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TOP STORY                                                          May 14, 2015

James Tissot's "The Ascension" (1886-1894).

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today, May 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The day marks the ascent of our Lord into heaven, on the 40th day after his resurrection.
In the Bible, the opening chapter of the Book of Acts presents the classic account of Christ’s ascension, where Jesus preaches to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, and then, “while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Luke (who is also the author of Acts) in the closing verses of his gospel reports that “while [Jesus] blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Lk 24:51). St. Paul gives us the earliest reference to Christ’s presence in heaven, in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom 10:5-7).
The Feast of the Ascension (“Hampartsoum” in Armenian) has been celebrated in the universal church since ancient times. Modern scholarship traces its observance to the 4th century. The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), chanted in the Armenian Church during every Divine Liturgy, asserts that Christ “ascended into heaven with the same body and sat at the right hand of the Father.”
Today, a sanctuary on the Mount of Olives marks the place where the Ascension of our Lord occurred; for centuries the Brotherhood of St. James at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem has held a vespers service and vigil in the sanctuary on the eve of the Feast of the Ascension.

Click here to learn more about the feast day.


Scripture of the Week

Acts 23:12-35
1 Jn 5:13-21
Jn 12:12-23

Prayer of the Week

I glorify you, God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and give thanks to him who has kept me in peace this night, to him who has led me from darkness to light, from death to life, from ignorance to the knowledge of his truth. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

14 May: Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

17 May: Second Palm Sunday


Help Nepal
Local residents stand amid ruins in Nepal.

Support Nepal Earthquake Relief

In the Diocese’s e-Newsletter two weeks ago, we announced an outreach effort to support the earthquake relief in Nepal. The Eastern Diocese is still accepting donations for the Nepal catastrophe, which was compounded in recent days by another series of tremors.

Individuals can make credit-card donations on the Diocesan website. (Please note: In the online information entry form, select “Nepal Earthquake Relief” in the memo bar that appears.) All the proceeds collected—100 percent—will go to the relief efforts, to be distributed through Church World Service, the humanitarian aid arm of the National Council of Churches.

Above all, please continue to pray for all those who have lost their lives and those who are suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

On April 23, at Holy Etchmiadzin, the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide were formally recognized as saints in a canonization ceremony led by His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

This ceremony marked the first time in centuries that new saints have been designated in the Armenian Church. But what does it mean to welcome new saints into the canon of the church? In a new documentary film produced by the Eastern Diocese’s Communications Department, scholars and religious leaders reflect on the significance of this year’s canonization, and on the larger meaning of sainthood and martyrdom in the Christian tradition.

Click here to view the film, titled “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: The Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.”


Ecumenical Service at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC
The National Cathedral, one of America’s most distinguished religious sanctuaries, was home to the Ecumenical Prayer Service on May 7. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones)

National Genocide Centennial in Washington

The Armenian-American community gathered in Washington, DC, last week for the national observance of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Special events were held May 7 to 9—including an ecumenical prayer service at the National Cathedral, a Pontifical Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a memorial concert, and an awards banquet honoring those who helped the survivors.

His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, both led the Washington commemoration. They were joined by Armenians from across the U.S., under the auspices of the Eastern and Western Dioceses, and the Eastern and Western Prelacies. 

At the National Cathedral, one of America’s most distinguished religious sanctuaries, more than 2,500 people gathered for the Ecumenical Prayer Service for Justice and Peace. His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I presided over the historic service, which was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Church of Christ in the U.S.A.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan led the roster of dignitaries present, which also included the leader of the worldwide Syriac Orthodox Church, His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East; Cardinal Emeritus McCarrick of the Roman Catholic Church; Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church; U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; and U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff. Click here to read about the prayer service.

Click on the following links to view photos of the ecumenical prayer service, the Pontifical Divine Liturgy, and awards banquet. Click here to read about the May 8 memorial concert, and visit our website at, for more updates in the coming week.

Holocaust Museum
President Serzh Sargsyan, His Holiness Karekin II, and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian at the Holocaust Museum “Hall of Remembrance.”

Holocaust Museum Welcomes Catholicos Karekin II

On Wednesday, May 6, a group of Armenian clergymen and government leaders visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

The delegation was led by His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. Archbishop Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, was also part of the group.  

At the Holocaust Museum, a prayer was offered for all victims of crimes against humanity, before the eternal flame at the “Hall of Remembrance.” Later, at the Library of Congress, Armenian area specialist Dr. Levon Avdoyan highlighted the institution’s collection of Armenian manuscripts and books.

Click here to view photos.

2015 Diocesan Annual Assembly
Diocesan Council chair James Kalustian addresses the 113th Diocesan Assembly.

113th Diocesan Assembly Meets

Clergy and lay delegates from across the Eastern Diocese gathered in Washington, DC, last week for the 113th Diocesan Assembly. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, presided over the meetings, hosted by St. Mary Church of Washington.  

In addition to the regular business sessions and reports from Diocesan organizations, the clergy and delegates took part in the events of the national observance of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide (see item above).

A highlight of the Assembly was a hrashapar service at St. Mary Church to officially welcome His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on Wednesday evening, May 6. His Holiness addressed the Assembly on May 7.

The Women’s Guild hosted its annual assembly concurrent with the Diocesan Assembly, and the annual Clergy Conference was held at the beginning of last week. Click here to view photo highlights from the Diocesan Assembly.

Children at the newly renovated kindergarten in Chinchin.

New Educational Facilities in Armenia's Chinchin Village

A newly renovated kindergarten and secondary vocational school opened in Armenia’s Chinchin village in March, thanks to the Fund for Armenian Relief’s “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty” program.

The kindergarten’s 60-year-old building was updated to meet current educational and safety standards. “This great gift made to our kindergarten will create positive changes in our lives,” said Principal Lilit Arakelyan, who also noted increased enrollment following the re-opening.

Meanwhile, the village’s vocational school now has a renovated and fully-furnished craft classroom for sewing and woodworking classes. Its gym and recreational areas were also recently renovated through the “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty” program. Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.

The “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty" program was established by the Mardigian Family Foundation through the largest-ever contribution made to FAR. The five-year project addresses malnutrition, unemployment, poverty, and infrastructure weaknesses in Armenia’s northeastern Tavush province.

Khrimian Lyceum
Khrimian Lyceum students on the steps of St. Vartan Cathedral.

Khrimian Graduation Ceremony to be Held

The Diocese’s Khrimian Lyceum will hold its graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 16. Eight students will receive diplomas from the Lyceum, which is run by the Diocese’s Department of Armenian Studies. 

Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian will preside over the Azkatroshm service at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York. The service will be followed by a cultural program dedicated to the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. It will include the singing of sharagans and Armenian songs, poetry recitation, dance, instrumental music and theatrical performances. Student artwork will be on display and a yearbook will be available. The service and program are open to the public.

The Khrimian Lyceum is comprised of 35 students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Graduates of local Armenian Schools are encouraged to attend the Khrimian Lyceum. For information, contact Gilda Buchakjian, the Diocese’s director of Armenian Studies, at



Genocide Servivor
Yn. Azniv Guiragossian and Jacob Yahiayan, the Diocesan Director of Administration and chair of the St. Vartan Cathedral Community Council. (Photo by Aram Kaberjian)

Survivors Among Us

Few survivors of the Armenian Genocide remain among us a century after the start of the first genocide of the modern era. But in New York and Michigan two women, both survivors of 1915, were recognized this spring for their courage, determination, and perseverance.

At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, the cathedral community hosted a brunch in honor of Yn. Azniv Guiragossian, who was born in 1914 in Urfa, and became orphaned in the Armenian Genocide. The brunch was held on the cathedral plaza following the Divine Liturgy on May 3. The Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian spoke about Yn. Guiragossian’s strength in the face of hardship and tragedy. Jacob Yahiayan, the Diocesan Director of Administration and chair of the St. Vartan Cathedral Community Council, and his wife Sylva, helped defray costs of the brunch. Click here to read more and to view photos.

In Michigan, the Lansing State Journal ran a profile of Asya Titova, now 103, whose family fled the Genocide to resettle in the Soviet Union, only to be targeted by the Stalinist regime, and later to be caught in anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku. Click here to read her story.

Genocide Centennial in Philadelphia
Dr. Richard Hovannisian signs a book for a young woman in Wynnewood.


From April 10 to 12, the five Armenian churches of the greater Philadelphia area presented a symposium titled "We Not Only Survived, We Thrive," and an exhibit of artifacts and documents as part of the city's observance of the Armenian Genocide centennial.

The symposium and exhibit were held at St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Richard Hovannisian, Professor Emeritus of Armenian and Near Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles, delivered the keynote address. A video about the Armenian Genocide, featuring a narration by Professor Hovannisian and stories of survival from local parishioners, was screened.

Click here to read more; click here to view photos.

Also in Philadelphia, a 100-minute silent sit-in was held at LOVE Park on Friday, April 29. Additional events included services, marches, and the printing of billboards and newspaper ads.

St. Stepanos Church, Elberon, NJ
Fr. Daniel Karadjian at the Genocide centennial observance in Elberon.


On April 24, St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ, observed the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

Mary Pat Angeliny of the New Jersey General Assembly presented the joint resolution of the New Jersey State Legislators, signed by New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto. Glen Dalakian read a letter from U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.

Harutune Misserlian presented a lecture titled "Our 100th April 24." The Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian led a prayer service for the martyrs of 1915. A cultural program followed.

Click here to view photos.

Chris Bohjalian
Author Chris Bohjalian gives the keynote address at the State Capitol in Hartford. (Photo by Mark Harutunian)


On Thursday evening, April 23, in observance of the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, a service was held at the First Church of Christ in Hartford, CT. The Armenian community was joined by clergy and members of local parishes.

Participants included the Rev. Damaris D. Whittaker, minister of the First Church of Christ; Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, pastor of St. George Armenian Church of Hartford; Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, retired senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford; Imam Kashi Abdul-Karim, resident imam at Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford; and the Rev. Henry Smolenski, pastor of St. John the Baptist Polish National Catholic Church in Manchester. Hymns were led by Jason Charneski, director of music and arts at the First Church of Christ, with the participation of the choir of St. George Church and its choir director Andrea Karanian.

On April 25, an Armenian Genocide centennial observance was held at the Chamber of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Hartford. Opening remarks were offered by Governor Dannel Malloy and State Representative Edwin Vargas, Jr. Remarks were also made by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra; a keynote address was delivered by author Chris Bohjalian. Haigabouch (Rakoubian) Magarian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, was honored on this occasion. The Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Mouradjian, pastor of Holy Resurrection Church of New Britain, CT; and Rev. Fr. Untzag Nalbandian, pastor of Holy Ascension Church of Trumbull, CT, were in attendance.

Also on April 25, an event was held at Town Hall in Kent, CT. It was organized by Dr. Joseph Boxer, president of the United Nations Association of Connecticut. Guest speakers Mary Papazian, president of Southern Connecticut State University, and Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts, made presentations. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian and parishioners of St. George Church helped put on a display of Armenian crafts, music, and dance.

Click here to view photos.

Centennial Commemoration in White Plains
Children hold flowers at the St. Gregory the Enlightener Church observance of the Genocide centennial.

White Plains

St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, commemorated the Armenian Genocide centennial with various activities. Sylvia Kruizenga, Women’s Guild chair, in cooperation with the mayor’s office in Greenwich, CT, organized a flag-raising ceremony on Friday, April 24. Greenwich Mayor Peter Tesei read a proclamation to mark the occasion.

Alyssa Keleshian Bonomo gave a speech as the granddaughter of a survivor. Arto Stepanian represented the younger generation and read William Saroyan’s passage about the Armenian people. The event concluded with the singing of both the American and Armenian national anthems.

Later that day at St. Gregory the Enlightener Church, children made forget-me-not flowers and crosses bearing the names of family members who perished in the Genocide. In the sanctuary, the Rev. Fr. Mesrob Hovsepyan, parish pastor, organized readings from the Book of Psalms. Accompanied by organ music, parishioners read passages for 100 minutes.

Following this, an Ecumenical Prayer Service was held, with the participation of 11 clergymen and 15 elected officials from the city of White Plains. They day’s events concluded with a joint presentation by the students of the parish’s Armenian and Sunday Schools.

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

Holy Trinity Concert, Cambridge, MA
The Erevan Choral Society gave a concert on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.


On Sunday, April 19, the Erevan Choral Society gave a concert at Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA. Titled “Lest We Forget,” the program was dedicated to the centennial of the Armenian Genocide and led by composer Konstantin Petrossian.

Students of the Holy Trinity Armenian School recited poetry. The Erevan Choral Society sang spiritual and traditional Armenian songs. A hokehankisd service followed the concert.

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

Church of Our Savior, Worcester, MA
Young parishioners perform at "Hye Spirit 2015" in Worcester.


The Church of Our Saviour of Worcester, MA, hosted “Hye Spirit 2015”—a cultural program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide—on Saturday, May 2. More than 300 people gathered in the church’s Cultural Center to hear songs and recitations and to view dances, all performed by Sunday School children and parishioners.  

Themed “We Remember,” the program included segments on life in Armenia before the Genocide, family survivor stories, the settlement of survivors throughout the world, and highlights of the lives of a number of prominent Armenians. A fellowship hour followed the performance.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

Holy Cross Church | Washington Heights, NY
Holy Cross Church in uptown Manhattan will sponsor a performance of Taleen Babayan’s play “Where is Your Groom?” (Pesad Oor Eh) following church services on Sunday, May 17. The performance and lunch are free and open to the public; contributions are appreciated. The Divine Liturgy begins at 10:30 a.m.; the performance will follow at 1:30 p.m.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
The ACYOA Seniors of Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, will host a "Salsa Kef Night" on Saturday, May 16, beginning at 7 p.m. Enjoy an evening of live Salsa music and Armenian music for all ages. Participants will receive a Salsa dance demonstration and lesson. Featured bands include Black Sea Salsa and the All-Stars with Greg Krikorian, Leon Janikian, George Righellis, Bob Raphalian, Charles Dermenjian, and Steve Surabian.  

To purchase tickets, visit, or call the church office at (617) 354-0632. The event will be held in the church's Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall. All proceeds will benefit the 2016 General Assembly and Sports Weekend being hosted by the Holy Trinity ACYOA Seniors. 

On Thursday, May 28, “Friends of Holy Trinity 1000 Club” will host their annual spring dinner and drawing, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to a losh kebab and pilaf dinner, followed by the monthly drawing at 8 p.m., plus five additional cash prizes. Dinner tickets will be on sale at the door. Click here for information, or contact the church office at (617) 354-0632, or e-mail

St. Leon Church | Fair Lawn, NJ
On Thursday, May 28, St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, will co-host a presentation by Eric Bogosian on his latest book, Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot That Avenged the Armenian Genocide. The talk begins at 7:45 p.m. It is free and open to the public; a reception will follow the discussion and book signing. Click here to view a flyer for information.


Sport Weekend

ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend

The ACYOA Seniors of St. John Church of Southfield, MI, are hosting this year’s ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend, scheduled for May 21 to 25. The weekend will include worship, discussion of the organization’s activities, athletic and social events, and service projects.  

Registration for the annual youth gathering is still open. Click here for event information and registration materials, or contact

The committee is looking for support of its ad booklet; click here for information on how you can help.

Summer Camps

Register for Summer Camp

Visit the new Diocesan Summer Camps website at to register for Hye Camp and St. Vartan Camp; download CIT, staff, and volunteer applications; and learn more about the camp experience. All Hye Camp camper, CIT, and staff applications are due by June 1.

Both camps are recruiting volunteers to serve as doctors, nurses, and lifeguards, especially during the weeks of July 26-August 8. If you are interested in serving the camp program, or know of anyone who’d like to volunteer, contact Jennifer Morris, the Diocese’s director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at, or the department coordinator Lorie Odabashian at



The Hover Chamber Choir will perform at Carnegie Hall later this month.

A Concert at Carnegie Hall

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Yerevan Music Festival presents “With You, Armenia,” a program scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Pianist Evgeny Kissin and the Hover Chamber Choir will perform works by Armenian and other composers, including the world premiere of a new choral work by Krzysztof Penderecki.

Click here for information and to purchase tickets.