Community of St. George Cathedral Celebrates 50 Years in the Gables
While Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Coral Gables, FL was actually first established on February 23, 1953 in the city of Miami, August 31, 1966 is no less significant a day, as it marks the signing of the contract to purchase Temple Judea, a Jewish synagogue, in the heart of nearby beautiful Coral Gables. This is where the community would build the Saint George Cathedral of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast as a beacon of faith for the Orthodox faithful and the local community. Fifty years later, hearts of the members of the Cathedral beat no less in celebrating this golden jubilee with love; love for their own Faith and their own Cathedral.
The first weekend of October marked the joyful festivities of this jubilee. After months of preparations and diligent work, the faithful of the Cathedral were ready to see the fruit of their labors, not just for the weekend but for a half century of toil and love. The faithful were joined by His Grace Bishop Antoun, the Cathedral’s Father in Christ, His Grace Bishop Basil, the Keynote Speaker, and several prominent figures who shared their joy over the weekend including local mayors, attorneys, Mr. Roger David (North American Chair of the Order of Saint Ignatius), and other distinguished guests.
The weekend began with the arrival of His Grace Bishop Basil at Miami International Airport, received by the Cathedral leaders led by the Very Reverend Father Fouad Saba, Dean of the Cathedral. Later in the evening, His Grace gathered with the teens and young adults of the Cathedral and shared his wisdom with them, calling them, above all else, to prayer. On Saturday morning, the Cathedral Council and their families warmly welcomed His Grace for breakfast at a local French artisan bakery in Coral Gables, and they expressed their joy of receiving him as he shared with them this historical milestone in the history of the Cathedral. The afternoon was no less exciting, as golden ribbons and red roses decked the freshly ironed linens and the Cathedral’s beloved ladies ensured not a single detail was missing from this momentous celebration.
The Love Ball was held on Saturday evening. The preparations were made by the Love Ball Committee comprised of Chairwoman Haifa Khoury and several faithful members. The faithful came through the Church doors and filled the pews to lift up their prayers of thanksgiving during the Great Vespers service presided over by His Grace Bishop Antoun and His Grace Bishop Basil, joined by several local clergy. Afterwards, all proceeded to the Cathedral Hall and enjoyed some hors d'oeuvres in anticipation of the beginning of the evening program.
The Love Ball, a yearly celebration in the life of the Cathedral, not only celebrates the year, but those who shine in the service of the Church during that year. But now, as 50 years are being celebrated, the Cathedral was ready to speak her heart out on those who gave their hearts to her. His Grace Bishop Antoun, His Grace Bishop Basil, and the Very Reverend Father Fouad Saba; the Honorable James Cason, Mayor of Coral Gables, and the Honorable Tomás Regalado, Mayor of Miami; and the recipients of the recognition awards with their escorts, were all proudly welcomed by Mr. Elie Bardawil, Chairman of the Cathedral Council and the evening's Master of Ceremonies. The evening also shed a special light on the two attorneys who negotiated, prepared, and signed the contract of the property exchange in 1966, the Cathedral’s own Mr. George Elias, and Mr. Richard Horwich of Temple Judea. Mr. Elias and Mr. Horwich also kindly offered their words prior to the evening in a Tribute Video which was shown during the Ball. Both attorneys were recognized on the dais, escorted by all the past Chairman of the Cathedral Council.
This evening was not only a celebration of the last 50 years, but a launch of the next 50 years; a kindling in the hearts of the parents for their children who will take care of their home after them. The generosity of the faithful helped raise over $45,000 throughout the evening in support of the ministries of the Cathedral and the generations to come, and the atmosphere was no less exciting with Mr. Richard Corey who engineered the mood for the evening with his beautiful rendition of the classics. A moment of blessing arrived when His Grace Bishop Basil lifted up the Faithful with the words of his benediction. May God grant him many years!
Sunday morning marked the crown of the celebration, for the finest wine is served at the end according to the Gospel of John. The weekend was highlighted by the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy concelebrated by our beloved hierarchs and offered in thanksgiving for the rich blessings that the Lord bestowed upon His flock in the Gables. The Divine Liturgy was followed by a brunch reception for their Graces, during which a word of encouragement and congratulations was given by Mr. Roger David, and was concluded by Father Fouad Saba who summed up the weekend by stressing the importance of the family, always headed by the Bishop. He explained, “A family together can do all things, not just for 50 years, but for generations. No family, no generations, no future. No future means no harvest.”
All in all, the “Love Ball” was a celebration of 50 years of dedication and self-giving of the faithful to their Church family and an offering of love towards their beloved Cathedral with their Father in Christ, His Grace Bishop Antoun. May the Lord grant him and the Cathedral many years to come!
The Cathedral now is running full steam ahead towards hosting the Archdiocese Convention in July 2017!
|The Love Ball Program Book 2016 (PDF)||4.09 MB|