“If you are a true Serb, than you must be one who leaves an endowment.
Think about what you have done up until now for your soul and
hurry to do more than you are able, because your soul is above all.
If you cannot build a church, you can dig a well,
plant a tree on the side of the road, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty,
light a vigil lamp in the church, or venerate the holy reliquaries in our holy monasteries.
There are a hundred ways to become one who leaves an endowment.”
St. Nikolaj of Zica and Ochrid
“If I am fortunate enough to make possible at least some of my ideas,
they will be a good work for all of mankind.
If my hopes are fulfilled,
my sweetest thought will be that they are the work of a Serb.”
On the fourth Sunday after Pascha, April 29, 2018, Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Chicago held a banquet in honor of the establishment of an Endowment Fund. The purpose of this fund is to allow for a better and more successful mission for our parish on the spiritual, educational, cultural and benefactor level. During the Divine Liturgy, at which the priests of our parish officiated, a pomen (memorial service) was held for all of the deceased donors of the fund.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a program was held, at which the following groups performed: S.S.S. Branko Radicevic, Brankici Children’s Choir, the Church and Serbian Schools, St. Sava Academy, Folklore Groups “Sokoli” and “Oko Sokolovo” and an orchestra of traditional music (Neda Gorancic, Predrag Peric, Nenad Veljkovic and Goran Stanimirovic). Fr. Darko Spasojevic, Cathedral Dean, and Fr. Dobrivoje Milunovic, Parish Priest, and Dr. Gradimir Vuckovic, President of the Church Board, spoke about the importance of an Endowment Fund. The program was led by Jelena Stojakovic and Gordana Anastasov. As always, a delicious and plentiful meal was served.
For this occasion, our parish printed a high quality, informative brochure in Serbian and English, which explains the meaning and purpose of endowment funds. An endowment, in its precise meaning, is a building or foundation that is built by a well-intended donation for the sake of creating a generally needed good. It is an everlasting gift in the form of private property, funds or a good work, which the one endowing leaves as a testament for the purpose of helping many, in a manner that he himself established.
Endowments among the Serbs have a very long and rich tradition. Along with the celebration of family saints (Krsna Slava), the leaving of one’s legacy with an endowment has the longest history among the Serbian people. One can say with full right that the leaving of one’s legacy with an endowment is an important trait of the national identity of the Serbian people and one of it most beautiful virtues. Through history, the leaving of one’s legacy has had a great meaning for the protection of the Orthodox Faith as well as the entire spiritual, cultural and national identity of the Serbian people.
The beginners of endowments come from the time of the founding of the Serbian State of the Middle Ages and the glorious Nemanjic Dynasty. Two centuries of the continuous development of the Serbian State of the Middle Ages, with this glorious dynasty at its helm, gave the Serbian people an unsurpassable and priceless value in the fields of spirituality, education, culture, architecture and fresco art. Some of these are: Studenica, Hilandar, Djurdjevi Stupovi, Zica, Mileseva, the Patriarchate of Pec, Gracanica, Decani, Sopocani, Gradac, Krka, Lovnica, Papraca and many others.
During the time of Turkish rule, endowments came to a halt. They began again to develop during the second half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. During the time of the Nemanjics, monasteries, churches and hospitals were built with the wave of a hand, while after being freed from Turkish reign, mostly cultural and educational institutions were built. Those were good Orthodox people who loved their people and left them legacies for the general good of their nation. Our most well-known people that left endowments were Ilija Milosavljevic Kolarac, Misa Anastasijevic, Nikola Spasic, Luka Celovic Trebinjac, Sima Andrejevic Igumanov (Prizrenac) and many others. In the most recent period, the most well-known people that left endowments were Vuk Karadzic, Ivo Andric, Milos Crnjanski, Desanka Maksimovic, Borislav Pekic, Madeline Cepter and so forth.
Serbs from the Diaspora, following in the footsteps of their holy and glorious predecessors, also left great endowments and legacies. Among them, the greatest place is held by one who is considered to be among the greatest donors among the Serbs in general, and that is Mihailo Pupin. Due to all of the endowments and good works he left, one man was inspired to describe him as mastering “the art of giving”. With him, there are other great donors such as Branko Tupanjac, Milomir Glavcic, Radmila Milentijevic, Zivko and Milica Topalovic, Mile Stojakovic, Slobodan and Mira Pavlovic, the “Studenica” Endowment, the “Ivanka Milosevic” Foundation and others.
It is believed that throughout history, Serbia has had about 500 people that left great endowments, while in the Archive of Serbia there are only about 400 listed. The University of Belgrade alone has seventy-seven, with a value of around one billion dollars, a greater wealth than the entire Nobel Foundation. Among universities and schools, these donors of endowments have also made donations to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Academy of Science and Art, Matica Srpska, as well as medical institutions and other organizations.
These endowments testify to the great and deeply understood nature of the need for man to do good work for the salvation of his soul and those around him, so that he may “pay back God and his people”. The leaving of one’s legacy is the most beautiful expression of a human being, because in it, a man can be completely formed in his full light and greatness. Having done good works of continuous worth, Serbs have been able to protect their roots and historical visibility in the most difficult times, through the evidence of the legacies they have left. These endowments are a symbol of the historical path and existence of the Serbian people, from the times of the Nemanjics until today.
We pastorally ask all of our parishioners and friends to cherish and water the seeds of those legacies planted for us by our glorious and honorable ancestors, both in prayer and by doing good works. The purpose of every endowment is to create a desire and intent to keep that legacy alive through the good and proper usage of that endowment, so that the value of the endowment is protected and continues to care and assist those for whom it was originally intended.
V. Rev. Dobrivoje V. Milunovic