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TOP STORY                                                       October 8, 2015

Holy Translators
Celebrate the power of the Armenian identity this weekend.

Translators Assemble!

The Invincible Philosopher. The Master of Mystic Poetry. The Wartime Chronicler. The Grace-Filled Patriarch. The Man of a Dozen Tongues.

It could be the line-up of characters for a new super-hero flick. But in fact, each is a saint of the Armenian Church—David, Narek, Yeghishe, Nersess, Masdots—remembered together (along with others) as a distinctive “team” known as the Holy Translators. This Saturday, October 10, is their annual feast day.

Whether super or not, the Holy Translators were genuine heroes—and powerful ones, at that. Endowed with rare qualities of imagination and vision, they helped to forge a national identity for the Armenian people—using simple words and humble faith as their primary tools.

It’s an identity that has outlasted empires, overcome persecution, and reached the heights of civilization. Most remarkable of all, it has endured to the present day—and is ready to be embraced by all of us. This Saturday, try to reflect on the great power we’ve inherited—and the great responsibility that goes with it.

Learn more about the Holy Translators by clicking here.


Scripture of the Week

Is 19:1-11
Gal 2:1-10
Mk 12:35-44

Prayer of the Week

With your peace, Christ our savior, which surpasses all understanding and speech, defend us and keep us fearless of all evil. Make us equal to your true worshipers, who worship you in spirit and in truth; for to the most-holy Trinity is befitting glory, dominion, and honor, now and always. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

10 October: Holy Translators Mesrob, Yeghishe, Moses the Poet, David the Philosopher, Gregory of Narek, and Nersess the Graceful


St. Gregory of Narek
St. Gregory of Narek.

The Teachings of St. Gregory of Narek

In an article published this week, Mark Del Cogliano, an assistant professor of historical theology at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, explains the elements in the doctrine of St. Gregory of Narek that contributed to his being named a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church.
Last April, Pope Francis officially conferred the “doctor” title on St. Gregory of Narek, making him one of the very few saints whose writings are considered to offer key theological insights for the faith.
Armenians have long revered St. Gregory of Narek as one of our greatest thinkers and artists, the author of the most mystical prayers in the Divine Liturgy. Born around A.D. 950 in Andzevatsik, he lived at the monastery at Narek his whole priestly life, and taught at the monastic school. It was there that he composed his masterpiece of spiritual poetry, known as the “Book of Lamentations” or “Narek.” He died at the monastery around 1005.
Click here to read Prof. Del Cogliano’s article on St. Thomas University’s website



"Migrations" Rises at St. Vartan Cathedral

Through the centuries, artists have grappled with the portrayal of human suffering. For Armenian-American artist Michael Aram, who set out to make a sculpture to commemorate the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the central question was this: “How would I start telling the story of my family, and the millions like them, who found no words to tell their own story?”
The sculpture, titled "Migrations," was unveiled and blessed in an outdoor ceremony on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, on the evening of Tuesday, October 6. Close to 400 people—including clergy, artists, and other dignitaries—gathered for the blessing service and program of remarks and musical performances.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, presided over the event. He was joined in the blessing service by the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar; the Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, dean of St. Vartan Cathedral; seminary dean the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian and St. Nersess seminarians.
Mr. Aram, a descendant of Genocide survivors, spoke about the experience of absorbing the trauma of his grandparents, and of the need to convey the devastation of 1915. But he noted that there is also something hopeful in his new piece—the idea that survivors were given the promise of a new life in the New World.
Mistress of ceremonies Sandra Shahinian Leitner gave a brief historical overview of the Armenian Genocide. Archbishop Barsamian noted that, 100 years later, the story of the Armenian Genocide continues to be relevant to people of all backgrounds.
Click on the following links to read more, view photos, and watch video highlights of the October 6 unveiling.

Abp. Torkom Manoogian

Remembering Patriarch Torkom

Monday, October 12, will mark the third anniversary of the passing of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the late 96th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and long-serving Primate of the Eastern Diocese.

We ask our parishioners to remember Archbishop Torkom in their prayers, and to reflect on his lifelong ministry to God, the Armenian Church, and our people. Click here to view a video made in his memory.

Consercration of Holy Martyrs Icon
Faithful at Holy Etchmiadzin venerate the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.

An Iconic Sunday

On Sunday, November 1, every Diocesan parish will hold a special ceremony in which the pastor will consecrate a replica of the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide—the original of which was unveiled last April, during the canonization service at Holy Etchmiadzin.

The day of the icon consecration will be reserved for family worship, so there will be no Sunday or Armenian School on November 1. A special plate collection will be held during the service, to remember our own Genocide Martyrs by helping refugees in the world today. Proceeds will support the United Nations Refugee Fund.
Last week, the Diocesan eNewsletter began publishing articles on icons, saints, and other relevant topics. Click here to read this week’s article on “Saints and Sainthood in the Armenian Church.”

We also encourage parishioners to use #holymartyrs on social media to participate in the consecration events by posting photos, comments, and prayers, both before and after November 1. For more information on the November 1 events, contact your local parish.

Kathryn Ashbahian
Kathryn Ashbahian will be involved with the Diocese’s youth and young adult programs

Diocese Welcomes New Staff Member

The Eastern Diocese is pleased to announce the addition of a new Diocesan staff member. 
Kathryn Ashbahian joined the Diocese’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department as an associate effective October 1. She will work on a number of projects related to the Diocese’s youth and young adult programs, such as summer camps and the ACYOA.
Kathryn grew up attending St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ. She has been involved at St. Vartan Camp since her youth, beginning as a camper and continuing on as a CIT, counselor, and instructor.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Jersey, where she studied English literature and Women and Gender Studies. Last spring she completed a master’s in theology at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

The Akh’tamar Dance Ensemble performs in Armenia.

FAR Creates Memories to Last a Lifetime

When Anita Touloughian and Talin Gulian of the New Jersey-based Akh’tamar Dance Ensemble visited Armenia last year as part of the Fund for Armenian Relief's Young Professionals trip, they were so moved by their experience that they returned the following year with the entire group of Akh’tamar dancers and their families. Earlier this summer, the Akh’tamar Dance Ensemble gave three performances in Yerevan, Gyumri, and Stepanakert.
The two-week Young Professionals trip in 2014 included visits to historic and religious sites across Armenia, as well as the various FAR projects. And even more memories were made this summer, as the entire ensemble performed in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh.  
Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.

Annual Appeal

Support the Diocese's Annual Appeal

The Eastern Diocese’s 2015 Annual Appeal is now underway. The Appeal is the only Diocesan-wide fundraiser conducted each year to help the Diocese undertake the many ministries, programs, and resources that enrich life in our parishes.

The past year has been a genuine milestone in the story of the Armenian people. The Armenian Genocide centennial was a call to remember the great calamity—the unforgettable crime against our people—that has affected every Armenian life of the past century.

But 2015 was also an opportunity for our entire community to reach out in a united fashion, to bring the story of the Genocide to a broad audience: to steer our society towards official recognition, and towards a renewed determination to combat genocide wherever it occurs. We saw the legacy of our Armenian martyrs brought to life.

But none of it happened in a vacuum. We met the challenge of 2015 because our community institutions were strong, prepared, and ready to act. And the Eastern Diocese was a leader in this effort. 

Year in and year out, the Eastern Diocese works to preserve the precious legacy we have inherited. And it is the generous support we receive from people like you that allows us to maintain and expand our vital ministries involving Christian education, Bible study, Armenian language, summer camps, youth outreach, mission parishes, and advanced technologies for communication and instruction, to name a few.

Please accept this invitation to strengthen our efforts. Your generous contribution to the 2015 Annual Appeal will help spread the good work of the Armenian Church across our local communities—and across the generations.
Follow this link to donate now to the 2015 Annual Appeal.


Fr. Khachatur Kesablian
Archbishop Barsamian blesses a new set of vestments presented to Fr. Kesablyan.

Chelmsford Celebrates Pastor's Milestone

Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian visited Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, last weekend, where he blessed the parish’s “Remembrance Bench Project” and joined the community in honoring their pastor, the Rev. Fr. Khachatur Kesablyan, on the 10th anniversary of his ordination into the holy priesthood.
As part of the Armenian Genocide centennial year observance, Sts. Vartanantz Church completed a “Remembrance Bench Project” this summer, through which benches were installed on the church grounds bearing the names of people who perished in the Armenian Genocide. On Saturday, October 3, Archbishop Barsamian blessed the benches in an outdoor ceremony at the church’s Genocide memorial.
On Sunday, Fr. Kesablyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and Archbishop Barsamian delivered a sermon on the significance of the Holy Muron. Parishioner Arman Shirikyan was ordained to the rank of acolyte.
Following services, a banquet in honor of Fr. Kesablyan was held in the church's Kazanjian Memorial Ballroom, where more than 200 people gathered for a special program of remarks and musical performances.
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.

Holy Trinity Church, Cheltenham, PA
Oriental Orthodox Concelebrated Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church.

Concelebrated Divine Liturgy in Cheltenham

Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, hosted the third annual Oriental Orthodox Concelebrated Liturgy of the Philadelphia region on Saturday, October 3, marking the first time this local event was hosted by the Armenian community. 
“The goal of the event was to bring together the regional Oriental Orthodox faithful for a day of worship and fellowship, as a manifestation of our full communion and fraternal unity,” said Holy Trinity’s pastor, the Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan.
Over 150 faithful from seven Oriental Orthodox parishes attended the service. Later they enjoyed a traditional Armenian lunch and a presentation by the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.  

Christian Education in Providence
A participant at last Saturday's workshop for Sunday School educators.

Sunday School Teachers' Workshop in New England

Last Saturday, 34 Sunday School teachers, superintendents, and pastors from the Diocese’s New England region convened at the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church in Providence, RI, for a day-long teachers workshop.
Presented by the staff of the Diocesan Department of Christian Education, Elise Antreassian and Eric Vozzy, the workshop included a “teacher’s toolkit,” a review of curriculum and support resources, and inventive ways to get students involved and motivated in class activities.
A session on tough questions that students ask prompted deeply felt discussion from the teachers, as they explored the most helpful answers. Clergy were particularly engaged in the process, as they too share the challenge of fielding difficult questions of faith.
The workshop concluded with an open forum on upcoming events, best practices, and an overview of the Department’s website resources and social media presence.
Participant Laurie Bejoian, superintendent of Framingham, MA’s Holy Translators Sunday School, called it a time when educators “learned, and nourished each other. A day truly inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.

Zakian Rug
In Philadelphia, Robert Zakian (second from left) stands with city officials and artists before the new painted mural of the "Armenian Orphan Rug," dedicated in August.

The "Orphan Rug" Re-imagined in Philadelphia  

One year ago, a glimpse of a seldom-seen relic of the Armenian Genocide planted a seed in the mind of a Philadelphia parishioner—a seed that blossomed into a beautiful work of “public art” this summer.
As the third-generation proprietor of a family rug business, Robert Zakian was on hand in Washington, DC, last fall when the famous “Armenian Orphan Rug” was displayed at the White House Visitor’s Center. With the 100th anniversary of the Genocide on the horizon, Mr. Zakian—who also chairs the parish council at the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church in Wynnewood, PA—felt inspired by the Orphan Rug, and resolved to find a way to bring its story to a wider audience in his hometown.
The result was unveiled in August: a “re-imagining” of the Armenian Orphan Rug as a large-scale public mural, painted on Mr. Zakian’s business storefront directly across from Philadelphia’s busy Fairmount Park.
The original Armenian Orphan Rug was woven and hand-knotted by more than 400 Armenian girls—orphaned survivors of the Genocide—in Ghazir, Lebanon, and presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 as a token of gratitude for American aid to the refugees. The Coolidge family eventually donated it to the White House, but it lay in storage for many years, the victim of the usual “international tensions” that have inhibited the U.S. in modern times from officially recognizing the Genocide. But controversies were set aside in November 2014, when the rug was finally—but only briefly—displayed before the public.
But now in Philadelphia, the story of the Armenian Orphan Rug will be a permanent feature of life in one city neighborhood, where the mural by artist Kathryn Pannepacker stands beside a plaque explaining the origin of the rug, its place in American history, and its relation to the Armenian Genocide.
A large crowd gathered for the dedication ceremony on August 7, which was led by local Armenian clergy and municipal leaders including State Sen. Vincent Hughes and State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown. For Bob Zakian, the mural is a way to share “my reverence for my family’s Armenian heritage” with people who would not otherwise know about the emotional burdens of Armenian history, and the inspiring beauty of Armenian art. “I’m delighted to invite our friends and neighbors to gain a better understanding of our culture,” he said.
Click on the following links to read more and view photos.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

St. Leon Church | Fair Lawn, NJ
St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, will host its annual “Food and Arts Festival” on October 16-18. Enjoy Armenian food, dance and choral performances, art exhibits, a tavloo tournament, author presentations, and basketball and volleyball games. New this year are hands-on cooking classes and a kef evening on Saturday. Click here for general information.
Click on the following links to learn more about the festival’s film screenings, Friday’s book talk, and Saturday’s kef dance.

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ, will host chess classes this fall. The first class will be held on Saturday, October 17, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The classes are open to children (ages 9 and up) and adults. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Thomas Church will host special classes for mothers and young children, titled “Mommy and Me: Fun Time.” The classes will be held on Saturdays, and feature singing, dancing, and arts and crafts. Click here to view a flyer.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, will honor Dn. James M. Kalustian as "Parishioner of the Year" at its annual banquet on Sunday, October 18. The occasion also will mark the 54th anniversary of the consecration of Holy Trinity Church. The community will recognize outgoing Parish Council members Ara Hollisian and Thomas H. Stephanian, and Diocesan delegates Gerald Ajemian and David DerVartanian.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will preside over the Divine Liturgy, beginning at 10 a.m., and the afternoon's program. The deadline to RSVP is October 13. Click here for information, or contact the church office at (617) 354-0632, or via e-mail at Click here to read an article.

St. John Church | Detroit, MI
St. John Church of Detroit, MI, will host a program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Saturday, October 17, at 6:30 p.m. Titled "Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future," the evening will feature an exhibition of the "Armenian Heritage Collection," a presentation of Armenian dress from the 13th through the 19th centuries. The presentation is beautifully set to traditional Armenian music with imagery and narration that enhances the experience. Click on the following links to read more and to view a flyer.

St. John Church will host a retirement banquet to honor the parish’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian. The banquet will be held in the Cultural Hall on Sunday, October 25, immediately following the Divine Liturgy. Seating is limited. To make a reservation, contact Izzy Vahratian at (248) 890-2185.

Sts. Sahag and Mesrob  Church | Providence, RI
Sts. Sahag and Mesrob  Church of Providence, RI, will host a “Name Day Banquet” following church services on October 18. William Aznavourian, Hagop Boghosian, Jasper Der Ananian, Agnes Killabian, Bertha Mugurdichian and Lucy Muradian will be honored as “Parishioners of the Year.”  RSVP by October 13. For tickets and information, contact Ann Ayrassian at (401) 272-4743, or via e-mail at; or the church office at (401)-272-7712.

Genocide Centennial Concert | Troy, NY
The Capital District Armenian Genocide Committee is partnering with the New York Catholic Chorale to present a concert to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The concert will take place on Sunday, October 11, at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church in Troy, NY. Click on the following links to view a flyer and information on sponsorship opportunities.

Genocide Centennial Concert | New York, NY
A concert in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide will be held at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, October 10, at 1 p.m. Robert Amirkhanyan and Armenian Youth will perform. Click here to view a flyer.

Armenian Culture Talks | West Hartford, CT
A series of talks on Armenian culture will be held at the West Hartford Public Library (Noah Webster branch) throughout the month of October. Musician Anna Hayrapetyan will present a lecture and recital on October 10, at 2 p.m. Click here to view a flyer for information.

William Saroyan Exhibit | Flushing, NY
The Anthropology Armenian Museum at Queens College has installed an exhibit on William Saroyan at the Armenian Home for the Aged in Flushing, NY. Titled "William Saroyan Remembered," the exhibit will remain on view until October 21. Call (718) 461-1504 for visiting hours.
Holy Resurrection Church | New Britain, CT
Holy Resurrection Church of New Britain, CT, is sponsoring a “Fall Into Armenian Education” series starting this month. Adult education classes will be held in religious and language instruction.
“Faith & Reason” discussion classes will be held on the first Monday of the month, from 6:45-7:30 p.m. Armenian language classes will be offered on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 6:45-7:30 p.m.  Learn to read and write Armenian, and explore Armenian literature, poetry, architecture, church traditions, and culinary delights. For information about the program, contact the church office at (860) 223-7875.

Holy Trinity Church | Cheltenham, PA
Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, will host its “Harvest Bazaar” October 23-25. Enjoy Armenian food, live music, shopping, and other activities. A children’s Halloween parade will be held on Sunday. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Church of Our Savior | Worcester, MA
The Church of Our Savior of Worcester, MA, and the Master Singers of Worcester will present an “Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemorative Concert” in Worcester on Sunday, October 25. The performance will be held at Mechanics Hall (321 Main Street), beginning at 4 p.m.   
The program will include selections in Armenian, as well as the world premiere of “A New Armenia” by Stephan Barnicle, a commissioned work in English set to the famous text by William Saroyan; and the local premiere of “Requiem For The Living” in Latin by Dan Forrest. 
The participating performing groups include the Master Singers of Worcester and the Armenian Community Singers of Greater Worcester. A Children’s Chorus comprised of members from the Armenian community, First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury, and Saint Mary’s Catholic Church of Shrewsbury will present songs in Armenian, and an Armenian Community Children’s Dance Group will perform two traditional Armenian dances. Click here to view a flyer for ticket information, or call (508) 756-2931.

St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
On Sunday, October 25, St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will sponsor a cultural day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Enjoy a potluck lunch with Armenian fare, listen to readings about survivor experiences, and hear piano selections. The day also will feature prints of paintings by guest artist Jackie Kazarian of Chicago. Please RSVP to attend. Click here to view a flyer for information.


Sports Weekend

ACYOA Juniors to Gather for Sports Weekend

This weekend, close to 300 ACYOA Juniors representing 14 parishes across the Eastern Diocese will gather for the ACYOA Fall Juniors Sports Weekend hosted by Holy Martyrs Church in Bayside, NY.

More than 45 families are opening up their homes to host the young people throughout the weekend. Participants will enjoy a day of sports on Saturday, ranging from volleyball and basketball to individual competitions of tavloo, chess, and ping pong. A cruise around Manhattan is planned for Saturday evening.

On Sunday, they will take part in the Divine Liturgy before concluding the sporting events. An awards banquet and dance are scheduled for Sunday evening. The weekend will conclude on Monday morning with a farewell breakfast.

For information on the ACYOA Juniors, contact Jennifer Morris, director of Diocese’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at (248) 648-0702, or via e-mail at


Classical Concert

A Concert at St. Vartan Cathedral

St. Vartan Cathedral will host “An Evening of Classical Music” on Saturday, October 17, at 7:30 p.m.

The program will feature Armenian and Western classical music, performed by acclaimed artists Hasmik Meikhanedjian and Anahit Zakaryan. Hayk Arsenyan will accompany on the piano.
Click here to view a flyer for ticket information.