FRESNO–The 25th National Representative Assembly of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church convened Friday at the Holy Trinity church and concluded its activities Saturday.
The three-session assembly evaluated and discussed the annual activities of the Western Prelacy with its Executive and Religious councils–as well as the annual activities of the Prelate Right Rev. Moushegh Mardirossian and set forth a course for the upcoming year.
During a break from the assembly session–Prelate Mardirossian bestowed a "Cilician Knight" medal to long-time benefactor from Fresno Sarkis Boghosian for his decades-long service to the Armenian church.
During last year’s visit of His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–Boghosian pledged $100,000 to an endowment fund for the Catholicosate–raising that amount to $225,000.
Representing eight parishes from the Western Region–more than 40 delegates and guests took part in the assembly. Among the invited guests were Central Executive Council of the Catholicosate member Arsen Danielian–Esq.–chairpersons of boards of trustees–principals and kindergarten directors–as well as representatives from finance and educational boards.
The assembly officially convened Friday at 6 p.m. with the Prelate’s opening prayer. The assembly participants–observed a moment of silence in memory of Orange County’s Forty Martyrs parish priest Rev. Ashod Kotchian and long-time NRA and World NRA delegate and intellectual Barkev Shirinian–both of whom passed away during the past several months.
Right Rev. Muron Aznigian read Catholicos Aram I message to the assembly–following Prelate Mardirossian addressed the gathering both in English and Armenian.
The prelate stated that the past 25 years had been a period of extensive activity and time for structuring and organization. He stressed that the past quarter of a century was eventful and historic.
He added that the Prelacy had already begun activities to mark the 1,700th anniversary of Armenian Christianity.
Prelate Mardirossian expressed satisfaction that since the last NRA–the Prelacy-affiliated schools had begun to operate under a revised system which separated the school administration from the churches. He explained that this new system allowed the churches and their boards of trustees to focus on church-related matters and initiate healthier ties between the community and the church.
The Prelate also thanked the Fresno parish–the Holy Trinity Armenian church and its board of trustees for hosting the assembly.
Following the prelate’s report–Prelacy Executive Council chairperson Vatche Madenlian addressed the assembly who said that while the challenges facing the Prelacy were far and great–the meeting would not focus on them–but rather would discuss the difficulties–lack of human and financial resources.
"All our work and activities are commendable–however–I would like to focus our attention on the reality that our activities must be directed toward our main goals," noted Madenlian.
The Executive Council chairman emphasized the importance of combating assimilation–white genocide–and prepare future generations to confront national interests and issues–as well as the aspiration of the Armenian people.
During the assembly–Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson and his wife visited the gathered and welcomed the participants to Fresno–commending the decision to convene the assembly in his city.
The temporary chairs of the meetings were Andranik Khodabakhshian and Garo Poladian–the eldest and youngest delegates respectively.
The chairman of the board of trustees of the Holy Trinity church of Fresno welcomed the participants–following which the election of the permanent chairs of the meeting took place. Stepan Kabadian and Garo Avakian were elected chairmen–while Poladian and Haigaz Terterian were elected secretaries.
A special announcement by the Prelacy was read–whereby the Prelacy Executive Council in compliance to a decision of the last NRA–had appealed to Catholicos Aram I to elevate Prelate Mardirossian to the rank of bishop. The announcement stressed that on June 22 Prelate Mardirossian would be ordained a bishop in a special ceremony in Antelias.
Following the announcement–the annual reports of the Prelacy Executive and Religious councils–as well as the annual reports of the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools and the Educational council of the Prelacy schools were presented–after which the questions of substance and evaluation were offered by the delegates.
The main points outlined in the evaluation portion were the importance of Christian education–the welfare of Armenian students in public schools and Armenian education within the Prelacy-affiliated schools. The delegates also discussed the training for Armenian school teachers and administrators–as well as the issues relating uniting the two apostolic churches. The resolution committee introduced a motion generally evaluating the activities of the various bodies working within the prelacy and found the activity of those bodies–and the Prelate to be commendable.
Activities relating to the 1,700th anniversary of the Armenian Church–and an emphasis on Christian education–as well as establishing guidelines for the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary Guild–the boards of trustees of churches–and establishing clergy training programs were outlined as important goals for the upcoming years.
The assembly adjourned Saturday.