July 23, 2015
His Holiness Aram I begins the Blessing of the Holy Muron.
An aerial scene of the open-air Blessing of Muron ceremony in Bikfaya.
In the presence of high-level ecumenical leaders, more than a dozen Armenian bishops, diplomats, government leaders, and pilgrims from around the world, the Blessing of the Muron (Holy Oil) took place last Saturday evening at St. Mary’s Monastery in Bikfaya, Lebanon, near the new Memorial Compound and the recently refurbished Genocide Memorial that was erected in 1965. His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, officiated at the Muron blessing service that is the prerogative of the Catholicos and is prepared and blessed every seven years.

The uplifting ceremony in the picturesque mountain town of Bikfaya, began as His Holiness walked towards the monument under a canopy held by four laymen, representing the Armenian Diaspora. They followed two bishops who carried the case containing the relic of the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Four bishops carried containers of Muron brought from Holy Etchmiadzin, the old Muron from the Catholicosate of Cilicia, and the essence of rose and balsam.

During the ceremony His Holiness was assisted by the Prelates of the dioceses within the Holy See of Cilicia, along with two representatives from Holy Etchmiadzin, Bishop Vazken Mirzakhanian and Bishop Vartan Navasartian; and two representatives from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Aram Ateshian (locum tenens), and Bishop Sahak Mashalian.

To the mixture of oil, spices, herbs, and essence of different plants, prepared forty days ago, His Holiness added the essence of rose and the Holy Muron from Etchmiadzin, symbolizing the unity of the Armenian Church. He then added the old Muron, which is the remnant of the healing oil St. Thaddeus brought to Armenia and the Holy Muron that was blessed by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The combined Muron in the special cauldron was then mixed with the relic of the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator by Catholicos Aram.

The message of His Holiness Karekin II, read by his representative, said, “I greet His Holiness Aram I with brotherly love. On the occasion of the blessing of the Holy Muron, we join you with our prayers and intercede with our recently sanctified martyrs and all our saints and ask God to grant us His peace, protect us and lead us to Him. The blessing of the Holy Muron is an invitation to us to renew our faith in Him, recommit ourselves to safeguarding our spiritual heritage and national identity. It is also an invitation to serve together for the glory of our Church and for the prosperity and strengthening of our homeland and the diaspora.”

In his message Catholicos Aram said that “Historically, the faith, love, and hope of the Holy Muron have been the bond between the two Holy Sees. The blessing of the Holy Muron today, on the 100th anniversary commemoration of the genocide is an invitation to our people to deepen their Christian faith, arm themselves in love and, with the power of hope in God, continue demanding justice.”
Muron from the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin and the remaining oil from the last Muron blessing is mixed with the new.
His Holiness delivers his message.
Prior to and after the Muron Blessing, a number of significant events took place that were witnessed and enjoyed by the guests and pilgrims, as well as local dignitaries and community members.

Orphans Museum at the Birds Nest Orphanage is Dedicated
The newly established “Aram Bezikian Museum” was inaugurated on Saturday morning, July 18, by His Holiness Aram I in the presence of a large gathering of international and local guests.
On Saturday morning, His Holiness Aram I and a large number of international and local guests, travelled to Byblos, Lebanon, to inaugurate the newly established museum at the Birds Nest Orphanage. The Birds Nest Orphanage was founded by Danish missionaries under the leadership of Maria Jacobsen who served the institution until her death in 1960. The Birds Nest saved and cared for thousands of orphans. In 1970 the Danish government turned over the orphanage to the care of the Holy See of Cilicia.

The newly established “Aram Bezikian Museum,” at the Birds Nest is dedicated to the memory of Aram Bezikian, who was one of thousands of orphans nurtured in the Birds Nest. His son, Aleco, spoke about his father and said that his support of the museum was his way of thanking all those who had served the institution, as well as paying tribute to his father’s memory, and in remembrance of the orphans who were housed and protected there.

In his message, Catholicos Aram thanked all those who served and sponsored the institution. He said the Aram Bezikian Museum would also become a center for genocide research.  His Holiness described the presence of the orphanage in Lebanon as “a reminder of the assistance given to the Armenians by the American, Swiss, and Danish humanitarian organizations. While in Turkey our people experienced hatred and massacres, in Lebanon they received love and life from the Arab world and the international community. The Birds Nest is one of the institutions that became the source of the renaissance of our people.” The orphanage is open to all needy children in the Middle East.
His Holiness guides the Bezikian family and guests through the new Aram Bezikian Museum.
Remembering Jacob “Papa” Kuenzler
His Holiness met with family members of Jacob “Papa” Kuenzler who saved and cared for more than 8,000 Armenian orphans.
Mrs. Ida Alamuddin, granddaughter of Jacob Kuenzler, and her two sons visited His Holiness Aram I on July 11. Also attending were Mrs. Seta Khedeshian, President of the Board of the Birds Nest, and archivist, Garo Derounian.

Jacob Kuenzler travelled to Turkey during the 1890s to help Armenian victims of the Hamidian massacres, and remained there and became an eyewitness to the Armenian genocide in 1915. He continued to help victims of the atrocities until his death in 1949. He was known simply and lovingly as “Papa Kuenzler” by the thousands of orphans he saved. His humanitarian work first started in Urfa. Eventually he and his family went to Lebanon where he established an orphanage in Ghazir, and later a sanctuary for women in Beirut, and a tuberculosis sanatorium.

His memoir, “In the Land of Blood and Tears,” was published in 1921. His daughter, Dr. Ida Alamuddin, wrote about her father and mother in a 1970 book titled “Papa Kuenzler and the Armenians,” now unfortunately out of print. A plaque at his birthplace in Switzerland simply says: “Jacob Kuenzler, Father of the Armenian Orphans.”

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, in September the ARMENOFAS Foundation, and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Switzerland, will honor his memory in Bern and in the town he was born (Hundwil). His Holiness Aram I will attend as will Kuenzler’s descendants.

Holy Liturgy and Ecumenical Prayers
His Holiness conducts the traditional Blessing of the Water ceremony following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, July 19. He blesses the water with the newly blessed Holy Oil.
The Sunday liturgy concluded with an ecumenical prayer at the Martyrs Chapel in Antelias.
The day after the Muron Blessing, Sunday July 19, His Holiness presided over the Holy Liturgy celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, Lebanon. Attending were the visiting patriarchs, ecumenical and diplomatic representatives, the pilgrims from around the world, and the local faithful.

His Beatitude Pope Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, delivered the message of the day, and His Excellency Cardinal Kurt Koch read the message of His Holiness Pope Francis. They greeted and congratulated Catholicos Aram and thanked him for inviting sister churches and ecumenical representatives to join the Armenian Church in the commemorative events. They also expressed the special spiritual meaning of the sanctification of the 1.5 million victims of the genocide.

The Divine Liturgy was followed with the Blessing of the Water with the newly consecrated Holy Oil and an ecumenical prayer service. Concluding the services, Catholicos Aram led the procession of guests to the Martyrs Chapel, where they prayed, placed a flower, and received the blessed water.

Concert Concludes Muron Blessing Events
Concert of Armenian Music featured the Beirut Symphony Orchestra and soloists Hasmig Babyan and Parsegh Toumanian.
The Blessing of Muron events concluded Sunday evening with a concert at the Memorial Compound in Bikfaya. The concert featured the Beirut Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro Harout Fazlian, artistic director and principal conductor, in a program that featured Armenian composers. Guest artists were soprano Hasmig Babyan and tenor Parsegh Toumanian. The concert was under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I and presided over by the sponsor of the construction of the martyrs monuments, Aleco and Ani Bezikian and family. The concert was attended by the visiting patriarchs and spiritual heads and ecumenical guests from abroad, along with members of the local community.

His Holiness acknowledged and honored Aleco and Ani Bezikian and family for sponsoring the Bikfaya Memorial Compound, the creation of the Orphans Museum in Byblos, and the renovation of the Martyrs Chapel in Antelias.

The St. Gregory of Datev Institute’s 29th annual Summer Program included special remembrances of one of Datev’s most dedicated volunteers, Jeanette Nazarian. The Datev community sorely missed Jeanette, who fell asleep in the Lord on March 7, 2015. Certainly one of the pillars of the Institute, she wore so many hats at Datev. Over the past 20 years, she volunteered a whole week of her time and energy and talents to the Institute, working tirelessly as many as 16-18 hours a day. She taught several classes, supervised and counseled the students, organized and executed various communal activities. One of the things she loved doing was the annual Datev talent show, truly a major production. It entailed seeking out talent, conducting auditions, enlisting all sorts of backstage help, preparing the stage... She brought the whole Datev community together to make that event a successful happening. At the suggestion of His Grace Bishop Anoushavan, the founding director of the Institute, the talent show will henceforth be known as “The Jeanette Nazarian Annual Datev Talent Show.” Other tributes were made to Jeanette during the week. Special prayers were said for her on the first day of the Datev program and a requiem service was held on Sunday after Badarak at St. Gregory Church in Philadelphia that concluded the week of Datev.  For press release and photos click here.
Bible readings for Sunday, July 26, Third Sunday of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, are Isaiah 5:1-10; 1 Corinthians 6:18-7:11; Matthew 19:3-12.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 6:18-7:11)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here
The commemoration of groups of saint is a common practice in the Armenian Church.

Today, July 23, the Armenian Church remembers as a group the Holy Forefathers, including: Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Eleazar, Joshua, Samuel, Samson, Jephthah, Barak, Gideon.

On Monday, July 27, we remember Saints Maccabees, Eleazar the Priest, Samona and her seven sons.

On Tuesday, July 28, we remember the Twelve Holy Prophets: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Jonah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

The Armenian Church collectively remembers the sons and grandsons of St. Gregory the Illuminator this Saturday, July 25, namely, Saints Aristakes, Vrtanes, Housik, Grigoris, as well as Daniel, who was not related, but was a distinguished and beloved student. All of them continued the work of St. Gregory, preaching the word of Christ at great personal peril.

Gregory had two sons, Aristakes and Vrtanes. Aristakes, the younger son, succeeded Gregory as Catholicos and was martyred around 333 A.D. Aristakes represented the Armenian Church at the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325.  It was at this council that the Nicene Creed, recited to this day during the Divine Liturgy, was written and adopted. Vrtanes—at this time over 70 years old—was called upon to become catholicos and served for eight years until his death. Vrtanes had two sons, Grigoris and Housig. Grigoris preached in the northern provinces (present day Georgia) where he was martyred. Housig, although not a clergyman, was called upon to assume the catholicosal throne. He was martyred in 347. Daniel is included with the sons and grandsons because of his special close relationship with the family. Daniel was chosen to succeed Housig as catholicos, but never actually served as he too was martyred one year later in 348.

St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, on East 27th Street in Manhattan, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In May a gala celebration took place at The Palace with the presence of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the Cathedral, had a nice surprise when a neighbor presented him with some photographs he had taken in 1969. The neighbor, Joseph Ratke, a professional photographer, has been living in the building directly across from the Cathedral since the early 1960s, where he has been able to watch—and occasionally photograph—the life of the Cathedral.

On April 10, 1969 he witnessed the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural visit of His Holiness Khoren, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Khoren Vehapar had arrived at JFK Airport in the afternoon accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Sahag Ayvazian, Prelate of Greece, and Mr. and Mrs. George Mardikian, who as chairman of the National Reception Committee had traveled from California to Lebanon to accompany His Holiness on his journey to New York. His Holiness was welcomed at the airport by the Prelate, Archbishop Hrant Khatchadourian, the Vicar General, V. Rev. Fr. Yervant Apelian, the Central Executive Council, the clergy serving the Prelacy, and members of the Pontifical Visit Reception and Steering Committees. A long procession of cars escorted His Holiness to St. Illuminator’s Cathedral where a multitude of the faithful from the metropolitan area gathered to welcome the Pontiff.
Saint Illuminator’s Cathedral in the 1960s.
His Holiness Khoren I with Archbishop Hrant Khatchadourian (left) and Archbishop Sahag Aivazian, Prelate of Greece, who accompanied His Holiness. This was His Holiness’s first visit to North America since his enthronement.
Rev. Fr. Moushegh Der Kaloustian, pastor of the Cathedral, leading the procession. Very Rev. Fr. Souren Kataroian, at that time pastor of Sourp Hagop Church in Montreal, served as the Catholicos’ staff bearer.
Choir members in the procession. A Hrashapar service of welcome took place in the Cathedral beginning the Pontifical Visit of nearly three months duration at a time when the Prelacy served all of the United States and Canada.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
The Expedition of Khanasor (July 25, 1897)
The Armenian massacres of 1895-1896 ordered by Sultan Abdul Hamid II were executed with the active participation of Kurdish tribes. This extended also to the aftermath of the self-defense of Van in early June 1896, organized by the three Armenian parties (Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenakan, and Hunchakian). The fight ended after a truce brokered by the British consul, Major W. H. Williams, who guaranteed the safe passage to Persia of some 1,000 people who had participated in the self-defense. However, the retreating group, badly armed, was attacked by the Kurdish Mazrik tribe. More than 300 young people, headed by Bedo (A.R.F.), Mgrdich Avedisian (Armenakan), and Mardik (Hunchakian) on their way to Persia, were killed by the Kurdish bandits.

Less than ten days after the massacre, on June 18, 1896, a regional assembly of the A.R.F. decided to take punitive measures against the Kurdish groups that had become a tool in the hands of the Turkish government, and particularly against the Mazrik tribe.

There were discrepancies about the feasibility of such a strike. However, these were overcome after the fall of 1896, when a regional assembly of Tiflis passed a resolution that approved the expedition. Afterwards, Nigol Tuman, one of the A.R.F. military chiefs and a main proponent of the attack, went to Baku and secured the necessary financial means.
The group was composed of 235 foot combatants and 40 horsemen. The expedition group was commanded by Sarkis Mehrabian (he would be later known as Vartan of Khanasor), with Hovsep Arghutian and Nigol Tuman as his assistants.

The Mazrik tribe settled in the plain of Khanasor, surrounded by hills. The group crossed the Persian-Turkish border near Salmast on the night of July 24, 1897, passed through the Araul mountain and surrounded the plain from all sides.

Some 250 tents were spread in the plain. The attack started at daybreak. The Kurdish tribe practically lost most of its male members; some estimates claim between 1,200 and 1,500 casualties. Women and children, however, were spared, following the directives of Nigol Tuman. Sharaf Bek, the Kurdish chief, took advantage of the circumstance and escaped, wearing female clothing.

The Armenian force suffered 19 casualties, including Aristakes Zorian (Garo), the brother of Rostom (Stepan Zorian), one of the founders of the A.R.F.

Neighbor Kurds and Turkish regular forces came over. In order to avoid being surrounded, the military council of the expedition decided to leave the plain and to fall back to the mountain. The enemy was unable to stop the organized retreat of the Armenian fedayees, who fought the whole day in the mountain and in the night, when the Kurds stopped the attack, crossed the border back to Persia, and later returned to the Caucasus.

The expedition of Khanasor, besides its military success, was also a moral success, as it showed that Armenians had the necessary spirit to fight back against the Kurds and stop their attacks. The song composed by one of its participants, Dervish Toros (Kalust Aloyan), summarized that spirit in its first stanza:

Hail fell over the plain of Khanasor / The fedayees of the A.R.F. took revenge in the valley...

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Why “Organ” and “Crocodile” Are Slightly Different?
Languages constantly borrow words from each other. Sometimes, the words remain the same as in the original, or slightly changed, and sometimes there are other factors that make them change. We have a couple of words in English that have remained essentially the same:

- English organ, “musical instrument,” borrowed via French and Latin from Greek organon, "organ, instrument, tool" 
- English crocodile, borrowed via Latin from Greek krokodilos.

However, the same Greek sources gave a different result when Armenian borrowed from them.

The word organon, with the meaning of “organ,” should have been transliterated as որգանոն (organon) in Classical Armenian; as we all know, the letter օ did not exist in the Armenian alphabet in the fifth century A.D.

Instead, it became ergion (երգիոն) or ergehon (երգեհոն), which today we pronounce yerkion or yerkehon in Western Armenian. How the root changed? The reason has to be found in the influence of the well-known word erg (երգ) that meant “song” and “poem” in Classical Armenian, but also “musical instrument.” (Today yerk only means “song”).

Something similar seems to have happened with the Armenian for “crocodile.” The Greek krokodilos became kokordilos (կոկորդիլոս), which today we pronounce gogortilos in Western Armenian. Crocodiles have big mouths and the word kokord/gogort (կոկորդ) means “throat, gorge.” Perhaps whoever used the Greek word for the first time wanted to make sense for the Armenian speaker that the crocodile, actually, had a big throat.

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
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Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief

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(Pastor of St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York)
This week’s Podcast:
A new song by KJ Zeitlian.
Interview with Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian.
…and more.

To link to the podcast click the image above.
July 23—“Armenian Village People—A Country Kaleidoscope,” presented by Tom Vartabedian at the Buttonwoods Museum, sponsored by the Haverhill Historical Society, 240 Water Street, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Illustrated talk at 7 pm in conjunction with a month-long exhibit throughout July. Refreshments.

August 2—Annual Picnic, St. Stephen’s Church of Greater Boston, under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan, at Camp Haiastan, Franklin, Massachusetts. Lunch beginning at 12 noon. Delicious kebabs and refreshments. Blessing of Grapes and Madagh at 3 pm. Live Armenian music. Rain or Shine. For information: 617-924-7562.

August 3—Annual Dave Papazian Memorial Golf Tournament at Highfields Country Club, Grafton, Massachusetts. Proceeds to benefit Soorp Asdvadzazin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts. For details: Hagop Antranigian, 508-473-7695.

August 9—Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes, Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. Join us for a fun filled day and enjoy delicious food, music by DJ Shaheen, backgammon tournament, children’s activities including bouncy house and more. Begins at noon. Admission is free. For more information holytrinityaac@gmail.com or 508-852-2414.

August 9—“Pizza, Popcorn, and a Movie,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, hosted by Ladies Guild. Lunch and movie, $10.

August 9—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Picnic at Camp Haiastan from 12 noon to 6 pm, rain or shine. The blessing of madagh and grapes will take place at 3:30 pm under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, with the participation of pastors of the New England area churches. Full menu of shish, losh, and chicken dinners. Armenian pastry and choreg. Music by Michael Gregian Ensemble with special guest Joe Zeytoonian on the oud. All welcome.

August 16—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Picnic at the Wild Duck Pond, Ridgewood, New Jersey, following the Badarak.

August 16—Annual Picnic and Blessing of Grapes, Soorp Asdvadzazin Church, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, under the auspices of Arhbishop Oshagan. Lunch served beginning at noon. Shish kebab, chicken keba, losh kebab, desserts, choreg sale. Live music, Siroonig dancers, rain or shine. For information: der.mikaeldk@gmail.com or 508-234-3677.

August 27-30—Hamazkayin ArtLinks 2015, educational workshops for 21 to 30 age group. Speakers and workshop leaders include: Eric Bogosian, Eric Nazarian, Aline Ohanesian, Scout Tufenkjian; program director Khatchig Mouradian. Participation fee of $150 includes all workshops, three nights of lodging, and meals. For information: artlinks@hamazkayin.com.

August 29—Teachers’ Seminar, organized by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), 10 am to 3:30 pm, Hovnanian Hall, Prelacy office, 138 E. 39th Street, New York City.

September 13—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain and Hartford, Annual Church Picnic at Winding Trails in Farmington. Family and Friends Day; Bring a Friend. New spectacular venue for our picnic this year. Lots of sporting activities for the children and young adults and Holiday Boutique “Trinkets and Treasures.” Pavilion next to hall with lots of room in case of inclement weather. Armenian food and live music.

October 5-9—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.

October 18—Presentation of the Album “Retrospective” by well-known Canadian photographer Kaloust Babian, at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 1 pm. Organized by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York.

October 24—Concert dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide featuring singers Nune Yesayan and Sibil, with participation of the Hamazkayin NJ Nayiri Dance Ensemble and Arekag Chorus, 7:30 pm at BergenPac, 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey. Tickets: $85, $65. $45. For information: Ani Mouradian 973-224-2741.

October 25—Breakfast in the church hall ($10) after the Liturgy, St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, sponsored by the Ladies Guild.

October 28—Near East Foundation’s Centennial Gala Celebration, 6:30 pm, Cipriani, 25 Broadway, New York. Save the date.

November 1—Arminstring Ensemble, St. Illuminator Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall.

November 15—“Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future, 1925-2015,” St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, 90th Anniversary celebration. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet at Farmington Club, 162 Town Farm Road, Farmington, Connecticut. Details to follow.

December 5—Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church Annual Bazaar, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, 10 am to 4:30 pm. Dinners served from 11:30 am. Details to follow.

December 6—ARS Holiday Dinner, St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, after church services. Save the date. Details to follow.

December 20—“Soup, Sandwiches, and Bingo,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, following church services, sponsored by Ladies Guild.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
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Parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are invited to send information about their major events to be included in the calendar. Send to: info@armenianprelacy.org
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