For years, the community of Archangel Michael Church in Las Vegas, Nevada had dreamed of a new house of worship of God in Trinity and fellowship hall for its growing community that would be centrally located.
Its pastor insisted that the dream had „stumbled“ several times, but it never „fell.“ Finally, after much sacrifice and labor, a new complex had been built. But when His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph arrived for the weekend of November 3-4, 2018, St. Michael Church became St. Michael Cathedral, Nevada’s first Orthodox Christian cathedral.
Joining His Eminence for the consecration, or „baptism,“ of the new house of worship were His Grace Bishop Ilia of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America, and His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Diocese of Oakland, Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic. Together, they washed, dressed and anointed the new altar, and anointed the walls with holy water on sponges affixed to tall poles.
At the celebratory banquet, the newest cathedral dean of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Fr. John Ozone, said many angels—in heaven and on earth—were placed in his community’s way through the providence of God. That included one benefactor who donated five acres of land for the new complex, and told Fr. John he would need initial design plans by the next morning. Fr. John stayed up all night and modeled the new house of worship after the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition („Mariamiyeh“) in Damascus, Syria. It has two bell towers, as well as nearly two dozen chandeliers illuminating the nave and sanctuary. The large fellowship hall opened two years ago and had served as the place for worship.
Sayidna Joseph brought with him the relics of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, whose family originated in Damascus. They were placed into the altar and sealed with wax so that St. Raphael will always protect this community, just as the Archangel Michael has done since 1965 when it opened. His Eminence reminded the clergy, faithful and out-of-town guests that a consecration is a rare occasion, and a reaffirmation that God works in His Church and works miracles in their lives.
His Eminence honored two benefactors of the new cathedral, James Khoury and George Chami, with the Gold Order of the Award of St. Raphael of Brooklyn for their large roles in bringing this dream to life. Their vision, like that of the dean and the faithful, is to grow Holy Orthodoxy in Las Vegas for their children and grandchildren, and for those who seek true worship of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s worship – Orthros, the Service of Consecration, and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy – Sayidna Joseph again thanked and congratulated the clergy and faithful of St. Michael Cathedral, but reminded them that icons of Christ, His Mother and His saints are now needed to adorn the walls. But more importantly, His Eminence stressed, their hearts and minds must be icons of the love of God so that they may bear perfect witness to Him and to all people.