LA CRESCENTA—At the start of the New Year, Armenians worldwide prepared to celebrate the Nativity and Epiphany. This glorious feast was ceremoniously celebrated within the Western Prelacy with church services and the Prelate’s Traditional New Year and Christmas Dinner.
The celebration began on Tuesday, January 5, Christmas Eve, with evening services and Divine Liturgy. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Holy Martyrs Church in Encino.
On Wednesday morning, the Prelate celebrated Christmas Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale. At the conclusion of the Liturgy the Prelate conducted the blessing of water ceremony symbolizing the baptism of our Lord.
In the evening, the Prelate’s Traditional New Year and Christmas Dinner took place at “Bagramian” Hall of Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello. This year’s dinner was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Harout and Christina Jabarian, Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Hera Jabarian, and Mr. and Mrs. Kevork and Tracy Hasbanian.
The evening began with the procession of clergy, headed by the Prelate, into the hall, candles in hand and collectively singing Christmas hymns. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian read the passage from the Gospel of Mark telling of the Glorious Birth of Christ, after which the blessing of tables took place. The Prelate then announced that in honor of 2010 being declared the Year of the Armenian Woman by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the evening’s hosts had donated pearl crosses to be given to all the women present, and proceeded to bless the crosses.
More than 600 guests had gathered for the dinner, among them the Consul General of Armenia Grigor Hovhannisyan, Central Executive members Khajag Dikijian and Vahe Yacoubian, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr.Viken Hovsepian, ARF Central Committee Chairman Avedik Izmirlian and members, representatives of ANC, ARS, Homenetmen, and Hamazkayin, former Foreign Minister of Armenia Raffi Hovannisian, elected officials, newly elected Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, members of the Prelacy Executive Council, Board of Regents, parishes’ Boards of Trustees, sponsors, friends, and members of the media.
The official program began with welcoming remarks by Master of Ceremonies Rev. Father Vazken Atmajian, after which he invited Ladies Auxiliary Vice-Chair Mrs. Dzovig Zetlian to deliver her remarks on behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary.
Executive Council Chair Dr. Garo Agopian was then invited to deliver his remarks. After welcoming the guests, Dr. Agopian briefly touched upon the spiritual significance of Armenian Christmas as a time of renewal of our faithfulness to our religious and national values and traditions. Reflecting on the difficulties experienced in the year 2009, he conveyed his wishes for a new year filled with prosperity and successes. Dr. Agopian then went over the general activities of the Prelacy in the past year and the endeavors of the committees that serve under the jurisdiction of the Prelacy, concluding by calling on all to continue their devoted work and service to our church, our cause, and our nation.
Guests then watched a taped message from. Catholicos Aram I in which he emphasized the significance of dedicating this year to the Armenian woman given that throughout history, Armenian women have been fundamental pillars of our families and nation. Speaking of the mission of the Catholicosate and its Dioceses, His Holiness stated that the work carried out by the Armenian Church follows the example set by Jesus Christ, Whose earthly mission was to serve man. The Catholicos concluded by commending the Prelacy’s previous year’s activities, and wished success for future endeavors.
Remarks were also delivered by Consul General Grigor Hovhannisyan. On behalf of the leadership of Armenia, the Consul General conveyed his well wishes for a new year filled with success and harmony for all Armenians, in Armenia and the Diaspora.
The evening also included a cultural program. Throughout the night, guests enjoyed traditional Armenian music presented by the “Donagan” band. The Prelacy “Lousavorich” youth choir, led by Very Rev. Father Barthev Gulumian, participated in the program with a series of Christmas carols and hymns. The choir was accompanied by Armenouhi Derderian on the piano, and Armine Nerkararyan and Raquel Zabounian on the violin. A duet was sung by Edna and Elena Karimian, and a solo song presented by Merri Melkonyan. The Orange County Hamazkayin “Yeraz” dance group also participated with two dances.
The Prelate was then invited to deliver his message, which he began by reflecting on the circumstances of the Birth of Christ and the timeless messages that accompany His Glorious Nativity and Theophany. He conveyed his gratitude to His Holiness for his paternal guidance, and also his appreciation to Prelacy supporters and friends for their contributions to the advancement of our mission. The Prelate went over some of the highlights from the previous year, most notably the purchase of a property by the Las Vegas parish which will house the future church and cultural center.
The Prelate also expressed his thanks and gratitude to the administration of The Lincy Foundation, who recently made a donation of one million dollars to Prelacy Schools.
The Prelate then announced that he had another surprise, announcing that San Francisco Bay area residents Dr. and Mrs. Vatche and Shoushig Cabayan had donated $500,000 to Holy Martyrs Elementary School and Ferrahian High School. On behalf of the Executive Council, Board of Regents, and the school administration and board, the Prelate officially announced that the elementary school will be renamed “Holy Martyrs Marie Cabayan Elementary School” in honor of the donor’s late mother. The evening concluded with the benediction by the Prelate.