Christopher (Kovacevich) of Midwestern America
Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevich) of Libertyville and Chicago of the Serbian Orthodox Church, was a native of Galveston, Texas, one of 12 children born to Serbian immigrant parents. He attended Nashotah House Seminary, Nashotah, WI and graduated from Saint Sava Seminary, Libertyville, IL. After marriage, he was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood. He subsequently earned a B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA. He also completed courses and examinations for a doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
While ministering to parishes in Pennsylvania and Chicago, he served as chaplain at four universities. He assisted his parishes to become bilingual in their worship and education programs. At the same time, he was active in the defense of unity and canonical order in the Serbian Orthodox Church during a period of schism. As a priest, he served as spiritual father, counselor, youth worker, administrator, educator, and above all, in priestly ministry at the holy altar. Widowed in 1970, he is the father of four and the grandfather of nine.
Elevated to the episcopate in 1978 by the Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade and tonsured with the monastic name Christopher, he became the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of the Serbian Church in North America. As Bishop of Eastern America and Canada, he developed a diocesan-wide program in religious education. Active in ecumenism, he has served on the joint commission of Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops and on the Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue, and has represented his Church at high levels in both the National and World Councils of Churches. In 1991, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of the Midwestern Diocese of his Church, thereby becoming its Primate. He was named Metropolitan of Libertyville and Chicago. In May 2010, he served as secretary of the Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America.
At the age of 82, after being diagnosed with bone and brain cancer, His Eminence fell asleep in the Lord on August 18, 2010, the eve of the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord according to the Julian Calendar.