For more than a week now–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and its affiliate organizations have been mourning the loss of Asbarez assistant editor and dedicated newspaperman Barkev Shirinian.
The loss deeply affected the Armenian community in the Western United States–which with Shirinian’s passing lost a dedicated member of the ARF–Homenetmen–Hamazkayin and the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Sympathy letters and telegrams flooded the editorial offices of Asbarez daily this past week– conveying the deep sorrow that had resonated across the country and across the Atlantic to the communities where HrazdanShirinian’s monikerwas a household name.
Through his commitment and active participation in numerous community organizations–Shirinian was a highly respected–paternal figure to whom successive generations had looked to for guidance–and on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. hundreds congregated to St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church to pay their last respects.
Homenetmen’scouts stood in salute to their organization’s most recent chronicler during the funeral service officiated by Prelate Right Rev. Moushegh Mardirossian–Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian–Right Rev. Muron Aznikian who were joined by all clerical leaders of the Western Prelacy. Also present were ARF Bureau member Apo Boghigian–members of the ARF Central Committee of the Western US– Asbarez staff and editorial board–the Western Prelacy Executive Council–local ARF Gomidehs as well as members and leaders of all affiliate organization.
Following the funeral Mass–Rev. Razmig Khachadourian presented Shirinian’s biography– following which Right Rev. Aznikian read condolence messages from His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia and Eastern US and Canada Prelate Arch. Mesrob Ashjian–directed to Shirinian’s family– the Asbarez management and the entire community.
Prelate Mardirossian eulogized Shirinian in brief remarks–praising Shirinian’s work and contribution to the Armenian community.
The Prelate recalled his last visit with Shirinian at the hospital–commenting that "he led a full life. He filled his life by breeding his talents and qualities. Today he slumbers in this coffin–confident that he filled and benefited his life and became a mature crop of wheat. This can our solace."
On behalf of all clergy–the Religious and Executive council of the Western Prelacy–Right Rev. Moushegh Mardirossian offered condolences to the Shirinian family and his family at Asbarez–as well as all organizations.
Following the funeral Mass–internment was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills– where his ARF-flag adorned casket was carried to the gravesite and the burial service was officiated by Prelate Mardirossian.
Shirinian was eulogized at the cemetery by Khajag Dikidjian representing the ARF Central Committee of Western US and Jirair Sarkissian who spoke on behalf of the Homenetmen Central Executive.
In his remarks–Dikidjian praised Shirinian’s selfless dedication to his work and his people– and stressed Shirinian’s ideological vigor.
"Throughout your life you did not seek praise and glory; you did not rest on your laurels; you did not ignore those around you. The ARF was in your blood without remorse–without deviation–without retreat," eulogized Dikidjian.
In his memorial statement–Sarkissian praised Shirinian’s dedication to the Homenetmen.
"Shirinian lived away from the homeland–but with its yearning and he wrote away from Ararat– but with its dream–and alas–he closed his eyes under foreign skies–but with a longing for Ararat. With this farewell embrace I use your words: `we must come together around the Homenetmen. We must be in Homenetmen’s service," reflected Sarkissian.
Following the eulogies–two Homenetmen’scouts approached the casket and folded the ARF flag–handing it to Ara Khachatourian who presented it to Shirinian’s widow on behalf of the ARF Aharonian Gomideh. The burial service concluded with the singing of "Verkerov Li."
Mourners gathered at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church’s Armenak Der-Bedrossian Hall–following the internment services–for a memorial meal–at which time Asbarez Executive Editor John Kossakian–Homenetmen Regional Executive Chairman Mher Tavitian and ARF Bureau member Boghigian–each honored Shirinian’s memory in a brief ceremony officiated by St. Mary’s Church Board of Trustees chairman Stepan Kabadaian.
In his remarks Kossakian–who had worked with Shirinian for the last 11 years–recounted the late assistant editor’s vigor and dedication to his job and his conscientious treatment of his co-workers.
"He did not want to leave us and his job–because his life was an entire dedication to to his people–to his party and to his newspaper," said Kossakian–who reflected by saying that during his conversation–Shirinian had told him "I am not a deserter," reflecting on his unwillingness to leave his job at Asbarez–despite his deteriorating medical condition.
Kossakian added that Shirinian always advised those around him to be honest–since he believed that working in a newspaper made one honest.
At the conclusion of his remarks–Kossakian announced that in lieu of flowers donations to the Asbarez will be deposited in a special memorial scholarship fund in Shirinian’s name for journalism students.
On behalf of the Western Regional Executive–Tavitian praised Shirinian’s devotion and contributions to the Homenetmen and said that Shirinian epitomized the true Homenetmen member with discipline and a love for his nation.
"Today–the ARF press is in mourning. Our press has a tradition of 106 years–which has been forged through the service of members like Barkev Shirinian," remarked former Asbarez editor and current ARF Bureau member Boghigian.
"The entire ARF family mourns today…. His inspiration remains with us as an inheritance–and it is with that inspiration that we will continue our path," concluded Boghigian.