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TOP STORY                                                          December 15, 2016

Primate's Christmas Message

Treasures in the Heart

“It is probably the most famous story in human civilization—and it is certainly the most beloved,” begins the Christmas message of Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.
“The story of Christ’s Nativity strikes such deep, universal chords that we tend to assume it has always held a place in human consciousness.
“We can forget that the Nativity only took place at a specific moment in time—2,000 years ago—and was not widely known until years after it occurred. The evangelist St. Luke set down the details long after Jesus had grown to manhood, completed his ministry, and performed his miracles.
“Who was it, then, that first told this beautiful story?”
Click here to find the answer—and to read the rest of this year’s Christmas message. 

Scripture of the Week

Is 38:1-8
Heb 1:1-14
Lk 17:1-10

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

24 December: St. David the Prophet-King, and the Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord


Praying for Coptic Church

Prayers for the Coptic Church  

Last Sunday marked another dark milestone in the ongoing affliction suffered by the Coptic Church, when a bomb explosion tore through the St. Peter Coptic Church in Cairo, Egypt. The church is adjacent to the St. Mark Coptic Cathedral, the seat of authority for the pope of the worldwide Coptic Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria. The death toll of some 25 innocent souls is mostly comprised of women and children.
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian has communicated with the authorities of the Coptic Church in America, extending a spirit of profound solidarity, Christian outreach, and love for our persecuted brothers and sisters, and sending them the sincere condolences of the faithful of the Armenian Church in America.
In a directive issued earlier this week, the Primate instructed parishes of the Eastern Diocese to offer prayers for the faithful of our sister churches around the world—in particular the Coptic Church—on Sunday, December 18.
May our Lord Jesus Christ shine his holy light into our world, and may our humble prayers help to ease the suffering of our sister churches at this time.


Primate Visits UN

Primate Meets with New UN Secretary General 

On Wednesday, December 14, Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, met with António Guterres, the new Secretary General of the United Nations who took the oath of office on Monday. A former prime minister of Portugal, Mr. Guterres most recently served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.
Archbishop Barsamian and Rabbi Schneier congratulated Mr. Guterres on behalf of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and said that they looked forward to continuing the organization’s close collaboration with the United Nations on various initiatives.
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is a coalition of civic and religious leaders that promotes peace, tolerance, and ethnic conflict resolution. The Eastern Diocese has been a strong supporter of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation since its inception.
Archbishop Barsamian also presented Mr. Guterres with a letter of congratulations from His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Mr. Guterres is well acquainted with the Armenian community, having visited Armenia and served as a member of the board of trustees of the Lisbon-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. In 2009, he was a recipient of the Calouste Gulbenkian International Prize.



Treats for the Sweet

Two years ago, the Fund for Armenian Relief launched the “Chocolate Bank”—an effort to raise funds to buy chocolate and other Christmas sweets for children in need in Armenia’s Tavush region.
This year, FAR again hopes to raise funds for the project, this time to benefit the children of Gyumri, many of whom still live with their families in makeshift homes dating to the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake.
FAR has partnered with three parishes of the Eastern Diocese—St. Mesrob Church of Racine, WI; St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, NC; and St. James Church of Watertown, MA—to accomplish this goal through an online Facebook campaign. The partnership is also being facilitated by youth liaisons from each of the churches.
Click here to learn more about this project on FAR’s blog.


St. Kevork Church, Houston, TX

Houston Parish Celebrates 35th Anniversary

On Sunday, December 11, St. Kevork Church of Houston, TX, celebrated its 35th anniversary and welcomed Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, who took part in the day’s events.
Archbishop Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy with the assistance of the Rev. Fr. Martiros Hakobyan, parish pastor. During the badarak, the Primate ordained Hovhannes Mnjoyan, Miro Nazarian, Andrew Nazarian, Edik Kermanikian, Hovik Abrilian, and Jirair Hakobyan to the rank of acolyte.
Following services, close to 300 people gathered for a banquet in the church's Hekimian Hall. Parish council chair Vreij Kolandjian served as the master of ceremonies and opened the program by emphasizing the importance of the parish’s 35-year history of promoting Christian faith and Armenian identity in the greater Houston community. 
The reception was also an opportunity to recognize individuals for their exemplary service to the parish. Archbishop Barsamian presented the Diocese’s "St. Vartan Award" to Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Ani Ohanian and Dn. and Mrs. Vrouir and Berjouhi Frankian.
Five individuals—Manoosh Penrose, Shushanik Papanyan, Vicken Asadourian, Mimi Mavoulian, and Karnig Ekizian—received certificates of gratitude from Archbishop Barsamian for their commitment to St. Kevork Church.
Click on the following links to read more and to view photos.


St. James Church, Watertown, MA

Watertown Parish to Host Name Day Banquet 

St. James Church of Watertown, MA, will host its 85th anniversary Name Day Celebration on Sunday, December 18. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.
The day will begin with the Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m., followed by the Name Day banquet. Krikor and Nancy Kassabian will be honored as “Parishioners of the Year,” and Marsha Alabachian will receive the parish’s “Service Award.”
Click here for banquet reservations and more information.


Tribute in Washington DC

Tribute to a Departed Friend and Pastor

On the afternoon of Sunday, December 4, a large crowd of admirers packed Armenia’s Embassy in Washington, DC, for a tribute to the late Rev. Fr. Vertanes Avak Kahana Kalayjian.
The Armenian Assembly of America organized and hosted the occasion, which included touching recollections and performances to honor the memory of the longtime spiritual leader of the community, who passed away on August 5. As pastor of the city’s St. Mary’s Church for 32 years, Fr. Kalayjian was widely known in the nation’s capital as the ever-smiling face of the Armenian-American community.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, offered an invocation to bless the gathering.
Dignitaries from the Assembly, the embassy, and the diplomatic field attended alongside Fr. Kalyajian’s friends, family, and former pastoral charges. They included Armenia’s Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, Susan Billington Harper of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, diplomat Edward Alexander, Clara Andonian, Zarmine Boghosian, and Armenian Assembly executive director Bryan Ardouny.
Especially affecting were the musical tributes by Fr. Kalayjian’s grandsons, Jirayr and Hrak, and his grand-nephews and niece, Nareg, Armen, and Aline Boghosian. His brother-in-law Missak Boghosian sang a setting of an Omar Khayyam poem which had been a favorite of the departed pastor.
Assembly board member Annie Totah closed the program by presenting an award to Fr. Vertanes’ widow, Yn. Anahid Kalayjian, honoring the couple for their many contributions. The reception that followed allowed the attendees to express their grateful remembrances of Fr. Kalayjian’s good works, indomitable spirit, and optimism for the future of the Armenian people. To view a gallery of photos, click here.


St. Mary Church, Washingtong DC

Anniversary Luncheon in Washington, DC

St. Mary Church of Washington, DC, celebrated its 84th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, with a special luncheon and program after the Divine Liturgy. More than 150 parishioners attended the event, including special guests Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States; and Ambassador Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic to the United States.
Master of Ceremonies Avedis Seferian and parish council member Dr. Ara Avedisian spoke on upcoming church building projects, and parishioner Sophia Yedigarian recounted her experience as part of the Eastern Diocese’s youth pilgrimage to Jerusalem in June. Guitarist and vocalist Ernesto Bravo performed a number of Armenian and international songs as part of the program’s musical interlude. St. Mary Church pastor Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan presented awards to parishioners Rosemary Arkoian and Arda Hebert for their longtime commitment to volunteering and supporting the parish.

Click here to view photos.


St. Mary Church, Hollywood, FL

Hollywood Community Welcomes Archbishop Aykazian 

St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, marked its 18th anniversary on Sunday, December 11. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese, celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with the Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, parish pastor, assisting.
At a luncheon following services, Archbishop Aykazian stressed the importance of parishioners’ involvement in the life of the church. More than 100 people took part in the event, which also included musical performances and other remarks. The luncheon was sponsored by Jack and Maria Esmerian and family; it was chaired by Women's Guild member Carmen Masraff. 
Click here to view photos.


Holy Trinity Church, Cheltenham, PA

Breakfast with Santa in Cheltenham

On December 11, Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, hosted its annual Breakfast with Santa after the Divine Liturgy in the parish’s Santerian Hall. The church school parents cooked breakfast and organized various activities, including cookie decorating, games, bingo, and a visit from Santa Claus.

The event was organized and sponsored by the church school. Click here to view photos.


St. Stepanos Church, Elberon, NJ

Christmas Bake Sale in Elberon

The Women’s Guild of St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ, held it annual Christmas bake sale and gift auction on December 10 and 11. Guests purchased treats for holiday tables and enjoyed a lahmajun lunch in the church’s festively decorated Sirvart and Kevork Hovnanian Hall.
Under the leadership of co-chairs Nargis Buchakjian and Sharlene Hovsepian, Women's Guild members prepared and packaged Armenian delicacies and traditional American cookies and cakes. Click here to view photos.


Holy Martyrs Church, Bayside, NY

ACYOA Christmas Party in Bayside

On Saturday, December 10, the ACYOA Juniors and Seniors of Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, NY, hosted a Christmas party for all members and parents. The event featured Armenian music, food, and fellowship.
On Sunday, December 11, more than 100 parishioners gathered for the church’s annual “Lunch with Santa.” Families enjoyed an arts and crafts table, took pictures at the photo booth, and visited with Santa. Click here to view pictures from the photo booth.


Honoring Firefighters

Wynnewood Parish Honors Local First-Responders

Last September, St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, PA, paid tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and honored the volunteers of the Lower Merion Police Department, Fire Department, and Ambulance Corp.
Parishioners raised $4,900 in contributions for these local first-response organizations, and in turn, received letters of gratitude and a special plaque.
Last month, the Penn Wynne Fire Company invited the Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian, pastor of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church, to deliver the invocation at its annual banquet and presented him a plaque featuring a photo of the church taken from the fire department’s ladder truck. Also present at the event were parishioners Charles and Jovia Keytanjian. 


Upcoming Parish Events

Holy Resurrection Church | New Britain, CT
On Thursday, December 15, at 7 p.m., the New Britain High School Madrigal singers will perform in the sanctuary of the Church of the Holy Resurrection in New Britain, CT. The concert is sponsored by the parish's Women's Guild. A reception will follow the performance. Admission is free and open to the public. Click here to view a flyer. 

The Church of the Holy Resurrection is teaming up with St. Vartan Church of Toronto, Canada, for a special project benefiting the residents of Artsakh. Parishioners are asked to donate knitted hats, gloves, and scarves—or to donate funds for the purchase of these items—no later than Sunday, January 8, 2017. All knitted items will be delivered to Artsakh by the Vancouver-Armenian Friendship Society. Click here to view a flyer for information.

St. David Church | Boca Raton, FL
St. David Church of Boca Raton, FL, will host a family Christmas potluck dinner on Friday, December 16, at 6:30 p.m., in the church's Mardigian Hall. In addition to dinner, there will be Christmas caroling and a visit by Santa Claus for children. Click here to view a flyer for information.
On Sunday, December 18, St. David Church will host a Christmas hantes after the Divine Liturgy. School children will recite poetry and perform songs for the community.

On December 31, St. David Church will host a New Year's Eve celebration at 8 p.m. Harout Pamboukjian and his band will provide the night's entertainment. Tickets can be purchased through the church and online at For more information, click here to view a flyer, or contact the church office at (561) 994-2335.

Holy Cross Church | New York, NY
Holy Cross Church of Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood will host a Christmas luncheon following services on Sunday, December 18. Enjoy homemade food and hear Taleen Babayan speak about her pilgrimage to the Holy Land last summer. Admission is free.

St. James Church | Watertown, MA
St. James Church of Watertown, MA, will host a New Year's eve celebration on December 31, beginning at 8 p.m. Enjoy entertainment by Alfred Galstyan. Click here for information. For reservations, contact Aaron Derderian at (781) 264-8680, or via e-mail at

St. Thomas Church | Tenafly, NJ
St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, NJ, will host a New Year's Eve dinner dance on December 31 at 8 p.m. The evening's festivities will include a full course dinner, Viennese table, free champagne and more. Children will dine and be entertained in a separate room and will have a special visit from Santa. Music entertainment will be provided by DJ Alan. Early reservations are strongly encouraged as space is limited. For more information, click here to view a flyer, or call the church at (201) 567-5446.


At the MET

Khrimian Lyceum Students Visit Metropolitan Museum of Art 

On Saturday, December 10, students of the Diocese’s Khrimian Lyceum enjoyed a field trip to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they viewed the museum’s new exhibition on the art of Jerusalem. 
Organized by the Diocese’s Armenian Studies department director Gilda Kupelian, the trip gave students a chance to learn about the art of the Holy City and especially about the contributions of Armenians who have had a presence in Jerusalem for centuries. “Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven” includes several Armenian treasures never before seen outside the walls of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem.
Raphy Sarkissian, art history professor at the School of Visual Arts, gave a talk titled “Exploring Armenian and Western Inventiveness at the Met” in which he also introduced students to the Armenian khatchkar and other artifacts on view at the Met. The group also had a chance to learn about Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical, and abstract art in the Met’s collection. Before departing, the students enjoyed the Christmas tree displayed at the museum. Click here to view photos.


Blessing of Pomegranates

New Year's Day Service at St. Vartan Cathedral

New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will hold a special “Blessing of Pomegranates” service on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1. The Divine Liturgy is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Also on January 1, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will ordain sub-deacon Eric Vozzy to the diaconate. A reception will follow services. Click here to view a flyer for information.


Karapetian's Photography

A Photo Exhibition at the Diocesan Center

The Feast of the Nativity and Baptism of Jesus Christ will be observed at New York's St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral on Thursday and Friday, January 5 and 6, 2017. The Blessing of Water service will follow the Divine Liturgy on January 6. 
A special photo exhibition will be on view at the Diocesan Center during the celebration of Armenian Christmas. It will showcase candid portraits of Armenian dignitaries and celebrities in the homeland and the diaspora over the past 60 years, as captured by photographer Robert Karapetian.
The exhibition opens on January 5 at 8 p.m. in Guild Hall of the Diocesan Center, and will remain on view through January 6. It is free and open to the public. For information, call the Diocese at (212) 686-0710.

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