On Saturday evening, some 300 people gathered for the grand banquet at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Those in attendance from the religious community included His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and the hierarchs of the Local Archdiocesan Synod, representatives from the Orthodox Church in America, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, the Melkite Catholic Church, the Druze community and numerous priests and deacons from throughout the United States and Canada. Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps and local civil authorities including New York State Senator Martin Golden, the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Fayssal Makdad, the Counsel General of Lebanon in New York, Mohamad El-Harake and the Charge d'affaires from the Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations, Ibrahim Assaf.
Highlights of the banquet included a State Senate Proclamation presented to Metropolitan PHILIP, Father Thomas and the Cathedral by Senator Golden, the recognition of Mr. Nick Nassir of California who was baptized in the Cathedral 93 years ago, possibly by St. Raphael himself, and the presentation of the Certificate of Meritorious Service by Metropolitan PHILIP to the general chairwoman of the weekend, Ms. Elaine Khoury, for all of her hard work and dedication over the years.
On Sunday, June 5, 2005, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy took place before a standing room only crowd at the Cathedral. His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and all the diocesan bishops of the Archdiocese were present along with 16 priests and deacons of various Orthodox jurisdictions from throughout the United States and Canada. Prior to the Liturgy, the clergy met Metropolitan PHILIP and the bishops at the entrance of the Cathedral and processed in with the relics of St. Raphael that were then placed in the holy altar table. This is significant in that St. Nicholas was the first community founded by St. Raphael and he was originally buried under the altar at the Pacific Street Cathedral before his remains were moved to a Brooklyn cemetery (and subsequently to the Holy Resurrection Cemetery at the Antiochian Village) when the location of the Cathedral changed to its present spot in 1920 at 355 State Street.
The historic liturgy concluded with the other main celebration of the weekend, the elevation of the Cathedral's Dean, Rev. Fr. Thomas Zain, to the dignity of Archpriest by His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. Father Thomas is celebrating his 11th anniversary in the priesthood next month and his 8th anniversary as Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in August. His sponsors, Archimandrite Michael Evans and Archpriest George Alberts led him to Metropolitan PHILIP for the elevation prayer. Following the elevation, Metropolitan PHILIP presented Father Thomas with the jeweled cross to wear as a sign of his new rank. The cross was given as a gift from the Cathedral. A sold out reception honoring Father Thomas, Khourieh Claudia and their children Simone and George and sponsored by the Tri-State members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and others followed in the Cathedral Hall.
At the same liturgy, a 40 day Trisagion (memorial) service was held for the late Archbishop IAKOVOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America and seven new members were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the charitable arm of the Archdiocese.