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His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH's Address to the St. Nicholas Cathedral Debutant Ball
April 28, 2007
Los Angeles, California

The Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, the 2007 Debutantes, their parents and their escorts, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Christ is risen!

Let me first recognize the outstanding contributions of the Antiochian Women of St. Nicholas Cathedral and its President Kh. Eva Najim and Past President Mrs. Norah Hanna and the members of Sweetheart Ball Committee under the leadership of the Chairperson, Mrs. Marion Deeb. There are too many of you who have given of your time, talents, and treasures to thank individually, therefore, we thank ALL of you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts in this the 51st Debutante Ball.

Tonight we will present 27 beautiful young ladies, radiant with enthusiasm, exquisitely dressed, perfectly poised, and look upon them in amazement and observe….”O, how our children have grown!” But the fact is that no matter how old they become, they will ALWAYS be our children! A parent never ceases to be the parent and a child never ceases to be the child. Long after they leave the house to go to college, they will call upon us with the beloved phrases: “Dad, can I have the keys to the car! Mom, can I borrow Twenty Bucks?” As children, we never quite become totally independent from our parents. We will always need their comfort, security, wisdom and Godly love.

This is the same with God. God is love …and love never stops. His love and care are forever. We will always be part of God’s Family, God’s children, and Children of the Kingdom. God loves us unconditionally and tolerates our occasional childish behavior and disobedience.

The great American Humorist Bill Cosby retells those first moments between parent and child when God created His first two children: Adam and Eve. And as every parent knows from that moment on, a much used word came into existence: “DON’T”!

God told Adam and Eve “DON’T eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge”….they immediately asked…”Where is it?” The Bible doesn’t say where God went or what He was doing, but His children ate of the forbidden fruit and when God asked WHY they did it …..they whined: “I Don’t Know!”

This evening, we are reminded that we are all Children of God and that God desires to have an ongoing personal relationship with each one of us…. His Children. He wants to express His unconditional love to us so that we in turn can express that unconditional love to our own children and by extension to all God’s children everywhere.

Ladies and gentlemen: these beautiful young women presented tonight are the future of our country, our state, and most importantly, they are the future of our Faith. Women are the heart of the church as they are the heart of the home, and it is the home that trains the Children of God who transform the world with Godly, unconditional love.

Beloved, remember that as God’s Children we are called to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor (who is also a Child of God) as ourselves.”

God never stops pursuing us or stops being our loving Heavenly Father. In the great prayer in the Divine Liturgy we are reminded that even when we fell away, God would raise us up again and not cease to do ALL things to bring us back to Heaven and to endow us with His Kingdom which is to come.

Finally, on a personal note, I wish to extend to all our debutantes and their escorts, my deepest Fatherly love. I am proud of you, my spiritual children! All of us are here to support you, to enjoy this evening and to show our love for you. We pray for your good future.

Now, I am going to us “don’t” in a positive way: Don’t ever forget, we love you as God loves you…unconditionally, Don’t let the Evil One deceive you in any way. Don’t forget that you are precious to us and we will always be there for you….to love you, to care for you, and to help you achieve all that God has planned for you! And if anyone asks if you are loved…you will never be able to say…I Don’t Know!!!

God bless you all.

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