With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Longin, the Fellowship “The Friends of the Monastery” with the branch of “Saint Mardarije of Libertyville” was established in 2017 and associated with the Monastery.
The idea emerged from the Monastery’s need to obtain help with everyday maintenance and assistance that this sanctuary requires. Along with the requirements of the Monastery and its annual engagements, this Fellowship would be assisting with planning, organizing and executing the following tasks: 1) seasonal work activities, 2) construction, 3) finance, 4) bee hives management and candle production, and 5) charitable activities.
Praying to God, within the scope of several Serbian saints who regularly expressed goodwill and took part in charity and were immaculately chaste, St. Mardarije of Libertзville was chosen to be the patron saint of the Fellowship.
Born as Ivan Uskoković in village of Kornet, Ljesani County, in Montenegro, in 1889, young Ivan was sent to further his education, first in Rijeka Crnojevića, Cetinje, and then in Belgrade, Serbia. While in Belgrade, he advanced his childhood desire to serve God and the Church, and so from there he headed to monastery Studenica where after a short period of novice life he was tonsured to monasticism having received the name Mardarije. With the decision of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, now young hierodeacon Mardarije is sent to Russia where he spent twelve years (1905-1917) furthering his theological education and growing in wisdom.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church sent him to the United States of America to organize the Serbian Orthodox Church. On December 1, 1923, now archimandrite Mardarije is appointed as the administrator of the Serbian American-Canadian diocese with the see in Chicago and that same year he purchased around ten acres of land in Libertyville, Illinois, where later St. Sava monastery was built. He was elected by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church as the first bishop for the newly established diocese in America on December 7, 1925, and his consecration took place on Palm Sunday, the Feast of the Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, on April 25, 1926.
From then on His Grace Bishop Mardarije, the first bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, labored tirelessly in building churches, St. Sava monastery in Libertyville, sowing Christian love, spreading peace, preaching and witnessing the Gospel of Christ throughout his diocese. Despite inescapable worldly trends, he lived spontaneity of truth and a provision of grace, just because Life has dawned from the Tomb, and is dawning still. Having labored as bishop for a little over nine years he died peacefully on December 12, 1935, hospitalized in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while writing his last Nativity Encyclical to his beloved flock. His earthly remains were laid to rest at St. Sava monastery in Libertyville. The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session held from May 14-29, 2015 brought forth a decision that his name be added to the Diptych of saints of the Holy Orthodox Church.
The Fellowship seeks to symbolically open the possibility of all American men, be they Serbian or not, to become members of “St. Mardarije of Libertyville”, and to encourage them to enter the Orthodox path of life.
May this Holy Hierarch, St. Mardarije of Libertyville, protect all men and all the needy, and be their shield and haven for all eternity. Amen.