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TOP STORY                                                           July 2, 2015

Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day

On behalf of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and the entire Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, we wish all of our readers a happy Independence Day.

For well over a century now, Armenians have been blessed to merge our way of life with the bounty and liberty of this great nation of America. On these shores our people found a refuge from persecution, but also a land that would sustain and strengthen us as we sought to honor our heritage, and worship our Lord.

This Independence Day—especially in this milestone year of 2015—we renew our prayers, asking God to bless this land and her people, so that she may continue to be the great beacon of hope to our world, and a nurturing friend to our young homeland.


 
Prophet Elijah
Elisha the Prophet. (Detail of a Greek icon found at Saint Catherine's Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai in present-day Egypt.)

Servant of a Personal God

Elisha the Prophet (the saint remembered by the Armenian Church today) was a wonderworker whose miracles—healing the diseased, the multiplication of loaves, raising a child from death—anticipated those of Christ. Indeed, Jesus explicitly referred to these during his own ministry.
The Old Testament prophet became greatly honored in the Christian tradition, and especially among the Armenians, for whom the name “Yeghishe” is strongly associated with saintly figures—from ancient times down to the present day.
 
Like his miracles, the story of Elisha’s calling also brings to mind Gospel parallels. Elisha was a simple farmer plowing the fields when the great prophet Elijah approached him and threw his “prophetic mantle” or cloak over Elisha’s back. The plowman understood at once that he was being called to serve God—and poignantly begged Elijah a few moments to kiss his parents good-bye. He then killed his oxen, cooked them over the burning remains of his plow, fed the meat to the local people—and followed obediently in the footsteps of Elijah.
 
He became a prophet in the aftermath of the dark days under the wicked king Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Indeed, Elisha’s story is one of restoration, wherein the Man of God must minister to a nation scarred by war and the abuse of political power, helping the people to reassert a wholesome relationship with each other and with God.
 
Although he, like Elijah, played an influential role on the national stage—to the extent of promoting a righteous king to the throne of Israel—what is most striking about Elisha’s story is the “personal” nature of his ministry. As depicted in the Bible, the people Elisha meets in his travels are vivid characters in their own right, with names, professions, and even “voices” that echo down through the ages. Elisha himself is one of the rare biblical figures with a distinctive physical trait: baldness, over which he showed a certain sensitivity.
 
That personal quality is asserted in Elisha’s name, which in Hebrew means “my God is salvation.” It reminds us that we are not mere abstractions to God; that He knows us in all our individuality, from the depths of our hearts to our comic foibles.
 
Honor this day by acquainting yourself with Elisha’s story, which can be found in 1 and 2 Kings. And take a moment to consider how God may be calling to you—in all your personal distinctiveness.


 

Scripture of the Week

Is 3:1-11
Rom 11:13-24
Mt 14:13-21

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

2 July: St. Elisha the Prophet

4 July: Twelve Holy Apostles of Christ and St. Paul the Thirteenth Apostle

5 July: Barekendan of the Fast of Transfiguration

CHURCH NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE

Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX
The Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia Nerses Bedros XIX passed away last Thursday at age 75.

Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX (1940-2015)

The Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia Nerses Bedros XIX passed away last Thursday at age 75. A funeral for the late patriarch was held yesterday in Beirut, Lebanon.

In a message from Pope Francis read at the funeral, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church noted Patriarch Bedros’s efforts to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  “[He] dedicated himself to ensuring that the just commemoration of the sufferings of the Armenian people throughout their history become an action of God's grace,” Pope Francis wrote.

His Holines Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, sent a letter of condolence to the Vatican.

Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX was ordained into the holy priesthood in Cairo, Egypt, in 1965. He served as the head of Armenian Catholic Church since 1999.
 

DIOCESAN NEWS

Nubar Kupelian
This week, Nubar Kupelian marked his 45th year of service to the Diocesan Center in New York.

Congratulations to a Friend

In many ways, our institutions define us as a people: embodying the long, proud history behind us, and the untapped future ahead. But institutions draw their vitality from the people who serve, develop, and defend them in their respective eras. For a few rare individuals, the duration and devotion of their service becomes virtually inseparable from the greater mission of the institution itself.
 
This week, one such individual reached a milestone in his service to the Armenian Church of America: Nubar Kupelian marked his remarkable 45th year of service to the Diocesan Center in New York.
 
Nubar’s roots in the church are very deep: a native of Cairo, he was educated at the seminary of the See of Cilicia, where he was a student of the great Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, and a classmate of many worthy clergymen-in-training, including the future Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian and Catholicos Karekin I Sarkissian.
 
Settling in America, he joined the staff of the fledgling Diocesan Center in 1970, becoming a trusted advisor and friend to Archbishop (later Patriarch) Torkom Manoogian, and a disciple of Jack Antreassian, the center’s unparalleled first director. For the past quarter century he has been the ever-reliable administrative assistant to the Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, as well as a mentor, confidant, and inspiration to his fellow staffers.
 
Nubar’s 45-year presence at the Diocesan headquarters has been an enduring grace upon the entire Armenian Church. He is a devout Christian, an Armenian patriot, and man of quality to whom all of his colleagues look up. Today, we join in expressing our thanks, admiration, and love to Nubar Kupelian.
 
Such figures give life to our institutions, shape our history, and project our finest qualities as a people to the surrounding world. Asdvadz kez meeshd bahaban, Baron Nubar.



 
Abp. Vicken Aykazian
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian was a guest homilist at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Abp. Aykazian Speaks at Episcopal Church Convention

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocese’s Ecumenical Director and Legate, was a guest homilist at the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on Monday, June 29. Archbishop Aykazian was invited by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

In a sermon on exile, Archbishop Aykazian spoke about how the Armenian people became “exiles from their historic homeland, in the cataclysm that would eventually be known as the Armenian Genocide.”

He went on to reflect on the power of Christ’s presence in times of displacement. “Our true homeland is God’s kingdom,” he said. “And human life is the exile’s journey of return.”

Click here to read the sermon in its entirety on the Episcopal Church's website.



 
St. Vartan Camp
Campers prepare the Holy Martyrs icon for consecration.

St. Vartan Camp Receives Holy Martyrs Icon

St. Vartan Camp welcomed campers enrolled in “Session A” at the Ararat Youth and Conference Center on Sunday, June 28.

The Rev. Fr. Khachatur Kesablyan, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, is serving as the camp director. The Rev. Fr. Mesrob Hovsepyan, pastor of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, has been teaching religion classes this week. Culture and heritage classes are taught by Stepan Piligian of Holy Translators Church of Framingham, MA.

On Tuesday, June 30, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, visited St. Vartan Camp. During a special service, he consecrated an icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, which will be displayed at the camp chapel. Campers, CITs, and staff assisted on the altar and in the choir during the service. Joining Archbishop Barsamian was the Rev. Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan, pastor of Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, NY.

To view photos from St. Vartan Camp, visit www.stvartancamp2015.shutterfly.com.



 
Deacons Training
Participants at the Deacons' Training Program at St. Nersess Seminary.

Deacons-in-Training Visit Diocesan Center

Last Friday, June 26, participants in the “Deacons' Training Program” of St. Nersess Seminary visited the Diocesan Center in New York. The visit began with a tour of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, led by its director, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan.
 
After meeting the Diocesan staff and clergy, the group of 22 participants and 5 seminary staffers took part in the Evening Service at St. Vartan Cathedral, with Archbishop Khajag Barsamian presiding. The group had an opportunity to visit the St. Vartan Bookstore as well.

The Primate hosted dinner for the young deacons-in-training in the formal reception room, where the group discussed the newly-canonized martyrs of the Genocide, challenges to living a life of prayer, and ministries and projects of the Eastern Diocese.
 
“I appreciated how lovingly and humbly Srpazan spoke with us and answered our questions,” said Edwin Tilimian, a 16-year-old sub-deacon serving the St. Mary Church of Washington, DC. “It’s so important that the members of the church know that their Primate cares about his flock.”



 
Near East Relief
A Near East Relief volunteer with orphans of the Armenian Genocide.

Near East Foundation to Mark a Century

On Monday, June 29, representatives of Near East Foundation (NEF) met with Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian to discuss plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the humanitarian outreach organization later this year.
 
Foundation president Charles Benjamin, along with communications manager Kristin Sheehan, explained that the organization’s centennial will be an opportunity to honor individuals and organizations that have shaped NEF’s history—especially its original mission of providing humanitarian relief during the Armenian Genocide. The foundation continues its efforts today in nine Middle Eastern and North African countries, with recent emphasis on helping Syrian refugees.
 
The Near East Foundation (formerly Near East Relief) was founded in 1915 in response to Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's reports of government-executed atrocities against Ottoman Armenians, and his urgent requests for immediate assistance. Chartered by an act of the U.S. Congress, it has pioneered many of the strategies employed by leading development organizations.
 
The NEF Centennial Gala—hosted by committee co-chairs Shant Mardirossian and Linda Jacobs, and the Near East Foundation Board—will take place on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 in New York City. Click on the following links to view a flyer and to view the web page dedicated to the event. Further details will be announced soon.



 
Eastern Diocese

Executive Search

The Eastern Diocese is seeking candidates for the position of Director of Administration. The Director of Administration will report to the Primate and Diocesan Council and oversee a staff of roughly 35. He or she will be responsible for the administrative functions at the Eastern Diocese, in accordance with the policies and job description established by the Primate and the Diocesan Council. The role encompasses the areas of finance, administration, development, IT, communications, and facilities management.
 
An official job description will be made available to interested parties. Inquiries, as well as résumés and cover letters, may be sent via e-mail to prmoff@armeniandiocese.org. Only those applicants meeting the requirements for the Executive Director position will be interviewed.



 
FAR

FAR Helps Prevent Juvenile Crime in Armenia

The Fund for Armenian Relief’s Children’s Center, Armenia’s police force, and the OSCE office in Yerevan recently organized a roundtable discussion on juvenile crime prevention.

Representatives from various government offices and NGOs learned about the new “Guide on Social Services for Children and their Families,” which was produced by the FAR Children’s Center with support from OSCE. It provides information on existing services and a guide on how different organizations play a role in helping children and families.

Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.

PARISH NEWS

Armenian Genocide Concert in Detroit
Rubik Mailian conducts "A 100 Year Journey of Remembrance and Song.”

A Concert in Detroit Honors Martyrs of 1915

On Friday, June 19, an audience of over 1,500 gathered at the Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Hall for “A 100 Year Journey of Remembrance and Song”—a program paying tribute to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and to the rebirth of Armenia.

The evening was organized under the direction of artistic director and conductor Rubik Mailian, who is also music director at St. John Church in Southfield, MI. The program featured the Detroit Armenian Chorale and Orchestra, the Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble, and the Karapetyan Quartet.

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



 
St. James Church, Watertown, MA
Fr. Arakel Aljalian with scholarship recipients at St. James Church. Click here to view the full photo.

Scholarships Distributed in Watertown

On Sunday, June 21, St. James Church of Watertown, MA, held its annual Scholarship Sunday event, presenting 24 scholarships totaling over $22,000 to St. James college students.

Following the Divine Liturgy, the Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian, parish pastor, presented the scholarships to the recipients, and congratulated them on their achievements. “Work hard this year, and don’t forget that St. James is always your home,” he said to the college students. “We support you and wish you success in your studies.”

This year’s scholarship recipients are: Anais Astarjian, Alina Bazarian, Alyssa Bogosian, John Bogosian-Trocchi, Lucine Boloyan, Alex Bresnee, Arlin Cimen, Kevin Eskici, Natalie Eskici, Aram Gurekian, Emma Kaloostian, Ari Kazanjian, Shane Madden, Tania Melkonian, William Musserian, Alec Seferian, Ari Shirinian, Simon Tacvorian, and Lori Yeterian. The scholarships are made possible thanks to various endowment funds at St. James Church.



 
St. Vartan Armenian School, New York City
Children perform during the year-end program.

St. Vartan Armenian School Concludes Academic Year

The St. Vartan Armenian School of New York completed another school year with their annual hantes. The students recited poems, sang songs, and performed traditional dances for an audience of parents, friends, family, and clergy. They also performed the skit Ankhelk Martuh (“The Foolish Man”) by Hovhaness Toumanian.

The school was pleased to award diplomas to two graduating students and to one student moving up from kindergarten. A letter of congratulations was received and shared from Armenia’s UN Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

Click here to view photos.




 
Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events    

St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, 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.

Armenian Church at Hye Pointe | Haverhill, MA
The ACYOA of the Armenian Church at Hye Pointe will sponsor their second annual summer fishing trip on Saturday, July 25, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in Gloucester, MA. The registration deadline is Saturday, July 11. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Onondaga Historical Museum | Syracuse, NY
An exhibit about the Armenian community of Syracuse, NY, is on view through July 12, at the Onondaga Historical Museum (321 Montgomery Street in Syracuse). Titled “With Open Arms: The Story of the Armenians in Syracuse," the exhibit includes letters and telegrams, including those penned by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, President Franklin Roosevelt, entrepreneur George Eastman, and others who were interested in the Armenian question. Click here for more information.

YOUTH NEWS

FAR

ASP Group Departs for Armenia

Participants in the ACYOA Armenia Service Program (ASP) departed for a three-week trip to the homeland on Wednesday, July 1. The group of six is led by the Rev. Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan, pastor of St. Sahag Church of St. Paul, MN.

The Armenia Service Program provides young adults an opportunity to travel to their homeland to not only tour historic sites, but also to give back through service projects. Past projects have included assisting at a camp for underprivileged children in Armenia’s villages, helping to build homes, and volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Participants will be blogging and posting photos from their journey. Click here to follow their posts.