Requiem Service in Memory of Bishop Norayr Ashekian and the Lisbon 5 Held in Prelacy Churches

On Sunday, July 30, 2017, requiem service was held in all Prelacy Churches in memory of Bishop Norayr Ashekian, who entered eternal rest on July 21st, and for the young men of the Lisbon 5, Simon Yahniyan, Vatche Daghlian, Sarkis Abrahamian, Ara Kerjelian, and Setrak Ajemian, on the 34th anniversary of their martyrdom.

H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Holy Martyrs Church. Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian. Archpriest Fr. Hrant Yeretsian participated in the service. Among the hundreds in attendance were Catholicosate Central Executive member Mr. Khajag Dikijian, Executive Council Chair Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian, and ARF “Rostom” and “Arshavir Shiragian” Gomideh members.

The Prelate first delivered his sermon on the Feast of St. Thaddeus the Apostle and St. Santoukht the Virgin, which was observed the day prior. Following the Lord’s command to the apostles and disciples to “go to all peoples everywhere and make them My disciples,” the St. Thaddeus, along with St. Bartholomew, reached the lands of Armenia where the preached and set the foundation of our faith, he said. The Prelate cited from the Gospel reading of the Feast, Luke 9:1-6, in which is told how Jesus “called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases…to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” noting that the Apostle Thaddeus obeyed this command, preached the Word of God and converted many in Armenia, including Santoukht, the daughter of King Sanadroug, which eventually cost him and St. Santoukht their lives as they were killed by the King for their faith. “Jesus first sent the 12, then the 72, and then all who received Him and His teachings and were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. St. Gregory the Illuminator and all of our church fathers carried out this great commission, and it is our responsibility and duty as well to spread the Word of God and become exemplary disciples and followers of Christ,” stressed the Prelate, and concluded by inviting all to renewal in their faith and spiritual journey.

Next, the Prelate paid tribute to Bishop Norayr Ashekian, alongside whom he was ordained to the priesthood 41 years prior. His Eminence reflected on Bishop Norayr’s meritorious four-decade long service, the majority of which was dedicated to the Holy See of Cilicia Seminary, in addition to serving as Vicar General of the Prelacy of Aleppo and Vicarage of Jezireh, pastoral service in Greece, and in recent years as Dean of the Catholicosate Printing House. “We will remember him as a devoted and humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Armenian Church, a clergyman who was zealous in upholding our traditions and rites, and as a faithful child of God, church, and nation, a faithful preacher of the Living Word, and a faithful member of the Holy See of Cilicia Brotherhood,” said His Eminence, and concluded by praying for the repose of his soul.

Thereafter, the Prelate conveyed his message dedicated to the Lisbon 5, which was also read in all Prelacy Churches.

“Thirty-four years ago, on July 27, five young men carried out a bold mission at the Turkish embassy in Lisbon to avenge the long-standing tribulations and disregarded rights of the Armenian people, and at the cost of their lives reminded the world that the Armenian Genocide is not and will not be forgotten, that the Armenian people have undeniable rights, will not concede its lands and national treasures, and will continuously stir the compassion and memory of the world so that our historic lands are returned to the Armenian people and justice is served for the martyrs and losses of the Armenian Genocide.

This was not an isolated act. On the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, our struggle against the perpetrators was reawakened by the conviction that Turkey’s modern-day leaders, as the loyal heirs of Talat, Enver, Jemal, and their accomplices, were to be held liable. The justice-seeking Armenian youths had comprehended that their political and diplomatic acts were to remain in the state of the “paper ladle” without the use of force.

Before and after the Genocide, the Armenian people have been in a perpetual struggle against enemies who have sought to destroy our nation. The young men of the Lisbon 5 initiated their act inspired by Tehlirian, Shiragian, Tro, Torlakian, and going back even further, by Vartan and Vahan Mamigonian, and all the way to Haig Nahabed. They made history and entered into history as a light that will guide us to the future.

No doubt, that the act of the Lisbon 5 spurred the movement for the liberation of Artsakh five years later and inspired the steps towards the independence of Armenia. No doubt, that the spirit of the Lisbon 5 lives on in the hearts and souls of the brave soldiers defending our lands in Artsakh and Armenia today, as well as in the hearts and souls of our national leaders, along with the legacy of Apovian’s Aghasi, Sasountsi Kevork Chavoush, Sepasdatsi Mourad, and generations of fedayees.

The defense of our homeland and nation has always necessitated great devotion; those who have shaped our history have dedicated themselves financially, offered their intellectual abilities, and when needed, have also paid the ultimate price of their lives, with the conviction that “Conscious death is immortality.” This truth is reaffirmed by the willingness of Armenian mothers and fathers to dedicated their children to the Cause, just as the parents of the Lisbon 5 felt that martyrs for our nation live on forever. Our martyrs are immortal and will remain so. The Lisbon 5 have a special place in our collective memory and in our souls, where they will remain forevermore.

Honor and prayers for the memory of the Lisbon 5 martyrs. May their legacy live on in all of us and lead our youth in particular in our struggle, until our ultimate and absolute triumph,” read the Prelate’s message.

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