Feast of the Presentation of our Lord to the Temple and Annual Gathering with Homenetmen Scouts at St. Mary’s Church an Glendale

On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, the eve of the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord to the Temple was celebrated in Prelacy Churches with a special pre-festal service and lighting of the bonfire signifying the Light of Christ. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, joined by Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, and clergy, conducted the service at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale. Among the capacity crowd of faithful in attendance were Executive Council Chair Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian and member Dr. Kaloust Agopian, Homenetmen Western Region Executive Chair Mr. Manuel Marselian and members, scouts, and Armenian Ecclesiastical Brotherhood members.

The service was comprised of prayers, hymns, and Scripture readings, during which the Prelate proceeded around the church blessing the faithful, after which “Antasdan,” the blessing of the four corners of the world, was conducted.

The Prelate thereafter delivered his sermon, which he began by reviewing the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 2:22-40, the story of Jesus being presented to the Lord in the temple on the 40th day after His birth. “Simeon and the prophetess Anna were both faithful children of God who lived their lives dedicated to Him in service, and thus became worthy of bearing witness to Him in the temple on that day; seeing God does not occur by chance, it requires a lifetime of preparation, obedience, discipleship, spiritual alertness, vigilance, mindfulness, and absolute submission to God’s will no matter life’s circumstances, in the example of Simeon and Anna,” said His Eminence. Next, the Prelate highlighted the two important messages of the feast, the first being obedience and faithfulness. Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in accordance with the law and custom of the times. Thus, he urged the parents especially to know and uphold our faith and sacred values and pass it along to the younger generations, and urged the youth to not disregard God’s commandments and our traditions. Second, the feast invites us to go forth toward God, to take a step closer to Him and seek His Light to illuminate and warm our hearts as the Sun of righteousness, he said, and finally, to dedicate ourselves in service to Him, to our church, and to our nation with His Word and commandments as our guide.

The lighting of candles symbolizing the Light of Christ and blessing of children before the altar followed, at the conclusion of which the procession of clergy, altar servers, and scouts advanced to the courtyard where the festivities continued with the lighting of the bonfire, around which nationalistic songs dedicated to St. Vartanants were sung. The celebration concluded with the Homenetmen anthem, “Cilicia,” and the Armenian national anthem.

The annual dinner with the Homenetmen leadership and scouts followed at “Armenak Der Bedrossian” Hall. Prior to the program, a special ceremony took place elevating scout Hovik Shahinian to the rank of vice-scoutmaster. The program began with the Lord’s Prayer and the blessing of tables by the Prelate. Rev. Fr. Vazken Atmajian, serving as the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed and thanked the guests and invited Mr. Ardashes Kazarians to deliver his remarks on behalf of the Regional Executive. Mr. Kazarians first thanked the Prelate for the annual gathering, stating, “this annual event is an enjoyable evening, but more importantly, it forms a part of our mission of national instruction,” and went on to speak about Homenetmen’s role in the Armenian and national instruction of our youth, which includes the Kayl Vahan, Soorp Vartan, and St. Mesrob Mashdots medal programs under the auspices of the Prelacy.

Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan spoke on the message of the feast of the Presentation of our Lord to the temple as an invitation to dedicate ourselves to God and to symbolically toss our old selves, our sins, pains, and troubles into the fire and become new. He reminded the scouts in particular that they are first and foremost Armenian Christians, and as such, they have a duty each and every day to uphold and promote our faith, our homeland, and our heritage, to live in a way that brings glory to God, and to inspire others to follow in their example.

The Prelate delivered the closing message, which he began by joyfully greeting the Homenetmen leadership and scouts and for the first time members of the Armenian Ecclesiastical Brotherhood. He gave thanks for the continuation of the tradition for the past twenty-two years, echoing Mr. Kazarians statement that the participation of the youth in the service forms an important part of their religious and national instruction. Addressing the scouts, the Prelate urged for the instruction they receive to sink into their souls and find expression in their lives and through their deeds, and for all that they do to be done with love and goodwill and serve as a good example for others to emulate, adding, “In all that you do, uphold the values of faith, family, nation, and Homenetmen.” The Prelate blessed and commended Homenetmen and the Ecclesiastical Brotherhood for their commitment to the wellbeing of our youth and thanked the parish pastors and board for hosting the dinner year after year. In the year of the centennial of the first Republic of Armenia and Homenetmen, the Prelate concluded by urging the scouts to continue on their path guided by the legacy of the founders and in the spirit of independence and patriotism.

The dinner concluded with the benediction and Homenetmen anthem. Scouts received copies of “The Word of God” prayer book and a prayer card.

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