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TOP STORY                                                    September 24, 2015

Armenia Independence Day

Blessing of the Holy Muron

At Holy Etchmiadzin on Sunday, September 27, His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, will bless the Holy Muron—the holy oil employed in all the church’s sacramental anointing services—in a special ceremony at the outdoor Altar of St. Drtad.

The service is conducted by the Catholicos about every seven years; it was last performed in 2008. Bishops from Armenian dioceses across the world will travel to Holy Etchmiadzin on this occasion, and carry the blessed oil back with them for distribution to local parishes. Both Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, will take part in the service.

Click here to view a brief video about the tradition of the Holy Muron.
A live webcast of Sunday’s service will be available via the YouTube channel of Armenian Public Television (Channel 1), beginning at 5 p.m. Armenia time.

Holy Cross of Varak
A small church and cross carved on the wall at Hovanavank Monastery in Armenia.

Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak 

On Sunday, September 27, Armenian Churches worldwide will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak—an observance unique to the Armenian Church.

In the 7th century, a monk named Totig received a vision of a brilliant cross descending from Mount Varak (in historic Armenia) and coming to rest on the monastery at the mountain’s foot. Totig raced to where the vision had led him, and there found a miraculous Christian relic: a fragment of the True Cross of Jesus Christ!
How had it gotten there? The relic had been brought to Armenia by St. Hripsime, in the late 3rd century, during her flight to find refuge from the persecutions of pagan Rome. When St. Hripsime was martyred by King Drtad, the hiding place of the cross was forgotten—and the holy relic had languished in its secret place for nearly 300 years, before being found again by the monk Totig.
To commemorate this discovery, the catholicos of the time, St. Nersess the Builder, established a feast day. And the Holy Cross became a relic of great power in Armenia, moving from Varak to Sepastia and finally to Van, where it still could be seen by pilgrims—until the time of the Genocide.
Click here to read a meditation on the meaning of the Season of the Holy Cross.


Scripture of the Week

Prv 3:18-26
Is 65:22-25
Gal 6:14-18
Mt 24:30-36

Prayer of the Week

Guard us, O Christ our God, in peace under the shadow of your holy and venerable Cross. Deliver us from visible and invisible enemies. Make us worthy to give you thanks and to glorify you together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

26 September: St. George the Warrior

27 September: Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak


Welcoming Pope Francis
Pope Francis arrives in Washington, DC.

Messenger of Mercy  

The eyes of much of the world have been focused on America’s northeast corridor this week, as His Holiness Pope Francis makes his first pontifical visit to the United States. Among the millions of people anticipating his appearances in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia, members of the Armenian Church community have made special efforts to welcome the Pope with characteristic warmth and affection.
This week, motorists in the City of Brotherly Love caught their first sight of the giant billboard sponsored by the local Armenians, thanking the Pope for his support of Genocide recognition. In addition, ads have been placed in the "Philadelphia Inquirer." (Incidentally, while in Philadelphia the Pope will reside at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA, located a stone’s throw away from our own St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church.)
In the current edition of Catholic New York, the country’s largest-circulation Catholic newspaper, the Eastern Diocese has taken out a full-page ad expressing the same sentiment to Pope Francis.
On a more individual level, Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian is attending the papal services at Madison Square Garden and at “Ground Zero” scheduled for the Pope’s sojourn in Manhattan.
Pope Francis stood with the Armenian people this year in our remembrance of the Genocide, and he has also stood with our fellow Christians suffering in the present day throughout the world, and especially in the Middle East. As our country rejoices in the Pope’s presence, we should not lose sight of his ongoing message of solidarity with, and compassion for, these brothers and sisters—among whom are numerous Armenians. In the coming days of hope and prayer, let us remember these people, and ask our merciful Lord to relieve their affliction.



An Artist's Tribute to the Genocide Centennial 

On the evening of Tuesday, October 6, a new 10-foot tall, bronze-and-polished-steel sculpture will be unveiled and blessed in a ceremony on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in Manhattan.

The sculpture, titled “Migrations,” is the creation of award-winning artist Michael Aram—who conceived the work as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will preside over the unveiling in the presence of community leaders and dignitaries.

The unveiling of “Migrations” on October 6 will begin on the outdoor plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral (630 Second Avenue, at 34th Street, in New York City) at 6:30 p.m. A concert by master pianist Şahan Arzruni and tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan, and a reception on the plaza, will follow the unveiling and blessing service.

The event, which is open to the public, is being organized as a fundraiser for the Annual Appeal of the Eastern Diocese, where donations to support Diocesan ministries will be graciously welcomed.

Click on the following links to read more and to view a short video about Michael Aram and “Migrations.”

Annual Appeal

Support the Diocese's Annual Appeal

The Eastern Diocese has launched its 2015 Annual Appeal—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.

Diocesan Council Meeting
Diocesan Council member Thomas Ashbahian.

Diocesan Council Meets in New York

At its September 23 meeting at the Diocesan Center in New York, the Diocesan Council discussed reports from the Primate and Vicar, and reviewed plans for the coming months.
The council members reviewed plans to continue the momentum of this year’s Genocide centennial observance among the Diocesan parishes. These plans include an icon-blessing ceremony scheduled for November 1.
They heard updates on the 2015 Diocesan Appeal, and on the activities of the Development office. Reports were also received on the status of Strategic Planning, renovations to the Diocesan Complex, and individual parish concerns.

Armenian Prayers for Children

Armenian Prayers for Children

The Diocese’s Department of Christian Education recently released a brand-new edition of its classic publication Armenian Prayers for Children. First issued in 1981, the publication is now in its fifth edition, a rare accomplishment in the Armenian publishing world and a testimony to its popularity with generations of children.
The pastel illustrations are re-imaginings by the original illustrator, Siran Kaprielian Pirani, who had worked closely with the book’s compilers, the Rev. Louise Kalemkerian and Barbara Hovsepian. Originally titled Prayers for Armenian Children, the change in title is an acknowledgment of the growing diversity in the Armenian Church.
The palm-size prayer book, bi-lingual with transliteration, is available from the St. Vartan Bookstore for $6.00. For information, call the bookstore at (212) 686-0710.


The Enlighteners Book Club

The Diocese’s “Enlighteners Book Club” is back with a new session scheduled for October 15 through November 19. Participants will read and discuss Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. In Falling Upward, readers are guided to an understanding of the “two halves” of one’s spiritual journey: the role of the church and the individual.

To join this online book club, open an account at, and then request to join the group “The Enlighteners Book Club.” Once you are approved by the moderator, you will have access to the guided questions for the online discussion, as well as general information about the group and a link to purchase the book.

Recent GTeh graduates in Gyumri.

GTech Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Several weeks ago, 25 young graduates of the Fund for Armenian Relief’s Gyumri Information Technology Center (GTech) received certificates of completion. The day was one of celebration not only for the students, but also for GTech as a whole, as it marked its 10th anniversary.  
In the past decade, GTech has seen nearly 300 graduates, 95 percent of whom are currently employed in the IT field. And the number of GTech graduates who work at Armenian IT companies continues to increase.
Since its establishment in 2005, GTech has contributed to refocusing the information technology market from Yerevan to Gyumri, and strengthening the economic revival of northern Armenia. The center offers diverse educational programs in addition to its main course of study; these include preparatory summer courses, evening courses, short-term custom tailored training on selective topics, and the basics of IT literacy for teens.
Click here to learn more about GTech.

Armenian Teachers
The honorees with Armenian Studies director Gilda Kupelian.

Armenian School Teachers Honored

Six Armenian teachers and Diramayr Shakeh Kadehjian were honored for their service to Armenian Schools at the Armenian Teachers' Symposium held on September 12 at the Diocesan Center in New York.
Diramayr Kadehjian has served the Diocesan St. Vartan Armenian School (formerly St. Gregory Sunday School) for 41 years. She has concurrently taught at the Diocese's Khrimian Lyceum for 22 years and the Mesrob Mashdots Institute for 25 years. She was presented with a certificate of recognition issued by the Primate, and a trophy and gifts from the Armenian Studies Department. Also present at the ceremony were the Rev. Fr. Bedros Kadehjian, Mrs. Kadehjian’s son, and her husband Papken.
Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian and Armenian Studies director Gilda Kupelian awarded six educators with certificates of appreciation and sculpture busts of Khachadour Apovian for 10 years of service. Florence Avakian and Nayra Mkrtchyan were recognized for their service to the Khrimian Lyceum; Talar Sesetyan Sarafian, Magie Sabbagh, and Jacklyn Baltaian were honored for their service to the Kirikian School of St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ; and Yeva Poghosian Kochian was recognized for teaching at St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian School of White Plains, NY. Longtime Kirikian School principal Ani Capan and teacher Nazik Sesetyan accepted the honors on behalf of educators who could not be present.

Click here to view photos.


Fr. Kapriel receives a pectoral cross
Archbishop Barsamian presents Fr. Kapriel Mouradjian with a pectoral cross.

Two Milestones Observed in New Britain

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, visited the Church of the Holy Resurrection on Sunday, September 20, as the parish honored its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Kapriel Mouradjian on the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood, and marked the 35th anniversary of the consecration of its current sanctuary in New Britain.
Fr. Mouradjian celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Also taking part in services was the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, pastor emeritus of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, who served as the sponsoring priest at Fr. Mouradjian’s ordination in 2005.  
In a sermon on the power of miracles, Archbishop Barsamian spoke about the survival of the Armenian people in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. He went on to discuss the significance of the canonization of the Holy Martyrs of 1915, which took place at Holy Etchmiadzin earlier this year.
At a banquet following services, parishioners shared memories of the efforts to build the current sanctuary more than 35 years ago and spoke about the contributions of Fr. Mouradjian.
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.

Eric Bogosian at St. James Church
Eric Bogosian speaks about his latest book, Operation Nemesis.

Eric Bogosian Gives Talk in Watertown

More than 400 people gathered at St. James Church in Watertown, MA, on Monday, September 14, to hear actor, playwright, and author Eric Bogosian discuss his latest book, Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot That Avenged the Armenian Genocide
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian opened the program and introduced the keynote speaker. In addition to describing the extensive research he performed for Operation Nemesis, Bogosian, who grew up attending Sunday School and serving at the altar at St. James Church, spoke about his upbringing as a young Armenian in America. 
The event was organized by the Men’s Club and Women’s Guild, and included a dinner and book signing. After the talk, Bogosian took questions from the audience and spent time talking with attendees.
Click here to view photos.

St. Stepanos Church, Elberon, NJ
Fr. Daniel Karadjian with parishioners at St. Stepanos Church.

Armenian Independence Day Celebrated in Elberon

On Sunday September 20, St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ, celebrated Armenia's independence with prayer and a picnic. Following the Divine Liturgy, a flag-raising ceremony was held outside the church. Alyne Corrigan sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Mer Hayrenik,” and the Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian, parish pastor, led the faithful in prayer for the Republic of Armenia.
The community then enjoyed a meal prepared by the Armenian Independence Day Picnic Committee. Everyone enjoyed games of tavloo, and there were activities organized for children.
U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone was a special guest at Sunday’s events. Click here to view photos.

St. Mary Church, Hollywood, FL
Sunday School students take part in a flag-raising ceremony.

An Armenian Picnic in Hollywood

St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, celebrated Armenian Independence Day on Sunday, September 20. Following the Divine Liturgy, the Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, parish pastor, blessed the Armenian flag, which was held up by parish Sunday School students. The students then carried the flag to the flagpole and raised it as they sang the national anthem.
Later that afternoon the entire community enjoyed a picnic sponsored by the Sargsian family. The day included Armenian khorovadz, music, and a raffle featuring souvenirs from Armenia.

Click here to view photos. 

Armenian Picnic in Belleville
Parishioners season meat ahead of the festival.

Armenian Culture Showcased in Belleville

Parishioners at Holy Virgin Mary and Shoghagat Church of Belleville, IL, hosted their annual “Picnic and Festival” on Sunday, September 20. More than 500 people, including visitors from the larger Belleville area, stopped by to sample Armenian food, hear Armenian music, and learn about Armenian culture.
In the days and weeks leading up to the event, the community came together to prepare the food and pastries. They said last Sunday’s event was their biggest one in the festival’s 13-year history.

Click here to view photos.

Armenian Exhibit in Hartford, CT
Parishioners in prayer during the Divine Liturgy.

A Madagh Dinner in Austin 

The Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian, the Diocese’s director of Mission Parishes, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the mission parish of Austin, TX, on Sunday, September 20.  
A madagh dinner was held following services. The madagh was donated by Murat Tamer, a graduate student at the University of Texas who has joined the Austin mission parish. More than 50 parishioners gathered for the dinner, during which they enjoyed a classical guitar performance by Lilit Mardiyan. 
The parish also discussed upcoming parish elections, the work of its Young Professionals group, and the community’s effort to refurbish several primary schools in Armenia.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
The Cultural Committee of St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ, will host a series of six HD opera presentations, beginning with the screening of "Don Pasquale" on Friday, September 25. The screening will be held at the church hall, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A wine and cheese reception will follow. Click here to view a flyer.

St. Thomas Church will host chess classes this fall. The first class will be held on Saturday, October 17, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. A special introductory session will be held on Saturday, September 26, at 1:30. The classes are open to children (ages 9 and up) and adults. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Holy Trinity Church | Cambridge, MA
The Men’s Union of Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, MA, and the Men’s Club of St. James Church of Watertown, MA, are jointly organizing an evening with Karen Guregian, sports reporter and New England Patriots beat writer for the “Boston Herald.”
The event will be held on Monday, October 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall 
of Holy Trinity Church. Click here for information.

St. Mary Church | Washington, DC
St. Mary Church of Washington, DC, will host its 67th annual "Armenian Food Festival" from Thursday, October 1 through Sunday, October 4.

Enjoy traditional Armenian food—including shish kabob, lahmajoun, and dolma—and pastries. The program also features music, local vendors, and other activities. Click here to view a flyer for information. 

Sts. Vartanantz Church | Chelmsford, MA
As part of the Armenian Genocide centennial year observance, Sts. Vartanantz Church of Chelmsford, MA, has completed a "Remembrance Bench Project," through which benches were installed on the church grounds bearing the names of people who perished in the Armenian Genocide. The granite benches were installed at the existing Sts. Vartanantz Genocide Memorial. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, at 7 p.m. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside. Click here to view a flyer for information.

On Sunday, October 4, the parish will honor its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Khachatur Kesablyan, on the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood. A banquet and program will follow services. Click here for information.

Church of the Holy Translators | Framingham, MA
The Church of the Holy Translators of Framingham, MA, will host its annual picnic, "Oktoberfest Style," on Sunday, October 4. The event will be held at Fatima Shrine (Route 126, Holliston, MA), from 12 to 5 p.m.  

Enjoy traditional Armenian food and a taste of the Oktoberfest menu, including bratwurst with sauerkraut dinners and Oktoberfest beer. Entertainment includes live Armenian music and activities for children. The event will be held rain or shine; guests are advised to bring their own picnic chairs. For information, contact the church office at (508) 875-0868.

St. John Church | Detroit, MI
St. John Church of Detroit, MI, will host a program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Saturday, October 17, at 6:30 p.m. Titled "Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future," the evening will feature an exhibition of the "Armenian Heritage Collection," a presentation of Armenian dress from the 13th through the 19th centuries. The presentation is beautifully set to traditional Armenian music with imagery and narration that enhances the experience. Click on the following links to read more and to view a flyer. The RSVP deadline is September 30.

Genocide Centennial Concert | Troy, NY
The Capital District Armenian Genocide Committee is partnering with the New York Catholic Chorale to present a concert to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The concert will take place on Sunday, October 11, at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church in Troy, NY. Click on the following links to view a flyer and information on sponsorship opportunities.

Genocide Centennial Concert | New York, NY
A concert in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide will be held at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, October 10, at 1 p.m. Robert Amirkhanyan and Armenian Youth will perform. Click here to view a flyer.

Genocide Centennial Play | Fair Lawn, NJ
A performance of “All Rise, The Court is in Session”—a play that recounts the trial proceedings of Soghomon Tehlerian—will be performed at the Fair Lawn Recreational Center in Fair Lawn, NJ, on Saturday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m. The play is in Western) Armenian, with English subtitles. Click here to view a flyer for information.

Armenian Culture Talks | West Hartford, CT
A series of talks on Armenian culture will be held at the West Hartford Pubic Library (Noah Webster branch) throughout the month of October. The first topic, “Rug Making and Jewelry Design,” will be held on Thursday, October 1, at 6:30 p.m. Click here to view a flyer for information.


A prayer service at the SCOOCH Youth Conference.

SCOOCH Youth Conference Held in New Jersey

On Saturday, September 19, the Eastern Diocese hosted the 4th annual Youth Conference of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH). The daylong gathering met at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate and SCOOCH President, presided over the event. Also present were Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England and Bishop Karas, General Bishop and Patriarchal Exarch of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. More than two dozen clergy, deacons, and seminarians also joined the young adult participants.
The morning began with worship, followed by a message by Archbishop Barsamian on the theme of the gathering, "Living the Gospel of Christ: Legacy of Our Martyrs."
Dr. Roberta Ervine, professor at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, gave a talk titled “Faith and Disappointment: What Matters Most When the Worst Has Happened.” Following a lunch of traditional Armenian foods, the program continued with a presentation from the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, director of the Diocese's Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, who spoke about the Armenian Church, Jerusalem, and the holy cross. The participants took part in small group discussions about their faith.
Click here to view photos. For more information on SCOOCH, visit


St. Nersess Seminary

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. Click here to read more and for reservation information.


Ararat Center Cruise in Philadelphia

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.