Episcopal Visit to Fresno

Last weekend, H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, departed to Holy Trinity Church of Fresno, on his first Episcopal visit after being elected as Prelate of the Western Prelacy. The Chairman of the Religious Council, Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, and members Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian and Rev. Fr. Movses Shannakian accompanied the Prelate during his visit. Also, the Chairman of the Executive Council, Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian, and members Mrs. Dzovig Zetlian, Mr. Ara Shabanian, Mr. Sarkis Tatikian, and Mr. Garbis Bezdjian, and member of the Central Executive Council Mr. Gaidzag Zetlian.

The Prelate and his entourage departed from Los Angeles on Friday, April 9, 2021, and at arrival to Fresno, they were welcomed by the pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Very Rev. Fr. Ashod Khatchadourian and Honorary Consul of Armenia in Fresno and member of the Executive Council Deacon Berj Apkarian. By the singing of “Ourakh Ler” the Prelate and clergy members were guided into the church, where a “Canonical Prayer” service took place. The official 3-day visit to the Fresno community – which was carefully prepared and coordinated by the Executive Council and community officials – commenced following the “Canonical Prayer” service.

“THE ARMENIAN YOUTH IS NOT ONLY THE FUTURE OF OUR NATION,
BUT ALSO THE PRESENT”

On Friday evening, the Prelate and his entourage were hosted at the residence of the Chairman of the Holy Trinity Church Board of Trustees, David Sarabian and wife Patti, in the presence of members of the Executive Council, local National Representatives, the Pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Board of Trustees members and the youth of the region. The Prelate blessed the Sarabian family and in his speech praised the organizers of the three-day visit, the members of his entourage and those present at the event. He then interacted and conversed with more than 70 youth, who listened to his eloquent words with great enthusiasm which imprinted in their souls a unique memory of this historic evening. The evening ended with prayer.

Impressed by the meeting with the Fresno youth, the Prelate wrote on his Facebook page that night: “We had a blessed evening with the youth of Fresno, praying, singing and talking, spreading the love of Jesus Christ.”

PRAYER SERVICE TO THE VICTIMS OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
AND REQUIEM FOR THE SOUL OF SOGHOMON TEHLIRIAN

On Saturday, April 10, the Prelate, Clergy, Executive Council members, the Pastor of the Holy Trinity Church, Board of Trustees, as well as the Chairman of the local Homenetmen Board and the Homenetmen Scouts, formed a procession towards the Genocide memorial at the California State University of Fresno. In attendance were the President of the CSU Fresno, Dr. Saul Jimenez-Sandoval, Vice President Mrs. Debra Adishian-Aston, Director of the Armenian Studies program Prof. Barlo Der Mugrdechian and Associate Prof. Sergio La Porta.

The Prelate presided over the prayer service for the memory of the 1.5 million Armenian Martyrs, emphasizing the pro-Armenian activities at the USC Fresno, and thanking its leadership, which years ago was willing to erect the genocide monument on its premises. Dr. Sandoval welcomed the Prelate and expressed his full support for all the programs of the Armenian community. Thereafter, souvenirs were exchanged.

After a short meeting at the residence of Benefactors Mr. Vahan and Mrs. Anoush Chamlian, the Prelate and his entourage headed over to the Masis Cemetery in Fresno, where Homenetmen scouts laid a wreath at the tomb of Soghomon Tehlirian. The Prelate conducted a requiem service for the memory of Soghomon Tehlirian and delivered a short message, where he mentioned “in support of the final establishment of justice and the end of the Turkish state’s policy of denial.”

In attendance were representatives of ARF “Soghomon Tehlirian” committee, AYF “Kevork Tchavoush,” ARS “Sofia” and “Mayr” chapters, Hamazkayin “Taniel Varoujan” chapter representatives and members of the Fresno Armenian community.

LUNCHEON AND MEETINGS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH FAMILY – THE INSPIRED CHOIR

On the same day, the Prelate and his entourage gathered for lunch at the Holy Trinity Church, thereafter Bishop Donoyan had meetings with representatives of the Holy Trinity Church; including the Board of Trustees and Sunday school teachers. Following the meetings, the Prelate met with the members of the church choir and as a remembrance of this first visit, he taught them two new hymns, and practiced various hymns of the Divine Liturgy with the choir. The cheerful atmosphere was contagious; the choir was deeply inspired by the presence of the Prelate and driven by the dedication of the Prelate.

“THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY OF FRESNO IS A BEACON OF LIGHT
IN THE LIFE OF THE WESTERN PRELACY”

Saturday evening, H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan and his entourage were hosted at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Janet Hovhannisian, where the benefactors of the Armenian community of Fresno were also present. After the “blessing of the house” service and welcoming remarks were delivered, the Prelate met with more than 60 guests and had an intimate conversation with those present, which experienced a warm and unforgettable moment of friendship with their Prelate. In his speech, the Prelate praised the Armenians of Fresno for their high level of preparation and warm hospitality, emphasizing that the Armenian community of Fresno plays the role of a beacon of light in the life of the Western Prelacy.

DIVINE LITURGY AND EASTER FESTIVITIES

On the morning of Sunday, April 11, the faithful parishioners of Fresno rushed to Holy Trinity Church, to attend the Episcopal Divine Liturgy which was celebrated by H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate. The occasion was also unique for the hundreds of faithful, to meet the Prelate and get to know him personally. The Divine Liturgy was served by Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian and Rev. Fr. Movses Shannakian.

During the Divine Liturgy, the Prelate consecrated the image of the “Prodigal Son,” through in which the image invites the faithful to be pious and God-loving, to love Jesus more than anything else in life. “It is God who brings us together, and the church becomes the bridge which brings heaven to earth, and as humans are joined together, they are joined with God,” stressed the Prelate.

After the Divine Liturgy, H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan took part in an Easter egg game in the Church courtyard, which was organized for the Sunday school for teenagers and young students and gave a special moment of joy to the children.

A large number of parishioners from the Armenian community of Fresno – young and old alike – expressed their congratulations and gratitude to the Prelate for reviving the community life and filling everyone’s souls with joy through such a historic three-day visit. The Prelate and his entourage departed for Los Angeles on Sunday evening.

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