Prelacy Clergy Celebrate the Feast of St. Ghevontiants

 

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, all Prelacy clergy members gathered at Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County to collectively celebrate the Feast of St. Ghevontiants.

H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over the day’s services and events.

The celebration began with morning service at the church.   At the end of the service the Prelate delivered the spiritual meditation on 1 Peter 3:8-13, in which the Apostle advises to “be of one mind, have compassion for one another, love as brothers, be courteous, do good, knowing that you were called to this”.  Addressing the clergy, His Eminence instructed them to bear in mind the Apostle’s words in their service, and stressed the importance of brotherly love in pastoral ministry as Jesus commanded, “to love one another”.  A pastor’s service must be led by humility and empathy, stated the Prelate, and invited the clergy to self-examination and self-improvement inspired by the message of the day’s feast.

Following the service the clergy headed to Ghazarian Hall to convene the annual Ghevontiants clergy conference, which opened with the Prelate’s prayer and blessings.  H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian participated in the day’s events, and served as Chairman of the conference.  Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian served as Secretary.  Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian also participated.

The host pastor, Fr. Karekin, welcomed his fellow clergy members and wished success to the day’s proceedings.

The Prelate conveyed his suggestions and informed the participants of important upcoming events.  Clergy members reported on the endeavors of their respective parishes.  Special attention was given to Christian Education Department activities, among them Bible studies, youth issues, Lousavorich choir, Sunday Schools, Ecumenical relations, Camp Shining Light, and others.

Participants were them hosted to lunch by the parish Ladies Guild.

In the afternoon clergy members gathered at Gugasian Hall for a Vartanants program of songs, recitations, a play, and prayers presented by Ari Guiragos Minassian School students, from Pre-K to sixth grade.  Principal Kohar Zaher welcomed the guests, stating that it was an honor to have the presence of clergy.  Mrs. Zaher affirmed the school’s dedication to keeping alive and promoting Armenian culture and identity among its students.

At the conclusion of the program the Prelate addressed the students, commending their performances and stating that their program is proof that the spirit of the Vartanants heroes and martyrs lives on.  Students and parents also received prayer cards by the Prelate.

The clergy conference reconvened with two lectures and with the reading and discussion of the “Year of the Elder” Pontifical message.

The first lecture was by Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian on “Practical ministry in a pastor’s daily life”.  Fr. Karekin presented twelve steps for a more practical ministry and also spoke about offering compassion relative to a person’s situation, whether they are elderly, ill, grieving, incarcerated, have family issues, etc.

The second lecture was presented by Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian on “Renewal of clergymen’s vow through self-improvement”.  Fr. Vicken spoke of a clergymen’s vow as a vow of faithfulness, which is renewed by embodying true and living faith in God.  Fr. Vicken stressed the importance of obedience to God, to the church, and religious leadership.  Selfless service is imperative to the faithful fulfillment of one’s vows, and conferences such as this are a wonderful opportunity for clergymen to reflect on and renew their vows, concluded Fr. Vicken.

Analysis of the lectures, question and answer, and exchange of experiences and information followed.

The conference concluded with the reading and discussion of the “Year of the Elder” Pontifical message.  The Prelate offered important suggestions in this regard, stating that each parish must commemorate this proclamation with appropriate events.  A number of pastors were given a responsibility to study certain portions of the message and make them accessible to the public so they comprehend the deep meaning and importance of honoring our elders and their contributions to our society.

In the evening, Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, who also delivered the sermon.  The Prelate presided over the service, during which he expressed condolences to the Orange County Armenian community on the tragic recent loss of one of their young members, Hovig Akmakjian, for whom prayers were offered during the requiem service. Clergy members then collectively sang a hymn specific to the Ghevontiants feast, after which the Prelate sang the poignant hymn “Christ our Lord” and one by one remembered the names of all deceased clergy who served within the North American Prelacies.  He then invited Archbishop Tabakian to deliver his sermon.

Archbishop Tabakian first gave a historical overview of the Ghevontiants and Vartanants battle, highlighting the incredible will, faith, and sacrifice of our martyrs, whose spirit remains an inspiration, and urged the people to faithfully continue the path of our forefathers and preserve our religious and national identity.

During the requiem the deceased clergy of the North American Prelacies were remembered and honored, and the service came to a close with the singing of Vartanants songs.

A reception followed at Gugasian Hall.

After the blessing of the tables by the Prelate, remarks were delivered by Forty Martyrs Church Board of Trustees Chairman Mr. Hagop Badolian and Executive Council Chair Mrs. Rima Boghossian.

In his address to the guests, the Prelate first introduced the clergy members and commended their service and devotion.  He recalled the clergy who recently joined our Prelacy and also specifically remember the two recent pastors of Forty Martyrs Church, Archpriest Fathers Hrant Yeretzian and Nareg Pehlivanian, thanking them for their service on behalf of the community.  His Eminence commended the parish pastor, Board of Trustees, and Ladies Guild for their dedicated service, and presented them all with mementos.  The Prelate also commended the day’s conference as organized, successful, and productive, and called on the parishes to exercise prudence and self-evaluation and improvement so that they fulfill their mission in a more organized and efficient manner.

The day’s St. Ghevontiants celebration came to a close with the Prelate’s benediction.

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