Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner Marked by Tradition and New Successes



On Saturday, January 6, 2018, five hundred and fifty members of the Western Prelacy family and community, dignitaries, sponsors, and friends gathered at Holy Cross Cathedral’s “Baghramian” Hall in Montebello for the Prelate’s annual and traditional New Year and Christmas Dinner. The event was held under the auspices of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and was organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary in conjunction with the Christmas Dinner Committee. This year’s host was Mrs. Anahid Baghdadlian-Ohanesian.

Among the guests in attendance were ARF Bureau member Dr. Viken Yacoubian, Catholicosate Central Executive member Mr. Gaidzag Zetlian, Honorary Consul of Armenia in Fresno Mr. Berj Apkarian, Honorary Consul of Armenia in Las Vegas Mr. Adroushan Armenian, California State Senator Anthony Portantino, ARF-WR Central Committee Chair Mr. Daron Der Khachadourian, Political Chair Mr. Avedik Izmirlian and members, Glendale City Council member Mr. Ara Najarian, Montebello City Council member Mr. Jack Hadjinian, clergy, Religious and Executive Councils, Delegates and parishes’ Board of Trustees members, schools’ principals and members of CASPS, representatives of community organizations including the ANCA-WR, Hamazkayin, Homenetmen, ARS, Tro Gomideh, Asbarez, Armenian-American Museum, Glendale Memorial, Armenian-American Medical Society, Glendale Memorial Hospital, Forest Lawn, and more, sponsors and supporters.

The program officially began with welcoming remarks by Archpriest Fr. Vazken Atmajian, who served as Master of Ceremonies. Citing from the hymn “Great and Marvelous Mystery,” on behalf of her colleagues on the Ladies Auxiliary Mrs. Vania Babikian wished all a blessed year. Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, spoke on the good tidings of Christ’s birth as a time of exaltation for all, and wished for the Christmas spirit and message of peace and harmony to pervade our individual and collective lives.

Next, with the hall illuminated by candlelight, the Prelate and clergy made their entrance into the hall, candles in hand, while singing Christmas hymns, and echoed the good tidings of the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord. Fr. Torkom read the Gospel passage of Christ’s birth, after which the “tatakh” ceremony took place and the blessing of tables by the Prelate.

Guests viewed the video message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, which focused on the importance of renewal. Our Pontiff stated that the message of Christmas itself is renewal and that the very purpose of the incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus of Nazareth was the renewal of humanity and the whole of creation. His Holiness emphasized that renewal is not a mere change, rather a continuous process embracing human life in all its aspects, dimensions, spheres, and manifestations; it is turning to God and integrating the Gospel’s values to our individual and community life. His Holiness stressed his expectation that all Prelacies and communities take renewal seriously as a top priority and open our communities to new horizons and greater achievements.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Mr. Vahe Hovagumian conveyed New Year and Christmas well wishes to all, and noting that this year marks the end of his second term as Chairman, thanked his colleagues for their collaboration and once again congratulated the Prelate on the milestone anniversaries he marked a few months back, wishing him continued successes.

During dinner, guests enjoyed traditional and festive music by the Greg Hosharian Quintet (Greg Hosharian – Piano, Salpy Kerkonian – Flute, Ayline Amirayan – Vocal, Angela Amirian – Violin, and George Bilezikjian – Dhol), Deacon Yervant Keshishian, accompanied on the piano by his wife Maria, and Hovhannes Balian, as well as dances by the Hamazkayin “Ani” Dance Group, led by artistic directors Yeghia Hasholian and Suzy Barseghian-Tarpinian.

The closing message was delivered by the Prelate. His Eminence greeted all and gave thanks to God for the blessing of collectively welcoming a new year, celebrating the Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ in a warm, festive, and serene atmosphere, and together embarking on a new year of endeavors with new hopes and aspirations for the prosperity of our church, nation, and homeland. The Prelate reflected on the timeless Christmas message of love, humility, goodwill, and harmony, and on the humble circumstances of Christ’s birth and His earthly ministry, which he stated is a reminder and invitation to live in His ideal example, humbly and with a servant’s heart, to pursue not earthly and fleeting treasures but spiritual and heavenly treasures, to dedicate ourselves to His glory and for the collective good of mankind, and to commit ourselves to the spirit of love, peace, and goodwill toward man all the days of the year.

The Prelate expressed gratitude to His Holiness Catholicos Aram I for his paternal wisdom and guidance, and expressed appreciation to all the guests in attendance for their enduring support and encouragement. He extended special thanks to the evening’s host, Mrs. Anahid Baghdadlian-Ohanesian, who, though she could not attend, once again graciously and generously hosted the dinner and continued the legacy of her late husband Gaizag. He expressed his deepest appreciation to Mrs. Kathy Bedrosian for her longstanding support and her most recent and generous donation of $100,000 toward the establishment of a special fund within the Prelacy, and invited her to the stage to receive a plaque of gratitude. His Eminence thanked all the sponsors and donors for their vital moral and financial support. He recognized the efforts of the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary, the Christmas Dinner Committee, as well as the Prelacy staff.

Next, the Prelate paid tribute to the loved ones lost in the past year: Dr. Misak Abdulian, a faithful Christian, beloved family man, and respected physician, whose wife Hourig served and contributed to our Prelacy for many years as a member of our Ladies Auxiliary; benefactress and community activist Mina Shirvanian, whose altruistic benevolence brought great advancements to our national life; and Hacop Baghdassarian, a pillar of our community, philanthropist, and Good Samaritan whose scope of influence reached far and wide. His Eminence, joined by Executive Council Chairman Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian and Vice-Chair Mr. Garo Eshgian, one by one invited Mrs. Hourig Abdulian and children Dr. Michael and Mari, Mina Shirvanian’s daughter Alice Petrossian and grandson Chris, and Mrs. Hilda Baghdassarian and children Peter and Gevik to receive plaques of gratitude for the contributions of their loved ones.

Following the awarding of plaques, the Prelate commended Peter and Gevik Beghdassarian’s commitment to carrying on the legacy of their father Hacop Baghdassarian, a commitment which they had expressed to the Prelate at the passing of their father. Accordingly, His Eminence joyfully announced that Peter and Gevik pledged to host the 2019 Christmas Dinner with a $100,000 donation as a continuation of their father’s legacy. The Prelate also commended Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian for their enduring benevolence and their wish to host the following year’s dinner. However, since the Baghdassarian family had already committed to hosting the 2019 Christmas Dinner, His Eminence announced that the Melkonian family will be hosting the 2020 Christmas Dinner.

The Prelate continued his message, focusing on the endeavors of the coming year which will be marked by a number of milestone anniversaries including the 100th anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia, the 60th anniversary of the North American Prelacy, the 45th anniversary of our Western Prelacy, the centennial of Homenetmen, and the 90th anniversary of Hamazkayin, among others. These milestones, as with all of our achievements and successes, are owing to collective and united efforts, and thus are a source of collective pride, joy, and celebration as well as an impetus to continue our service with added drive and devotion toward new and greater accomplishments, he stressed. His Eminence reflected on the great strides the Prelacy has made in the past forty-five years, the growth in the number of churches and schools and the overall expansion of endeavors and scope, all thanks to collective work and efforts. He gave thanks for the addition of new and young energy to assist in the continuation and expansion of our mission, the addition of Very Rev Fr. Torkom Donoyan as Vicar General as well as Rev. Fr. Movses Shannakian, and for the collaboration and cooperation of community-wide organizations. “Inspired and impelled by the successes of the past, let us now look to the future and to reaching new and even greater heights. The Year of Renewal is officially over, but renewal never ends. Renewal and revitalization is and must be an ongoing process so that we can continue to progress not just in the coming year but for years to come. Thus, I urge our clergy, councils, parishes, schools, and community organizations to continue to serve hand in hand and heart to heart, as members of one loving family, with renewed drive and spirits, for the collective good of our church and nation,” stressed the Prelate, and once again wished all a blessed New Year and a Merry Christmas, praying for the Light of Christ to brighten our days with His love, joy, and peace, and embolden us to serve with unity, harmony, and goodwill.

The celebration closed with Cilicia and the Pontifical anthem.

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