A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

The history of the oldest Serbian cemetery in America is related to the construction of the first Serbian Church on American soil and the important role of Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich

St. Sava Church in Jackson, California, is recognized as the first consecrated Serbian Orthodox Church and cemetery on the North American continent. Serbian miners and their families were drawn to the Mother Lode and Amador County during the California Gold Rush 1849 seeking fortune and a new life. They would later found the parish in 1894.

In the mid 1860s the number of Serbian Orthodox in the area had grown significantly. In 1886 they formed the St. Sava Benevolent Society and purchased an acre of land on North Main Street in Jackson for a cemetery. This land was used as a cemetery for the Serbian people.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, the young Sebastian Dabovich (born Jovan Dabovich), an American born of Serbian parents, was ordained to the priesthood by the local Russian Orthodox bishop. Father Sebastian often journeyed to Jackson to baptize children and perform marriages. In 1893 he urged the faithful to organize and build a Church. Within one year, the building was complete. Bishop Nikolai of Aleutians and Alaska officiated at the consecration of the temple. The Russians donated the bell for the church which was cast in Jackson. It still peals in the belfry today.

The construction of Saint Sava Church was started in 1894 and consecrated later that year on December 4. The oldest headstones are located behind the church. In 1877, two boys from the Dragomanoich family were the first burial, 17 years before construction of the church. These early graves give testimony to the first Serbian immigrants who came from Herzegovina, Boka and Montenegro. To the left of the front of the church are buried 11 miners who tragically lost their lives in the Argonaut (Gold) Mine Disaster in 1922.

According to the parish records from 2014 which came from the cemetery office, there are 417 graves. Many are family graves with more than one person buried within.

There are several graves of Orthodox Americans of recent times who were a part of the Saint Sava Liturgical community of Jackson.

With the decision of His Grace Bishop Chrisostom of Zicha and with the initiative of the Jackson clergy and parishioners along with help from Bishop Maxim, the earthly remains of Father Sebastian were transferred from Zicha Monastery into Saint Sava Church in Jackson during the summer of 2007.

Part of this text is taken from the “Annual 2013” (Sebastian Press 2013)
The History of the Western American Diocese
Serbian Orthodox Church in North America


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People Directory

Svetlana Meritt

Svetlana Meritt is a modern-day pilgrim. Twelve years ago, she left her career as a journalist, and with her late husband and mentor, Dwight Johnson, embarked on a journey of self-discovery through the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

During her career as an American correspondent for a high-profile Serbian magazine – Illustrated Politics – Svetlana interviewed the Dalai Lama, Lawrence Eagleburger, Jon Voight, Laura Huxley, Yoko Ono, and Allan Ginsberg. On assignment to cover the Academy Awards, she interviewed Kevin Costner, Sophia Loren, and Giorgio Armani. She also wrote extensively about American life and society, and frequently published travel articles. She was the recipient of the Talented Young Journalist award in her native Belgrade. Svetlana has written one novel in English, Legacy of the Future (2002).

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Publishing

Sebastian Press Mission Statement

Welcome to the Sebastian Press Publishing House of the Western Diocese!

Founded in 2006 and named in honor of a first American born Orthodox priest, Fr. Sebastian Dabovic, a pioneer of the Orthodox Church in the West, Sebastian Press is one of the largest and most active publishers of Christian Orthodox publications on the West Coast.

Our hard working staff seeks to fruitfully enrich and deepen the faith of Christians from all over the world with a variety of titles, embracing a diversity of Orthodox Traditions, while also presenting the works of Serbian theologians.

Sebastian Press is building its reputation for promoting high quality theological, historical, ecclesiastical, spiritual, hagiographical, iconographical, philosophical and patristic writings in its repertoire. Also, due to growing demand, we are giving special attention to the publishing of new titles for children, teens, and families, including video and audio programs.

The primary mission of Sebastian Press is to motivate and inspire its readers to seek a deeper union with the God-Man, through the written word of Orthodox Christian material, both on the scholarly and popular level, and to give glory to the life-giving Trinity.

Sebastian Press is located in Los Angeles, at the headquarters of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.