ENCINO, California—On the occasion of the “Year of Service” proclaimed by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, on Saturday, October 15, the Western Prelacy hosted an appreciation luncheon honoring the members of the Armenian Relief Society for their invaluable service to the Armenian people in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, and throughout the Diaspora. The luncheon was held at Ferrahian High School’s “Avedissian” Hall under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and was organized by the Western Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary. Archpriest Father Nareg Pehlivanian and Archpriest Father Razmig Khatchadourian accompanied the Prelate. In attendance were 250 guests, including members of the ARS Central Executive, Regional Executive, and local chapters from across California.
The program began with welcoming remarks by Western Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary Chairlady and Mistress of Ceremonies Dzovig Zetlian, who spoke of the message of the “Year of Service” proclamation and commended the Prelacy’s initiative to honor church and community servants throughout the year. The ARS anthem followed, after which the Prelate delivered the invocation. During the lunch, guests enjoyed a performance by singer Gevorg Chakmanyan and a recitation by ARS member Maral Varjabedian.
Remarks were delivered by ARS Regional Executive Vice-Chair Aida Babayan-Alrayes, who highlighted the organization’s humanitarian, cultural, and educational mission, thanked the Prelate for recognizing the service of the ARS, and congratulated him on his 20th anniversary as Prelate as 40th anniversary of priesthood.
The Prelate delivered his message, in which he commended the noble mission and vast and unparalleled service of the ARS and of its members, who he stated “embody the true meaning of what it means to serve others.” His Eminence blessed them for their valuable contributions to the welfare of our people and wished them continued successes in their worthy service. The Prelate commended also the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary for their efforts in organizing the successful event and for their hard work throughout the year. On this occasion, the Prelate presented a certificate of commendation to the ARS Western Regional Executive, which read “With great joy we greet the Armenian Relief Society Western Region and the members of all the chapters who lend their selfless service for the well-being of our people and our nation. In the Year of Service proclamation, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I noted that ‘service has become an oft-used and commonplace word in our daily discourse. Service, however, has profound meaning. It is one of the supreme values and virtues of our lives. In its essence, service is the greatest expression of the faith, love, and devotion we have toward God and to our fellow man.’ Without a doubt, we can assert that the ARS has from the time of its inception served with this conviction. ‘Service is the essence of our faith,” states His Holiness. In the past century of our modern history, the ARS has and remains that organization, which has made service the essence and purpose of its existence. Its members selflessly devote their time and efforts to meet the needs of the less fortunate across the globe. On this occasion, we reaffirm our belief, that the growth and success of any organization is directly tied to the devotion of its members and the value of its mission. Over a century since its establishment, year after year the ARS continues to grow in membership and continues to expand the scope of its endeavors, attesting that any service done ‘by the people and for the people’ is destined to succeed. May the Lord bless and reward the members of the ARS and lead them to even greater successes in their worthy mission.”
The momentous day came to a close with the Prelate’s benediction, Cilicia, and the Armenian national anthem. Guests received copies of the commemorative booklet published on the occasion of His Holiness Aram I’s recent visit, copies of the Prelate’s “A Collection of Spiritual Reflections” book of sermons and messages, and special bookmarks made for the occasion.