Kontakion to St. Sebastian Of Jackson

Apostle and enlightener of America, first born in America to become a priest, fiery preacher of Christ's word among the peoples of America.  You traveled throughout the country preaching the Truth and love, confirming many souls in the Orthodox Faith, and erecting many churches to the glory of God, poor in body but rich in the Spirit.  O Father Sebastian of Jackson and Apostle of All America, pray the Lord Whom you served with your whole heart, to grant us your last spoken wish:  The Kingdom of Heaven without end!
Very Informative YouTube Video - All About Saint Sebastian's Journey To Sainthood!

His History and how canonization was achieved

ARCHIMANDRITE SEBASTIAN DABOVICH

HONORING AN AMERICAN APOSTLE AND SAINT

Born to Serbian immigrants in San Francisco in 1863, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich has the distinction of being the first person born in the United States of America to be ordained as an Orthodox priest, the first native-born American to be tonsured as an Orthodox monk, and finally the first American-born Orthodox Saint. 

 His parents, Ilija and Jelena Dabovich, emigrated from the village of Sasovici in Montenegro, near the city of Herceg Novi, near the Adriatic Sea.  Motivated by the lure of gold being discovered in California, they traveled by ship across the Atlantic, by donkey-back across the isthmus of Panama, and by ship to San Francisco, arriving in 1853.  His father and uncle established a wholesale fruit business and Jovan Dabovich was born as the fourth of seven children on June 21 (New calendar), 1863.

After being baptized in a chapel by a Russian monk inside a Russian warship anchored in San Francisco Bay , and growing up in the midst of the Russian Bishop John Mitropolsky’s missionary efforts in converting both native Americans as well as the Tlingit natives in Sitka, Alaska, young Jovan became known for his love of the Orthodox Church and for his selflessness and abstinence.  After graduating from high school and serving as a reader and chanter of services in the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in San Francisco, as well as in the St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka, and involving himself with missionary efforts in Sitka, he became fully focused on entering the priesthood.  Thus, at age 22 he traveled to Russia and spent three years studying at the St. Petersburg and Kiev Theological Academies.  Upon graduation in 1888, and after being recommended for ordination to the ranks of the clergy by Metropolitan Isidore, he returned to San Francisco.  During the same year, Bishop John returned to Russia and the newly-appointed bishop was Bishop Vladimir, Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutians. On December 30, 1888, Bishop Vladimir tonsured Jovan a monk at the St. Nicholas Church in San Francisco, giving him the name Sebastian.  A week later, on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Fr. Sebastian was ordained a priest.

His greatest distinction lies in the tremendous apostolic, pastoral, and literary work that he accomplished during the forty-eight years of his priestly ministry. Known as the “Father of Serbian Orthodoxy in America,” he was responsible for the founding of several of the first Serbian churches in the New World. This, however, was only one part of his life’s work, for he tirelessly and zealously sought to spread the Orthodox Faith to all peoples, wherever he was called. He organized parish communities of Orthodox Christians of varied ethnic backgrounds; took part in the work of St. Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre to bring former Uniates more fully into the Orthodox ethos and way of life; and labored to bring Episcopalians into the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church. He was an Orthodox apostle of universal significance.

Describing the vast scope of Fr. Sebastian’s missionary activity, Bishop Irinej (Dobrijevich) of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern United Sates has written: “Without any outside funding or organizational support, he carried the gospel of peace from country to country…. Concentrating much of his work in the United States, he ceaselessly traveled back and forth across the American continent, using every available mode of transportation — from stagecoach to railroad to foot. His wider ministry stretched from the Aleutian Peninsula of Alaska, to Russia and Japan, to small Balkan towns on the coasts of the Black and Adriatic Seas.

“By every report Sebastian Dabovich was not one to ask about jurisdictional or national affiliation before setting out on long journeys to minister to Orthodox Christians in mining communities, lumber camps, or far-distant towns or villages. He offered his pastoral services with a free hand to anyone who was in need. Just as he gave no thought to his own comforts as a youth, caring more for the needs of others than for his own concerns, Fr. Sebastian denied himself all worldly comforts of home, family, or earthly possessions, so that he could provide for the spiritual needs of the Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek, Syrian, or Arab Orthodox Christians who required his aid.”

It is said that Fr. Sebastian baptized more people than any other Serbian priest of the Western Hemisphere.

St. Nikolai (Velimirovich) of Zhicha, Serbia, who buried Fr. Sebastian at the Zhicha Monastery when the latter reposed there in 1940, called him “a viceless man” and fittingly designated him “the greatest Serbian missionary of modern times.”  The epitaph on his tombstone at Zhicha Monastery reads most appropriately, ‘The First American Serbian Orthodox Apostle.’ Holy Apostle Sebastian, pray for us!”

Ten years after Fr. Sebastian’s repose, St. Nikolai wrote of him: “Here is a man who indebted all the Serbian race, especially all the Serbs and all the Serbian organizations in America. Should that man remain without a monument or any sign of honor on American soil?  He does not need it. He did not wish it. All he wished to his last breath was the Kingdom of Heaven, which I believe he has obtained by the grace of his Lord. But his people need it; his posterity needs it. The Serbian people always cultivated the noble virtue of gratitude. Let them express their traditional gratitude to this remarkable Serbian — Father Sebastian Dabovich.”

Nearly seven decades after his repose, Fr. Sebastian was shown fitting honor and gratitude by the Serbian Orthodox Church both in the homeland and in the diaspora.  With the blessing of Bishop Hrizostom of Zhicha and of Bishop Maxim of Western America, Fr. Sebastian’s remains were unearthed from his grave in Zhicha Monastery in Serbia and were transferred to the St. Sava Church in Jackson, California: the first church founded by Fr. Sebastian, and the first Serbian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere.  On September 1, 2007, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Jackson to mark this occasion, with numerous hierarchs and clergymen participating. The Liturgy was followed by a memorial service for Fr. Sebastian, the interment of his remains in the St. Sava Church, and a talk on Fr. Sebastian’s life by the above-mentioned Bishop Irinej.

Subsequently, as time progressed and more reflection on all of Fr. Sebastian’s accomplishments took place, it came to pass that the day of canonization of Fr. Sebastian arrived on September 5, 2015, complete with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy held at St. Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra, California.

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As part of his missionary labors, Fr. Sebastian compiled one of the first English translations of the Divine Liturgy, and wrote and published, from his own meager means, some of the first English-language books of Orthodox catechism. Besides bearing witness to his missionary and pastoral zeal, Fr. Sebastian’s books also testify to his ardent love for Jesus Christ and His Church, to the depth of his knowledge of the Orthodox Faith, to his careful adherence to the teachings of the Church, to his literary and poetic gifts, and to his profound sense of spiritual beauty. A large portion of the books consists of sermons that he gave in the Russian Orthodox cathedral in San Francisco and in mission parishes on various feast days. These sermons reveal him as an inspired preacher whose words could soar to the heights and at the same time strike deeply the hearts of his listeners. 

Hieromonk Damascene (Christensen)

"IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SAINT SAVA"
Canonization of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson

The beautiful and spacious St. Steven's Cathedral in Alhambra was too small to receive all the faithful who came from many directions to witness the canonization of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson on Saturday, September 5, 2015.

The parking lot was nearly full before Matins even began. Visiting clergy from the pan Orthodox community could not contain themselves in expressing their great joy at being given the opportunity to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Diocesan clergy as well as visiting clergy from the Diocese of Eastern America, New Gracanica and Midwestern America, as well as Canada, not to mention the many clergy from the Pan-Orthodox community of greater Los Angeles formed a long line, escorting His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and all the hierarchs into the overfilled church with many faithful standing at the front steps, as well beside the church where seating and television screens were prepared for the faithful to be able to watch the liturgy from outside the church.

In addition to the Serbian Patriarch, the participating hiearchs were: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence Archbishop Alejo Mexico City and all Mexico, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, vicar of the Moscow Diocese,  His Grace Bishop Sava of the Georgian Patriarchate in the US, His Grace Bishop Daniil of the Bulgarian Diocese, His Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, His Grace Bishop Mitrophan of Eastern America, His Grace Bishop Justin of Zicha, His Grace Bishop Grigorije of Hercegovina and host hierarch His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America.

Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy

Upon the entrance of His Holiness into the church, Bishop Maxim and Justin carried the icon of St. Sebastian of San Francisco and Jackson out of the altar and presented it before His Holiness and the hierarchs.

Bishop Longin read the official proclamation issued by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church on May 26, 2015.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us (Acts 15:28) that at the priestly Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to the glory of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, who is glorious in His Saints, and for the spiritual good and overall progress of our local Church and the entire One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, to add to the Synaxis of Saints Venerable Archimandrite Sebastian, who had glorified God with his life and works and whom the Lord has already glorified through precious signs and reverence of all people.

Proclaiming him a holy, Christ-bearing God-pleaser of the Orthodox Church, we pray to the Lord that his witness of the Only Lover of man, and his living examples of faith and love be an invitation to us all that we follow and glorify him in Christ's Church in the divine services and through hymns of praise. This glorification bestows upon God's Church a great spiritual joy and thanksgiving to the Living Lord.
Through the prayers of our Venerable Father Sebastian, O Most Holy Trinity, our God, have mercy upon us and save us.

To the Only All-Wise God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, glory and majesty, power and dominion, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade
May, 29/16, 2015 – AS No. 110/recording 261

President
Of the Holy Assembly of Bishops
Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch IRINEJ
Members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops

 Following the reading of the proclamation, the Tropar to St. Sebastian was sung festively by the Prizren seminarians. The singing of Kto Bog veli followed during which time the patriarch and concelebrating hierarchs venerated the icon of St. Sebastian.

Archbishop Demetrios offered a homily after the gospel reading, quoting the gospel words read, "Learn from Me for I am humble and meek". St. Sebastian, His Eminence noted, was both humble and meek, but also very dynamic and gifted and a hard-working missionary. He possessed, in the words of the archbishop, three characteristics, apostolic in nature, making him holy. First, he was fully dedicated to God.  Secondly, he had a passion for spreading the gospel which he did, not only among his beloved Serbian people, but all people of good will eager to hear God's Word.  Finally, St. Sebastian had love for the people entrusted to his care and with tears he cared for their salvation.

A great many faithful approached the Holy Chalice so that in addition to His Holiness Patriarch Irenei , who was communing the faithful, clergy were spread throughout the church, and even outdoors communing the faithful.

Beside the Prizren seminarians singing antiphonally, with them was the choir comprised of singers from throughout the diocese, which together with the hierarchs and many clergy and deacons made the morning liturgical celebration all the more glorious.

Closing Remarks

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness offered words touching on the missionary ardor of Saint Sebastian; on his theological education which he received in Russia; on how at his return to San Francisco (his city of birth), he labored tirelessly, traveling to any location where Serbian Orthodox Christians were gathered no matter how great or small their number; how after his repose, his neglected grave had all but been forgotten due to the German invasion of WWII and then the communist reign in Yugoslavia.  Glory to God his honorable relics were revealed in 2010 and rest in Saint Sava’s Church in Jackson, CA.  He walked in the footsteps of St. Sava, the patriarch stated.

His holy memory is to be celebrated annually on November 17/30.

In his gratitude to His Holiness, His Grace Bishop Maxim presented an icon of the newly glorified Saints (the service had also canonized St. Mardarije) at the end of liturgy to the Serbian Patriarch.

Source: westsrbdio.org