Weekly News – January 25, 2013

ARCHBISHOP NOURHAN MANOUGIAN ELECTED PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM

Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was elected the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem after a two-day Conclave.

The new patriarch will lead the Armenian Orthodox communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, as well as take responsibility for parts of holy sites including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The patriarchal throne has been vacant since the death of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, who passed away in October at the age of 93 following a long illness.

On Thursday, January 24, H.H. Catholicos Aram I congratulated the new Patriarch on his election. During their telephone conversation His Holiness expressed confidence that the collaboration between the Holy See of Cilicia and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem will remain strong, noting that now more than ever it is crucial for the four Sees to work together for the collective good of the Armenian people.

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CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. SARKIS

On Saturday, January 26, the Armenian Church will celebrate the Feast of St. Sarkis and his son Mardiros.

St. Sarkis the Commander was a devout and faithful Christian who lived in the fourth century. He was appointed military commander of Cappadocia by Emperor Constantine of Rome, but when a later Caesar, Julian the Apostate, began persecuting Christians and making efforts to restore the old pagan faith, St. Sarkis fled to Armenia with his son Mardiros. There he was designated commander of the Persian forces by King Shapouh II. When word of his preaching of Christianity reached the Persian royal palace, St. Sarkis courageously declared his true faith and refused to bow before the pagan idols and the fire. His son Mardiros was immediately killed, and St. Sarkis was sent away to be beheaded. Fourteen of his soldiers who had also embraced Christianity were later arrested and put to death as well.

In reverence for the unyielding faith of St. Sarkis, his son Mardiros, and the fourteen soldiers, the Armenian people have over the centuries built many Churches in their memory. Among these is St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena, which celebrates its name day on this Feast.

On this occasion, on Sunday, January 27, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, will celebrate Divine Liturgy, deliver the sermon, and conduct the blessing of madagh at St. Sarkis Church.

A celebratory luncheon will follow at the Church “Andon Andonian” Hall, hosted by the Parish Ladies Guild.

On Saturday, January 26, parish pastor Rev. Fr. Khoren Babochian will conduct evening services in celebration of the Feast of St. Sarkis. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. On the morning of Friday, February 3rd, Fr. Khoren conducted the blessing of salt, after which the Ladies Auxiliary began preparing the madagh for Sunday’s service.

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WESTERN PRELACY TO HOST BIENNIAL GHEVONTIANTS CLERGY CONFERENCE OF THE THREE NORTH AMERICAN PRELACIES

On February 5, the Feast of St. Ghevont and the Priests will be commemorated in the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Feast honors the indestructible faith and sacrifices of a multitude of heroes who gave their lives in the name of their faith and nation in the first half of the fifth century. These brave clergymen were not merely preaching against tyranny, they were fighting on the front lines of the Vartanants war and during the resistance period afterward. During their time in captivity, St. Ghevont and the priests did not lose their faith or become distressed. They endured the tortures with patience, as they prayed incessantly and sang psalms. For months they survived in prisons where others could not endure, thanks to their faith and prayers.

Thus, each year on this Feast day, Armenian clergy join together to reflect on the life and virtues of the Ghevontiants Saints and renew their vows and commitment as clergy.

The Feast of St. Ghevont is commemorated each year within the Prelacy with Divine Liturgy and a clergy conference. Every two years, the Prelates and clergy of the three North American Prelacies gather for a joint clergy conference. The last one took place in Toronto in February of 2011.

This year the Western Prelacy will host the joint clergy conference at St. Gregory Church in San Francisco, the week preceding the Feast. Clergy will arrive in San Francisco on Monday, January 28. The conference will take place over two days, from January 29-30, with church services, lectures, and spiritual meditations, and will conclude on Wednesday evening with Divine Liturgy.

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PRELATE TO ATTEND ARF DAY CELEBRATION

On Sunday, January 27, the 122nd anniversary of the ARF will be celebrated at Glendale High School Auditorium with the theme, “One People, One Nation, One Future”. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. and is being held under the auspices of the ARF Western US Central Committee.

The keynote speaker is Lilit Galstian, former member of Armenia’s National Assembly. The event will also feature cultural performances.

The Prelate will attend the celebration, as will Executive Council Chair Mrs. Rima Boghossian and members.

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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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ARMENIAN BONE MARROW DONOR REGISTRY REPRESENTATIVES VISIT THE PRELACY

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, welcomed Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) Board of Directors members, led by President Dr. Frieda Jordan. Renowned physician Dr. Antranik Mshetsian, who is working with the ABMDR in Armenia, accompanied the delegation.

The meeting began with the guests conveying their New Year well wishes to the Prelate. They then reported on the organization’s endeavors focusing on the treatment of illnesses that are difficult to treat and the registering of blood and marrow donors. Dr. Jordan announced that by mid-February a specialty center will open in Armenia, the only one of its kind in the Caucuses, with new technology and means to better treat patients. The representatives also reported on the working relationship between Armenia and a number of countries to provide specialized support to better assist those who turn to the ABMDR for help.

The Prelacy and the ABMDR also have a long history of collaboration, and every year a day is chosen for the organization to set up information booths at Prelacy Churches to reach out to the community and register donors. This year’s outreach effort will take place in March.

The Prelate highly commended the vital work carried out by the dedicated members of the ABMDR, and wished them success in their current and future projects.

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PRELATE WELCOMES VASBOURAGAN SOCIETY MEMBERS

On Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013, members of the Vasbouragan Society Los Angeles Chapter paid a courtesy call to the Prelacy to personally convey their New Year well wishes to H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate.

Chairman Mr. Bedros Tovmassian and Secretary Mrs. Hermine Bostanian reported to the Prelate that the organization had recently elected a new board, and presented an overview of their present and future endeavors.

The Prelate and guests also discussed events and projects underway for the commemoration of the Genocide centennial.

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