Holy Trinity Church of Fresno Celebrates its 112th Anniversary

Sunday, January 20, 2013 was a momentous day for the Fresno parish community as they celebrated the 112th anniversary of Holy Trinity Church, the oldest Armenian Apostolic Church in the Western United States and a Registered National Historic Place.

H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian arrived in Fresno on Saturday, January 19th to lead the celebration of this joyous occasion.

On the morning of Sunday, January 20, the parish community gathered at Holy Trinity Church to participate in Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Prelate, who also delivered the sermon.

His Eminence began his sermon by speaking on the Fast of the Catechumens, a fast established by St. Gregory the Illuminator and observed only in the Armenian Church, stating, “May this week of fasting, repentance, and reflection lead us to spiritual growth and to a deeper communication with God.”  The day’s Scripture reading was John 6:15-21, which tells of one of the most dramatic miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ, His walking on water in the middle of a storm to calm the fear which had overtaken His disciples.  Speaking on the divine power of Jesus Christ and the reassuring message of this miracle, the Prelate noted that although Jesus Christ in His physical body is not present with us, He is very much alive in our heart and souls.  Thus, in the middle of our personal storms in life, we need not feel overwhelmed or frightened; we are to remain strong and hopeful because God sees our troubles, He is with us and will lead us safely to shore.  “The encouraging message and promise of today’s reading is truly powerful and reaffirming.  Storms should not serve to dishearten us; rather they should help us grow in faith and trust in Him, to grow stronger and closer to Him, because no matter what we are faced with, our Lord Jesus Christ is always there as our Savior and salvation.”

Reflecting on the 112th Anniversary of the Church, the Prelate commended all the servants and volunteers for their efforts, especially in the past ten months, in the advancement of the parish and community.  “From your renovation project, to the Summer Music Ministry, English language services, restarting the Saturday School, reinstating the Blessing of the Wheat ceremony, properly training staff and volunteers, and focusing strongly on the instruction of Sunday School students and youth group members, you are being proactive and taking initiative to conquer and calm any and all storms that may arise in your community life.  What is especially important is the focus you have given to the instruction of our young generation.”  In conclusion, His Eminence greeted the Saturday and Sunday School students present, stressing that now is the time for them to become involved in our Church and community life, to learn about our faith, values, history and traditions, and in doing so to develop their national identity as children of the Armenian Apostolic Church.  “You are the future of Holy Trinity Church, and we are confident that with these new programs you will be prepared to lead this Church into another century of service”, concluded the Prelate.

The 112th Anniversary celebratory luncheon followed in the Church Hall, presided over by the Prelate.  This annual luncheon is an opportunity to recognize and honor individuals for their service to the progress of the Church and community.  This year’s honorees were Alysse Arakelian, who received the Annual Youth Award for her involvement in Sunday School and Youth Group activities, Aida Aprahamian, for her nearly thirty years of service to the Sunday Schools, and Ruby Baladjanian, for her involvement and contributions to almost every aspect of Church life.  The Church deacons, acolytes, and choir members were also honored collectively for years of service, some of whom have been serving for over 50 years.

During the luncheon, a video presentation of last year’s activities was presented which depicted the numerous activities and events church members, their families, and supporters enjoy, such as the Christmas Eve and Easter Eve dinners, various luncheon and dinners put on by the Aide Organizations, Mother’s Day Luncheon, Graduate Luncheon, Sunday School summer activities, Saturday School events, the Annual Grape Blessing picnic, the Annual Bazaar and Lunch Deliveries, and other numerous activities.   Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Varoujan Der Simonian presented a synopsis of the projects that the Pastor and Board of Trustees worked on during the past year that includes the major renovation project of the facilities, and educational programs for Sunday school and the Youth Group.

The Prelate was then invited by Parish Pastor Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian to deliver his message.  The Prelate focused in his message on the importance of service.  “Today is a day of celebration, and also an occasion to reflect on the service of the previous year, to renew our allegiance and reaffirm our commitment to serve for the progress of this parish community.”  Highlighting the following statement from the Christmas Dinner message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, “The absence of renewal in our individual and community life means stagnation”, the Prelate stated “Throughout the past year you have certainly not been stagnant.  On the contrary, as a result of ongoing self-evaluation and self-renewal, you have revitalized and reinstated past programs and services, and embarked on a number of new projects, and for that we commend you.  We appreciate especially your efforts in the instruction of our youth, such as restarting your Saturday School, teaching hymns at your Summer Music Ministry, offering Morning Services in English, and preparing a curriculum for your Sunday School and Youth Group. Stagnant.  You have kept the vision and spirit of the founding fathers alive and strong after all these years, and you have made us proud with your dedicated service.”  The Prelate stressed that as Christians, each one of us is called to serve in our Lord’s example, and that Holy Trinity Church is a great example of the success that can be achieved when you have a community that works in unison towards a common goal with love, harmony, and selflessness.  “To maintain a level of success for 112 years is a great accomplishment that can only be achieved when your service is guided by a spirit of mutual love, respect, friendship, and teamwork. It is apparent that your service to this church and community comes from a loving heart and how dedicated you all are to the progress of this parish.”

Speaking on the “Year of the Armenian Mother” proclaimed by His Holiness Aram I, the Prelate noted that the Virgin Mary remains the ideal model of motherhood and the greatest source of inspiration for mother, that Armenian mothers revere the Holy Mother of God for her purity, humility, loyalty, obedience, and devotion, and striving to emulate these virtues have proven to be great examples of self-sacrifice, love, and service throughout our history.  “This proclamation by His Holiness is a wonderful opportunity to express our utmost respect and appreciation to Armenian mothers for all that they do for their individual families and for our community life, and to honor and celebrate their invaluable contributions to our society and nation.”

The Prelate concluded his message by calling on the community to pledge to continue on their path of service with renewed enthusiasm and vigor, to reinforce their commitment to serve and to inspire the younger generation to become more actively involved in our community life so that our faith and treasured religious and national values endure for generations more to come.

Over the weekend the Prelate also meet with the Pastor, Delegates, and Board of Trustees to review current and proposed projects and endeavors of the Church.

 

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