Name-Day Celebration at St. Garabed Church of Hollywood – “In the Presence of Its People, The Church Is a Beautiful Temple and a Magnificent Building,” Stated The Prelate

On Sunday, January 17, 2021, H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, conducted his first Divine Liturgy as the newly elected Prelate at St. Garabed Church in Hollywood, delivered his message and celebrated the name day of Church. In attendance were representatives from clergy, national, educational and regional organizations.

During the sermon, the Prelate summarizing his message in four main points:

1. “What is the Church?”

Answering this question, he explained that “The Church is the strength, home, breath and authority of God on earth, but the church is the people themselves, the church is the joint presence of our people under the leadership of the Cross, because, in the presence of the people, the church is a beautiful temple and magnificent structure.” He mentioned how the people were forced to be away from the church due to the Corona virus pandemic, the faithful could not attend church services, and the situation is the same today. The Prelate added; “It is true that the people viewed the church services online, but they felt something lacking in their lives. It was the same for us, who performed the services in the absence of the faithful, also felt that there was something missing in our lives. What is lacking is the joy of the church; the joy which according to the words of the psalmist, radiates from the temple of God.”

2. Reflecting on the name-day of the church, the Prelate stated; “Today is the Feast of St. John the Forerunner, ‘St. Garabed,’ which this church is named after.” The Prelate further explained, “While Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she went to visit Elizabeth, who had John the Baptist in her womb. According to the Gospels, when John the Baptist felt the presence of Jesus, while still in his mother’s womb, he rejoiced. The Armenian hymn writer described John the Baptist as ‘the one who worshiped Jesus from within the womb.’” On this occasion, the Prelate emphasized on the word “repentance” as the most widely used in the life of John the Baptist and continued to say that “repentance in the Christian life” is present throughout Armenian prayers, hymns and rituals. Albeit, unfortunately has ceased to be widely used in our daily lives today. A person sins on three levels: thought, word, and deed, and repentance is the only way out of those sins. Everybody needs repentance in their lives, and more so we must have the spiritual aptitude not repeat the same sin, once we have repented.

3. “Do something.” Explaining the scene of the Wedding in Cana of Galilee, the Prelate emphasized the words of St. Mary toward her Son, that the wine had depleted, and asked her Son to “do something.” He drew a parallel between St. Mary and Mother Armenia, and stated; “Today Armenia has become another Cana, where there is a lack of spiritual wine. I hear the voice of Armenia as the voice of St. Mary, who addresses her child, her people, all of us, when she proclaims, ‘Son, the wine is finished during the Armenian wedding, do something,’ while Jesus answers, ‘Mother, my time has not come, but still works His miracle and turns water into wine.’ Today, when we may not be able to do much for Armenia who needs our help, we are invited to act like Jesus and to heed our Mother’s request and do something, by supporting Armenia. This is the time when the spirit and wine of life will exceed in Armenia’s wedding.”

4. “2021, The Year of Artsakh.” The Prelate mentioned all the difficulties which took place in our lives and in Armenia last year, then referring to the 44-day war in Artsakh as the worst and bloodiest war imposed on our nation, causing pain to all Armenians. He added; “By declaring 2021 as the “Year of Artsakh,” His Holiness opens new doors of hope for our people, opens opportunities for renewed faith and new visions for the Armenian government, the leadership of the Diaspora and our people.” He continued, “Despite the disasters and losses, the will to want, demand, pursue and have our nation is not over yet. If that will ends, it means that the existence of our nation ends as well. We do not have the right to break that hope within us; rather we must look to the future with the hope of success and gaining everything which we lost.”

In conclusion, the Prelate commended the Pastor of St. Garabed Church, Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian, Deacons and Choir, members of the Board of Trustees, Ladies Guild, Delegates, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Executive Council, church benefactors and faithful, conveying his warm wishes on this occasion.

A Madagh blessing ceremony took place, which was followed by the singing of the “Cilicia” and a reception in the church hall.

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