On Sunday, January 6th, Armenia’s around the world celebrated the Birth and Epiphany of Jesus Christ. The Western Prelacy celebration of this glorious feast commenced on January 5 and concluded on January 7.
On the evening of Saturday, January 5th, Christmas Eve services took place in Prelacy churches with Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrating Divine Liturgy and delivering the sermon at St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena. In attendance was California State Assembly Member Anthony Portantino.
On Sunday, January 6, the Feast of the Nativity and Epiphany of our Lord was celebrated in all churches with Divine Liturgy and the blessing of water. Archbishop Mardirossian conducted services at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale. The Honorable Armen Liloyan, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, was in attendance.
The celebrations continued in the evening with the Prelate’s traditional New Year’s and Christmas Dinner at Bagramian Hall in Montebello, with more than 650 Prelacy friends in attendance. The dinner was organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary. The evening began with the entrance of the Prelate and clergy singing Christmas hymns with candles in hand. Among the guests in attendance were the Honorable Armen Liloyan, Consul General of Armenia, the Honorable Fadi Hajali, the acting Consul General of Lebanon, Central Executive Council member Khajag Dikijian, ARF Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian, ARF Central Committee representative Avedik Izmirlian, members of the Religious and Executive Councils, Hamazkayin, ARS Homenetmen, parish Boards of Trustees, delegates, Board of Regents, benefactors, sponsors, and friends.
Welcoming remarks were made by Master of Ceremonies Rev. Hrant Yeretsian, followed by remarks by Ladies Auxiliary member Dzovig Zetlian and Executive Council Chair Dr. Garo Agopian. In his taped message to the Prelate, Prelacy councils’ members, and guests, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, spoke of the true meaning of Christmas which is to bring man closer to God and urged the attendees to live their lives with love, faith, and devotion according to the principles of our Christian faith, and to follow the path of righteousness.
The Consuls of Armenia and Lebanon were then invited to offer their thoughts on this occasion. Acting Consul General Fadi Hajali after expressing thanks spoke of the similarities between the Armenian and Lebanese people and stated that Lebanon is grateful to have the support of the Armenian people and of the Prelacy. He concluded with wishes for a happy new year and a merry Christmas to all.
In his remarks, Consul General Armen Liloyan first expressed thanks as well then spoke of how Christmas is a time of rebirth and renewal for the Armenian people. He stressed how the church has been our guardian for centuries even in times when we did not have an independent republic, and concluded by emphasizing the importance of building a strong republic.
Closing remarks were delivered by the Prelate who conveyed his message to the guests. The Prelate began by speaking of the timeless messages of the Nativity saying “The Feast of the Nativity has special meaning for Armenia’s around the world, whether in Armenia, Artsakh, or the Diaspora. The Nativity is, for Armenia’s, a day of renewal and rebirth; renewal of our vows to remain loyal to our Christian faith and Armenian heritage, and spiritual rebirth as Armenian Christians.” On this occasion, he asked the guest to join him in giving thanks and glory to God for His gifts and blessings to mankind. The Prelate also offered thanks to Catholicos Aram I and reminded the faithful that His Holiness has declared the year 2008 to be the Year of Christian Education which we will commemorate in the coming year.
The Prelate then addressed the distinguished guests, council members, representatives of community organizations, sponsors, and friends, stating that all those present are members of the extended Prelacy family and it is due to the collaboration and close relationship between the members that we have enjoyed so many collective successes.
In the second part of his remarks the Prelate briefly outlined the activities of the previous year most notably the successful completion of the building project. He thanked all the sponsors who contributed to the realization of that dream and expressed hope that we will soon achieve the burning of the mortgage. In speaking of activities in the coming year, the Prelate emphasized the further revitalization of our youth groups and how the year 2008 is momentous one since we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of a Prelacy in North America and the 35th anniversary of the Western Prelacy.
The Prelate continued by noting that as we embark on new projects, “We will undoubtedly face new challenges on our way; however we are certain we can overcome any challenge with the continuous support of faithful friends, sponsors, and colleagues such as all of you here tonight. We commend you and thank you for your constant readiness to contribute to the successful realization of our mission.”
In conclusion the Prelate expressed thanks to all the sponsors and donors, whose names were listed in the evening’s program, and specifically to Mr. and Mrs. Raffy and Joanne Manoukian, Mrs. Tina Carolan, Dr. Armen Kassabian, Ms. Asdghig Keuylian. Mr. and Mrs. Hovsep and Elizabeth Boyajian, and Mr. and Mrs. Vagharshag and Narine Grigoryan and to all the patrons. The Prelate also thanked the Ladies Auxiliary for the organizing of the dinner as well as the participants of the artistic program which included Hermine Amirian (Christmas hymns accompanied by Prof. Levon Aprahamian on the piano), Prof. Levon Aprahamian and Arek Melkonia (piano), Gagik Badalian (popular songs) and Salpi Srourian (recitation).
The evening came to a close with the singing of “Giligia” and the Prelate’s benediction.
On the morning of Monday, January 7, requiem services took place at the Hollywood Hills and Glendale Forest Lawn conducted by the Prelate and clergy members.