The celebration also marked the 60th anniversary of the Armenian Prelacy of North America
Under the auspices of the Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, the Western Prelacy celebrated the 45th anniversary of its establishment with a concert on December 5 and an Episcopal Divine Liturgy on Sunday at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale.
On Thursday, December 6 more than 700 members of the community gathered at Glendale Presbyterian Church for a concert and celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Prelacy of North America under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Cilicia and the 45th anniversary of the Western Prelacy. The celebration was held under the auspices Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and was organized by the Religious and Executive Councils. The concert featured renowned tenor Kevork Hadjian, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Hovsep Torossian, and the newly formed Hamazkayin “Hovhannes Toumanian” Choir, conducted by Dr. Elibs Masehian with Alan Dishikrikyan accompanying on the piano.
Among the guests in attendance were former Prelate Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, Bishop Mikael Mouradian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholic Church, Rev. Berdj Djambazian, Minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of N. America, clergy, Catholicosate Central and Prelacy Executive Council members, representatives of the Consulate General of Armenia, ARF Bureau, ARF Western U.S. Central Committee, ANCA, ARS, Hamazkayin, Homenetmen Central and Regional Executives, and compatriotic unions, members of Prelacy parishes and schools, sponsors, and faithful.
The program began with welcoming remarks by Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, who, after reflecting on the purpose the evening’s celebration offered a prayer for the Lord to protect our church and people. The Vicar General acknowledged His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and current and former Prelates, and greeted the guests. He noted that the Church, Holy See, and Prelacies are the people, and that the Church and clergy are called to follow Christ’s path through their service.
The choir sang the Lord’s Prayer, after which a memorial prayer was offered for the victims of the Armenia earthquake as well as for all departed founders and clergy and lay servants of the Prelacy. The choir continued with three more hymns and spiritual songs.
Hadjian, in two parts, presented powerful and moving renditions of religious, folk, and nationalistic songs from the likes of Gomidas, Sayat Nova, and some of Armenia’s greatest composers, earning a robust round of applause and standing ovation from the guests. A video chronicling the history of the Prelacy, the endeavors of subsequent Prelates, and the mission of our churches and schools was shown.
The poignant program concluded with the Prelate’s message. “Thank the Lord for granting us this occasion to collectively mark this historic occasion, to recall when sixty years ago, heeding the spiritual needs of the Armenians of North America, the Armenian Prelacy under the auspices of the Holy See of Cilicia was established and forty-five years ago the Western Prelacy, spreading the mission of the Holy See across these lands and bridging the hearts and spirits of our people with the Armenian Apostolic Church, with our heritage, and our homeland. This celebration is a time to express gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings upon our Church and people, and for granting us the honor and responsibility of serving our Church and people. I would like to take this time to wish good health and bright days to His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and thank him for his leadership and guidance,” began the Prelate.
As the following day marked the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake in Armenia, the Prelate once again prayed for the Lord to grant rest to the souls of the tens of thousands who perished on that day. He prayed also for the souls of Catholicoi and Prelates of blessed memory, and all clergy and lay servants who left their mark upon the Prelacy through their service, and expressed gratitude and well wishes to former Prelates, Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian and Archbishop Datev Sarkissian.
“The Western Prelacy has undergone tremendous growth and advancement over the past forty-five years, with construction of churches and schools, expansion of parish communities and of collaboration with community organizations, and service to our homeland. Tonight is a time to reflect on and take pride in our past achievements, but it is also a time to look to the future with past achievements as our foundation stone. We are grateful to those who came before us and planted the seeds of our Prelacy, but now it is our time to plant new seeds and continue their noble work and vision in the example of the faith and hope of the founders; in the words of the Apostle Paul, the “tree planters” and those who continue their work. Our history is a living testimony, that as children and fellow workers of God, our steps have a clear direction. In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul clearly states that we are merely implementers of God’s commandments and path; it is God Himself Who gives the increase, adding, ‘we are God’s fellow workers; we are God’s field, we are God’s building.’ According to the words of the Apostle, we can avow that the founders of our Prelacy planted the tree here on these lands, and subsequent Prelates, and clergy and lay servants watered and cared for the tree, however, it is God who gave the increase, to Whom we must give glory and praise,” stated the Prelate.
The Prelate noted that there are new needs and challenges before us, as addressed by His Holiness through his messages stressing renewal and reorganization. Thus, he stressed that we must look to the coming decades with renewal and reinforced devotion and vision. “The coming years must be a continuation of the mission that was begun centuries ago in our homeland when the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew brought the light of Christianity to Armenia, and St. Gregory the Illuminator through his vision, by the will of God, the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit spread that light across our lands, together with St. Dertad adopting Christianity as the state religion. The ray of that same faith radiated over the centuries through the Holy See and the leadership of subsequent Catholicoi reaching Cilicia, and following the Genocide, to Antelias. Today we have new plans on our horizon, church construction for our newer parishes, and school construction projects to broaden the education and instruction of the new generation. Thus, let us build this bright future with renewed faith, with conviction, devotion, and vision, always remaining humble and faithful servants of our Lord and of our Church and nation. May God guide our steps so that we may seek and do that which is good, and as we prepare to welcome a new year, let us commit ourselves to doing better than we did in the previous year.” The Prelate concluded by blessing and once again expressing gratitude to all past and present servants and thanks to the sponsors and friends for their support wishing for the coming years to bring further collaboration with faith, hope, love, and goodwill. “Today and always let us praise the Lord and pray, ‘Heavenly King, preserve Your Church unshaken, and those Who worship Your name in peace.’”
Following the benediction, the memorable celebration came to a close with guests joining Hadjian and the choir in the singing of Cilicia.
Episcopal Divine Liturgy In Celebration Western Prelacy’s 45th Anniversary
On Sunday, December 9 the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Prelacy of North America and the 45th anniversary of the Western Prelacy were celebrated with Episcopal Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered his message reflecting on the anniversaries and called for united efforts and collaboration with faith and hope to ensure a bright future for our church, nation, and people.
Former Prelate Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, Prelacy Vicar-General Bishop Torkom Donoyan, and clergy participated in the service, while Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, Rev. Fr. Movses Shannakian and deacons assisted at the altar. Among the faithful in attendance were Executive Council Chairman Garo Eshgian and members.
The Prelate began his message by thanking the Lord for the opportunity to collectively celebrate these milestone anniversaries and together to renew our pledge to serve in His example. He praised the Lord for His blessings and guidance throughout the history of the Prelacies, paid tribute to the leadership of His Holiness Catholicos Zareh I, His Holiness Catholicos Khoren I, and His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II (later Catholicos Karekin I of all Armenians), during whose pontificates the Prelacies were established and expanded, and to the current Pontiff, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I for his leadership in continuing the work and mission that was begun decades ago. With gratitude he recalled the service of former Prelates, Archbishop Hrant Khatchadourian, Archbishop Sumbat Lapajian, Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian and Archbishop Datev Sarkissian, adding that he has been continuing their work over the past twenty-three years, first as Locum Tenens and later as Prelate, by the grace of God and with the collaboration of clergy and lay servants.
The Prelate offered a prayer for the souls of all departed servants, and noted that during requiem service memorial prayers would be offered also for the victims of the Armenia earthquake thirty years ago. By the ordinance of the Prelate requiem prayers for earthquake victims were offered in all Prelacy Churches on this day. Given that the day coincided with Parliamentary elections in Armenia, His Eminence prayed for God to guide the steps of the leadership who serve for the welfare of our nation and people and for the strengthening of ties with the Diaspora.
Next, the Prelate shared a number of thoughts arising from the message of Christ’s earthly mission. He recalled the words of St. John the Baptist proclaiming Christ’s mission in referring to Him as the “Lamb of God,” which the disciples followed, and Jesus’ miracles, including the wedding at Cana and feeding of the five thousand, all of which signify serving the people and meeting the needs of the people. “As followers of Christ, the servants of our Church and Prelacy, and our nation, followed Christ’s path from the time when the light of Christianity was brought to Armenia by His apostles, and remained faithful to the path paved by St. Gregory the Illuminator and our Church fathers throughout the centuries,” stated the Prelate, and with gratefulness recalled the mission that has been carried out here on these lands over the decades, regarding it as the fulfillment of Christ’s message, which is serving and meeting the needs of the people and nation, which are one entity. The Prelate concluded by regarding these anniversaries as an opportunity to take inspiration from the past and look to a brighter future with faith, hope, and love, and with renewed will and dedication to carry on the work that was passed down to us with the Lord as our guide.
Following the requiem, the service came to a close with the singing of Cilicia.