I’ve recently stumbled onto a really interesting article on the history of Chicago’s Serbian community. This paper, written by Krinka Vidaković Petrov, was published in the journal Serbian Studies in 2006. It helps shed further light on the early history of Orthodoxy in Chicago, which we’ve discussed many times on this website. I found this paragraph to be especially enlightening:
The Metropolitan of Belgrade Mihailo sent archimandrite Firmilian Dražić to Chicago in 1892. He did so in response to a letter by Krsto Gopčević, who had addressed the Metropolitan on behalf of the Greek-Russian-Serbian Orthodox parish established in Chicago in 1891. Gopčević suggested that the Metropolitan send a priest who could speak Serbian, Greek and also “a little Arabic, since there are quite a few Syrians here.” Services in this parish were conducted in a small chapel improvised in a private home since the parishioners struggled to provide enough financing from their small community. Archimandrite Dražić returned to Belgrade six months later. After his departure from America, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade was not in a position either to send a permanent priest or to provide financial support for this parish, which was unable to provide funds for its own survival. Even though the parish was extinguished, its short-lived efforts were an indication of the Chicago Serbs’ need to get organized in order to be able to fulfill their religious needs.
Of course, we’ve heard about both Mr. Gopčević (or Gopchevich) and Fr. Firmilian Dražić (Drazich) in the past. I would be very curious to know whether there was an actual Serbian parish in Chicago in 1892, as Petrov suggests, or whether Fr. Firmilian merely made an extended visit to the city.