Gratitude Plaque Awarded To Evening’s Hosts Varant And Hoori Melkonian
Commendations Presented to Parish Members With Over 25 Years of Service
Dignitaries, distinguished guests, community leaders, sponsors, and members of the Prelacy family gathered at Holy Cross Cathedral’s “Baghramian” Hall in Montebello for the Prelate’s annual traditional New Year and Christmas Dinner. This year marked the 25th time that Westerm Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian has presided over the event during his term as Locum Tenens and later as Prelate. The main hosts were exemplary benefactors Varant and Hoori Melkonian. The dinner was held on Monday, January 6.
In attendance were Consul General of Armenia Dr. Armen Baibourtian, clergy, members of the Catholicosate Central Executive, Religious and Executive Councils, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau and Western Region Central Committee, Delegates, parishes’ Boards of Trustees and Ladies Guilds, Board of Regents, Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools, Armenian National Committee of America, Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, Armenian-American Museum, Armenian Educational Foundation, Montebello and Glendale city officials, Forest Lawn, Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, Glendale Police Department, Glendale Unified School District, sponsors, and donors.
The program began with welcoming remarks by the Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Karekin Bedourian, who, after greeting the guests, praised God for revealing Himself to man through His Son Jesus Christ and for His presence in our lives, and wished for the blessings of the feast of the Nativity and Theophany to bring joy and goodness to all.
On behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary, Vice-Chair Vartoug Avedikian thanked all for their presence and support toward the advancement of the Prelacy, adding that it is a great joy to celebrate the great and marvelous mystery of the Nativity as members of one family.
In his greeting, Vicar General Bishop Torkom Donoyan stated that the Nativity message of love brought together and united the guests, and the Nativity reminds us that God loves us in all circumstances and we are to love another as God loves us. He added that of the many graces granted to man during the creation was the ability to love and to be loved, and we must proclaim our love for God and for our fellow man.
The moving procession of the clergy followed, headed by the Prelate. Candles in hand, clergy entered the candlelit hall singing hymns dedicated to the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord, and the Gospel account of Christ’s Birth was read. The “tatakh” ceremony followed.
Prelate Mardirossian said the Invocation before the dinner service.
A video message from His Holiness Catholicos Aram I was broadcasted. After greeting and wishing a happy New Year to the Prelate, clergy, councils, affiliated bodies, community organizations, and faithful, His Holiness focused his message on “belonging,” stating that the first man and woman neglected their belonging to God, their Creator, and the incarnation of the Son of God was essentially a divine invitation addressed to human beings to restore that broken relationship, man’s true identity and genuine belonging. His Holiness stressed the crucial importance of sense of belonging to us as Christians and Armenians, especially in today’s world, where we are constantly impacted by trends that jeopardize our true belonging and distort the values and principles that sustain our belonging. The Pontiff concluded by calling on all to reaffirm our belonging to God and to the traditions that constitute our Christian Armenian identity, and tangibly articulate in our daily life our belonging to our family, church, community, and nation.
On behalf of the Executive Council, Treasurer Avo Kechichian delivered remarks. He stated that the purpose of the evening is to celebrate and support, adding that all successes over the years are owing to the diligent efforts of the Prelate, the hard work of all affiliated bodies, and the support of our sponsors. He concluded by conveying New Year well wishes to all.
The Consul General of Armenia began his felicitations by thanking the Prelate for the invitation to participate in the dinner once again, and thanked the community for their love and dedication toward Armenia. Dr. Baibourtian underscored the important role of the Armenian Apostolic Church throughout our history and in the present, especially in the Diaspora where its mission is much wider than just a religious one.
Throughout the dinner, guests enjoyed music by Greg Hosharian and the Armenian Pops Ensemble, and later a solo vocal performance by Anahit Nersisyan.
This year’s dinner featured a special presentation of plaques, as the Prelate and the Executive Council had decided to honor individuals with over 25 years of service to our parishes. After highlighting the importance of volunteers in the advancement of our church and community life, Prelacy Chancellor Knar Kortoshian introduced the honorees and invited them to the podium to receive their plaques from the Prelate and Executive Council Chair Garo Eshgian. The honorees were: Hrayr Tejirian, for over four decades of service to St. Mary’s Church in Glendale as a deacon; Elizabeth Daglian, for over four decades of service to Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County as a member of the Board of Trustees and Ladies Guild; Levon Guleian (posthumously), for over three decades of service to St. Garabed Church in Hollywood as member and Chair of the Board of Trustees; Hovhannes Balian (in absentia), for over three decades of service to St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in San Francisco as a deacon; Serpouhie Misserlian, for over three decades of service to Holy Trinity Church in Fresno as a delegate and choir member; Sarkis Boyajian, for over four decades of service to Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello as choirmaster and soloist; Seta Kejejian, for 25 years of service to Holy Martyrs Church in Encino as Sunday School teacher and director; and Asdghig Yedalian, for over three decades of service to St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena as a member of the Ladies Guild and choir.
During his final address of the evening, the MC lauded the tremendous impact the Prelate has had in the expansion and advancement of the Prelacy over the past 25 years, and expressed gratitude for his meritorious leadership and paternal care. He then invited the Prelate to deliver his message.
The Prealte greeted all with gratitude and praised the Lord for granting another year and another celebration, noting, “Tonight my heart is full, as this marks the 25th time that I stand before you at this podium conveying my blessings and well wishes to you all. It was 25 years ago that, by the grace of God, I was called to the position of Locum Tenens and later Prelate, and, every year since, this traditional dinner has been a great success thanks to the support of our sponsors and the efforts of many.” He commended and thanked all of the past and present main hosts, sponsors, and donors for their generosity and presence, and prayed for the Lord to grant rest to our departed sponsors and servants.
The Prelate expressed gratitude to our Pontiff for his encouraging video message and, referencing the “Year of Persons with Special Needs,” stated that it invites us all to care for our fellow man with love and compassion in the example of Christ.
The Prelate conveyed his blessings, commendation, and gratitude to the evening’s main host, Varant and Hoori Melkonian, for their most generous donation of $100,000, referring to them as exemplary and gracious benefactors not just to our Church and Prelacy, but to the community at large, and praying for the Lord to bless and reward them. As an expression of grateful appreciation for their generosity and benevolence, the Prelate invited them to the podium to receive a plaque of gratitude. He was joined by the Vicar General, Religious Council Chair Very Rev. Muron Aznikian, and the Executive Council Chair.
This year’s main patrons were the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary, Hank Khachaturian, Tina Carolan, Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian, and the Forest Lawn Foundation.
The Prelate conveyed his blessings to the evening’s honorees, as well, and also blessed and commended the devoted members of the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary, some of whom have served for decades, for organizing the evening and for their faithful service throughout the year.
The Prelate recalled those we lost in the past year, namely Armand Keosian, Gabriel Injejikian, Garo Bedrossian, Hagop Manjikian, Jacques Hagopian, Hourig Abdulian, and Khajag Sarkissian, praying for the Lord to grant rest to their souls.
Speaking on the New Year and Christmas season, the Prelate stated that it is an opportune time for renewal and transformation by accepting the newborn King into our hearts and striving to reflect the image of God, in thought, in words, and in deeds. He mentioned current crises in many places around the world, in the Middle East especially, adding that the path to salvation paved by the Birth of Christ is the only path that leads mankind to coexist as one family with mutual love and respect, with genuine care and concern for one another, leading to peace on earth and goodwill toward men. He emphasized that this begins with each one of us, when we first apply these principles in our individual lives, and then in our collective life.
Next, the Prelate touched on the historic year which saw the adoption of Armenian Genocide resolutions by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, stating that these triumphs are owing to the unwavering efforts of the ANCA and the unity of our community.
He noted that the past year was a fruitful one for the Prelacy, as they successfully carried out their multifaceted religious, educational, and national mission. Prelate Mardirossian emphasized that our mission only succeeds with unified, coordinated, harmonious, and hard work. He expressed thankfulness to all those who work together and contribute in different capacities, but with one common denominator – Faith: faith in the mission and work of our Church and schools, faith in the importance of preserving and fostering our heritage, and faith in the pursuit of our rights. He also thanked the staff for their hard work in this regard.
The Prelate concluded his message by wishing for the New Year to bring healing of body, mind, and spirit to all, for goodness to triumph over evil, for the safeguarding of our Church and nation, for peace and prosperity for the United States, Armenia, and Artsakh, love and harmony for our Prelacy family, and for the good tidings of the Nativity and Theophany to bolster our faith and inspire us to goodness and goodwill all throughout the year.
The evening came to a close with the benediction by the Prelate and the collective singing of Cilicia, the Pontifical anthem, and Armenian national anthem.