First Episcopal Visit to Orange County on the Feast of Forty Martyrs

Saturday March 13 and Sunday, March 14, 2021 were memorable days for the Forty Martyrs Church Parish. H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, gave his first Episcopal visit to the Armenian community of Orange County, creating a warm spiritual atmosphere within the lives of the parishioners. A large number of believers welcomed the Prelate with undiminished joy and reaffirmed their support to the Armenian Church, then conveyed their sincere congratulations to the newly elected Prelate.

The Prelate arrived in Orange County on the afternoon of Saturday, March 13, and was greeted by the pastor of the church, Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian, Board of Trustees and community representatives. Thereafter, the Prelate presided over the evening service, with the participation of clergy. At the end, he expressed his joy and satisfaction with his visit to the Forty Martyrs Parish and stressed the importance of the virtues of faith, hope, and love as integral parts of the Christian life. The service was followed by a reception, where remarks were delivered by several members of the community.

On Sunday, March 14, 2021, On the occasion of the Feast of Forty Martyrs – the name day of the church – the Prelate celebrated the Divine Liturgy, delivered his message and blessed the madagh. The pastor of the church Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian, and former pastor Archpriest Fr. Hrant Yeretsian served on the altar. In attendance were Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian, Chairman of the Executive Council, Mr Garo Eshgian, former Chairman of the Executive Council, and Mr. & Mrs. Bedig and Maro Fermanian, the sponsors of the madagh, as well as benefactors and community representatives.

The focus of the Prelate’s message was the martyrdom of Forty Martyrs, which was done due to the love that they had towards God. The Prelate stated, “There were forty young people who fell in love with Jesus, fell in love with God, and fell in love with Christianity. Due to the love that they had for Jesus Christ, they were thrown into the “Freezing Lake” and martyred. These soldiers, no matter how much they believed and hoped, but above all, they loved. Love is not just an emotional truth for humans, it is not just a word; rather, love lives, presupposes sacrifice, binds us to our Creator and the Creator with His people.”

After affirming that divine love is much deeper and beyond just being an emotional state, and quoting the words of the Apostle John, the Prelate said, “If you want to love God, you are invited to love one another. And by doing so, you will fulfill your mission, you will love God.”

“Today is a celebratory day for our parish in Orange County. Although there are various issues, sorrows and difficulties in our lives, but on the occasion of the Feast of the Forty Martyrs, the light opens in front of us through this special day. We are invited to see the light and look to the future with hope, so that we may continue to walk hand in hand with renewed vigor in the way of God, for the betterment of our church” Stressed the Prelate.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, a blessing of the madagh and a requiem service were held for the founders and to all those who served the parish Church.

Under the auspices of the Prelate and at the request of the ARF Central Committee of the Western Region, a requiem service was held in memory of the national hero Soghomon Tehlirian.
The faithful headed to the Ghugassian Hall, where Mr. Mano Dishoyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Knar Kerkeserian, Chairwoman of the Ladies Guild, and Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian, Pastor, delivered welcoming remarks and conveyed their best wishes to the Prelate.

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