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TOP STORY                                                     January 22, 2015

Genocide Orphan
Detail of a photo of Armenian Genocide refugees, United States Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

An Orphan's Story

He was a child of war: born to a kingdom under siege. His high-born parents died at the point of an Arab invader’s sword, and little Vahan was taken into custody, brought in bondage to Damascus, and instructed in the tenets of an alien religion. Life in the emir’s court was all he would know as he matured.

But some faint ember of his earlier life remained in his heart. A generation passed, and with it the regime of his captors; and the now-adult Vahan seized a fleeting opportunity to return to the land of his birth: the province of Goghtn in the ancient Armenian stronghold of Vaspourakan. He entered Goghtn as a prince, to rule in the name of the conquerors. Yet once immersed in the folkways of his people, it was Vahan himself who was conquered. He took a wife, embraced the Christian faith anew, and settled into tranquil Armenian life.

This was all too much for his Arab overlords, of course. Vahan was forced to flee Goghtn, and spent endless fugitive days moving from town to town, barely a step away from his pursuers. Eventually, he was seized by the Muslim constable of Armenia and spirited away to Syria—where he was reunited, in martyrdom, with his parents and his Lord.

Though Vahan lived and died in the 8th century A.D., what happened to him 13 centuries ago in Goghtn (a region in present-day Nakhichevan) still resonates with Armenians—perhaps more deeply than ever in this 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. In time, Vahan of Goghtn was recognized as a saint of the Armenian Church; today marks his feast day. As we honor his memory, let us also give thought to all the other children of war—those of 100 years ago, and those, sadly, among us today.


Scripture of the Week

Is 61:10-62:9
2 Tm 2:15-26
Jn 6:15-21

Prayer of the Week

In faith I confess and bow down to you, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, uncreated and immortal nature, creator of angels, of men, and of all things. Have mercy upon your creatures, and upon me, great sinner that I am. Amen.

Upcoming Saints & Feasts

22 January: St. Vahan of Goghtn

24 January: 150 Fathers of the Holy Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381)

25 January: Barekendan of the Fast of Catechumens


A soldier stands over skulls of victims of the Armenian Genocide from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in 1915.

In the News

Monday’s edition of the British newspaper The Independent contained an article touching on the worldwide observance of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The wide-ranging piece covers the main facts of the Genocide, considers some ironies of subsequent history, and even exposes some “diplomatic mischief” intended to distract attention from the milestone.

To read the online version, click here.

Hrant Dink
Hrant Dink (1954-2007).

Remembering Hrant Dink

On January 19, 2007, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated on the street outside his newspaper offices in Istanbul. Dink’s prior writings on the Armenian Genocide had made him a well known figure in Turkey, and had prompted his prosecution under Turkey’s retrograde law forbidding anti-Turkish statements.
The murder of this brave and gentle man was later revealed to contain elements of state persecution along with what we in this country would call “hate crime.” It became a cause célèbre for Armenians the world over, but also for elements of Turkish society longing for a more open public discourse. At Hrant Dink’s funeral, more than 100,000 people, Armenians side-by-side with ethnic Turks, jammed the streets of Istanbul carrying placards reading, “We are all Hrant Dink.”

Even after eight years, the demoralizing horror of that terrible January day still lingers; and the astonishing spectacle of the subsequent weeks is likewise unforgettable. Today we again offer prayers for the repose of Hrant Dink’s spirit, for the consolation of his loved ones, and for the light of Divine truth, which even the deepest darkness cannot extinguish.

To read an essay written on the first anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder, click here.


Armenian Genocide Cintennial

Resources for the Genocide Centennial

With the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide advancing rapidly, the Eastern Diocese has created a special section on its website for downloadable resources. Parishes, community groups, and anyone else can obtain materials to help them inform local press and reach out to their surrounding communities. This week, a downloadable map of "Historic Armenia Through the Ages" was added to the offerings—these can be accessed by clicking here.

In the meantime, the Armenian-American community is building towards a national observance in Washington, DC, in May 2015. Special events are scheduled for May 7 to 9—including an ecumenical prayer service at the National Cathedral, a Pontifical Divine Liturgy, 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 will journey to the United States to lead the Washington commemoration. They will be joined by Armenians from across the U.S., under the auspices of the Eastern and Western Dioceses, and the Eastern and Western Prelacies. Click here to learn more about the May events in the nation’s capital.

The Eastern Diocese’s Annual Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference will convene in Washington that same week; details on the 2015 Assembly will be forthcoming.

People in the New York metro region should also reserve the dates of April 24, 25, and 26 for commemoration events in New York City. These will include liturgical celebrations and the annual Times Square program sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Knights and Daughters of Vartan.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, has appointed George and Lorraine Marootian as Diocesan liaisons to the Genocide commemorative committees. They will be working with established committees at the national, regional, and local levels, and have begun reaching out to our parish communities. Contact them via e-mail at

Never Forget 1915

Support the Genocide Awareness Campaign

The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America (Eastern Region) is planning a creative national campaign spanning public relations, social media, and print and broadcast outlets to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide in this milestone year.

The committee is raising funds to finance the national campaign. Please consider supporting this ambitious outreach effort. Click here to make a donation.

In addition, the Centennial Committee (Eastern Region) has launched a new website——which will soon offer a listing of events organized nationwide in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. They are asking all local committees to share their contact information to assist in this effort.

Prayer Service

Virginia Churches Approve Genocide Resolution

Last fall, the Virginia Council of Churches approved a resolution calling for the commemoration of the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide by its member churches.

Rev. Dr. Jonathon Barton, executive director of the Virginia Council of Churches, was instrumental in spearheading the resolution. Fr. Barton has close ties with the St. James Armenian Church of Richmond, VA, and is an honorary member of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee in Virginia.

The resolution was presented at the Virginia Council of Churches annual meeting last November by Bedros Bandazian and Sona Pomfret of St. James Armenian Church.

It reads, in part: “The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Central Virginia and the people of Saint James Armenian  Orthodox Church—a member of the Virginia Council of Churches—represent an ancient Christian tradition, remain devoted brothers and sisters in Christ, and strive to inform Virginians of all faiths about the Armenian Genocide.” The resolution also calls on Virginia churches to participate in an ecumenical service on Saturday, April 18, organized by the local Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee.

Click here to read more.

Children take part in a theater therapy session at the FAR Children's Center in Yerevan.

FAR Launches Daycare Service in Yerevan

The Fund for Armenian Relief’s Children’s Center recently launched a new Daycare Service in Yerevan, Armenia, which provides at-risk teenagers with after-school psychological support.

The sessions are held two to three times a week, and are designed to mitigate the risks of dropping out, bullying, crime, and suicide. Young people ages 11 to 16 attend the Daycare Service sessions at the recommendation of school officials. The new initiative has already reached 43 at-risk students from six schools in Yerevan’s Zeytun neighborhood.

Click here to read more on FAR’s blog.



St. Sarkis Church, Charlotte, NC
Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian administers Holy Communion.

A New Priest's First Badarak

On Sunday, January 18, the newly ordained Rev. Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, NC. 

The former Dn. Benjamin Rith-Najarian was ordained to the holy priesthood at St. Sarkis Church on December 7 by Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and spent his 40-day period of seclusion at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.

Also taking part in last Sunday’s badarak were the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Rev. Fr. Mampre Kouzouian, and Very Rev. Fr. John Meno of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who is a close friend of the Charlotte parish. Dn. Yervant Kutchukian, who served as the godfather of Fr. Samuel’s ordination, assisted on the altar.

Fr. Rith-Najarian will serve as the pastor of St. Sarkis Church. Click here to view photos of his antranig badarak.

Deacon Gevork Gevorkian
Fr. Odabashian (center) dedicates Dn. Gevorkian’s books.

New Books Dedicated in Providence

The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, visited Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church of Providence, RI, on Sunday, January 18, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and dedicated two new books authored by a local parishioner.

The kinetson ceremony, in which wine is symbolically poured over newly published tomes, was performed by Fr. Odabashian following services. Dn. Gevork Gevorkian’s books—Examination of the Christian Rejection of Cremation and St. John Chrysostom: How to Forgive the Offense?—were recently published by Holy Etchmiadzin.

The first book, written in Western Armenian, explains the Christian practice of burial and the belief that the body will rise together with the soul. The book will serve as a guide for pastors advising the faithful during times of bereavement.

In How to Forgive the Offense?, available in English and Russian, Dn. Gevorkian compiled the homilies of the great church father St. John Chrysostom on the Christian practice of forgiveness. Dn. Gevorkian’s volume presents these historic works in an accessible and applicable way. The book is dedicated to the Very Rev. Fr. Shnork Kasparian, of blessed memory.

Armenian Church in Austin
Dn. Narek Garabedian with parishioners in Austin.

Austin Parish Learns About Christmas in Jerusalem

On Saturday, January 17, the mission parish of Austin, TX, welcomed St. Nersess seminarian Dn. Narek Garabedian. Dn. Garabedian performed the mid-day service and gave a presentation on Christmas in the Holy Land (which is observed on January 18 and 19).

Dn. Garabedian, who spent four years studying in Jerusalem, gave the community a first-hand look at how the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem observes the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He later presented the parishioners with wooden crosses that had been blessed in Jerusalem.

Click here to view photos.

Upcoming events

Upcoming Parish Events

St. Leon Church | Fair Lawn, NJ
On Friday, January 23, St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, will host a presentation by Vahé Tachjian, Ph.D., on the “Houshamadyan Project,” an attempt to reconstruct Ottoman Armenian life through archival documents, photographs, and other materials. The talk will begin at 7:45 p.m. Admission is free. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Mary Church | Livingston, NJ
The Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest New Jersey, in collaboration with St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, is hosting an exhibit in commemoration of the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. The exhibit will open on Monday, January 26, with the screening of a film about the Armenian Genocide. It will run through April 30. Click here for information.     

St. Sarkis Church | Dallas, TX
The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Dallas-Fort Worth will host two events this month in commemoration of the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

On Sunday, January 25, filmmaker Bared Maronian will speak about his latest project, a documentary titled "Women of 1915.” A preview of the film and a discussion will be held at St. Sarkis Church of Dallas, TX, beginning at 1:15 p.m.

On Monday January 26, Bared Maronian will screen his documentary film "Orphans of the Genocide." The film will be shown at the Magnolia Theatre (3699 McKinney Avenue in Dallas) beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

St. Gregory the Illuminator Church | Chicago, IL
St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Chicago, IL, will host its annual “Armenian Winter Fest” on Saturday, January 31, from 4 to 10 p.m. Enjoy Armenian food, raffles, and other activities. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. Mary Church | Hollywood, FL
St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, will host an “Armenian Food and Music Fest” on Saturday, January 31 (12 to 10 p.m.) and Sunday, February 1 (12 to 7 p.m.). Enjoy homemade Armenian food and pastries, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and activities for children. Click here to view a flyer.

Vendors and sponsors are welcome. Click here to download a sponsorship form. For information, e-mail, call (954) 450-5578, or visit


ACYOA Lent Retreat

ACYOA Lenten Retreats

The ACYOA Central Council has scheduled three regional Lenten retreats for ACYOA Seniors across the Eastern Diocese. The day-long retreats—themed “Living the Gospel of Christ: Legacy of Our Martyrs”—will include Bible study, small group discussions, and presentations focusing on the upcoming canonization of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

The New England retreat will be held on Saturday, February 28, at Holy Resurrection Church in New Britain, CT;  the Midwest retreat is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, at St. Mesrob Church in Racine, WI; and the New York-metro and Mid-Atlantic retreat will go forward on Saturday, March 21, at the Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside, NY.

For information, contact the staff of the Diocese’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries: Lorie Odabashian at, or (212) 686-0710, ext. 143; or Jennifer Morris at, or (248) 686-0702.


Concert at St. Vartan Cathedral

An Evening at the Opera

St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will host “An Evening at the Opera” on Friday, January 30, at 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy a program featuring Armenian and Western opera music, performed by internationally-acclaimed artists Narine Ojakhyan and Yeghishe Manucharyan. Lusine Badalyan will accompany on the piano.  

Click here to view a flyer for ticket information. St. Vartan Cathedral is located at 630 Second Avenue (at 34th Street) in Manhattan. 

Farah Siraj
Jordanian fusion artist Farah Siraj will perform during the dinner and music program on February 14.

Artist Farah Siraj to Perform at Diocesan Center

The recently formed St. Vartan Cathedral Community of New York City is hosting an exciting evening of dinner and music featuring talented Jordanian fusion artist Farah Siraj, on Saturday, February 14.

Join them in celebrating Poon Paregentan—the Armenian “Mardi Gras“—and Valentine’s Day, from 7 to 11 p.m. in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium (Second Avenue at 35th Street). Tickets are $50. Click on the following links to view a flyer and to purchase tickets.

Zohrab Information Center

Zohrab Center Announces Spring Schedule

The Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center will open its spring season of lectures on Thursday, February 5, with a talk by Dr. Vartan Matiossian titled “Code Name Haiko: Discovering the Last Unknown Participants in Talaat Pasha’s Liquidation.” The event will be held at the Diocesan Center in New York, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Other Zohrab Center events planned for the spring include talks on Armenian art, a guide to the Armenian Church’s Holy Week ceremonies, and various book presentations. Click here to visit the Zohrab Center blog for a complete schedule.