LA CRESCENTA, Calif.—Throughout the past year, heeding the call of His Holiness. Catholicos Aram I, events were held throughout Prelacy Churches in celebration of the “Year of the Armenian Woman.” The year-long celebrations concluded with a community-wide event held at St. Mary’s Church on the evening of Tuesday, November 16. The event was held under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and was organized by the Prelacy Outreach Committee. In attendance were clergy, Central Executive member Khajag Dikijian, Executive Council members, representatives of sister organizations, and hundreds of community members.
At the beginning of the event, each woman was presented with a carnation by members of the organizing committee.
The evening began with the Lord’s Prayer led by the Prelate and with the participation of clergy members, accompanied by the “Lousavorich” youth choir, led by Very Rev. Fr. Barthev Gulumian.
Mistress of Ceremonies Tamar Seraydarian welcomed the guests, and reflected on the unique and invaluable role Armenian women have played in the history of the Armenian nation, and their current role in the 21st century, stressing that in today’s world, women must work even harder to preserve the sanctity of our culture, our families, and community life.
The first part of the program consisted of remarks delivered by sister organizations on their thoughts on the role of Armenian women.
Sona Madarian, speaking on behalf of the Armenian Relief Society, reflected on the contributions of Armenian women starting from the start of the 20thcentury with the establishment of the ARS, noting that the organization has expanded to 26 countries and 15,000 members, and faithfully continues its service and mission.
Speaking on behalf of Hamazkayin, Dzovinar Melkonian reflected on the contributions of Armenian women in the formation and preservation of our culture, noting that during the days of the Genocide, Armenian mothers would teach their children the alphabet on the sands of the Euphrates river to ensure that our language and heritage was not lost. She also stressed that the role of Armenian women in the perpetuation of our heritage cannot be overstated and that the Armenian woman is ready to take on and overcome any and all challenges for the advancement and prosperity of our people and nation.
Mariam Karapetian, Chair of the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary, expressed appreciation that the Ladies Auxiliary is a participant in this celebration. She noted that during the past year the Ladies Auxiliary heeded the call of His Holiness and organized a number of events to celebrate the Armenian Woman. She also noted that the Armenian woman has had her unique place throughout history, from pre-Christian times until the present. She concluded by saying that this proclamation by His Holiness served not only to honor Armenian woman, but also to invite women to recognize their roles and renew their commitment to carrying out the mission that is entrusted to them.
The keynote speaker was Prelacy Executive Council Chair Rima Boghossian.
Boghossian first welcomed the guests and thanked the organizing committee for the opportunity. She also brought to attention the centuries-long service of Armenian women, noting that women from all walks of life, from queens, princesses, mothers, teachers, freedom-fighters, have been active participants in the building of our nation and have thus earned great respect and love. She stated that the foundation of our nation is the Armenian family, and the key player in the institution of family is the woman, alongside her husband. She exalted the unwavering devotion of the Armenian women towards their children and nation. She paid tribute to women who were pivotal in the building of the Armenian nation, adding that though times change and with it the role of Armenian woman, the fundamental mission of Armenian women remains the same. She also remembered women writers, poets, and artists who have greatly enriched our culture, and organizations such as the ARS which is run primarily by women. In the last part of her presentation, Boghossian spoke of the responsibilities, obligations, and unique role of Armenian mothers which is so critical to the raising of good children.
The program concluded with the Prelate’s message, who noted that this concluding celebration is a wonderful manifestation of the proclamation of His Holiness. He commended the organizing committee and the program participants, and thanked the Pastors, Board of Trustees, and Ladies Auxiliary for hosting the event.
The Prelate stated that the proclamation of His Holiness offered the wonderful opportunity for us to collectively honor the Armenian woman, and continued to say that the involvement of women in our national life should increase. He spoke of how in his proclamation, His Holiness goes into great detail about the mission and role of Armenian women in the life of our Church, our history, and the cultivating of our culture. In addition, the Prelate wished that the Holy Mother of God and the virtues she represents be the fundamental guide of the lives and deeds of all Armenian women. Noting how Armenian women and mothers are the propagators of our religious and national values, His Eminence stated that this celebration should serve as an opportunity for all women to renew their commitment to their fulfilling their unique roles to ensure that we always have a strong church and a strong nation. In conclusion, he wished that Armenian women continue to be treated with utmost love and respect, and wished that Armenian women remain steadfast and unfaltering in their mission, especially in today’s world which is filled with new challenges.
The evening also included a cultural program of songs and recitation. Students of Rose and Alex Pilibos School recited a poem dedicated to mothers, Soloist Elena Avanessian performed two songs dedicated to Armenian mothers and women, and the “Lousavorich” choir performed three songs, featuring a solo by Kenarik Nerkararyan. The choir was accompanied by Armine Derderian on the organ, and Armine Nerkararyan and Raquel Zabounian on the violin.
Following the Prelate’s message and benediction, the crowd joined in the singing of the Cilician anthem, performed by the “Lousavorich” choir.
A reception followed at the church hall.