Prelacy Clergy Gather at Holy Trinity Church in Fresno for Annual Ghevontiants Conference


In commemoration of the feast of St. Ghevontiants, on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Prelacy clergy gathered at Holy Trinity Church in Fresno where this year the annual Ghevontiants commemoration was held. Presided over by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, the commemoration encompassed the clergy conference and Divine Liturgy on the first day, and visits to community landmarks on Thursday.

The commemoration began with a prayer service inside the church, during which the Prelate conveyed his greetings and encouraging words to the clergy. Lunch followed, prepared by the Ladies Guild, after which the clergy conference convened at the Sunday School Assembly Room.

The conference began with prayer, after which the Prelate spoke of the calling of clergy, especially as it relates to the “Year of Service” proclamation of His Holiness, which was the theme of the conference. Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian was elected Chair of the Divan, and Very Fr. Boghos Tinkjian and Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian Secretaries.

The first item on the agenda was a slideshow presentation by Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian on the history of the “Cilicia” Museum of the Catholicosate, followed by a question and answer session. Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian read excerpts from the “Year of Service” Pontifical message, which was followed by a dialogue and exchange of thoughts on the meaning of service and challenges facing clergy. His Eminence asked the clergy to write down what service means to them, thoughts which they later shared and discussed. The Prelate conveyed the closing message, commending the clergy for their dedicated service. The conference concluded with the “Disciples of Christ” hymn.

Divine Liturgy followed, celebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, who also delivered the sermon. It was Father Dajad’s first service as the new parish pastor of Holy Trinity Church. Clergy members assisted at the altar. Prior to the sermon, current parish pastor Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian welcomed the new pastor, and the Prelate introduced him to the community, wishing him success in his new mission. Father Dajad then delivered his first sermon at the parish, which, inspired by the Feast of Ghevontiants, was centered on martyrdom, hope, and courage in confessing our faith. At the conclusion of the service, with the procession of clergy, the Prelate brought forth the cross reliquary containing the relics of our martyrs with which he blessed the congregation.

Dinner followed at the Church social hall, with the participation of a large number of parish community members. The Prelate delivered the invocation, introduced the clergy members, and thanked the members of the Board of Trustees, Ladies Guild, and Men’s Society for their warm hospitality, as well as the faithful present. Parish community members conveyed words of commendation and appreciation to Fr. Vahan and welcoming remarks and well wishes to Fr. Dajad. Executive Council member Deacon Mark Shirin noted that Father Dajad is no stranger to the community, indeed he has in the past participated in ceremonies within the community, and Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Bill Sahatdjian welcomed Father Dajad on behalf of his colleagues. The atmosphere was further enlivened with solos, group songs, and instrumental performances by the clergy. Young members of the parish joined the clergy in singing nationalistic songs. The evening came to a close with the benediction by the Prelate, who once again conveyed his well wishes, followed by the Pontifical anthem.

On Thursday morning, clergy gathered at the church for morning service, after which they headed to Charlie Keyan Community School for their first visit of the day. The students presented a Vartanants program for the clergy, who in turn offered prayers and hymns. In his address to the students, the Prelate stressed the great importance of passing down our heritage to and instilling national pride in the hearts of our new generations. At the conclusion of the visit, His Eminence presented a memento to Principal Zaroohi Der Mugrdechian. A visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument at the campus of California State University, Fresno was next on the agenda. In 2014, the Prelate had conducted the groundbreaking of the monument. Gathered around the monument, clergy members sang the hymn dedicated to our martyrs. Honorary Consul General and Holy Trinity Church Deacon Berj Apkarian explained the meaning behind the design. CSUF President Joseph Castro later joined the clergy. The Prelate thanked Mr. Castro and Board members for facilitating the construction of the monument on the campus, and presented him with a memento in appreciation of his efforts. The last visit was to the Ararat Masis Cemetery, where clergy offered prayers at the gravesite of national hero Soghomon Tehlirian and sang the Armenian national anthem.

On Tuesday, February 2, the Feast of St. Ghevontiants was commemorated with Divine Liturgy at St. Garabed Church in Hollywood with the participation of Prelacy clergy. Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon. Rose and Alex Pilibos School faculty and students were in attendance and students participated in the service with a cultural program dedicated to the feasts of Ghevontiants and Vartanants. In his sermon, Father Dajad spoke of the legacy of the Ghevontiants priests and their relevance in our lives today as ideal and inspiring examples of utmost devotion to faith and nation. At the conclusion of the service the clergy were hosted to the lunch by St. Garabed Church pastor and board.

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