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Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich was a prominent Serbian priest in the Russian Mission in America in the 1890s and early 1900s. He founded numerous churches and was the author of several books. He died in Serbia in 1940, and is currently being considered for glorification as a saint.
Born Jovan (John) Dabovich in San Francisco, California on June 21, 1863, to Serbian immigrant parents from Sassovae, Serbia, Archimandrite Sabastian grew up with the church in San Francisco where his parents operated a store. After finishing high school he served his parish as a reader and teacher.
In 1884, he was assigned to assist at St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska before he was sent to Russia to prepare for a life as a missionary priest. After three years of study at the St. Petersburg and Kiev Theological Academies, John was tonsured a monk in 1887 with the name Sabastian and ordained a deacon. Following his ordination, Dn. Sabastian returned to San Francisco where he served as deacon at the San Francisco cathedral. He also taught at the pastoral school in San Francisco.
On August 16, 1892, Dn. Sabastian was ordained a priest by Bishop Nicholas. He was soon sent to Minneapolis, Minnesota to replace Fr. Alexis Toth as the priest of St. Mary's parish. While there he also taught at the Missionary School. After a year, Fr. Sabastian returned to San Francisco where he organized the first Serbian Orthodox Church, dedicated to St. Sava, in Jackson, California. Additionally, Fr. Sabastian was also asked by Bishop Tikhon to be a member of the North American Mission administration. In 1902, he continued his missionary activities, returning to Alaska as dean of the Sitka deanery.
As more Serbians emmigrated to the United States, Abp. Tikhon asked Fr. Sabastian to lead a Serbian Mission in the North American diocese. With his appointment to head the mission, Abp. Tikhon elevated Fr. Sabastian to archimandrite on August 15, 1905. For the next five years Arch. Sabastian led the Serbian Mission from its center at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, where he was the parish priest.
In 1910, Arch. Sabastian asked for a release from the Serbian mission so that he could return to missionary work. Then in 1913, he joined the faculty of the newly opened St. Platon Seminary in Tenafly, New Jersey. Shortly thereafter feeling a call to service the church in his ancestral Serbia, Arch. Sabastian asked for a release from the American Mission. He went on to serve as a chaplain in the Serbian army in the Balkan Wars and World War I. Other than for brief visits to the United States in 1915 and 1917, Arch. Sabastian spent the rest of his life serving the Church of Yugoslavia.
Arch. Sabastian reposed in Yugoslavia on November 30, 1940 and was buried at the Monastery of Zicha.
- The Lives of the Saints (1898)
- The Holy Orthodox Church (1898)
- Preaching in the Russian Church (1899)
- Orthodox America 1794-1976 Development of the Orthodox Church in America, C. J. Tarasar, Gen. Ed. 1975, The Orthodox Church in America, Syosett, New York, p96.
- Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich: Serbian Orthodox Apostle, by Hieromonk Damascene (Christiansen), The Orthodox Word 43:1-2, (January-April, 2007)
- Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich: The First Serbian Orthodox Apostle, by Alexander Vallens (2005)
- Articles on Dabovich at OrthodoxHistory.org