Sunday October 29, 2006 - The Day Our Church Became a Cathedral : A great honor, a great challenge.
I recall the announcement made one Sunday after Divine Liturgy: St. George Orthodox Church will be proclaimed a cathedral! The congregation flurried with whispers of excitement—how wonderful! My immediate thoughts of the news alternated between how great an honor this must be, and what does it mean to become a cathedral? Having converted to Orthodoxy only four years ago, I presumed that I was among the few that did not possess the full meaning of this wonderful news.
Over the next few weeks, I made a point to pay close attention when the topic of our church becoming a cathedral was discussed among some of our parishioners. A cathedral is a church, and St. George is a church, so what will change? What will it mean for us? Perhaps there were more than just a few that had questions after all. This led me to read a few articles on the internet, which explained a cathedral “serves as the central church of a Bishop’s diocese”, or it is “where the Bishop makes his headquarters”. Indeed, this is an honor. Our congregation voted and approved the purchase of a chancery for His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, and plans were made for a special weekend to commemorate the upcoming event.
A banquet and hafli were planned for the weekend, as well as a special reception after the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Many people worked diligently behind the scenes to make it a memorable and beautiful weekend (and they deserve many thanks!). At last, the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP and His Grace Bishop THOMAS was upon us, and the events were about to unfold.
Orthodox Christians, friends, guests, local clergy, and even our local media, filled the sanctuary Sunday, October 29, to observe the proclamation of St. George parish of Charleston, WV, as a Cathedral. I felt nervous and humbled as I closely watched His Eminence, His Grace, our priest, the deacons and sub deacons, uniformly and gloriously worship our God the Father during Divine Liturgy.
After His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP read the official proclamation, he stated that it is the people that make a cathedral, not the building or the stone. It was the first Bishop of the Archdiocese, St. Raphael, who founded St. George Church over 100 years ago, and His Eminence is proud of all those that have followed and helped it grow.
His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, spoke to the congregation during Liturgy, leaving me with the best explanation of our new cathedral. He told us although it is a great honor, not to feel proud, and not to congratulate ourselves, as this is our biggest challenge yet. Others will look to us as an example. We should not only worship, but also live and serve the Orthodox Faith, and proclaim it to the world.
The induction of ten new members to the Order of St. Ignatius by His Eminence followed the Divine Liturgy. God grant them many years!