His Grace, Bishop Joseph’s Address to the St. Nicholas Cathedral Debutant Ball
February 26, 2005
Beverly Hills, California
Beloved Clergy, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am indeed thankful to God to be joining you here tonight, as we honor the presentations of these young ladies—these debutants—to our Orthodox Christian community in Southern California. The parents and families of these women are overjoyed for their daughters in this elegant evening, and I share in that happiness. I am sure that the parents remember that it was “just yesterday” when they took home their newborn daughters from the hospital; or when they baptized them in the Holy Church; or when they sent them to preschool or kindergarten. Soon, these same parents will be saying it was “just yesterday” that their daughters have graduated from high school.
Our daughters have filled our lives with delight and gladness, not to mention a multitude of stories while they were growing up. Parents: you may hear a tale like this soon enough: a father had sent his daughter off to college, and after the first semester, she called home to let him know how she did. She said, “Dad, I hope you are sitting down.” The father, on the other end of the phone line, took a seat, and braced himself. “Dad,” the daughter continued, “things haven’t been going so well. First, I mixed some chemicals together in the laboratory and burned it to the ground. I was so upset that I couldn’t concentrate on the road home and crashed your car—it’s totaled. To calm my nerves, I started smoking, and I can’t stop.” The father fell out of his chair, regained his senses and stammered, “How could you do this? You were a Straight-‘A’ student in high school! You’ve ruined everything!” The daughter laughs, and says, “Well, Dad, none of that is true. The truth is, I got a ‘B’ in chemistry; but before I told you, I just wanted to put everything in perspective.”
For our debutants and their families, this ball will create stories and memories that will last a lifetime. We will never forget the brilliant radiance of this evening, from the young ladies’ beaming smiles, to the sheer bliss shared in the souls of their parents, families, and everyone here present, myself included. And we even share in this same bliss with the High Priest Zacharias; for it was he who received the Virgin Mary, when she was three years old, as her parents, Joachim and Anna, presented her to the Temple. Zacharias, too, was overjoyed, and “beside himself, moved by God” when the mother of our Lord came into his midst. Teeming with delight, he took the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies, which shocked everyone present, because only the High Priest could enter there, and that was only once a year.
Our debutants take part in this Presentation, for they are also led to the Lord and His Holy Church by their parents. This night is indeed festive, not just because this is a celebration of our debutants’ maturity into womanhood, but because their parents are guiding them to Christ, showing them and teaching them the way they must go for all the years of their lives. As the Proverbs teach us, they will not depart from that when they have grown (22:6). In this presentation, we show our Savior’s love, as well as our love, for our cherished Debutants.
I wish to express my gratitude and Christian love to the young ladies who will be presented to this Holy Community tonight. We are here for you, celebrating your steadfast devotion to our Savior, your parents and all those who have supported you throughout your young lives. You are wonderful young ladies, and I am thankful to God to be with you here in this holy gala tonight.
I want to thank Mrs. Rose Samore and Mrs. Georgette Malouf, the co-presidents of the St. Nicholas Cathedral Ladies Society, and their entire hard-working organization. Truly, the Ladies Society is the backbone of service to the Cathedral, and I am sure your rewards will be greater in heaven.
And I cannot conclude this address without thanking a woman devoted to our Church and our debutants, Mrs. Marion Deeb. Year after year, she tirelessly and joyously provides this ministry to our young ladies and their families. I am most grateful for your good works, as well as the good works of your entire Debutant Ball Committee. May God grant you many years of health and happiness.
Beloved clergy, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for supporting our beautiful debutants; I wish you a blessed evening.