On June 26, 2023, thirty-five singers from member choirs of the Serbian Singing Federation of the United States and Canada traveled to Belgrade, Serbia to embark on a week-long musical journey. The choir was directed by Protinica Jelena Vranić from S.S.S.Lira – Washington D.C., who spent countless hours selecting and preparing liturgical and sacred secular music for the choir to perform. On Vidovdan, the choir traveled to Fruška Gora to sing responses for Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Mala Ravanica – Vrdnik Monastery in celebration of their Slava. We were warmly welcomed by Bishop Vasilije of Srem and the congregation and enjoyed a luncheon with them following the service. The choir also performed at “Prihvatilište Za Decu Beograda”, a children’s shelter that has helped over 70,000 children since its inception in 1958. The shelter does very important work to help our children who are in need, and we truly enjoyed our time with them. We had the honour of singing for Crown Prince Aleksandar and Princess Katarina at the Royal Palace where we learned of their many initiatives, including scholarships and creating educational opportunities for the youth of Serbia and humanitarian efforts to improve the lives of the Serbian people.
The choir also visited Jazak, Krušedol, Ravanica and Manasija Monasteries as well as Sremski Karlovci. Sprinkled throughout the week were many rehearsals, impromptu performances, sight-seeing tours and evening socials in the city. By far, the highlight of the week was singing responses for Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Hram Svetog Save on Vračar and the opportunity to have an audience with His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije. Hram Svetog Save is a magnificent sight to behold as it is almost near completion. It was a whirlwind week filled with so many unique experiences and emotions. As singers, it was a profound feeling to participate in our Serbian Orthodox faith in our Serbian homeland. It was an amazing experience! As the events of the week progressed, it reinforced to us that although we may be separated geographically from our roots, our roots are deeply embedded in our hearts.