St. Nicholas Day Banquet - 12/04/2005Los Angeles, California
The first weekend in December is always a joyous one for the clergy and faithful of the mother cathedral of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West. We honor the beloved Saint Nicholas, the fourth century archbishop of Myra in Lycia, and the patron and protector of the Cathedral in Los Angeles. The community celebrated with a full weekend of services, capped off with a marvelous luncheon in which four life-long members of the Cathedral were honor for their devotion to our Lord Jesus and Christ and His Holy Church.
As is the yearly custom, His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, presided over the entire celebration. Starting with Great Vespers on Saturday night, Sayidna, the clergy, the choir and the faithful sang hymns of praise not just for St. Nicholas, but also for two esteemed Antiochian saints commemorated on that day: St. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria, and St. John of Damascus. While His Grace led some responses in Arabic, the choir sang in both English and Spanish; St. Nicholas Cathedral’s Spanish Community Mission came to join the celebration. Sayidna JOSEPH then served the Litia and Artoklasia for the saints with the Cathedral clergy: Very Reverend Michel Najim (Dean and Great Economos), Very Reverend John Reimann (Associate Pastor), Archdeacon George Shishim and Deacon George Ajalat, who leads the Spanish Mission.
The next morning, the Cathedral continued its liturgical commemoration of Sts. Nicholas, Barbara and John with Orthros and a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy. Bishop JOSEPH also presided over a Trisagion Service for a truly godly priest, whose memory is not only treasured at St. Nicholas Cathedral, but also in southern California and in the Orthodox Christian world: Very Reverend John Reinhold. He passed into eternal life two years ago; his widow, Matushka Leonida Reinhold, along with her family, prayed with us for her husband’s blessed memory.
Following Liturgy, the clergy and faithful went next door to the Cathedral Hall for the annual St. Nicholas Day Luncheon. Dr. Albert Malouf prepared yet another sumptuous Lenten lunch for the hundreds of people in attendance, and Norman Mamey, the event chairman and master-of-ceremonies, provided another fantastic program. The afternoon was filled with wonderful words of wisdom from Sayidna JOSEPH; a presentation on the life of our patron saint by Subdeacon Ronald Olsen, who also assists with the Spanish Mission; and musical performances by our own master-of ceremonies, Diana Taweel and special guest, soprano Jacquelyn Fontaine.
Most importantly, Sunday’s luncheon honored four life-long members of the Cathedral. Tears welled-up in many attendees’ eyes, as the Cathedral congratulated Lillian Doumani, Elsie Safady and Matushka Leonida Reinhold. We heard of their life-stories, which varied in many degrees, but also of their common bonds: their undying love for Christ, serving Him and His Church. Norman presented them each with plaques recognizing them for their service, and then the tables were turned on him: Norman himself was honored for his lifetime service as a choirmaster, parish council member and chairman of the St. Nicholas festival.
Though the luncheon went well into the afternoon, the clergy and laity would agree that they enjoyed every single minute. The celebration of St. Nicholas indeed comes as anticipation of the celebration of the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh just a few weeks from now.
By Subdeacon Peter Samore