Elects Prelate Mardirossian for Sixt Term’ Parishes Pledge $75,000 To Artsakh
LA CRESCENTA, Calif.—On Friday, May 20, the 44th Representatives Assembly convened at the Prelacy “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall presided by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, who at the conclusion of the meeting was re-elected for sixth term.
The Representative Assembly included the participation of members of Clergy, Central Executive members Khajag Dikijian and Vahe Yacoubian, Religious and Executive Councils, Delegates, Boards of Trustees Chairs and representatives, principals, directors, Board of Regents and CASPS members. This year’s Assembly was hosted by the Board of Trustees of St. Garabed Church of Hollywood.
The Assembly assessed the annual activities reports of Prelate and Councils, which it found highly commendable, and drafted future endeavors relating to churches, schools, and committees serving under the Prelacy. Also on the agenda was the election of the Prelate, Religious Council, and Executive Council. By an absolute majority, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian was re-elected to a sixth four-year term as Prelate, and new Religious and Executive Councils were elected for a two-year term. In a demonstration of support and solidarity to Artsakh, parishes pledged immediate assistance of $75,000 to Artsakh.
The Assembly commenced with prayer on Friday afternoon. The Prelate greeted the participants and invited Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian to read the message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, in which the Pontiff focused on the “Year of Service” as an invitation to serve our church and nation in the ideal example of service set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ. His Holiness also called for mass participation in the fundraising campaign for Artsakh, and commended and wished success to the Prelate, Councils, and Assembly participants, assuring that the Catholicosate stands by their side.
The election of the divan followed, with Boghos Sassounian and Bill Sahatdjian elected Chairmen and Hamo Kasbarian and Zohrab Yaralian elected Secretaries. The Prelate then invited the participants to stand for a moment of silence in memory of Executive Council member Vahrij Pilavjian, benefactor Larry Barnes, all those we lost in the previous term, and also for the casualties in Artsakh.
Central Executive member Khajag Dikijian reiterated the message of His Holiness to serve wholeheartedly for the success of future endeavors, and invited those present to actively participate in the proceedings and lend their valuable input. On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Vahe Hovaguimian expressed hope that the 44th Assembly will open new horizons in the Prelacy’s mission and wished success to the incoming Councils, urging all to serve with dedication and vision. On behalf of the host parish, Chairman Dajad Yeretzian greeted his colleagues.
The Prelate then delivered his message, which he began by giving thanks to God for granting another year to serve our church and nation, and thanking His Holiness for his guidance. He greeted also the Prelates of the Eastern United States and Canada, Archbishops Oshagan Choloyan and Archbishop Papken Tcharian, noting the close collaboration between the three Prelacies, and congratulated the newly elected Prelate of Canada. His Eminence reflected with gratitude on the opportunity to serve our church as a member of the Catholicosate of Cilicia Brotherhood for the past forty years, nearly thirty-five of those years within the Western Prelacy, and thanked the clergy and lay colleagues with whom he has had the privilege to serve for all those decades. Highlighting the “Year of Service” proclamation of His Holiness Aram I, the Prelate urged for all to work together, with humility, harmony, mutual respect, sincerity, and integrity, in the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation, for the enrichment of our collective life.
The Prelate briefly reflected on the focal point of the previous year’s endeavors, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, noting that we made great strides in the advancement of our cause but that there is still much to be done, and that the work to be done necessitates collective efforts and the full moral and financial support of the Prelacy family. Among the immediate work to be done is continued fundraising for Artsakh and preparations for the Pontifical visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I from September 30 to October 4 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his election and consecration, noted His Eminence, stating that we will achieve our plans with united efforts, with hard work, with the support of our sponsors and friends, and most importantly, with God as our helper. “We will serve diligently, impelled by the successes of the past, and with the guidance and support of the Holy See, headed by our Pontiff,” stated the Prelate, and concluded by thanking and commending the outgoing members of the Religious and Executive Councils for their dedicated service and wishing successes to the incoming Councils and to the Assembly.
Following the election of the Resolution and Vote-Counting Committees, the first session closed with brief reports by representatives of each parish on their endeavors in the previous term.
Each year, the Prelate and Councils honor an individual or individuals for their service. On the occasion of the “Year of Service,” this year’s honorees were Prelacy staff members, who was awarded plaques of recognition and appreciation in order of seniority; Hourig Fournouzian (in absentia), Knar Kortoshian, Sarkis Mahserejian, Vachik Apelian (in absentia), Nektar Azatian, Maria Abrahamian, Deacon Khatchig Shannakian, and Archpriest Fr. Nareg Pehlivanian. On behalf of his colleagues, Mahserejian thanked the Prelate and Councils for the honor. On the occasion of the “Year of Service,” His Eminence invited our churches, schools, and community organizations to also honor their devoted servants.
At the conclusion of the Assembly all participants also received mementos.
The financial and auditing committee reports were then presented, followed by briefings by the Religious Council, Executive Council, and Board of Regents. Following questions on the annual reports and a review of the year’s activities, the Resolution Committee found the endeavors of the Prelate and Council highly commendable.
The last item on the agenda was the election of the Prelate. After hearing the names of the three candidates put forth by His Holiness, delegates voted by secret ballot and by an absolute majority re-elected Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian to serve as Prelate for a sixth four-year term. Escorted by clergy, Assembly divan, and Central and Executive Council members, the newly re-elected Prelate proceeded into the hall to the “Hrashapar” hymn where he conducted a prayer service and delivered his remarks. After giving thanks for his re-election, the Prelate reiterated his opening message of working together in the spirit of love and brotherhood, wholeheartedly and with sincerity.
The Assembly reconvened with prayer on the morning of Saturday, May 21. The first item on the agenda was drafting the activities for the coming term, focusing on the Pontifical visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and fundraising for Artsakh. Heeding the call of His Holiness Aram I for urgent support for Artsakh, the Prelacy had over a month prior embarked on a fundraising campaign, reaching out to its parishes, schools, and sponsors. As a further demonstration of solidarity, parishes began to make spontaneous pledges, in the end totaling $75,000.
The presentation and ratification of the new budget and the election of the Auditing Committee followed, after which the election of the Religious and Executive Councils was held. The new Religious Council was elected as follows: Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian, Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian, Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian, Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, and Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian. The election of the Executive Council was held by secret ballot. The new members are: Vahe Hovaguimian, Antranik Kasbarian, Kaloust Agopian, Deacon Mark Shirin, Therese Kemanjian, Elo Boyajian, Alec Baghdasaryan, Garo Eshgian, and Avo Kechichian.
The session concluded with closing remarks by Assmbely Chair Boghos Sassounian, who congratulated the re-elected Prelate and new Councils and thanked the Assembly members for the productive proceedings. In his closing message, the Prelate commended the divan for capably carrying out its duties, thanked the Assembly for its confidence, congratulated the new Councils, and wished for continued service by all with faith, mutual understanding, and integrity. His Eminence once again thanked the staff for its dedicated service and the Board of Trustees of St. Garabed Church for hosting the Assembly. The 44th Assembly came to a close with the benediction and Cilicia.