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Saint George the Great-Martyr Parish in San Diego, California

After World War II, the population of the city of San Diego increased at a rapid rate, and the Serbian society on this area experienced a similar growth.
            San Diego is a major city in California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United Sates and second largest in California and is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. San Diego is the birthplace of California and is known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the U. S. Navy, and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center. The population was estimated to be 1,322,553 as of 2012. 
            Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Cabrillo claimed the entire area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. The Presidio and Mission of San Diego, founded in 1769, formed the first European settlement in what is now California. In 1821, San Diego became part of newly independent Mexico, and in 1850, became part of the United States following the Maxican-American War and the admission of California to the union.
            The city is the seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the region as well as the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area. San Diego’s main economic engines are military and defense-related activities, tourism, international trade, and manufacturing. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.
            With God’s help and the strong faith and will of its members, St. George parish was founded on May 4, 1952.
            On October 16, 1953, the parish purchased a building site at 3265 Lincoln Avenue in San Diego. This property was consecrated on October 29, 1954. Groundbreaking for the church building and the social hall took place on April 1, 1956 and dedication ceremonies were held on November 18 of the same year.
            The Department of Highways of the State of California purchased the property from the parish in 1962, thus giving the opportunity for the parish to relocate to the Mission Bay Park area of San Diego. On the recommendation of a Building Committee appointed by the congregation, the parish acquired a two and half acre parcel of land on Denver Street in Mission Bay Park. The committee then engaged a local architect, Mr. George Lykos, to design the new church building and the social hall.
            Construction of the social hall began on May 22, 1966, with groundbreaking service officiated by the bishop of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Gregory. The first service in the new social hall was held on December 11, 1966, with the Sunday School room serving as a chapel. February 18, 1967 marked the official dedication of the social hall, with many friends from throughout California attending this historic event.
            The Building Committee immediately proceeded with plans for a new parish home and a church building. On December 17, 1967, His Grace Bishop Gregory officiated at the consecration of the church grounds, and construction of the church commenced thereafter. 
            The consecration of the new St. George church took place on July 26 and 27, 1969. St. George church is a modern revival and continuation of the rich Serbian tradition in art and architecture. Inspired by the master pieces created during the Golden Age of the Serbian Empire in the Middle Ages, St. George Church is an original and contemporary work created by architect George Lykos. The beauty of its design is an inspiration to worshippers and lovers of religious art everywhere.
            One of the outstanding features of St. George church is its magnificent mosaic, especially those covering its interior. While painting scenes from the Bible and Feast Days in frescoes inside churches and monasteries has been a Serbian tradition since the 13th century, only a few churches used mosaics to depict these images. Because it was determined that frescoes would deteriorate in the salt air of the nearby Pacific Ocean, Father Velimir Petakovich hit upon the idea of placing the small mosaics above the doors. Then he was inspired to cover the entire church interior with this ancient art form. He persuaded an Italian tile-works owner, Mr. Giovanni Nastrucci, and the mosaic craftsman, Mr. Publio Cavalini, that this unconventional decidedly not so 20th century idea was possible. The finest compositions of Serbian medieval iconography are expressed in the work of Stevan Cukich, an academic painter from Belgrade, Serbia, who painted the designs for the mosaics.
            Sixty years of Eucharistic and community life at St. George parish was marked with Divine Liturgy and Vespers Service on Saturday, May 5th, 2012, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was served by the diocesan bishop, his Grace Maxim, and the local Orthodox clergy on Sunday, May 6th, 2012. St. George parishioners honored the following families and individuals as kumovi for the 60th anniversary and St. George Slava: Fr. Velimir Petakovic and Protinica Ljubinka, Predrag Mitrovich, Dusko Martinovich, Velimir and Mira Jovanovic, Alex and Seka Kinach, Dorothy Vukotich and Milanka Vlasovic. Among the many guests present at the Liturgy and banquet was one of the first secretaries of the Church Board, Milica Millie Medigovich. Recognized for their exceptional example of zeal for the Orthodox Faith and ministries of St. George parish were Mico Lukic, tutor of St. George parish for more than three decades, and the child and adult choir director, Kate Thickstun. Both of them received the Episcopal Gramata from His Grace Bishop Maxim who congratulated both of them asking them to continue their ministries at St. George with the hope that others would emulate their example. 

            The Church Board president, Vladan Trifunovic, in his greeting remarks congratulated everyone on the successful and most joyous celebration of the sixty years calling everyone to participate in the ongoing ministries of the church just as the founders of St. George parish did six decades ago. Fr. Bratso reiterated those same words adding that our goal is the same as that of the founders, that is to build the church – the living church of Christ our Lord; the founders built the church of bricks and mortar, and we today are called to build a living church of souls and bodies, i.e. continue outreach and mission work among our neighbors. 

            This weekend, August 3 and 4, 2019, St. George parish celebrates yet another milestone in the life of our vibrant community, that of the 50th anniversary of the consecration (July 26 & 27, 1969). We chose this weekend as the closest weekend to the original date of the consecration. Recognizing God’s blessings and grace working in and through us, we entreat Him to continue giving us His wisdom, guidance and strength in preaching the Gospel to our neighbors and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. Through the generosity and faithful stewardship of our parishioners, among them, Simo and Ljubica Gregovich and Simo, Savka, Eli and Peter Dopudja, we now continue the renovation of our beautiful church and property, while also, strengthening our Orthodox Faith as taught from Christ by the Apostles, St. Sava and all the saints.    
            In Honor and Memory of our Spiritual Leaders: In our 60 years, God has blessed this parish with six priests. Those priests who have served at the Holy Altar were: Fr. Nikolai Dazgic (1952-1960), Fr. Mladen D. Trbuhovich (1960-1964), Fr. Velimir Petakovich (1964-1978), Fr. Milorad Dobrota (1978-1986), Fr. Bozidar Draskovic (1986-2007), and Fr. Bratislav Bratso Krsic (2007-Present).
            For those who have entered paradise, we pray that their memory be eternal.  For those who still serve in the Vineyard of our Lord, we humbly ask God’s Blessing and Guidance.
            This parish continues its path knowing that its vitality depends on the following conditions: the presidency (direct or indirect) of the bishop; communion with the other Churches in the area; and the presence of the community with all its members and orders, including the laity as such, i.e., as the called People of God. 

St. George Serbian Orthodox Church
3025 Denver Street
San Diego, CA 92117
St. George Serbian Orthodox Church
3025 Denver Street, San Diego, CA 92117