Prelate’s Christmas Dinner Message


Honored guests and dear friends,

With grateful hearts we thank God for the blessing of another year and for granting us the joy of this evening to collectively celebrate the dawn of a new year and the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, to exchange well wishes to one another and to joyfully proclaim, Christ is Born and Revealed, good tidings to all.

With fatherly love and blessings I greet you on this special occasion, at what has become a beautiful and much-loved tradition within our Prelacy. Today marks a special anniversary personally as it is the 20th year we are gathering here at this dinner since I began my tenure as Locum Tenens and Prelate. I thank you all for joining us tonight and for your continued support year after year.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the presence of our distinguished guests, and our devoted sponsors, in particular Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Arda Yemenidjian for their generosity in hosting this year’s dinner. Thank you Alex and Arda for your enduring support. We thank all of the evening’s sponsors, whose names can be found in the booklet provided on your tables. We are happy to introduce our newest sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Gaydzag and Anahid Ohanessian, who at the threshold of the New Year surprised us with a generous donation of $60,000 toward the pursuit of our national demands under the auspices of the Holy See of Cilicia. Their gesture is yet another beautiful example of our community’s dedicated support and encouragement of our endeavors and mission. It is the first of what we hope will be many contributions to the Holy See of Cilicia as it legally pursues the return of the historic Catholicosate of Sis from Turkey.

We have neared the end of yet another successful and joyful evening, a most blessed evening celebrating the Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we celebrated the manifestation of God as a baby in a humble manger in Bethlehem, Who came to be the king of our hearts, to show us a new and better way to live, to take on our sin and grant us eternal life. Glory to God in the Highest for this greatest gift of all, for the great and marvelous mystery which was revealed to mankind by the angels’ tidings, proclaiming peace, harmony, goodwill, love, and righteousness. Tonight, the spirit of Christmas brought warmth and gladness to our hearts. As we return to our homes, let us take this spirit with us and spread the love and peace of our Lord within our families and communities.

***

Dear loved ones,

The start of every New Year is a chance to look back on the previous year, to reflect on the good and the bad. For some, it was a year filled with joy and successes. For others, it was a difficult year, filled with challenges and the pain of losing loved ones. We share in both the joy and sorrows of our friends. Tonight we have with us friends who recently lost family members. We empathize with their pain and express our condolences once again, praying for the souls of their relatives and for the Holy Spirit to grant comfort in their mourning.

We usually take this opportunity to provide you an overview of the previous year’s endeavors of our Prelacy, our parishes, and schools. However, given that we stand at a historic crossroads, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we will focus instead on what is to come in the year 2015. The time has come to implement our plans and projects. The work to be done is monumental, and so, we must band together, joining our hands and resources, to overcome what obstacles may come our way. As always, we have the indispensable leadership and guidance of our Pontiff, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to lead our efforts. In 2014, we heeded the proclamation of His Holiness and honored our elders through a number of events and undertakings. This year, the Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Genocide will be our guidebook. I take this opportunity to once again express our utmost thanks and appreciation to our beloved Pontiff, whose message and blessings you received earlier.

Five decades ago, the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide heralded a new age in our pursuit of recognition and reparations. The 100th anniversary signals a turning point which will be marked by the motto “remember and demand”. Approximately two months ago, we participated in the Bishops’ Synod in St. Etchmiadzin, the second in modern time, presided over jointly by His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I. The Synod came to an epic decision, to collectively canonize our 1.5 martyrs. The historic ceremony will be conducted on April 23rd in St. Etchmiadzin, in the presence of religious, government, and community leaders from around the world. In memory of our martyrs, church bells worldwide will toll 100 times, proclaiming to the world that the Armenian people remembers our martyrs and demands that which was unlawfully taken from us.

In May, a national commemoration encompassing various events will be held in Washington D.C., headed by our two Pontiffs and with the participation of the President of Armenia. In the Vatican and elsewhere, special masses will be conducted honoring the memory of our martyrs. On July 18, His Holiness Aram I will conduct the blessing of Muron in Bikfaya, at the Genocide memorial monument erected 50 years ago. Pilgrimages will be organized so that Armenians from across the globe, and from our Prelacy as well, will have the opportunity to participate in the moving ceremonies in Bikfaya and Antelias, where stands a chapel housing the remains of our martyrs, the first Armenian Genocide memorial in the world. We will vow also to rebuild the monument in Der Zor which was savagely destroyed in recent months.

These are just a few of the many commemorations planned, nationally and locally. There is also civil action underway, which necessitates the collective support of our people. You all know the initiative of the Holy See of Cilicia to pursue the return of church properties belonging to the Armenian people. This effort received a major boost recently when the U.S. Congress passed a resolution demanding that Turkey return stolen Christian properties. As noted earlier, the Holy See of Cilicia will soon be taking concrete steps to demand the return of the Catholicasate of Sis from Turkey. This colossal endeavor requires tremendous resources, and can only succeed with the generous support of the Armenian people. It is our national duty to contribute all that we can to this crucial cause dear to us all. Our martyrs made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our faith, our language, and heritage. Let us honor their sacrifice and be worthy of being called their heirs through our sacrifice, to bring justice and peace to their souls.

Dear members of the Prelacy family,

Centuries ago our Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world to bring faith, love, and goodwill to mankind. His earthly life culminated in His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross, but Jesus conquered death and lives forevermore in our hearts. We, the Armenian people, became followers of Jesus and His Word from early on; we submitted ourselves as a nation to His will and followed the way of life He paved for us. We have had more than our share of trials and tribulations, the greatest of which occurring one hundred years ago. But we did not stray from the way of the Cross. We placed our faith and our hope in our Lord and Savior, Who came to bring justice and righteousness to the world, and we rose again. No matter the challenges of tomorrow, we will rise again and again.

On this blessed occasion, once again we extend our warmest wishes to you all, praying for the Lord to grant peace to the world, wisdom to its leaders, and courage to take on and overcome challenges. We pray especially for the Middle East, for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and for all the innocent citizens caught in the crossfire of unending strife.

May the baby Jesus be born in our hearts every day, filling our lives with His joy and peace. May the love and mercy of our Lord inspire goodwill among man, and may the Sun of Justice illuminate our path toward righteousness. Glory to God in the Highest; happy New Year to all, Christ is Born and Revealed.

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian Prelate, Western United States January 6, 2015

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