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TOP STORY                                                          June 11, 2015

St. Nersess the Great
An icon depicting Catholicos Nersess the Great.

Armenia's Saint of Compassion

As the great-grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator, he was heir to Armenia’s most exalted lineage, and possessed all the qualities of a great spiritual leader. Yet he resisted becoming a priest, and by some accounts only accepted ordination and advancement at the insistence of Armenia’s king.

The king may have had cause to regret it. For when the new Catholicos Nersess ascended to the Throne of St. Gregory, he turned away from matters of the royal court. To Nersess, the church was first and foremost the servant and defender of the people. He strove to make Armenia a more hospitable place for the weak and dispossessed, and for the cultivation of the wholesome virtues of common family life.

He built schools and orphanages; hospitals and shelters for the poor; monasteries and convents. At the bishops’ council of Ashdishad, which Nersess convened in A.D. 364, he instituted reforms in the church canons that placed Christian charity, moral cleanliness, sincere worship, marriage and childrearing at the heart of religious observance.

Nersess was also outspoken in defiance of Armenia’s impious leaders—and his unwavering moral integrity came at great cost. He was deposed from office; exiled from his homeland; eventually poisoned at the order of a depraved king. Nevertheless, his example of holiness and virtue left a lasting impression on the Armenian Church and people, who saw fit to canonize the reluctant catholicos, and name him “Nersess the Great.”

On Saturday, the Armenian Church will again remember this remarkable 4th-century figure during the Feast of St. Nersess the Great. Honor the day by performing an act of kindness for another living soul. And click here to read more about his life and ministry.


Scripture of the Week

Is 1:1-15
Rom 6:12-23
Mt 12:1-8

Prayer of the Week

Dear Lord, you parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River as your people journeyed to the Promised Land. Lift away those things that keep us from you today as we continue the journey. We ask this in your name, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

13 June: Catholicos St. Nersess the Great



World Council of Churches in Armenia
The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches at the Dzidzernagapert Museum in Yerevan.

World Council of Churches Meets in Armenia

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches is holding its semi-annual meeting at Holy Etchmiadzin this week. His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and a president of the World Council of Churches since 2013, welcomed the 20-member committee, which includes Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Ecumenical Director and Legate of the Eastern Diocese.

On June 10, the delegation traveled to the Dzidzernagapert memorial in Yerevan, where they took part in a prayer service. “The member churches of the World Council of Churches have pledged themselves to stand against all genocides, wherever they happen,” said the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the ecumenical organization.

Click here to read more on the World Council of Churches website.

A skeleton buried by a Middle Neolithic culture found in Germany.

A Prehistoric Mystery 

One of the enduring mysteries in the story of human civilization concerns the ancient people who have come to be called the “Proto-Indo-Europeans.” In the late Neolithic Age (roughly the 4th millennium B.C.) they began their epic migrations across Eurasia, penetrating into Anatolia, Western Europe, the Aegean, Siberia, Central Asia, India and Persia.

They brought with them the domesticated horse, wheeled vehicles, advanced agriculture, heroic poetry, and the worship of a heavenly father-god. Their most potent legacy may have been their language—which would become the root of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and nearly all of the modern languages derived from them. The Armenian language occupies a distinctive “branch” on this venerable linguistic family tree (click here to see a chart of the Indo-European tongues).

But despite the vivid modern traces of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, their origins remain shrouded in the mists of prehistory. Who were they? Where did they come from? These are questions that anthropologists, archaeologists, classicists, and others have debated for generations. But lately, the younger discipline of genetics has been shedding new light on these mysteries.

Earlier this year, this newsletter linked to an article on genetic research into the origins of the Armenian people.

This week, a New York Times article related the conclusions of a team of geneticists, who claim to have deciphered the roots of modern Europeans. In the largest study to date of ancient European DNA, the scientists extracted genetic material from 170 skeletons found in countries from Spain to Russia, and traced a line of descent that reaches back to the Yamnaya people: the Neolithic inhabitants of the western Russian and Ukrainian steppes.

The discovery offers an insight into the prehistoric people who bequeathed to us the rudiments of Western civilization. Click here to read the article.

View a video on Datev produced by students at Armenia’s TUMO Center for Creative Technologies.

TUMO Goes to Datev

Yahoo Travel this week highlighted a video shot and produced by students at Armenia’s TUMO Center for Creative Technologies—an afterschool technology program established by Sam and Sylva Simonian of Dallas, TX.

As part of a travel-writing workshop led by Yahoo’s associate travel editor Greg Keraghosian, the TUMO students journeyed to Armenia’s 9th-century monastery of Datev and recorded their experience on video. In addition to capturing magnificent views from the Wings of Datev tramway, they hiked half-a-mile up a hilltop, from where they captured postcard-perfect shots of the ancient monastic complex.

Click here to view their video.


St. Nersess Seminary Graduation
Elder clergymen Fr. Karekin Kasparian and Fr. Untzag Nalbandian bestow their blessings on the seminary's graduating class of 2015.

St. Nersess Celebrates Graduation

On Friday, May 29, three students— Dn. Vahe Bagdasarian, Kathryn Ashbahian, and Arpi Nakashian—graduated from St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. Some 150 family members, friends, clergy, and guests took part in the celebration, which began with an evening service.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, presided over the graduation ceremony, and presented the graduates with diplomas. The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, seminary dean, gave welcoming remarks. A highlight was the presentation of a cross that once belonged to Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, the founder of St. Nersess Seminary, to the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, a former student of Archbishop Nersoyan and professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess.

Each of the graduates spoke about his or her journey to the seminary, and shared future goals as servants of the Armenian Church of America. Click here to read more and to view photos on the seminary’s website.

Junior Choir Workshop
Junior Choir workshop participants earlier this year at St. Gregory Church in White Plains, NY.

Junior Choir Workshop to be Held in New England

The Diocesan Junior Choir committee will be holding a training workshop on Saturday, June 13, at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, MA, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All parishes in the New England region have been invited to participate. Pastors, senior and junior choir directors, and potential junior choir directors are encouraged to attend.

The Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian and Dn. Gregory Krikorian, co-chairs of the Junior Choir committee, will present an overview of the Junior Choir program. Additional presentations will focus on methods of teaching the hymns of the Divine Liturgy to young learners. The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, diocesan vicar, will be present.

A similar workshop was held earlier this year at St. Gregory Church in White Plains, NY, for parishes in the New York metro region. For information on the June 13 gathering and upcoming Junior Choir events, contact Fr. Zohrabian at or Dn. Krikorian at


Armenian Medical Journal Receives Recognition

The Armenian Medical Review Journal, a publication of Armenia’s National Medical Library, was recently endorsed by the Cochrane Library and the World Association of Medical Editors.  

“There are currently 14 scientific medical magazines published in Armenia. Ours is the only one that is now included on these important international platforms,” said Rouben Hovhannessyan, editor-in-chief of the Armenian Medical Review. “This is prestigious not only for our library, but for Armenia as a whole.”

The Armenian Medical Review Journal was established more than 10 years ago in order to bring the latest developments and commentary on evidence-based medicine to Armenia’s healthcare community. One of its strongest supporters and advisors was the late Dr. Edgar Housepian, a co-founder of the Fund for Armenian Relief. Thanks to his initiative, FAR has been a heroic contributor to the development of Armenia’s National Medical Library and its publications.

Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.


Bishop Nareg Berberian
Bishop Nareg Berberian celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. David Church on Sunday.

Boca Raton Welcomes Bishop Berberian 

Bishop Nareg Berberian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Brazil, is currently visiting the Eastern Diocese, where he was a longtime clergyman before being assigned to serve the Armenian community of Brazil in March 2014.

On Sunday, June 7, Bishop Berberian celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. David Church of Boca Raton, FL, where he served as pastor for many years. He was assisted by the parish’s current pastor, the Rev. Fr. Paren Galstyan. A requiem service followed for Diramayr Nevart Kazanjian, the late mother of Bishop Berberian, who was dearly loved in the Boca Raton community.

At a luncheon following services, the entire community gathered to congratulate their former pastor on his elevation to the rank of bishop (the episcopal elevation service took place at Holy Etchmiadzin last fall). The reception was sponsored by the Torosian family and served by the Women's Guild.

Click here to view photos.

Blessing of an Armenian Khachkar in Minnesota
Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan blesses a new khatchkar installed on the grounds of St. Sahag Church.

Minnesota Gets an Armenian Khatchkar

Parishioners gathered at St. Sahag Church of St. Paul, MN, last Sunday for the blessing of a new khatchkar installed on church grounds in memory of the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.

The khatchkar project was a parish-wide initiative organized as part of the community’s observance of the Genocide centennial year. Crafted in Armenia, it is the first khatchkar installed in Minnesota. The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and blessed the new monument. He was assisted by the Rev. Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan, parish pastor.

At a luncheon following services, Steve Scallen gave a talk titled “From Victims to Victors,” in which he stressed the importance of strengthening Armenian communities and preserving the Armenian faith and culture. A Turkish-born Christian pastor, who was visiting Minnesota from Turkey, spoke extemporaneously about the Armenian Genocide and asked the community for personal forgiveness.

Click here to view photos.

Armenian Church in Jacksonville
Parishioners in Jacksonville enjoy a family-style dinner after services.

Jacksonville Parish Greets New Families

The mission parish of Jacksonville, FL, welcomed the Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian, the Diocese’s director of Mission Parishes, for his monthly visit last weekend.

On Saturday evening, the community celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of Arkady and Laura Khalafyan, two of the original members of the parish who were instrumental in early organizing efforts.

On Sunday, Fr. Abdalian celebrated the Divine Liturgy. At a family-style dinner following services, three families who are new to the Jacksonville area were welcomed and encouraged to participate in parish activities.

Click here to view photos.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events     

St. Gregory the Enlightener Church | White Plains, NY
The Genocide Centennial Committee of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, is sponsoring a cultural event at the White Plains Public Library on Sunday, June 14, beginning at 2 p.m.

Titled “Emerging from the Shadows: The Triumph of the Armenian Spirit,” the program will feature Armenian music, dance, and poetry recitations. Admission is free. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. James Church | Watertown, MA
St. James Church of Watertown, MA, will host its “Armenian Festival and Annual Picnic” on Sunday, June 14, on church grounds. Enjoy Armenian food, live music, raffles, and activities for children. Click on the following links to view a flyer and to visit the parish website for information.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, is sponsoring the Gregory Hintlian Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, June 15. Everyone is invited to enjoy a day of golf, dinner, and a social evening.

The tournament will be held at the Marlborough Country Club, beginning with registration at 9:30 a.m. Tournament and tee sponsorships are available. The RSVP deadline is June 8. Click here to visit the church website for registration information, or contact the office at (617) 354-0632, or via e-mail at

St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will host its 15th annual Golf Outing fundraiser on June 18 at the Echo Lake Golf Club in Westfield, NJ. Profits from the 2014 outing were used for the Sunday School and Armenian School books and for the renovation of the nursery cabinets and countertops. To register, e-mail event chair Nancy Stepanian at by June 7. 

St. Mary Church, under the leadership of its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Arakel Vardazaryan, will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from September 1 to 10. The pilgrimage, titled “Walking in Christ's Footsteps Across the Holy Land,” is open to all parishioners of the Eastern Diocese. Click here to view a flyer for more information.

St. John Church | Detroit, MI
The Detroit Armenian Chorale and Orchestra will present a public concert commemorating the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The concert will be held on Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m. at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Max M. Fisher Music Center (3711 Woodward Avenue in Detroit).  

The program, titled “A 100-Year Journey of Remembrance and Song” will feature sacred and classical music, as well as folk and popular songs. The Hamazkayin Dance Ensemble will accompany a few selections.

Click on the following links to view a flyer and to read more.


Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Pilgrims on the Sea of Galilee.

Blogging from the Holy Land

Last Friday, a group of 21 youth leaders from 20 parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The pilgrimage is being led by the Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, pastor of St. Mary Church of Washington, DC. Fr. Karapetyan is assisted by recent St. Nersess Seminary graduate Arpi Nakashian.

The young pilgrims have already visited the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, among other great sites of biblical history.

Click here to read their blog posts from the past week.




"Huyser" Concert Postponed

Huyser’s concert, scheduled for Saturday, June 13, has been postponed to Friday, June 26, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will host “A Cultural Celebration” featuring the Huyser Music Ensemble on the cathedral plaza. The open-air concert will include selections from Armenian pop, jazz, and folk music.

Click here to view a flyer for ticket information.