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St. Nicholas Day Luncheon - 12/06/2009

Los Angeles, California

Webmaster's Note: Due to technical difficulties there are no pictures available from the second half of the banquet. We apologize for not being able to show pictures of the last two honorees receiving their awards.

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Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy - 12/06/2009

Los Angeles, California

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Though the holiday season is always hectic and tough, and 2009 will go down as a rough and challenging year for many families, the parishioners of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles could take comfort in their annual St. Nicholas Day festivities. They know that on the first Sunday in December, they can gather with their friends and loved ones, and can count on His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH to celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with all the Cathedral clergy and lead all of the activities.

In his homily, Sayidna focused on the community’s patron saint and all of his virtues that we are all called to emulate. “When we call ourselves Orthodox Christians, it doesn’t matter if we keep a few lines and service books,” he said. “We have to obey the Holy Tradition – every word that we hear in Church.” St. Nicholas has no extant writings like St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great, but we know this famous saint through his acts of mercy and charity, and his defense of true doctrine. That is why, Sayidna explained, we need to keep this famous fourth-century bishop present in our everyday lives. “When we see and venerate the icon of St. Nicholas, we feel his very presence in our lives. He works with us and intercedes for us, just as Jesus Christ is forever alive and resurrected.” Sayidna also called upon the clergy and faithful not to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, but remember that it is really a celebration of our Lord coming in the flesh to earth. “A good Orthodox Christian will hear from God, so we must trust that the Lord is present in everything we do and have – even in the Christmas wreaths!”

The Liturgy concluded with the churching of the parish’s newest baby, followed by a procession of a famous St. Nicholas icon that is more than 200 years old. It is kept in the Cathedral’s care, and has depictions and scenes of the holy archbishop’s life. Carrying the icon was Nick Ellis, who through many prayers and the intercessions of his patron saint has nearly fully recovered from a tragic accident he suffered three months ago.

The annual St. Nicholas Day banquet did not disappoint, either. More than 250 people broke bread and took a break from the season’s chaos to enjoy each other’s company. Dr. Albert Malouf and company provided a wonderful Advent meal, and event chairman James Samore coordinated an exciting program with Norman Mamey, who again served as master of ceremonies. As is tradition, the Cathedral surprised and honored four of its members that have devoted a lifetime of service to this community and God’s holy Church: Khouriyee Eva Najim, for her beautiful chanting and leadership with the Antiochian Women; John Samore, Jr., for his management of Cathedral stewardship; Robin Lynn Nicholas, for her leadership with the charity “Food for Hungry People” and years of running the Cathedral office; and Daniel Andrews, for his leadership in meeting the constant property needs of the Cathedral and devotion to youth outreach. These are just a few of their various ministries and talents. Each gave thanks to God for the honor of serving His Church, and to all their fellow Orthodox Christians who shaped their lives so that they may grow in the Faith.

More banquet traditions continued. Robin always donates the St. Nicholas Day souvenir – this year, a tapestry icon of the saint – in memory of her parents Ted and Ann, and her brother Teddy. And as always, “Maestro” Mamey provided the day’s entertainment – a miniature concert! His daughters, Jessica and Joy Mamey, delighted the audience with their gorgeous voices, with Norman at the piano, accompanied by Lauren Baba of St. Luke Church in Garden Grove and part of the strings section from the University of Southern California Symphony Orchestra. They performed Christmas carols and even got the audience to sing along.

This year’s St. Nicholas Day festivities, once again, did not disappoint. It was truly a celebration of our great patron saint and a tribute to all who give selflessly to the Cathedral. The attendees know that, when other days may not seem so certain, they can count on this day year after year.

By Subdeacon Peter Samore
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