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TOP STORY                                                       November 19, 2015

Presentation of St. Mary to the temple
The Presentation of St. Mary to the Temple. (From St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church, Washington, DC.)

Presentation of the Mother-of-God to the Temple 

On Saturday, November 21, the worldwide Armenian Church will celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Holy Mother-of-God to the Temple.

Shortly after Mary was born, her parents Joachim and Anna took their daughter to the Temple of Jerusalem to be consecrated to God in thanksgiving for the gift of their child. According to tradition, Mary remained there for a time and was given over to the care of pious widows and maidens who lived at the temple. Later, as a young woman, Mary became betrothed to Joseph the carpenter. Click here to view a video about St. Mary in the Armenian Church.
At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Saturday, November 21, beginning at 10 a.m.


Beginning of the Advent Season

Next week marks the beginning of Advent, a season of preparation for one of the greatest feasts of the church, Christmas.
In the Armenian Church, Advent is a period of 50 days called Heesnag (from the Armenian word for fifty, heesoon). It is a time for prayer, reflection, devotion to Scripture, fasting, and service.

Click here to learn more.


Scripture of the Week

Is 36:1-9
Thes 1:1-10
Lk 12:13-31

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

21 November: Presentation of the Holy Mother-of-God to the Temple

22 November: First Sunday of Advent

28 November: Holy Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew


Prayers for France
Mourners light candles and set down flowers to honor the victims of terror in Paris.

The Contrast 

Last week, the most beautiful city in the world was disfigured, again, by evil. Shortly after the outrages in Paris, the lovely, beleaguered city of Beirut was the target of psychotic violence. The entire civilized world is on alert. And once more, we have been left to repeat the familiar litany—of solidarity, prayers, and peace—that has become the essential sequel to such horrors.
Essential, but sadly inadequate. In response to these outbreaks of violence, the world’s authorities appear baffled: unable or unwilling to defend their own values, their own civilization, and perhaps even their own citizens from an encroaching barbarism.
As Christians, as heirs to the holy martyrs, we place our trust in God’s mysterious will, and in the mercy of His Son: the Prince of Peace; the creator and final judge of this world—who offered his life not to destroy the world, but to save it. Whose idea of martyrdom was not to waste life, but to grant it, and grant it in abundance.
Between the example of Christ and the perverse ideology of the terrorists, no greater contrast could be conceived. The latter deserve our rebuke and contempt. But mostly, our resistance.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian delivers a prayer during a World Council of Churches gathering.

A Prayer of Intercession

Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, this week, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches prayed for the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, and in the aftermath of the attacks on Paris and Beirut, for the victims of those tragedies.
On Sunday, November 15, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, a member of the WCC Executive Committee, led prayers of intercession in French and English for the Holy Martyrs of 1915 and “for victims today in Beirut and Paris.” The prayer service was held at the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Geneva’s historic district.
“Lord, in this year of 2015, we are mindful of the history of a century ago, when your children of Armenian descent were marked for destruction, and driven from their ancient homeland by the Ottoman Empire,” Archbishop Aykazian said. “We are aware that our world of today is deeply troubled, and bears the scars of violence and misery. We pray that you will heal its wounds, Lord, and let it ring not with the sounds of hostility and conflict, but with harmony and mutual respect.”
Click on the following links to read more on the WCC website and on Ecumenical News.


The Didizians
His Holiness Karekin II blesses Haig and Elza Didizian.

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 Rockleigh, NJ.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, will preside over the event, which 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.

A number of seminary graduates, both clergy and lay, will be in attendance. Nadine Ariyan and Lucie Bandazian are co-chairing the banquet.

Prior to the celebratory evening, St. Nersess seminarians will be available at the seminary’s new campus in Armonk, NY, to give tours and speak about their experience. For information on this Open House event, contact the seminary at (914) 273-0200.

Homiletics Workshop
Christopher Zakian leads a session of the Clergy Homiletics Workshop.

Workshop on Homiletics for Clergy

A workshop in homiletics was held on November 12-13 at St. Gregory the Enlightener Church in White Plains, NY. Nine Diocesan clergymen—hailing from Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, DC—took part in the workshop, which was part of a continuing clergy education program initiated by the Primate and Diocesan Council.
Sessions were led by Dr. Herand Markarian, the Rev. Canon Nicholas Porter, and Christopher Zakian. Participants were tasked with composing and delivering sermons on the theme of Christmas—and to that end received guidance, feedback, and constructive criticism from instructors and fellow priests.
Lectures were given on the essentials of effective preaching and the proper use of language, form, and technique. Mr. Zakian presented a step by step approach to sermon writing and the homily’s role in the greater context of the Divine Liturgy. The clergy participants were grateful for the opportunity to develop their skills in this important area of pastoral ministry. A similar workshop is scheduled for December 10-11.

FAR`s Poverty Reduction program  supports families in Armenia.

FAR Addresses Child Poverty in Armenia

The Fund for Armenian Relief’s “Child Poverty Reduction Program” supports 111 families in 10 villages in Armenia’s Ararat province. Through tailored intervention programs, families struggling with financial and social issues receive much-needed support.
Click here to visit FAR’s blog and to read about the Poghosyan family. Thanks to the “Child Poverty Reduction Program,” the Poghosyans were able to purchase livestock to support work on their small farm.  

Annual Appeal

Diocese's Annual Appeal Underway

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.

Giving Tuesday

Support the Diocese on "Giving Tuesday"

Join the #givingtuesday global movement on Tuesday, December 1, and donate to the Eastern Diocese’s Annual Appeal campaign.
On December 1—officially declared a “day of giving”—people around the world will come together to celebrate generosity and to give back. Please remember the Diocese’s Annual Appeal when you make your contributions, and please share with us what the Diocese means to you using the hashtag #givingtuesday.
Take a few moments on #givingtuesday to make a year-end gift to the Eastern Diocese. Click here to donate, or call (212) 686-0710, ext. 144. For more information, contact Taleen Babayan at


Water Blessing Service across the Eastern Diocese
The water-blessing ceremony at the St. James Church in Watertown.

Blessing of Water with Muron of Victory

On Sunday, November 15, parishes across the Eastern Diocese conducted a special “Blessing of Water” service with the new Holy Muron—the holy oil employed in all the church’s sacramental anointing services. Click here to view parish photos.
Last week, clergy from Diocesan parishes traveled to New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, where they received the new Holy Muron from Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian. The Holy Muron was prepared at Holy Etchmiadzin and blessed by His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, in September. His Holiness proclaimed this year’s Muron the “Muron of Victory” in commemoration of the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide.

Holy Martyrs Church, Bayside, NY

New Khatchkar to be Dedicated in Bayside

Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside, NY, this Sunday, November 22. He will preside over the Divine Liturgy and the ceremony consecrating the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.
Afterwards, on the plaza of the Bayside church, a hand-carved khatchkar will be unveiled, blessed, and formally dedicated to the new saints of the Genocide. A luncheon and program will follow services. Click here to read more on the parish website.

St. Leon Church, Fair Lawn, NJ
Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Fr. Carnig Hallajian, and parish leaders of St. Leon Church at its 50th anniversary event.

A Golden Anniversary in Fair Lawn

On Sunday, November 15, St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the current sanctuary.
The Rev. Fr. Diran Bohajian, pastor of St. Leon Church, celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of France and Pontifical Legate to Western Europe and former pastor of St. Leon Church, ordained parishioners Andre Aiazian and Jack Hamparian to the rank of acolyte. Following services, Bishop Hovhanessian blessed a khatchkar placed at the base of the altar bema. The khatchkar was donated by parishioners Tom and Carol Ashbahian. 
An evening program included remarks by former pastors, a video highlighting the parish’s history, and the creation of a time capsule containing relics contributed by parish organizations.

Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.

Deacon Gregory Krikorian
Dn. Gregory and Carol Krikorian.

Cambridge Honors Longtime Deacon

Following services on Sunday, November 15, Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, honored longtime parishioner Dn. Gregory Krikorian for his dedicated service. Dn. Krikorian has been serving as a deacon at Holy Trinity Church for 50 years.
During the reception, family, friends and parishioners paid tribute to a devoted son of the Armenian Church. The Rev. Fr. Vasken A. Kouzouian, parish pastor, presented Dn. Krikorian with a plaque bearing an image of the church altar.  
Dn. James M. Kalustian, chair of the Diocesan Council, read a letter from Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and on behalf of the Primate, he presented Dn. Krikorian with the “St. Vartan Award.” Click here to view photos.

St. Sarkis Church, Charlotte, NC

A Focus on Sunday School in Charlotte

Last weekend, Eric Vozzy of the Diocese’s Department of Christian Education visited St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, NC, meeting with the local Sunday School staff and sitting in on classes.
Eric Vozzy met with the Rev. Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian, parish pastor; school superintendent Yn. Danielle Der Asadourian, and Sunday School staff members. He provided the staff with Diocesan curriculum materials and supplemental tools for Christian education, and shared a strategic plan for the growth and longevity of the St. Sarkis Sunday School program. He also shared information about the growing number of online Christian Education resources and the newest developments on social media.
While in Charlotte, he met with members of the St. Sarkis ACYOA chapter for a spiritual reflection on the Beatitudes.
The Department of Christian Education regularly schedules visits to Sunday Schools and conducts regional teacher workshops throughout the Diocese.

Christmast Tree, Hartford
The Hartford Armenian community is donating a "Traditions of Armenia Tree" to the city's art museum. Click here to enlarge the photo.

"Festival of Trees" in Hartford

The Sunday Schools from three Armenian churches in Connecticut—Church of the Holy Resurrection, St. Stephen’s Church, and St. George Church—have joined forces to create a Christmas tree for the Wadsworth Atheneum’s “Festival of Trees” in Hartford, CT. 
Themed “Traditions of Armenia,” the tree showcases the Armenian heritage and pays tribute to the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide. The project was completed thanks to donations and financial support from the Sunday Schools, as well as other donors.
The “Festival of Trees” opens at the Wadsworth Atheneum on December 3. The “Traditions of Armenia” tree will be displayed alongside trees donated by other community organizations; later the trees and decorations are sold to raise funds for the art museum.
Click on the following links to read more about the “Traditions of Armenia” tree and to visit the “Festival of Trees” website.

Genocide Crosses
At a Presbyterian church in Philadelphia, a display of 100 crosses honors the Genocide martyrs.

Philly Parishes Continue to Honor Genocide Centennial

Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, and St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, PA, both organized events this month as part of the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide.
On Friday, November 13, parishioners of Holy Trinity Church visited the Abington Campus of Penn State University, where students gathered for a program on the Armenian Genocide. They viewed the short documentary “From Horror to Hope” (commissioned earlier this year by the Philadelphia-area Armenian churches) and heard a lecture by Vicken Barzabashian. The event was organized by the  Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan, parish pastor, and professors Patrick Moylan and Artur Amiryan of Penn State.
St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church loaned 100 wooden crosses to a local Presbyterian church for display on the church’s grounds. “The 100 crosses on Aston Presbyterian’s lawn symbolize the Presbyterian churches' commitment to our Armenian brothers and sisters and our commitment to the mission of creating global awareness of this atrocity against humanity so that it may never happen again,” said Pastor Graham Robinson.
Click here to view photos.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
The Cultural Committee of St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ will host an HD opera presentation on November 20. Enjoy the screening of "L'Elisir d'Amore," followed by a wine and cheese reception. Click here to view a flyer. For information, call the church at (201) 567-5446 or Talar Sesetyan Sarafian at (201) 240-8541.

St. Thomas Church will host its Armenian Food Festival and Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 5 (12 to 8 p.m.), and Sunday, December 6 (12 to 6 p.m.). Enjoy Armenian and Middle Eastern foods and pastries. The event also will feature music, vendor booths, children’s activities, and raffles. Click on the following links to read more and view a flyer.
St. Leon Church | Fair Lawn, NJ
St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, will host a presentation by author Peter Balakian on Thursday, November 19, beginning at 7:45 p.m. The evening will include a partial screening of the Oscar-winning film “America America” and a discussion of Professor Balakian’s new collection of essays. Click here to view a flyer for information.
St. Peter Church | Watervliet, NY
St. Peter Church of Watervliet, NY, will host its annual Holiday Bazaar on December 5 and 6. Enjoy Armenian foods, musical entertainment and caroling, a caricaturist, vendors, and a raffle. Santa Claus will meet with children. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For information, click on the following links to read more and to view a flyer, or call the church office at (518) 274-3673.

The Women’s Guild of St. Peter Church is sponsoring a “Pet Food Drive” as part of its annual holiday bazaar. From October through December 6, parishioners are encouraged to contribute pet food, toys, and other items to benefit local pet rescue shelters. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Holy Resurrection Church | New Britain, CT
The Women's Guild of Holy Resurrection Church of New Britain, CT, will host its Holiday Fair on Saturday, November 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Purchase Armenian foods and pastries, browse vendor booths, and more. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. David Church | Boca Raton, FL
St. David  Church of Boca Raton, FL, will host a fall picnic on Sunday, November 22. Enjoy Armenian-style BBQ, games for children, and other activities. Click here to view a flyer.

On Monday, November 23, an interfaith Thanksgiving service will be held at St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church at 7 p.m. St. David parishioners are invited to attend. On Tuesday, November 24, the Rev. Fr. Paren Galstyan, pastor of St. David Church, will host a Thanksgiving ecumenical prayer service at St. David Church.

Sts. Vartanantz Church | Chelmsford, MA
Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, will host its annual "Bazaar and Foods Festival" on Friday, November 20, and Saturday, November 21, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Enjoy lunch and dinner, arts and crafts, jewelry sales, white elephant booths, raffles, silent auctions, and games for kids. Other highlights include a backgammon tournament and live Armenian music. Click here for information.

Holy Cross Church | Washington Heights, NY
Holy Cross Church in uptown Manhattan will host its annual bazaar on Sunday, November 22. Enjoy Armenian food and music. Click here to visit the parish website for directions.  

St. Mary Church | Hollywood, FL
St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, will screen the film “People of the Ark” following services on Sunday, November 22. A traditional khashlama luncheon will be served. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Holy Ascension Church | Trumbull, CT
The Church of the Holy Ascension of Trumbull, CT, will host the annual Trumbull interfaith Thanksgiving service on Monday, November 23, at 8 p.m. Clergy and parishioners from close to 20 houses of worship, along with Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst, will be in attendance. A 50-member combined choir will take part in the service. The Rev. Fr. Untzag Nalbandian, pastor of Holy Ascension Church, will deliver the spiritual message. A fellowship reception will follow in the church hall. 
St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, will host its annual Holiday Dance on Saturday, November 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The evening will be held in the church’s Haroutune and Siranoush Toufayan Hall. Enjoy music by the Gostanian Ensemble and reconnect with old friends. Reservations required; advanced ticket sales only. Click here to view a flyer for ticket and other information.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, will host its Trinity Christmas Bazaar on Friday, December 4 (12 to 9 p.m.), and Saturday, December 5 (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.).  Enjoy Armenian dinners, vendor booths, and activities for children (including a visit from Santa on Saturday). Click on the following links to read more  and to visit the parish website.

St. George Church | Hartford, CT
The Women's Guild of St. George Church of Hartford, CT, has initiated its second annual Mitten & Coat Drive to benefit needy students at a local Hartford school. The drive collects new coats, mittens, gloves, hats and scarves for needy students at Kinsella Elementary School in Hartford. Last year's drive resulted in the collection of more than 125 items impacting more than 30 families. This year, the Women’s Guild hopes to exceed these results. The drive runs from November 1 through December 20. For information, or to contribute, contact the church at (860) 956-5647.

St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church | Wynnewood, PA
St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, PA, will host its annual Christmas Bazaar from Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6. Enjoy a gourmet Armenian buffet; home, holiday, and cultural items for sale; auction and raffle prizes; and a visit from Santa. Click here for information.

The parish Women’s Guild will host a Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday, November 20. Click here to view a flyer for information. On Saturday, November 28, the church will host “Hye Hop 2015.” 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 screen the film “Images of the Armenian Spirit” following services on Sunday, December 6. The film celebrates over 3,000 years of the art, culture, and survival of the Armenian people. Click here to view a flyer for information.
On Thursday, December 10, the church will host an evening with author Eric Bogosian, whose latest book, Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide, was published this year. Click here to view a flyer for information. 


ACYOA Leadership Conference
Participants in the latest ACYOA leadership conference.

ACYOA Holds Leadership Conference

Young adults from across the Eastern Diocese gathered for the annual ACYOA Leadership Conference hosted by the ACYOA Central Council at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI, from November 13 to 15. The conference program was prepared by the Diocese’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the ACYOA Central Council.
The conference opened on Friday evening with a session on the Fund for Armenian Relief’s “Ayo!” crowdfunding platform. Jonathan Campbell spoke about “Ayo!” and the importance of teamwork and stewardship. The Rev. Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, pastor of St. Mesrob Church of Racine, WI, led the group in a vespers service.
Saturday began with morning service followed by a panel discussion consisting of ACYOA  alumni. Participants split into small groups and discussed the challenges of Christian living in today’s society. The afternoon continued with a presentation by Fr. Kelegian and former Central Council chair Lydia Kurkjian on “Understanding Our Spiritual Gifts.”
On Sunday, Diocesan Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with ACYOA members assisting on the altar and singing in the choir. The participants experienced the "Blessing of the Water" service with the recently blessed Holy Muron.

This year's weekend drew close to 50 ACYOA members from 18 parishes. Other clergy leading prayer services and discussions included the Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, pastor of St. James Church of Evanston, IL, and Rev. Fr. Tavit Boyajian, pastor of Sts. Joachim and Anne Church of Palos Heights, IL.
"Our chapter is just getting started," said Nelly Grigorian of the Armenian Church of Nashville mission parish. “We needed ideas, and it was great to be able to create goals to be able to implement what we learned throughout the sessions in our own parish.”

Click here to view photos.


Hovnanian School

Manti Dinner at the Hovnanian School

On Friday, December 4, the Hovnanian School will host a manti dinner to raise funds for the school’s annual eighth grade trip to Armenia.
The event is open to the public. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Zohrab Information Center

A Lecture on Armenian Photography at the Zohrab Center

The Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will host a lecture on Armenian photography on Wednesday, December 9, at 7 p.m.
Archivist Dr. Joseph Malikian will make a presentation titled “From Constantinople to Egypt: The Armenians in the Development of Photography in the Near East.”
Click here to read more on the Zohrab Center’s blog.


The Diocese’s e-Newsletter will not be published on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26. We look forward to resuming e-Newsletter publication on Thursday, December 3.

We wish our readers a happy Thanksgiving. To send a Thanksgiving e-card to your family and friends, visit our website.