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TOP STORY                                                          February 17, 2017

St. Vartan

Sts. Vartanantz Day

Every year on the Thursday preceding Great Lent, Armenians throughout the world commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Avarayr (A.D. 451), in which the soldiers of Armenia, under the leadership of St. Vartan Mamigonian, confronted the Persian Empire, which aimed to convert the world's first Christian nation to Zoroastrianism.

On the field of Avarayr, outnumbered Armenian fighters faced a mighty Persian army. St. Vartan and his companions saw a military defeat, but their unyielding commitment to defend their faith ultimately thwarted the Persians, and ensured that Christianity would endure in Armenia. Click here to read more about the Battle of Avarayr on our website, or download the Diocese’s iBook for an interactive introduction to St. Vartan’s historic campaign.  

Two days prior to the Feast of Sts. Vartanantz, the Armenian Church remembers the sacrifice of St. Leontius (Ghevont) the priest and his companions. St. Ghevont is one of the great exemplars of the Armenian priesthood, remembered for his rare courage and resolution at the Battle of Avarayr.

On the eve of battle, Ghevont celebrated the Divine Liturgy, conferred the sacrament of Holy Communion on the soldiers, and baptized those who had not yet been received into the church. His stirring sermon assured the soldiers that their mystical union with Christ would survive even physical violence and death. In observance of Ghevontiantz Day, the clergy of the Eastern Diocese hold regional gatherings every year. Click here to learn more about St. Leontius and his companions.


Great Lent

Seeking Stillness During Great Lent 

This year, the Armenian Church calendar designates Monday, February 27, as the first day of Great Lent: the season when Christians consciously turn away from worldly matters and make the effort—through prayer, fasting, study, and introspection—to prepare for the spiritual drama of Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

The Scriptural basis for Lent resides in the 40-day period Christ spent in the wilderness following his baptism. In the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel (4:12): "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry."

During Lent we are called to follow the Holy Spirit to confront our own “inner wilderness”—the realm of spiritual emptiness engendered by sin, laziness, and vanity. Through prayer, fasting, Bible-reading, and self-examination, we are given an opportunity to renew our commitment to God, and gain the strength to work at being more loving, humble, and gentle. Click on the following links to learn more about the Armenian Church traditions concerning Great Lent and to view a “Bread and Salt” episode.

Scripture of the Week

Is 63:18-64:12
Ti 1:1-11
Jn 7:37-52

Prayer of the Week

My soul is always in your hands and I place my hope in your Holy Cross, O Heavenly King. May the multitude of your saints intercede on my behalf.

You who are patient with everyone, do not neglect me who trusts in you, but keep me in peace with your precious and Holy Cross. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

18 February: Catholicos St. Sahag Partev

20 February: Holy Bishop Mark of Arethusa

21 February: St. Leontius the Priest and his companions

23 February: St. Vartan the Warrior and his companions

25 February: 150 Fathers of the Holy Council of Constantinople (AD 381)

26 February: Great Barekendan

27 February: First Day of Lent


Remembering Sumgait

Commemorating the Pogroms of Sumgait and Baku

This month marks the 29th anniversary of the attacks on the Armenian population of Sumgait, Azerbaijan. The February 1988 attacks subsequently spread to other cities in Azerbaijan with sizable Armenian populations.  
At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York a requiem service will be held for victims of Azeri aggression on Sunday, February 26. At 2 p.m. that afternoon the St. Gregory mission parish of Brooklyn will host a commemorative program at 2602 East 19th St. (Corner of Avenue Z), in Brooklyn, NY.

Check with your local parish for commemorative events in your area.


Armenian Treasures at the Morgan Library

Secrets of a Silver Book Cover

Currently on view at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum are silver and enameled manuscript covers from the workshop of Armenian silversmiths in Kayseri. The 17th-18th century workshop endured for almost 90 years and is known for its silver liturgical objects.
In a new video from the Eastern Diocese, scholar and librarian Dr. Sylvie L. Merian speaks about this silversmith workshop and offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of its beautiful silver manuscript covers. Click here to view the video.
Dr. Merian will give an illustrated lecture on the Armenian silversmiths at the Morgan Library on Friday, February 24. Click here for ticket information.


Vartan Gregorian

Dr. Vartan Gregorian Inducted into French "Legion of Honor"    

Dr. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was inducted into the French "Legion of Honor" in a ceremony held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York  on Thursday, February 9. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was among the guests invited to the ceremony.
Ambassador Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States, presented the insignia to Dr. Gregorian in recognition of his efforts to strengthen relations between France and America. The Legion of Honor, established by Napoleon Bonaparte, is the highest award bestowed by the French government in recognition of outstanding service to France.
“Vartan Gregorian is a visionary and a living example of the modern man of letters, for whom education and knowledge is the key to opportunity and peace,” said Ambassador Araud. “It is through cultural exchanges and by opening new pathways of cooperation that we promote understanding in the world. Vartan Gregorian has been a true partner in our advancement of dual language education in public schools. His love for the French language and culture has been a pleasure to discover.”
Click here to read more on the Carnegie Corporation’s website.


New Book from Christian Education

Second Edition of "Breathed By God" Released     

The Eastern Diocese’s Christian Education department has just issued a revised edition of its high school textbook Breathed By God. Widely used in Sunday School junior and senior high grades, the textbook follows a “Dummies Guide” format of sidebars, vocabulary, and points of distinctly Armenian interest.
The student text and teacher manual (the latter exclusively online) have become classic parish tools for introducing the content and important themes of the Bible and how Christians and Armenian Christians in particular understand it. This second edition—now in full-color—is just one of many revised and new resources in the We Believe series.



FAR Awards Grants to Scientists in Armenia     

On January 25, the Fund for Armenian Relief awarded scientists in Armenia the annual Armenian National Science and Education Fund (ANSEF) research grants. In a ceremony held at Yerevan State University, 30 groups of researchers were awarded grants of $5,000 each.
“We are happy to see that more and more young scientists are enthusiastically doing research,” said Edik Karapetyan, FAR’s science and education programs manager. “Sixteen out of 30 group heads are young researchers under the age of 35, and 17 of them are women.”
Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.


Primate to Visit Dallas

Primate to Visit Racine, Naples

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will visit St. Mesrob Church of Racine, WI, this weekend. The Primate will meet with the parish council, Diocesan delegates, ACYOA, Women’s Guild, Sunday School teachers, as well as choir members and altar servers to answer general questions about the Armenian Church, address the local needs of the parish, and speak about resources available from the Diocese.

On Sunday, Archbishop Barsamian will preside over the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon. Diocesan staff member Arpi Nakashian will accompany the Primate on the visit to St. Mesrob Church.

The Armenian Church of Southwest Florida mission parish will welcome Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, February 26. Services will begin at 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Naples, FL. A banquet will follow to celebrate Poon Paregentan at Longshore Lake Country Club in Naples.


St. Sarkis Church, Dallas, TX

Dallas Parish Welcomes Archbishop Barsamian

Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian visited St. Sarkis Church in Carrollton, TX, from February 10 to 12, as the parish celebrated its name day.

During a Saturday evening service, the Primate ordained Armen, Serop and Tateos Rea, Isaac Sandoval, and Michael Minassian to the rank of acolyte. The next day, Archbishop Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with St. Sarkis pastor Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian assisting him. Rev. Fr. Mikael Devejian also participated in the service.

During the badarak, Daron Bolat and Njteh Keleshian were ordained as deacons. The Primate blessed the two new deacons and lauded their leadership and service to the Armenian Church. After the Divine Liturgy, the congregation gathered in the St. Sarkis cultural hall, where parishioner Barbara Kourajian was honored as "Steward of the Year."

During the weekend, the Primate also met with a number of parish organizations, including the Armenian Young Professionals, ACYOA Juniors and Seniors, St. Sarkis School Board, and Women's Guild. The St. Sarkis Building Committee gave an update on the progress of the parish's new church complex, which will be built nearby in Carrollton.
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.


Holy Trinity, Chelteham, Pa

Celebrating Christian Marriage

Married couples of all ages at Holy Trinity Church in Cheltenham, PA, took part in a “Service of Renewal of Marriage Vows” immediately following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, February 12. The purpose of the service, which was designed by the Christian Education department of the Eastern Diocese, was to celebrate the sacred relationship between husband and wife—the very foundation of family life.
The short service included a reading of St. Paul’s beautiful passage on love (1 Corinthians 13) and a series of questions posed by the pastor, Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan, in which the couples replied with a resounding “We do, with God’s help!” Among the most poignant was a petition to “invite Christ anew into your marriage to be the true and actual Lord of your lives as a couple, opening your hearts to his saving presence.” The service ended with a blessing for “the souls of departed husbands and wives whose love for their still-living spouses remains constant.” Each couple received a long-stemmed red rose before leaving the sanctuary.
After badarak, the couples along with the entire congregation enjoyed a special coffee fellowship, which included a lovely cake decorated with the words, “Celebrating Christian Marriage.” Fr. Gevorgyan invited couples who had been married for more than 50 years to join him in cutting the cake. Click here to view photos.


Armenian Church of Baton Rouge

"Blessing of Children" Service in Baton Rouge

Last weekend, the Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian visited St. Garabed Church—the mission parish in Baton Rouge, LA.  On Saturday, he conducted a choir rehearsal, helping choir members prepare for Holy Week and Easter.
On Sunday, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Abdalian offered the “Blessing of Children” service in observance of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord to the Temple. All children of the parish—as well as their parents, grandparents, and godparents—participated in the blessing.
At a luncheon following services, the parish honored a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.


Upcoming Parish Events

St. Vartan Cathedral | New York, NY
New York's St. Vartan Cathedral and the Mid-Atlantic Knights and Daughters of Vartan will host an observance of Sts. Vartanantz Day on Thursday, February 23. The Divine Liturgy will begin at 6 p.m. It will be followed by a dinner and program in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium. Dr. Roberta Ervine will speak on “The Vartanank Calling for Today." 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 "Family Monti Night" on Saturday, February 25.  Click here to view a flyer for information.
Sts. Vartanantz Church | Chelmsford, MA
Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, will host a "Poon Paregentan Dinner Dance and Family Kef Night" on Saturday, February 25. Activities for children will start at 5 p.m. and dinner and dancing will begin at 6 p.m., with entertainment by the Jason Naroian Ensemble. Paid-in-advance tickets must be received by February 17. For reservations, contact Maria Kazanjian at (717) 240-3686 or For more information, click here to view a flyer.
St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ, will host a "Poon Paregentan Masquerade Ball" on Saturday, February 25, at 8 p.m. Enjoy musical entertainment by Kevork Artinian and his band. For reservations, contact Talar at (201) 240-8541, or Nadine at (201) 513-2700. For more information, click here to view a flyer.
St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will host a “Poon Paregentan Dance” on on Saturday, February 25. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Click here to view a flyer for information.
St. Hagop Church | Pinellas Park, FL
St. Hagop Church of Pinellas Park, FL, will host an “Armenian Mardi Gras/Poon Paregentan” event on Saturday, February 25, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the church’s Shahnasarian Hall. Enjoy Armenian food, music, dancing, and a Heritage Collection showcase of collectible items. The day also will feature Tavloo games, activities for children, and church tours. For information, call Kelli at the church office at (727) 545-0380.

St. Stepanos Church | Elberon, NJ
St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ, will host a performance by "TCA Comedy Club" on Sunday, February 26, at 1 p.m. Click here to view a flyer for information.

The Women's Guild of St. Stepanos Church will host an observance of Saintly Women’s Day, this year honoring the saintly women of Vartanantz, on Saturday, March 18. Click here to view a flyer for registration information.

Midwest Poon Paregentan Celebration
A Poon Paregentan dinner and dance will be held on Saturday, February 25, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Avalon Banquet Hall in Elk Grove Village, IL. Enjoy dinner and music by the Karoon Band. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Holy Cross Church | Union City, NJ
The Women's Guild of Holy Cross Church of Union City, NJ, will host its annual Lenten luncheon on Wednesday, March 1, at 12:30 p.m. Enjoy vospov kufté, pilav, yalanchi, eggplant, and other delicacies. Click here to view a flyer for information.



Special Guests at the Khrimian Lyceum

Athletes Nareg Guregian and his wife Katelin Snyder, a U.S. Olympic gold medalist, addressed the students of the Diocese’s Khrimian Lyceum on Saturday, February 11.
The couple spoke about rowing and the importance of perseverance in their sport. Students had an opportunity to ask questions and engage in a discussion with the Olympians. Both are members of the U.S. Rowing Training Center in Princeton, NJ, where they train for six days a week.
Guregian and Snyder are rowers who competed in the Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year. Snyder led the women's 8-person rowing team to a gold medal in the 2,000 meter race.
In addition to the Khrimian Lyceum’s regular classes last weekend, the program included a short lecture about the feasts of St. Sarkis, Dyarnuntaratch, and Sts. Vartanantz by lyceum director Gilda Kupelian. Work is underway for the 30th anniversary celebration of the Khrimian Lyceum scheduled for May 20.
Click here to view photos.


St. Nersess Confrerence

Registration Open for St. Nersess Summer Conferences 

Registration is open for the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary summer conferences for high school and post-high school students. The conferences will be held on the newly consecrated campus in Armonk, NY. For the second year, St. Nersess will follow the new curriculum unveiled last summer, which will include topics such as Armenian Church history and doctrine, sacraments, Armenian religious art, contemporary issues, and more.
Deacons' Training Program
June 23 - July 2
Directed by Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan
High School Summer Conference A
July 7 - July 16
Directed by Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian
High School Summer Conference B
July 21 - July 30
Directed by Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian
Post High School Conference
August 1 - August 6
Directed by Rev. Fr. Hratch Sargsyan
Visit for information and to register.


Christian Churches Together

A Forum on the "Persecuted Church" in Newark

The Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian will moderate a panel at a Christian Churches Together forum on the “Persecuted Church” next month. The forum will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Newark, NJ, on March 2 and 3.
Fr. Jebejian will moderate a panel with His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
The forum is open to the public. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Fr. Daniel Findikyan

Lecture on St. Nersess Shnorhali at the Diocesan Center

On Thursday, March 2, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, will give a lecture on St. Nersess Shnorhali at the Diocesan Center in New York.
Titled “The Joy of the Gospel in Times of Tragedy: A Lesson from St. Nersess Shnorhali,” the lecture will focus on a little-known “Letter of Consolation” by St. Nersess Shnorhali, which Fr. Findikyan translated to English.
The lecture will be held in Guild Hall of the Diocesan Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Click here for more information.



Lincoln Center Concert in Honor of Armenia 

The Armenian Mission to the United Nations will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s membership in the U.N. with a concert at Lincoln Center on Thursday, March 16.
Titled “A Cultural Adventure: Joyfully Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Armenia Rejoining the Family of Nations,” the program will feature contemporary interpretations of Armenian folk and sacred music. It will include performances by Jivan Gasparian, Jr. and the Hover State Chamber Choir of Armenia. Visual artist Karen Mirzoyan, in collaboration with stage director Eric Hill, will project images inspired by Armenia’s culture, history, and landscape.
Click here to read more and for ticket information.


Walk Thru the Bible

"Walk Thru the Bible" in Fair Lawn, NJ

The Eastern Diocese’s Christian Education department is sponsoring a “Walk Thru the Bible: Old Testament” event on Saturday, March 18. The event is hosted by St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, and is open to all (children ages 8 and up are welcome to accompany their parents).
Participants will learn about biblical people, places, and eventsdiscovering how the Old Testament ultimately leads to the Cross. And forget tedious note taking! Attendees will learn the material using hand signs, catch phrases, group reviews, and enjoyable interaction with the instructor, Roger Petersen, a professor at Cairn University in Langhorne, PA, and a longtime instructor for the “Walk Thru the Bible” organization.
Click here to view a flyer for information. To register, contact your pastor, Sunday School superintendent, or Elise Antreassian at
The Diocese has sponsored seven “Walk Thru the Bible” events, attended by 800 people across the parishes, helping to rekindle a desire to know and love God through Scripture.


Hrant Dink

"Hrant Dink Contemporary Oratorio" Scheduled for March

The "Hrant Dink Contemporary Oratorio"—a grand choral concert piece by composer Majag Toshigian and lyricist Bercuhi Berberyan—will be performed at the St. Vartan Cathedral Complex on Saturday, March 25.
The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. in the cathedral sanctuary, under the direction of Kris D. Kalfayan. Soloists include Karin Cubukcuyan Bozkurt, Elie Berberian, and Bogos Yegyazar. A dinner will follow in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.
The event is being organized by the Constantinople Armenian Relief Society in honor of its 90th anniversary, and will go forward under the auspices of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese. Click here to view a flyer for ticket information.

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