BY RITA HINTLIAN Asbarez Correspondent
SANTA ANA–Sunday–November 29–became a day of celebration for the Armenian Community of Orange County. Bishop Prelate Moushegh Mardirosian blessed the ground of the Armenian Center adjacent to Forty Martyrs Armenian Church and Ari Griragos Minasian Armenian School. Construction on the new center is scheduled to begin in the near future.
On the same morning 13 scouts from the Orange County "Sardarabad" and the South Bay "Arakats" Homenetmen chapters received the "Mesrob Mashdots" merit badge on the occasion of their graduation from the religion classes which were organized by the Prelacy and the Homenetmen Scouts Regional Council.
The Prelate said Mass at the Forty Martyrs Church and conveyed his message in which he stated "we present a unified prayer to God so that we can receive a share of the crops which our Apostles have planted and can continue to be fruitful in our national life." While addressing the scouts he stated that they should put to use the religious and national education they had received in their scouting–family and community life.
After the conclusion of Mass the Prelate and more that 45 scouts and cub-scouts approached the area on which the land breaking ceremonies took place in the presence of Bishop Hrant Yeretsian–deacons–scribes and close to 400 community members.
Also present were ARF Central Committee representatives–along with members of the local ARF "Armen Karo" Gomideh–ARS "Sevan," Hamazkayin Orange County–Homenetmen "Sardarabad"–ARF Badanegan "Serop Aghpur" and AYF "Ashod Yergat" chapters.
Prelacy Executive Council representatives–Forty Martyrs Church representative–and the principals of the Ari Giragos Minasian Armenian School and the ARS "Sevan" Chapter Saturday School were also present.
Following the opening statement by Garo Hagopian–Nersig Isbirian sang the Armenian National anthem while the Homenetmen Scouts carried out the flag ceremony. During the ground breaking–Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirosian–ARF Central Committee Chairman Hovig Saliba–ARF "Armen Karo" Gomideh Chairman Aram Madenlian and the God Father of the groundbreaking Vicken Keuylian dug a cross into the ground after which Keolian placed the first two bricks of the Center.
After the gound breaking ceremony the Bishop invited the crowd to a dinner organized by the ARS "Sevan" Chapter which was followed by a special program.
Master of Ceremonies Garo Hagopian provided information about the center stating that the first plot of land which was 26,000 square feet in size was purchased in 1981 and the second plot of land purchased was acquired in 1997. The two purchases made it possible for the center to be constructed on a 35,000 square feet plot.
Garo Momjian was invited as the keynote speaker. He explained that Armenia’s who survived the Genocide were able to build a Diaspora in hundreds of cities by establishing Armenian centers and schools.
He added that "with the establishment of an independent Armenia we give our part to help the country," stressing that he was pleased since "along side the assistance that we provide to Armenia we can not forget the Diaspora which is going to be the key for ensuring future generations of Armenia’s."
Following the presentation–the ARS "Sevan" Chapter’s Saturday School students sang "Kedashen," accompanied on the piano by school principal Ani Nouvoujoukian.
In his remarks–"Armen Karo" Gomideh Chairperson Aram Madenlian said that for 13 years the community had waited for the establishment of a center. He informed the crowd that $20,000 has been spent for architectural plans–adding that all necessary permits had been acquired.
He said that the total cost for construction was estimated at $450,000 and that the center would be completed by July 1999.
Madenlian continued by annoucing a $50,000 donation by the ARS "Sevan" Chapter .
Mr & Mrs. Hrair and Kohar Jermakian donated 10,000 as did the godfathers of the cermony Mr. & Mrs. Viken and Joy Keuylian. Madenlian announced the receipt of a $150,000 donation by benefactors Mr. & Mrs. Zohrab and Seta Ghazrian and a $25,000 donation from Mr. & Mrs. Harout and Kim Adessian. Through the generous contributions of these and other community members $245,000 was collected that day.
A brief cultural program followed the groundblessing–during which Takouhi Arzoumanian recited poetry by Barouyr Sevag. TheForty Martyrs Church’s Board of Trustees Chairperson–Sarkis Yegenjian–congratulated the center’s construction and promised that the members of the Board of Trustees would work hard to ensure the construction of the new center.
Popular singer Nersig Isbirian concluded the day’s festivities by performing Armenian patriotic songs.