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St. Elias Cathedral Celebrates Its 80th Anniversary

St. Elias Cathedral
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

80th Anniversary Celebration
10th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Cathedral
and the Burning of the Mortgage
September 10-12, 2010
Click here for a gallery of pictures from the weekend

What a week-end!! We had so much to celebrate and be thankful for. We began by welcoming His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, at the airport on Friday afternoon. Fr. Ghattas, Fr. Boulos, Lebanon’s Charge D’affaires, Mr. George Zeid, City of Ottawa Mayor, Mr. Larry O’Brien, along with members of the Parish Council and the Organizing Committee gathered for an enthusiastic welcome. We were so grateful that Metropolitan Philip was able to celebrate this momentous occasion with us.

Saturday’s events began when members of the Organizing Committee were treated to a lovely luncheon with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and His Grace Bishop Alexander at our Parish home. Daniel Abraham, Chairman of The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, was also present with us for the luncheon and all our week-end festivities. Khouriya Helene, as usual, prepared a delicious lunch including the Metropolitan’s favourite - Kibbee Nayeh.

Vespers were at 6:00 p.m., followed by the cedars of Lebanon planting ceremony. It was very emotional to follow the faithfulness of vespers with the planting of two cedar trees brought in from Lebanon. A bagpiper ushered the hierarchs, dignitaries and hundred of parishioners to the front of the cathedral where the two cedars were planted. We prayed and rejoiced at the sight of these two little trees that represented so much to all in attendance.

“The Trees of the plains shall be full of fruit, the cedars of Lebanon, which You planted; there the sparrows shall make their nests.” (Psalm 103, Verses 16-17)

Afterwards. everyone entered the banquet centre to again welcome our hierarchs and dignitaries in a ceremonial bagpipe entrance. Mr. Charles Saikaley was the master of ceremony for the grand banquet. The evening was very emotional recalling the 80-year history of our parish and honouring founding members and all those who toiled to get us where we are today. Three Certificates of Meritorious Service were presented to members of our parish – Khouriya Helene Hajal, Joann Nicholson and Helen Jeffrey – “Well done, thou good and faithful servants!” (Matthew 25, Verse 21) Six past Parish Council Presidents, Charles Saikaley, Raymond Rizk, Gaby Nasrallah, Andre Skaff, Sue Paruch and Dimitri Zeidan, were also recognized and received awards from Abouna Ghattas and Metropolitan Philip. We were also treated to two beautiful operatic arias performed by Julie Nesrallah, an accomplished mezzo soprano. The highlight of the evening was the burning of the mortgage! For the first time in our 80 year history, St. Elias Cathedral was debt-free! What a feeling of accomplishment we felt as we shared this moment with not only those in attendance, but giving due honour to our founding members as well.

At Sunday’s Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Sayedna Philip’s sermon was spiritually uplifting. Every person entering the cathedral was pinned with a commemorative St. Elias 80th Anniversary badge. Seventeen new members were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch and three St. Ignatius members were upgraded, one to life member, one to Dame Commander, and one to Knight Commander. The Liturgy was followed by a luncheon, where Danielle Wehbi, our Master of Ceremony, reminded the younger generation that it was time to pick up the torch where our parents left off and continue the good work. Metropolitan Philip and Bishop Alexander were presented with Inuit carvings as gifts of appreciation. The day was completed with a wonderful dinner at the Rivermead Golf and Country Club, beautifully hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ayoub.

We are thankful to God for establishing, preserving and growing the parish of St. Elias in Ottawa, Canada and ask that He grant us many more years under the holy guidance of Bishop Alexander, Metropolitan Philip and the pastorate of our beloved shepherd, Abouna Ghattas.