Mrs. Dragana Hertog Vujasinovic, who donated $100,000 to the Church.
After the consecration of the Church, a festive dinner was organized, certificates of appreciation were distributed and donations were submitted. His Grace Georgije Bishop of Canada presented the Medal of St. Sava grade three, to Mr. Zoran Gjuricic, the president of St. Sava Church-School Congregation.
Also, following the good-bye dinner, church dignitaries and the royal couple spent significant time in conversation with parishioners.
The members of the Consecration Organization Board must be recognized, with their president Nikola Manojiovic, who with great joy and enthusiasm carried out a considerable task appreciated by all. Two hundred volunteers contributed to the consecration of our splendid temple, which will witness to our existence in this region, to our faith and our creativity.
All Serbian Saints
2520 Dixie Road
Mississauga, Ontario L4Y 2A5
Sv. Constantine & Helen
9:00 Divine Liturgy - Св Литургија
6:00 Vespers - Вечерње
4JunPENTECOST - DUHOVDAN
10:00 Divine Liturgy
7Jun12:00-5:00 - Church open - Crkva otvorena