St Sebastian of Jackson

St Sebastian of Jackson is known for being the first American-born Serbian Orthodox priest, and a saint who worked tirelessly to unite the Orthodox people of America. Born on 21 June 1863 in San Francisco, St Sebastian was a part of a devout Serbian immigrant family. After the completion of high school, St Sebastian’s ministry work began. He was the reader and teacher in his local parish, and before making his journey to Russia he spent some time helping with parish ministerial work at Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka Alaska. In Russia, St Sebastian studied theology for three years, and upon the completion of his studies in 1887 he was tonsured a monk and ordained a deacon. He was sent back to San Francisco to serve at its cathedral as a deacon. In 1892 St Sebastian was ordained a priest and a year later returned to San Francisco and organised the first Serbian Orthodox Church named St Sava in Jackson, California.

St Sebastian’s capacity and hunger for missionary work was recognised by Archbishop Tikhon, who requested St Sebastian to lead a Serbian mission in the North American diocese. When he became a parish priest in Chicago he was elevated to Archimandrite on 15 August 1905. However, in 1910 St Sebastian asked for release from the Chicago parish, as his longing for missionary work was far from quenched. St Sebastian returned to Serbia, serving as a chaplain in the Serbian army during the Balkan Wars and WWI. Aside from brief visits to the USA, St Sebastian thereafter spent the remainder of his life in Serbia, where he gave up his soul to the Lord in the Zicha monastery on November 30, 1940. Father Josiah Trenham notes that St Sebastian’s modern canonisation is an example that achieving holiness is possible for each and every one of us.

Source: Lychnos April 2022 /May 2022