A special tribute event honoring the life and service of poet, educator, and scholar Jacques Hagopian was held at St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, and organized by an ad-hoc committee. In attendance were Vicar General Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Religious Council Chair Very Rev. Muron Aznikian and clergy members, Rev. Serop Megerditchian, Rev. Vatche Ekmekjian, Mike Youssefian, Executive Council Chair Garo Eshgian and members, Vahan and Anoush Chamlian School Principal Dr. Talin Kargodorian, Sahag Mesrob Armenian Christian School Principal Maral Boyadjian, teachers, students, and a large number of faithful. The event was held on Thursday, February 6.
Prior to the start of the official program, guests viewed a slideshow of events dedicated to Jacques Hagopian. Suzie Mazmanian sang the poignant hymn “Horjam,” accompanied on the piano by Maria Keshishian, which was followed by a requiem prayer.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by Sarkis Mahserejian, who served as the evening’s emcee. He reminded the guests that Jacques Hagopian was, according to his wishes, laid to rest privately and thus, this evening serves as a public memorial honoring a great scholar, educator, and a singular poet. He also touched on the close relationship that was forged over the years between Jacques Hagopian and the Prelacy, in particular with the Prelate, which resulted in the Prelacy publishing and republishing a number of his books.
During the tribute event, a video of Hagopian reciting one of his poems was shown.
Mike Youssefian presented an overview of Hagopian’s life and fondly recalled their years as colleagues in Lebanon and Los Angeles, and their years of friendship, stating, “By example, he taught us that all that we do must be done for the glory of God and not for our personal interests. And that is why we find inscribed in all of his books ‘For the glory of God and/or by the blood of our Lord Christ.’”
As a tribute to their teacher, students of Sahag Mesrob Armenian Christian School, where Hagopian was a teacher for many years, recited two of his poems and sang a patriotic song.
Rev. Serop Megerditchian recalled when he first learned Hagopian’s poems as an elementary school student in Kessab, and remembered him as a cheerful and diligent person, God and nation-loving, and a bibliophile.
Chamlian School student Hrag Khacherian read the writing of Ani Berberian, a former student of Hagopian, dedicated to the teacher she described as incredibly humble, kind, noble, and attentive. The cultural program continued with a recitation and a song performed by Chamlian School students.
The keynote speaker of the tribute event was Kevork Bedikian. He gave a brief overview of Hagopian the poet, the intellectual, and the faithful, and extolled his virtues as a gifted poet who discovered a love for poetry at a young age and developed a distinct style marked by colorful expressions, refined Armenian, soulful imagery, poignant and palpitating words, yet clear and simple language – encompassing the anguish of a nation, all the while bringing delight to the reader as spiritual bread.
St. Sarkis Church choir members, led by choirmaster Deacon Yervant Keshishian, presented a hymn and a song.
Prelate Mardirossian began his message by thanking the Lord for His grace and for Jacques Hagopian, noting that the evening was a time to praise the Lord, praise His holy name, and was a blessing from God. He paid tribute to Hagopian as a messenger of the Living Word through his Christ-loving spirit, faith, and the jewel of his mind, as an honorable child of the Armenian nation and a fruitful servant who, as a poet, was dedicated to the Armenian language, culture, and literature. But, as a faithful servant of Christ, Hagopian dedicated himself even more so to the Lord with all his mind, heart, soul, and being, and, as God’s chosen instrument, dipped his pen in the fountain of faith and enriched our libraries with dozens of books.
“Jacques Hagopian recognized the True Light, and it is that Light which radiated through his pen for more than 80 years. In accordance with Psalm 51:15, ‘O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise,’ he trusted in the grace of our Lord and remained His faithful disciple,” said the Prelate. “When he spoke or wrote about Christ, he did so from the depths of his heart and soul, with passion and deep emotion. All that poured from his heart was love, mercy, and goodness, and all that spoke from his heart was faith, God, and the Bible,” he concluded.