Prelate of Aleppo Reports on Recovery and Rebuilding Efforts During SARF’s Public Gathering

On the evening of Friday, December 15, 2017, a public gathering organized by the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) was held at the Armenian Society of Los Angeles Center in Glendale. The event was held under the auspices of the heads of the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches, and featured H.E. Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian, Prelate, as the keynote speaker. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan and Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, attended and delivered his message.

The program began with a moment of silence for the Armenian martyrs of Syria. SARF Executive Committee Secretary Mrs. Sona Madarian welcomed the guests. In his remarks, SARF Executive Committee Chairman Mr. Raffi Kendirjian noted that the situation in Syria is relatively better than it was during the establishment of SARF six years ago, but that does not mean the work is done, and urged for continued support and assistance, this time for rebuilding efforts. Guests then viewed a video chronicling the destruction in Aleppo and recovery efforts underway.

The Prelate greeted Archbishop Sarkissian and guests and gave an overview of the visiting Prelate’s endeavors in Los Angeles over the past week, which included various meetings, participation in SARF’s benefit dinner, and visits to Prelacy Schools. The Prelate noted that during his previous visits, Archbishop Sarkissian had come for emergency relief. We are pleased that he is here this time for recovery and rebuilding efforts, stated His Eminence, and lauded Archbishop Sarkissian’s leadership as Prelate of Aleppo during the past fourteen years, seven of which in crisis times. He concluded by commending the community for its generous support of its brethren in Syria through SARF and calling for continued support with renewed drive and vision, and prayed for the revival of the Syrian-Armenian community by the faith, strong will, and resolved of the people.

Archbishop Sarkissian began his message by thanking God that his visit this time is for a hopeful purpose. He stated that optimism is half the battle, and that the community in Syria has remained optimistic throughout the war and especially since the liberation of Aleppo last December as the community began to rise from the ashes. He reported that the community is slowly returning to normalcy and that concrete steps for rebuilding are already underway, which are inspiring hope in the people. He expressed gratitude to all Armenians who stood by the side of their compatriots, especially the Armenians of the Western United States, who through their generous aid helped their brethren during critical times and in particular allowed for Armenian Schools to remain open. Archbishop Sarkissian stated that the New Year and Christmas visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to Aleppo at the start of the year inspired and strengthened the community and set the framework for the reorganization and rebuilding. Priorities were set and the work began with the united efforts of all national institutions. He concluded by asking all to keep their brothers and sisters in Aleppo in their thoughts and prayers and to continue to lend their valuable support and solidarity.

ARF Western Region Central Committee Chairman Mr. Daron Der Khachadourian shared some thoughts as he had just returned from Antelias where he had participated in a panel discussion on the reorganization of the Diaspora at the Catholicosate of Cilicia General Assembly. He stressed that we are one people and one nation, and the importance of helping our fellow man to strengthen and empower one another.

A question and answer session followed, and the program concluded with the benediction delivered by the clergy.

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