45th Anniversary of the Western Prelacy Worthily Celebrated with an Acclaimed Concert

On Thursday, December 6, 2018, over seven hundred members of the community gathered at Glendale Presbyterian Church for a concert and celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Prelacy of North America under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Cilicia and the 45th anniversary of the Western Prelacy. The celebration was held under the auspices of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and was organized by the Religious and Executive Councils. The concert featured renowned tenor Kevork Hadjian, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Hovsep Torossian, and the newly formed Hamazkayin “Hovhannes Toumanian” Choir, conducted by Dr. Elibs Masehian with Mr. Alan Dishikrikyan accompanying on the piano.

Among the guests in attendance were former Prelate H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, H.G. Bishop Mikael Mouradian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholic Church, Rev. Berdj Djambazian, Minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of N. America, clergy, Catholicosate Central and Prelacy Executive Council members, representatives of the Consulate General of Armenia, ARF Bureau, ARF Western Region Central Committee, ANCA, ARS, Hamazkayin, Homenetmen Central and Regional Executives, and compatriotic unions, members of Prelacy parishes and schools, sponsors, and faithful.

The program began with welcoming remarks by H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, who, after reflecting on the purpose the evening’s celebration offered a prayer for the Lord to protect our church and people. The Vicar General acknowledged His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and current and former Prelates, and greeted the guests. He noted that the Church, Holy See, and Prelacies are the people, and that the Church and clergy are called to follow Christ’s path through their service.

The choir sang the Lord’s Prayer, after which a memorial prayer was offered for the victims of the Armenia earthquake as well as for all departed founders and clergy and lay servants of the Prelacy. The choir continued with three more hymns and spiritual songs.

Mr. Hadjian, in two parts, presented powerful and moving renditions of religious, folk, and nationalistic songs from the likes of Gomidas, Sayat Nova, and some of Armenia’s greatest composers, earning a robust round of applause and standing ovation from the guests. A video chronicling the history of the Prelacy, the endeavors of subsequent Prelates, and the mission of our churches and schools was shown.

The poignant program concluded with the Prelate’s message. “Thanks to the Lord for granting us this occasion to collectively mark this historic occasion, to recall when sixty years ago, heeding the spiritual needs of the Armenians of North America, the Armenian Prelacy under the auspices of the Holy See of Cilicia was established and forty-five years ago the Western Prelacy, spreading the mission of the Holy See across these lands and bridging the hearts and spirits of our people with the Armenian Apostolic Church, with our heritage, and our homeland. This celebration is a time to express gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings upon our Church and people, and for granting us the honor and responsibility of serving our Church and people. I would like to take this time to wish good health and bright days to His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and thank him for his leadership and guidance,” began the Prelate. As the following day marked the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake in Armenia, His Eminence once again prayed for the Lord to grant rest to the souls of the tens of thousands who perished on that day. He prayed also for the souls of Catholicoi and Prelates of blessed memory, and all clergy and lay servants who left their mark upon the Prelacy through their service, and expressed gratitude and well wishes to former Prelates, H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian and H.E. Archbishop Datev Sarkissian.

“The Western Prelacy has undergone tremendous growth and advancement over the past forty-five years, with construction of churches and schools, expansion of parish communities and of collaboration with community organizations, and service to our homeland. Tonight is a time to reflect on and take pride in our past achievements, but it is also a time to look to the future with past achievements as our foundation stone. We are grateful to those who came before us and planted the seeds of our Prelacy, but now it is our time to plant new seeds and continue their noble work and vision in the example of the faith and hope of the founders; in the words of the Apostle Paul, the “tree planters” and those who continue their work. Our history is a living testimony, that as children and fellow workers of God, our steps have a clear direction. In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul clearly states that we are merely implementers of God’s commandments and path; it is God Himself Who gives the increase, adding, ‘we are God’s fellow workers; we are God’s field, we are God’s building.’ According to the words of the Apostle, we can avow that the founders of our Prelacy planted the tree here on these lands, and subsequent Prelates, and clergy and lay servants watered and cared for the tree, however, it is God who gave the increase, to Whom we must give glory and praise,” stated the Prelate.

His Eminence noted that there are new needs and challenges before us, as addressed by His Holiness through his messages stressing renewal and reorganization. Thus, he stressed that we must look to the coming decades with renewal and reinforced devotion and vision. “The coming years must be a continuation of the mission that was begun centuries ago in our homeland when the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew brought the light of Christianity to Armenia, and St. Gregory the Illuminator through his vision, by the will of God, the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit spread that light across our lands, together with St. Dertad adopting Christianity as the state religion. The ray of that same faith radiated over the centuries through the Holy See and the leadership of subsequent Catholicoi reaching Cilicia, and following the Genocide, to Antelias. Today we have new plans on our horizon, church construction for our newer parishes, and school construction projects to broaden the education and instruction of the new generation. Thus, let us build this bright future with renewed faith, with conviction, devotion, and vision, always remaining humble and faithful servants of our Lord and of our Church and nation. May God guide our steps so that we may seek and do that which is good, and as we prepare to welcome a new year, let us commit ourselves to doing better than we did in the previous year.” The Prelate concluded by blessing and once again expressing gratitude to all past and present servants and thanks to the sponsors and friends for their support wishing for the coming years to bring further collaboration with faith, hope, love, and goodwill. “Today and always let us praise the Lord and pray, ‘Heavenly King, preserve Your Church unshaken, and those Who worship Your name in peace.’”

Following the benediction, the memorable celebration came to a close with guests joining Mr. Hadjian and the choir in the singing of Cilicia.

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