HISTORY OF St. Arsenije of Srem
This church-school congregation has one parish, which includes the eastern most communities of the Toronto-metro area, Whitby, Oshawa, Pickering, Scarborough and further east to the town of Kingston.
In December in the distant year of 1969, Bishop Dr. Sava, of Eastern America and Canada, by the appeal of a number of residents in Oshawa, near Toronto, gave his blessing for the founding of a parish under the patronage of St. Arsenije of Srem.
Success in two attempts
A number of enthusiastic Serbs went straight to work. They tried forming a congregation membership, and already had nine devoted members the following year of 1970. They concluded that about twenty Serbian families lived in the town. The membership fell down to ten families who, to the best of their abilities, tried to achieve this plan. Since there wasn't a way to finance a full time priest, missionary priests came from time to time to serve Divine Liturgy and fulfill the needs of the faithful in a church that was rented. This was practiced until the 80's, when the Church School Congregation was extinguished and with its insignificant properties became a part of the St. Sava Church in Toronto.
With the forming of the Canadian Diocese and with the enthronement of its first hierarch, Bishop Georgije, the idea of reviving the parish in Oshawa again appeared. With his wise leadership, Bishop Georgije slowly but steadily led the way toward that goal.
According to the regulations of the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America and Canada, it is necessary to have at least 40 signatures to request the establishment of a new parish. This was done by the Serbs of Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. A letter with 72 signatures requesting the restoration of the St. Arsenije Church School Congregation was received at the Diocese. At the Annual Diocesan Assembly in Hamilton on February 5, 1993, permission was granted establish the St. Arsenije Church School Congregation with the afore mentioned boundaries with the addition of the small communities on the east to the city of. Kingston. At the combined meeting on the same date, the Diocesan Council and the Ecclesiastical Court of the Canadian Diocese rendered the decision to officially create this church-school congregation.
Bishop Georgije, by his authority, appointed Fr. Vasilije Tomic from Toronto as the first priest to serve this parish. An assembly of the registered membership was constituted, and Rade Milanovic was elected as the first president.
The purchasing and renovating of the church
After the congregation was formed, a place of worship was sought. It was soon decided to purchase a Presbyterian church in Whitby, on Byron Street. The church was 140 years old, and was purchased for less than $300.000. Part of the amount was raised at the first assembly, and the rest was borrowed from the Ukrainian credit union. The current debt on the church building is $144.000. Immediately after the church was purchased, the board asked of His Grace to appoint a full time priest for this parish. With a decree of September 8, 1993, Bishop Georgije appointed Protonamesnik Milutin Veljko as the first parish priest of the newly created parish of Oshawa and Scarborough. Fr. Milutin until that time had been priest of the Ottawa parish. Father Milutin received the parish on October 1, and already on October 9 the church was consecrated by Bishop Georgije.
Prior to the consecration, the Congregation Board had renovated the church for Orthodox use. Upon the priest's arrival, the iconostasis was built and the icons were written by Dragan Marunic. Two beautiful chanter stands, candelabras, and a veneration icon stand were also made. In the altar an altar table and a table of oblations were constructed. By the entrance a stand for the sale of candles and church articles was made. Later with donations from the faithful, other items were purchased that are needed in an Orthodox temple. Necessary work was done to the exterior of the church: the roof was changed, the bell tower was renovated, the parking lot was covered with asphalt and a new fence was put up around the church. The basement had been neglected and was unusable. Thanks to the efforts of our first president, Rade Milanovic, the basement was refurbished and became a beautiful hall that is able to seat 200 people. The well-equipped kitchen and bar serve all the needs of the church community. Banquets and celebrations are held there, as well as folklore practice and church school classes. The hall was at one time rented by the Montessori School.
The Circle of Serbian Sister "Mala Gospojina" (Nativity of the Theotokos), the Sumadija Folklore Group and a Serbian language school are all active in this congregation. The St. Arsenije of Srem Parish includes about 200 Serbian families.
Congregation Board Presidents:
Rade Milanovic (1993, 1995, 1997, 1998)
Borisav Nikolic (1994, 1996)
Predrag Pavlovic (1999, 2000)
Milosav Ivkovic (2001, 2002, 2003)
Fr. Vasilije Tomic (administrator) 1993
Fr. Milutin Veljko from 1993 to the present
Executive Board in 1993:
Radovan Milanovic, President
Branko Popadic, First Vice-President
Borisav Nikolic, Second Vice-President Danica Tesic, Secretary
Zivojin Radonjic, Treasurer
Jevrem Simeunovic, Dane Orlic - Members
Executive Board in 2003:
Milosav Ivkovic, President
Borisav Nikolic, First Vice-President
Vladimir Zvecevac, Second Vice-President
Zora Pavlovic, Secretary
Dane Orlic, Treasurer
Svetozar Jovanovic, Accountant
Zivan Markovic, Predrag Pavlovic – Members
For the the list of current Executive Board and other institutions of our Church-School Congregation click HERE