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TOP STORY                                                          September 3, 2015

St. Mary
A Greek icon of St. Anna and St. Mary by Angelos Akotantos (15th century).

Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Mother-of-God

On Tuesday, September 8, the worldwide Armenian Church will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Mother-of-God.

St. Mary was born to Joachim and Anna, a devout couple whose earnest prayers for a child were answered with the birth of a daughter. Mary’s birth is not recorded in the Gospel, but in all likelihood it occurred in Bethlehem or Nazareth, some 20 years before Christ's nativity.

Her life of holiness and purity, and her graceful acceptance of the role to which God called her, as the mother of Jesus Christ, all make Mary one of the pre-eminent exemplars of the Christian faith, whose birth and very conception are occasions for celebration in the church.

The Armenian Church has celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Mother-of-God since the 13th century. St. Mary is known in the Armenian Church as Asdvadzamayr-Asdvadzadzin, the "Mother of God" and the "Bearer of God”—a position doctrinally established at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in the 5th century. Click here to view a short video about St. Mary in the Armenian Church.

At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 8.


Scripture of the Week

Is 13:1-11
2 Cor 7:4-16
Mk 7:31-37

Prayer of the Week

Let us hold the holy Mother-of-God and all the saints as intercessors with the Father in Heaven, that He may be pleased to have mercy and compassion on us, His creatures, and save us. Almighty Lord, our God, save us and have mercy on us. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

3 September: St. John the Forerunner and Job the Righteous

5 September: 318 Fathers of the Holy Council of Nicaea (AD 325)

6 September: Barekendan of the Fast of Exaltation

8 September: Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Mother-of-God


Vahakn Hovnanian
Vahakn Hovnanian (1932-2015).

In Memoriam: Vahakn Hovnanian (1932-2015)

With great sorrow, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America mourns the loss of Vahakn Hovnanian, who passed away in Armenia on August 29, 2015, at the age of 83.

Mr. Hovnanian was an admired community leader with a lifelong devotion to the church. As a member of a vigorous and outgoing family, he inherited a deep sense of patriotism and an eagerness to advance the community as a creative visionary and benefactor. In gratitude for his efforts, he received honors from the leading ecclesiastical, political, and community authorities of the Armenian people.

While his business interests and charitable concerns were extremely wide-ranging, two special causes dominated his work: Armenian culture and Armenian education. With his wife Hasmig, Vahakn Hovnanian became a great patron of the arts, supporting artistic excellence by instituting awards and exhibits for native Armenian talents. One of his greatest contributions to education came in 1976, when he became a founder of the Armenian school in Milford, NJ. Several years later it was renamed as the Hovnanian School in honor of his generous financial and moral support.

In recent years his interests gravitated more towards strengthening the Republic of Armenia and helping its citizens. His outreach to the homeland began in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake, and intensified as the new century dawned. Lately he had actively promoted his vision of Armenia as an international tourist destination.

Vahakn Hovnanian was a friend of the Eastern Diocese, who chaired the groundbreaking “Jerusalem 2000” pilgrimage. His warm, good-humored personality, his appreciation for beauty and artistry, and his kind compassion for others will be sorely missed by the worldwide Armenian community.

We extend condolences to his wife, Hasmig; to his children Nina and Shant and their families; to his five grandchildren; to his brother Hirair and sisters Anahid and Dirouhi; and to countless friends and loved ones. May our risen Lord remember his servant on his day of judgment.

Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Granada
Detail of a painting by Artsrun Apresyan, titled “Antique Photograph.”
An exhibition dedicated to the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide is on view in Granada, Spain.

Armenian Genocide Exhibit in Spain

It is a well documented habit among Armenians that wherever they travel, they are certain to seek out other Armenians, or at the very least, some trace of an Armenian presence in a far-flung corner of the globe. In Spain, this proves somewhat of a challenge, as the country has no Armenian churches, schools, or established community centers.

But in this centennial year of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian community there, in collaboration with local institutions, has organized an exhibition of artwork by Armenian artists. By happenstance, the exhibition is on display in Granada—Spain’s city of pomegranates, the latter as much a national fruit for Armenians as the apricot.

If you follow the main promenade from the “Fuente de las Granadas” (Pomegranate Fountain) into the old district, you will arrive at the city’s magnificent cathedral and Episcopal Palace. The 17th-century palace is home to an exhibition space, where "La infancia robada” (Stolen Childhood) went on display this summer (it will remain on view through mid-October).

The exhibition features 63 works by 14 contemporary Armenian artists, touching on the themes of genocide, displacement, faith, and Armenian culture. A selection of photographs and documents tells the story of Western missionaries who helped save the survivors.

Click here to view photos from "La infancia robada.” And if you’re headed to Spain this fall, be sure to see it for yourself.


Appeal of Conscience
Cardinal Péter Erdö, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

Catholic Archbishop of Hungary Welcomed in NYC

On Wednesday, August 26, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, attended a luncheon organized by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in honor of Cardinal Péter Erdö, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, the Primate of Hungary, and president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe. Cardinal Péter Erdö is on a visit to the United States.

Archbishop Barsamian offered a prayer at the gathering: “Bless and protect Cardinal Erdö, Lord, and strengthen his distinguished ministry, which has involved teaching, as well as practical outreach; which has been concerned with great matters of doctrine, as well as service to the least of your children.”

Other religious leaders in attendance at the luncheon included Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. Click here to view photos.

Zaven Khanjian visits Diocesan Center
Zaven Khanjian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

Primate Receives AMAA's Zaven Khanjian

In August, Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian welcomed the Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America to the Diocesan Center.
Zaven Khanjian met the Primate in the formal reception room of the Diocesan Complex, where the two discussed projects and developments in the U.S., Armenia, and the Middle East. It was Mr. Khanjian’s first visit to the Diocese since becoming the AMAA’a Executive Director and CEO in September 2014, and the Primate congratulated him on taking up this new path in an already distinguished life of activity.

A native of Aleppo, Syria, Mr. Khanjian grew up as an active member of the Armenian Evangelical Church, and continued his involvement after moving to California in 1979. Alongside a successful career in business and real estate, he has been a leader in the Los Angeles community, recently chairing a heroic fundraising effort for the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.


Ararat Center Concludes Summer Season

The Ararat Center, the Eastern Diocese’s retreat, camp, and conference facility in Greenville, NY, wrapped up its summer season last month, and is looking forward to its annual cruise fundraiser in the fall.

The center was home to St. Vartan Camp for six weeks, followed by the one-week Armenian Protestant camp program. The facility also hosted various community groups and is preparing for the upcoming St. Nersess retreat for the seminarians. Click here to read more about its recent activities.

On Saturday, October 3, the Ararat Center’s Board of Directors will host the organization’s annual cruise. This year’s event will depart from Penn's Landing in Philadelphia and travel along the Delaware River. Guests will enjoy live music and dining. Click here for information on tickets and sponsorships.

Armenian Books

Armenian Literature in the Digital Age

Armenians have long prided themselves on being a literary people. Our writing tradition reaches back to the 5th century A.D., with major flourishings in the Middle Ages and the 19th/20th centuries. Armenian masters of the written word have left us great works of history, national epics, novels, short stories, and lyric and mystical poetry.

But for readers of the digital age, the backlist of Armenian literary treasures remains remarkably thin.
Some young Armenians from our Philadelphia-area parishes are trying to address the problem. As professionals in the tech industry, they’ve launched a venture to bring the Armenian literary canon—in e-text, audio, and other popular formats—to a broader audience.

At the moment, they’re canvassing the Armenian reading public to learn about its literary tastes, beloved books and authors, and preferred digital formats. Click here if you’re interested in taking part in the short online survey.

Armenian Language Symposium
Armenian School teachers are invited to take part in this month's symposium at the Diocesan Center.

Armenian Teachers' Symposium

The Diocese’s Armenian Studies Department will host an Armenian Teachers’ Symposium on Saturday September 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Diocesan Center in New York. The daylong gathering will focus on “Blended Learning”—the use of technology in traditional instruction.

Artoun Hamalian, director of the Education Department at AGBU, will speak on “Identity, Culture, Education: Prospects, Priorities, Resources.” Natalie Gabrelian, director of Scholarships and Alternative Education at AGBU, will present a new digital resource for language instruction. Gilda Buchakjian, the Diocese’s Armenian Studies director, will address the subjects of blended learning and parental involvement. Educators who have taught for more than 10 years will be honored for their service to Armenian schools in the Diocese.

For information, contact Gilda Buchakjian at



Hye Pointe Picnic
Children at the Hye Pointe picnic.

Hye Pointe Church Hosts Annual Picnic

On Sunday, August 23, the Armenian Church at Hye Pointe welcomed some 400 people to its annual picnic held on the grounds of the American Legion Farm in Haverhill, MA.  The picnic began with a Jashou service, followed by a requiem service for deceased members of the Hye Pointe parish.

Picnic attendees enjoyed Armenian cuisine, including the “Hye Pointe kheyma” prepared according to a recipe brought from Historic Armenia. The Women’s Guild hosted a bakery table featuring traditional Armenian sweets.

Click here to view photos.

Holy Trinity members at the museum
Cheltenham parishioners at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Art and the Spirit in Philadelphia

A dozen people from the Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, toured the great Philadelphia Museum of Art in late August to find spiritual meaning in its world-class collection.

Sponsored by the parish’s Adult Christian Education ministry, the day-long museum trip was titled “Contemplating Christian Art.” Guided by retired minister and museum docent Rev. John Hougen, the participants viewed examples of Christian art and learned how to open themselves up to spiritual nourishment while contemplating art.

The lesson in contemplation came with an assignment. Each participant was asked to identify a piece of art that “spoke to them,” and to share that experience with the group. Different individuals found spiritual meaning among the Impressionists, in landscapes, portraits—even in the Arms and Armor exhibit. Everyone felt enriched to be in the presence of beauty and sublime craftsmanship.

“I learned to look at art in a new way,” said one parishioner. “It’s amazing to realize that the Holy Spirit might be speaking to me in a way I never thought possible.”

Seta Bucther Honored
Seta A. Buchter will be honored for her many years of service to the Sunday School in Cambridge.

A "Day of Celebration" in Cambridge

On Sunday, September 20, Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, will honor its recently retired Sunday School superintendent Seta A. Buchter. Ms. Buchter served the parish’s Sunday School for 28 years. She will continue on as a full-time member of the Holy Trinity office staff. 

“Under Seta’s Sunday School tenure, hundreds of children and youth have benefited from our Sunday School program,” said the Rev. Fr. Vasken A. Kouzouian, parish pastor. “She has certainly left her mark on our parish’s Christian Education program.”

Following services on September 20, Holy Trinity Church will host a “Day of Celebration” in the Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall. All are invited to attend.

Knar Cultural Committee=
The Cultural Committee with Fr. Shnork Souin.

Providence Cultural Committee Turns 20

The Cultural Committee of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church of Providence, RI, is marking its 20th anniversary this year. Under the leadership of Maestro Konstantin Petrossian, the committee has organized a number of concerts, festivals, exhibitions, lectures, movie screenings, and other activities. It also runs a unique arts education program for youth and adults.

On Saturday, June 27, parishioners gathered to celebrate the special milestone in the church’s Egavian Auditorium. The Classic Groove Band with Steven Tashjian performed Armenian and American songs. Masters of ceremony Greg Ayrassian and Gary Nahabedian spoke about the committee's accomplishments, many of which were highlighted in a slide show prepared by Len Arzoomanian. The Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, parish pastor, expressed his appreciation to the committee members for their efforts. Maestro Konstantin Petrossian thanked the members of the Cultural Committee, and noted that the group works as a family for the benefit of the church community.

Click here to read the Cultural Committee’s publication, “KNAR.”

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

Holy Martyrs Church | Bayside, NY
The Church of the Holy Martyrs of Bayside, NY, will host its annual "Oceania Street Armenian Festival" on Saturday, September 12, from 12 to 8 p.m. The event will be held on Oceania Street in Bayside. Enjoy Armenian food, street vendors, raffles, games for kids and performances—including appearances by the Aradzani and Hye Bar dance groups, the Antranig Dance Ensemble, and others. Click here to view a flyer.

Holy Ascension Church |Trumbull, CT
Holy Ascension Church of Trumbull, CT, will hold its annual "Armenian Picnic Festival" on Sunday, September 13, starting at noon. Enjoy lamb and chicken shish kebab and other Armenian foods. The day will feature Armenian folk and pop music, and activities for children. Click here to view a flyer for information or visit the parish's Facebook page.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
Holy Trinity Church of Greater Boston will host the "Trinity Family Festival" on Sunday, September 13, from noon to 5 p.m. Join the local community for an afternoon of Armenian food, music, and fellowship. The blessing of the madagh will take place at 4 p.m., followed by the raffle drawing. Click here to read about the festival. For more information, contact the Holy Trinity Church Office at (617) 354-0632, or e-mail

St. James Church | Watertown, MA
On Monday, September 14, the Men's Club and Women's Guild of St. James Church of Watertown, MA, will host a joint dinner meeting featuring keynote speaker Eric Bogosian, author of Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide. The evening begins with a social hour at 6:15, followed by dinner at 7. For information and reservations, call the church office at (617) 923-8860.

Church of Our Saviour | Worcester, MA
The Church of Our Saviour of Worcester, MA, will host its 22nd annual golf tournament at the Sterling National Country Club in Sterling, MA, on Monday, September 14. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.; the tournament is scheduled for 10 a.m. A dinner will follow the day's game. Click here for information and registration materials. The parish welcomes sponsorships and donations. Click here for a sponsorship form.
St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
The St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will hold its annual Food Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20. The festival has been a much-anticipated fall event for the northern New Jersey Armenian and surrounding communities for more than 25 years.

Click here to view a flyer. Additional information on the St. Mary Food Festival, including sponsorship opportunities, is available on the St. Mary Church website.

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
The Kirikian Armenian School of St. Thomas Church will hold its opening day of classes and registration on Saturday, September 19, beginning at 9:15 a.m. Sessions for the upcoming year will run from September through June, with classes for toddlers and nursery through 7th grade. For information e-mail To view a flyer, click here.

Hye Pointe Church | Haverhill, MA
Hye Pointe Church of Haverhill, MA, will host a sphagetti dinner on Saturday, September 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. Enjoy dinner and fellowship in the church hall. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Gregory the Enlightener Church | White Plains, NY
St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, will host its annual picnic on Sunday, September 20, from noon until 6:00 p.m. Enjoy music by the Johnny Berberian Ensemble, featuring Onnik Dinkjian; a raffle; and activities for adults and children. The menu includes homemade Armenian mezzes and pastries, luleh kebab, and grilled chicken. Click here to view a flyer for information, or call the church at (914) 428-2595.


ACYOS Juniors Sports Weekend

ACYOA Juniors Fall Sports Weekend

The Church of the Holy Martyrs of Bayside, NY, will host the 2015 ACYOA Juniors Fall Sports Weekend from October 9 through 12. Participants will be housed with host families from the Bayside parish. The weekend is open to high school students ages 13 to 18. It will feature spiritual activities, sporting events, and evening dances. A special cruise is planned for Saturday, October 10.

All participant names are due to the host committee by September 18, and all forms and payment are due by September 21. Please contact your parish priest or youth advisor for registration information. For details on the weekend, contact Garen Karamyan, the Holy Martyrs ACYOA Juniors youth advisor, at

For information about the ACYOA, contact Jennifer Morris, the Diocese’s Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at


Jazz at St Vartan Cathedral

Jazz on the Plaza at St. Vartan Cathedral

An evening of sophisticated jazz music will be held on Friday, September 18, beginning at 7 p.m. on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, in New York City.

The evening will feature a live performance by the ensemble "Instant Culture Music," and is being sponsored by the St. Vartan Cathedral Council. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo
Jason Hamacher's new CD “Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo.”

Zohrab Center to Host an Evening of Music and Stories

The Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will inaugurate its fall season of lectures with an evening of music and stories on Friday, September 18, beginning at 7 p.m. in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium. Musician Jason Hamacher will speak about his new CD “Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo.” 

Over six years, Mr. Hamacher has documented the ancient prayers, hallowed rituals, and sacred spaces of the Sufi, Armenian, Syriac, and Assyrian musical traditions of Aleppo. He recorded Armenian Church hymns sung by the Very Rev. Fr. Yeznig Zegchanian in the 600-year-old Armenian Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in the old city of Aleppo. Mr. Hamacher will share personal experiences, play vinyl records, and show photographs from his travels in Syria.

Click here to read more on the Zohrab Center’s blog.

St. Nersess Seminary
A view of the new St. Nersess Seminary campus in Armonk, NY.

St. Nersess Banquet to Celebrate New Campus

On Sunday, November 22, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will celebrate its new campus with a banquet at the Rockleigh Country Club in Northvale, NJ. The evening will pay tribute to the institution’s past and highlight its vision for the next chapter of its history. Grand benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Haig and Elza Didizian will be honored.

Nadine Ariyan and Lucie Bandazian are co-chairing the banquet. Invitations and booklet sponsorship information will be available in the coming weeks.