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TOP STORY                                                          March 30, 2017


Sunday of the Advent   

Early in our journey through Great Lent we observed the Sunday of the Expulsion, which retold the story of mankind’s first disobedience, our exile from paradise, and the beginning of humanity’s long history of separation from God. 

In a nice expression of symmetry and resolution, Lent concludes with the Sunday of the Advent (April 2): that is, the coming of Jesus Christ, through whom God entered human history and restored what had been lost in the exile from Eden. 

The Advent calls to mind the birth and revelation of our Savior, his subsequent sacrifice for mankind, and his victory over sin and death. As the last Sunday of Lent, this day is especially devoted to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, reminding us that he is our eternal Lord and King, and that just as everything once began with God, so too will everything one day end with Him.

Click on the following link to view our archived Lenten video series.


Holy Week

Holy Week Services   

As Lent draws to a close, the Armenian Church looks forward to the beginning of Holy Week, which will culminate in the Easter Sunday celebration on April 16. Holy Week services will be held in parishes throughout the Diocese; for information on local service schedules, contact your parish.

At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, Holy Week will be observed April 9 through April 15. On Easter Sunday, April 16, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will celebrate the liturgy and deliver the homily. Immediately following the service, the “Release of Doves” ceremony will go forth on the cathedral plaza. Melanie Dadourian and Oscar Tatosian, co-chairs of the “Our Church, Our Legacy” endowment campaign, will serve as godfathers of the “Release of Doves” ceremony. A reception will follow the services. Click here for a complete schedule of Holy Week services at the cathedral.
A helpful resource in the preparation for Holy Week is Avak Shapat: A Guide to the Holy Week Services of the Armenian Church. Authored by the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, and released in 2015, the book is intended to assist clergy, seminarians, deacons, and choir members in conducting the Holy Week services. It contains detailed explanations of prayers, hymns, Scripture readings, and rituals associated with each Holy Week service, as well liturgical glossaries in Armenian and English. Click on the following links to read more and to purchase the publication at the St. Vartan Bookstore.

Scripture of the Week

Is 66:1-24
Col 2:8-3:17
Mt 22:34-23:39

Prayer of the Week

O Lord our God, turn not your face from me. O beneficent Lord, I beseech you, be my helper. O Lord, despise me not and forsake me not, O God, my Savior. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

1 April: St. Gregory the Enlightener (Commitment to the Pit)

2 April: Sunday of the Advent


Armenian Reception at the UN

Slow Down...and Fast 

The Eastern Diocese’s new podcast series, “Bread & Salt: Stories from the Armenian Church,” continues this month with an episode on Lenten fasting.
Dn. Eric Vozzy interviews the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, a scholar of the Armenian Divine Liturgy, and director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, on the meaning of the Lenten fast.

Click here to listen to the episode, “Lent: Slow Down and Fast,” on the Diocese’s SoundCloud channel or subscribe to the series on your mobile device.  


Hrant Dink Memorial Concert

"Hrant Dink Oratorio" Performed at St. Vartan Cathedral

On Saturday, March 25, some 700 people gathered at New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral for a remarkable musical event in remembrance of the late journalist Hrant Dink on the 10th anniversary of his assassination. The occasion also marked the 90th anniversary of the Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS), which organized the concert and its related events.
The evening began with a grand choral concert piece by composer Majak Toshigian and lyricist Bercuhi Berberyan. The "Hrant Dink Contemporary Oratorio" was performed under the direction of Kris D. Kalfayan, with soloists Karin Cubukcuyan Bozkurt, Elie Berberian, and Bogos Yegyazar.
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian presided and made remarks about the legacy of Hrant Dink. “It is incumbent upon us to recommit ourselves to continuing the mission of Hrant Dink,” Archbishop Barsamian said. “That mission is to create awareness in Turkish society about the Armenian Genocide, and to seek ways to bring about a peaceful reconciliation with Turkey.”  
A dinner followed in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium to mark the CARS milestone. The organization’s president, Tamar Kayserian, was honored with a Pontifical encyclical of blessing from His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. 
The event was organized by the Constantinople Armenian Relief Society with the participation of 13 cultural, educational, and philanthropic organizations. Click here to view photos.


St. Hagop Church, Florida

Registration Underway for Diocesan Assembly

Registration is underway for all clergy, Diocesan delegates, and parish council chairs taking part in this year’s 115th Diocesan Assembly. This year registration and payment can be completed online or by downloading and mailing in the necessary forms. Click here for information. The deadline to register for the discounted hotel rate is April 1
The annual gathering of the Eastern Diocese will convene May 4-7 in Palm Harbor, FL. The St. Hagop Church of Pinellas Park, FL, will host the assembly, bringing together several hundred Armenian Church leaders from throughout the Eastern Diocese.
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside over all the events.
Prior to the Assembly, clergy from across the Diocese will meet for their annual Clergy Conference and retreat, May 1-3. The Diocesan Women’s Guild General Assembly also convenes during the week.
A highlight of the gathering will be the annual awards banquet, on the evening of Friday, May 5. At that time, Sandra Shahinian Leitner will be honored as the Diocese’s 2017 “Armenian Church Member of the Year.” Honored as this year’s “Friend of the Armenians” will be U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

The St. Hagop parish is publishing a commemorative booklet to honor the award recipients, and asks that friends and well-wishers  consider making a contribution to the publication, 10 percent of whose income will be donated to the Fund for Armenian Relief.


Diocesan Clergy Retreat

New England Clergy Lenten Retreat Held in Connecticut

The annual clergy Lenten retreats continued this week with a gathering for clergy of the New England region, held from March 27 to 29 at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford, CT.
Under the presidency of Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, 10 clergymen from parishes in Connecticut and Massachusetts reflected on the topic “Stress and the Peace of Christ.”
The theme was explored through discussion groups, Bible study, and a presentation by Rev. Don Stiger, formerly of NYU Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. The participants prayed together, with various clergy offering meditations on the topic of forgiveness as a means of stress alleviation. They also viewed a video on forgiveness, titled “Amish Grace.” 
Coincidentally, Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair, head of the Hartford Roman Catholic Archdiocese, was also meeting with his clergy at the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, which gave Archbishop Barsamian an opportunity to meet with Archbishop Blair.


ACEF New Members

ACEF Announces Largest Distribution Payout in History
$4.1M Awarded to Beneficiaries

The Board of Directors of the Armenian Church Endowment Fund (ACEF) met at the Diocesan Center on Friday, March 24, with Archbishop Khajag Barsamian presiding.
Board members analyzed strong 2016 portfolio returns and approved 2017 asset allocations recommended by the Investment Committee. As of December 31, 2016, ACEF’s portfolio returned a total of 7.1% for the calendar year, which exceeded its target benchmark (which returned 5.7 percentage points) and matched its longterm financial goal of returning inflation (CPI) plus 5%.
The board reviewed and agreed to the 2016 distribution to beneficiaries. The total distribution of $4,189,360 is the largest in the 44-year history of ACEF.
A total of $2,586,038 in new donations was received in 2016. Melanie Dadourian and Gregory Zorthian were welcomed as new board members in 2016.


Lenten Calendar

Parishes Make use of "Words to Live By" Lenten Calendar  

In these final weeks of Lent, the Diocese’s Christian Education department has received positive feedback on the Lenten calendar it released earlier this winter.
Titled “Words to Live By,” the 40-day calendar is devoted to the Bible, with daily verses to reflect upon and memorize. Its central message is that ”there’s a relationship God wants to have with each one of us. Reading His holy word brings us closer to Him and leads us to the deep peace and joy that nothing in life can derail.”
The calendar was issued to all Sunday Schools throughout the Diocese. Click here to download a PDF version.



A Celebration at the Vanadzor Old Age Home  

On the occasion of International Women’s Day earlier this month, government officials in Armenia’s Lori region made a special visit to the Fund for Armenian Relief’s Vanadzor Old Age Home.
They extended warm wishes to the home’s female residents. The day’s program also included hair and facial treatments, the presentation of gifts, and a performance by the  “Vanadzor Theatre of Song” group.
The Vanadzor Old Age Home is sponsored by the Kevork and Sirvart Karamanuk Foundation. Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.

Kegham Cholakian

In Memoriam: Kegham Tcholakian (1940-2017)

With great sorrow, the Eastern Diocese mourns the loss of Kegham Tcholakian, who passed away last week. He was 77.
Mr. Tcholakian’s passing will be deeply felt in our Diocese: at the Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, NY; in the Knights of Vartan fraternal organization; among his fellow Sepastatsis and Jerusalemites; and among his countrymen far and wide.
In a life of many accomplishments, Kegham Tcholakian served with distinction as Avak Sparabed, “Grand Commander,” of the Knights of Vartan. He was also a recipient of the “St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal” awarded by His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians.
The anchor of his heart and soul was always the Armenian Church. This characteristic was ingrained in Kegham by his parents: both survivors of the Armenian Genocide, who were raised in Jerusalem’s Araratian Orphanage and became the first pair from the orphanage to marry. One of seven children in a distinguished artistic family, Kegham inherited a deep trust in God’s plan for his life, which allowed him to bear up and bravely move forward, even when life took unexpected turns.
In a eulogy delivered Monday at the Holy Martyrs Church, Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian remembered Kegham Tcholakian as “a patriot and a man of faith. A man who had left his homeland, but never forgot his heritage. A man who had known pain in life, but also life’s great joys. A man of courage and compassion, who understood that he was a servant of God, whose life rested—like all of our lives—in God’s fatherly hands.”
We extend condolences to Kegham’s children and grandchildren; to the members of the Tcholakian family; to his fellow Knights of Vartan; and to countless friends and loved ones. May our risen Lord remember his servant on his day of judgment.


Holy Trinity Church, PA

Lenten Day of Prayer in Cheltenham 

On Saturday, March 25, a group of 40 faithful from Philadelphia-area parishes gathered at Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, for a Lenten Day of Prayer retreat. The program was sponsored by the Holy Trinity Adult Christian Education Ministry.
The program included worship, music, and group discussion. Retreat leaders Rev. Fr. Arshen and Yn. Sirarpi Aivazian led an exploration of ways to deepen one’s relationship with God through prayer and contemplation of Scripture. Participants were introduced to the historical figures of the desert fathers (and mothers), and to the daily hours of the church.
At the conclusion of the program, Fr. Aivazian anointed each participant with oil from Jerusalem, which he received during a Holy Land pilgrimage on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood in 2015.
“Looking back over some 28 years of participating in Lenten events—retreats, quiet days, and speakers—this gathering was the best,” said Holy Trinity parishioner Brian Hoyle. “The Aivazians were a great team and a blessing.”
Click here to view photos.


Upcoming Parish Events

Sts. Vartanantz Church | Chelmsford, MA
Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, will host a Lenten series on Friday evenings during Great Lent. The 48th annual "Very Rev. Fr. Ghevont Samoorian Lenten Program of Spiritual Renewal" will focus on Christian virtues. The six Friday evening programs will be presented by guest speakers who will discuss how the “Fruits of the Spirit” are vital ingredients in a recipe of living. The next session, on humility, is scheduled for March 31. Click here to view a flyer for information.
St. David Church | Boca Raton, FL
St. David Church of Boca Raton, FL, will host a Lenten series on Wednesdays during Great Lent. Each of the sessions will highlight one of the Sacraments of the Armenian Church. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Gregory the Enlightener Church | White Plains, NY
The Women’s Guild of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, will host a parish retreat on Saturday, April 1, at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in Armonk, NY. The retreat will explore the theme of “Filling the Deepest Thirst.” For more information, click here to view a flyer or contact Rita Kurkjian at (914) 522-8860 or

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ, will observe its 52nd anniversary with a Palm Sunday banquet on April 9. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet. Several parishioners will be recognized on this occasion. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will host a Palm Sunday brunch and talent show on Sunday, April 9. The parish ACYOA will host the program. For reservations, contact Grace Jae at

Hye Pointe Church | Bradford, MA
Parishioners at Hye Pointe Church are looking forward to the official opening of their new Family Life and Cultural Center in Bradford, MA, on Saturday, April 22. Click on the following links to read more and to download an invitation card for the April 22 event.

Armenian Genocide Commemoration | Hartford, CT
The annual Connecticut commemoration of the Armenian Genocide will be held at the Connecticut State Capitol (House Chamber) in Hartford, on Saturday, April 22, beginning at 11 a.m. Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans will deliver the keynote address. A reception will follow in the Hall of Flags. Click here to view a flyer for information and to learn how you can contribute to the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Connecticut.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
On Sunday, April 23, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John M. Evans will speak at the first event in a series presented by Holy Trinity Church that will honor books, courage, and legends. The event will be held in the church’s Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall. Ambassador Evans will discuss his book Truth Held Hostage, in which he recounts his experience as a diplomat in Armenia and his life after being dismissed from his position in 2005 for publicly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. A complimentary light luncheon will be served. For information, contact Holy Trinity Church at 617-354-0632 or e-mail


ACYOA Retreat

ACYOA Juniors Retreat Held in Dallas  

The ACYOA Juniors continued their weekend Lenten retreat series with a gathering of 15 young people at St. Sarkis Church of Dallas, TX, on Saturday, March 25.
Kathryn Ashbahian of the Diocese’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries helped lead the retreat. The Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church, engaged the participants in a Bible study and discussion on the Holy Spirit.
The group also watched and discussed a “Bread & Salt” video episode and created prayer journals to use during the Lenten season. After an evening of fun and fellowship, the retreat concluded with a vespers service.
Click here to view photos.


Save the Tomb

"Save the Tomb" Reception in Cambridge on April 4

A fundraising reception in support of the “Save the Tomb” campaign will be held for the New England region parishes on Tuesday, April 4, at the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Cambridge, MA. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.
The “Save the Tomb” campaign is raising funds to help the restoration effort currently underway at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The site marks the burial place of Jesus Christ, and has long stood as one of the most precious shrines of the Christian heritage. The Armenian Church, through its Patriarchate of Jerusalem, shares joint custodial oversight of the Holy Sepulchre, and is deeply involved in the restoration. The Eastern Diocese aims to raise $300,000 to contribute to this effort.
Click here to view a flyer for information on the April 4 reception.


Forced Into Genocide

Book Presentation at the Zohrab Center

The Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will host a book presentation by Adrienne Alexanian, editor of her father’s newly published memoir, Forced into Genocide. The event will be held on Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. at the Diocesan Center in New York.
Forced into Genocide is the riveting memoir of Yervant Edward Alexanian: an eye-witness to the massacre and dislocation of his family and countrymen in Ottoman Turkey during World War I. Incredibly, Alexanian experienced the Armenian Genocide as a conscript in the Turkish army. His memoir is a one-of-a-kind “insider’s account,” documenting the Genocide’s astonishing cruelty— but also its rare, unexpected acts of humanity.
Click here to visit the Zohrab Center’s blog for information.


The Promise

Armenian Genocide Events in New York Region

The Feast of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide will be observed at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral on Monday, April 24. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by the Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, cathedral dean, beginning at 10:30 a.m. It will be followed by a special prayer service for the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.
On Sunday, April 23, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Vartan Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. The annual Genocide Commemoration sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Knights and Daughters of Vartan will be held in Times Square (43rd Street and Broadway) following services. Click here to view a flyer for information on the Times Square event.
On Saturday, April 8, the Near East Foundation will hold two screenings of a new documentary about the Armenian Genocide and the work of the Near East Relief Foundation, titled “They Shall Not Perish.” A panel discussion featuring Peter Balakian, Taner Akçam, and Susan Harper will follow. Click here for the schedule of screenings and ticket information.
On Friday, April 21, “The Promise,” a feature film about the Armenian Genocide produced by Survival Pictures and financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, will premiere in theaters across the country. Armenians are encouraged to see the film on opening weekend (the opening weekend’s box office sales are critical to securing a long theatrical run for the film). Click here to view the trailer.
The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ, will hold its annual Armenian Genocide commemoration on Wednesday, April 26. Presentations will be made by Dr. Pamela Steiner, senior fellow at Harvard University's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and Chris Zakian, director of Communications at the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. Click on the following links to view a flyer and to register.


A Celebration of Service

Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian is inviting the public to a celebratory reception to congratulate the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan and the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian on the 20th anniversary of their priestly ordinations.
The event will begin with a vespers service at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, at St. Vartan Cathedral. The reception and program will follow at 7:30 p.m. in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of the Diocesan Center (630 Second Avenue, New York City). To RSVP (by April 17) call (212) 686-0710 or e-mail Click here to view a flyer for information.
Commemorative donations in honor of Fr. Findikyan and Fr. Odabashian will be used to underwrite the publication of a revised, expanded edition of a church classic, Prayers for Healing. Contributions may be made payable to the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Memo: Prayer Book.


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Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) · 630 Second Avenue · New York, New York 10016 · USA