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His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH celebrates the Patronal Feast of St. Nicholas Cathedral

His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH celebrates the Patronal Feast of St. Nicholas Cathedral - 12/03/06

Los Angeles, California

The Ordination of Subdeacon Paul Olson to the Holy Diaconate.

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This year’s celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas, the patron and protector of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, had triple significance. The community continued the tradition of honoring four lifelong members, and also received a new deacon at the hands of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH who celebrated his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy since his back surgery on August 15.

The weekend festivities started Saturday, December 2, with Great Vespers with Litia and Artoklasia for St. Nicholas. The service was sung in English, Arabic and Spanish because members of the Cathedral’s Hispanic Mission were also in attendance. This program reaches out to the large Hispanic community surrounding the Cathedral to make them a vital part of the True Faith. It is led by Deacon George Ajalat and Deacon Paul (Ron) Olson, who that night served his last Great Vespers as a subdeacon.

Orthros on Sunday, December 3, saw the official return of Sayidna JOSEPH to his episcopal throne in the Cathedral. All the chanters and about a dozen faithful hastened to see him and receive his blessing, welcoming him back to his home. Sayidna chanted some of the hymns of the Octoechos for the Resurrection and St. Nicholas before performing Kairon with the three Cathedral deacons to ready himself for the Hierarchical Liturgy.

The Liturgy’s Epistle lection came from Ephesians (4:1-7), written by St. Paul, which seemed fitting for Deacon Paul’s ordination. St. Paul urges all people “to walk worthily of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, sparing no effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In this Spirit, Deacon Paul was led forth into the sanctuary at the customary time, around the altar table three times before kneeling before it and underneath the hand and omophorion of Bishop JOSEPH. Sayidna prayed to God that He would send down upon Deacon Paul “the grace which Thou didst grant unto Stephen, the first martyr, whom Thou didst call to be first in the work of Thy ministry.” Deacon Paul then rose, and was vested by the three deacons who sponsored him, while the faithful shouted out “Axios!”, “Mustahek!” and “Es Digno!”: the Greek, Arabic, and Spanish words for “He is Worthy!”

Right after the ordination, Sayidna thanked almighty God aloud for healing his pain in just over three months, and returning him to the Holy Altar where he belongs. Sayidna addressed Deacon Paul, saying “Rejoice for receiving the grace of God! He is our healer, our power, and our strength.” Sayidna thanked Deacon Paul for ministering to the Spanish community, and then His Grace turned to them, saying, “We see you here, the beloved ones in Christ. You are not a part of this culture or that culture, but of this Orthodox community and the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Deacon Paul offered his first ektenia after his ordination, and then assisted His Grace in preparing the gifts in the chalices. Deacon Paul received his first Holy Communion at the altar before communing his wife, Laurie, and their three daughters Teri, Sophie and Erica.

St. Nicholas Day was far from over, as everyone went into the Cathedral hall for the annual St. Nicholas Day Banquet. A lenten feast was served to the hundreds of people in attendance, and Bishop JOSEPH spoke to them, saying, “Because the Bishop is not married, this parish and all the parishes in the Diocese are my family. We celebrate St. Nicholas’ life today, and even though we never saw him or his works, we remember him for his power and intercessions that we cannot see. Feel the presence of St. Nicholas in you life, through his prayers and historic works.”

Deacon Paul was honored by the Cathedral clergy, who presented him with a gift. He and his wife Laurie have been tremendous additions to St. Nicholas since they first arrived, and the entire community knows that their spirit of diakonia is practically unrivaled. May God grant them many years!

The banquet continued with the renewal of the annual tradition of honoring the lifelong servants of the Cathedral. This year’s “class” included Archdeacon George Shishim, Julie Harb, Marie Simon and Theodore Nicholas. Their families were present to witness them being honored, and the congregation learned of their commitment to Christ and this Cathedral over the years as banquet host Norman Mamey read their life stories. May God grant them many more years to inspire and teach the future generations of St. Nicholas.

And no banquet produced by Norman Mamey would be complete without “beautiful music.” The gifted composer and conductor offered musical pieces on the piano, and his daughter, Jessica, along with Terese Tintocalis and Carol Ouejian, sang beautiful Christmas hymns, both traditional and spiritual. Carol sang “Today is Born of the Virgin”, the Doxasticon of the Ninth Royal Hour of Christ’s Nativity. Thus, another joyous celebration of St. Nicholas and the Cathedral named in honor of him was fittingly concluded.

By Subdeacon Peter Samore

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