3025 Denver Street, Clairemont
Membership: 670 families
Pastor: Father Bratso Krsic
Born: Crnojevic, Serbia
Formation: The Holy Three Hierarchs Seminary, Southern Croatia (five-year high school); St. Sava Serbian Orthodox School of Theology, Libertyville, IL; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA
Years Ordained: 21
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Father Bratso Krsic: The resurrection of Christ, which is what we call in the Orthodox Church the “feast of feasts.” It’s the most important feast day and also the climax of Christ’s ministry. Christ came to die for us and for our salvation and then he finishes his ministry with his resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. But the resurrection is a kind of finishing point — he shows he is triumphant over death and sin with his resurrection and the empty tomb.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FB: The mission is to proclaim the risen Lord as his disciples did. We are his disciples. We profess the Orthodox Christian faith, unchanged, biblical and historical, to our neighbors, so that those who have ears to hear and those who want to come and see. There are many programs through our auxiliary organizations that help us carry out this mission. For example, our FOCUS [Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve] ministry serves meals to homeless in downtown San Diego, every third Wednesday of every month. All Orthodox churches throughout San Diego serve these meals.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you’ve found God?
FB: Once walking by the beach on Coronado Island, young people were playing their music and so on. I was walking with my bishop and we both wore cassocks. We never expected these young people to have any serious questions about the faith. They stopped the music and came to us. They had some good and insightful questions, which I did not expect from this young group of people. “‘Who are you guys?’ ‘We are Orthodox priests,’” we answered. They asked questions about God. “‘Does God love us?’ ‘What about eternal life?’” and “‘Where do we go when we die?’”
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FB: We go to heaven, a place prepared for us from the very foundation of the world. We are not alone in this place but with God and the saints. As St. Paul describes it in his letter, it is a place that no eyes have seen and no ears have heard; it is a blessed life. We get a foretaste in this life. Anytime we pray the holy liturgy, we participate in that life in heaven here on earth. When we partake in Holy Communion, for example. We are taken out of time and space into eternity. So, our participation starts here and now in that eternal life. At the moment our soul separates from the body, since it is immortal, it goes on to a place of rest and awaits resurrection and eternal life with Christ. On the other hand, according to the teachings of the holy fathers of the Orthodox Church, hell is a lack of God’s love. We hope and pray there are not many people in hell; and I can’t say who is in hell, by the way. Even in this life, anyone who rejects God’s love experiences torment. The opposite of that would be to open ourselves to God’s love, accept, and pass it on to other people.