January 29, 2015

This year Armenians worldwide are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that many believed to be the death-knell of the Armenian people. The narrative of the resilience of the Armenian people, the strength of the survivors through their faithfulness to their Lord is truly a miraculous story.

Special events are scheduled in Washington, D.C., May 7 to 9, 2015, that include an ecumenical prayer service, a Pontifical Divine Liturgy, memorial concert, and a banquet that will honor organizations and individuals who came to the aid of Armenian survivors. The Catholicoi, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, will be present to preside over the events. Armenians from all over the United States are expected to participate in solidarity and unity. In New York, commemorative events organized by the joint committee will take place on April 24, 25, and 26, including the annual gathering at Times Square.
Vahe Amirian

As we completed this week’s Crossroads, we received the news of the passing of Vahe Amirian who served for many years as a member of the Prelacy’s Executive Council, a member of the Prelacy’s Building Fund, a delegate to the National Representative Assembly, and faithful member and leader of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, as well as a devoted supporter of the Armenian American community. Funeral arrangements are being arranged and will be circulated tomorrow. Asdvatz hokin lousavoreh; May God Illuminate his soul.

A Pilgrimage to experience the Blessing of the Holy Oil (Muronorhnek) in Antelias, Lebanon, is being organized with two options: Option A, to Lebanon only (July 12-21); Option B, to Lebanon, Armenia and Artsakh (July 12-28). Space is limited; reservations must be made by February 12. Check details below:

On the occasion of Armenian Army Day in Armenia, His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I joined Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian and Artsakh’s President Babo Sahakian, in a visit to the Yerablur Military Pantheon yesterday to pay tribute to the memory of the Armenian heroes who sacrificed their lives for the independence of the Homeland.
The Presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the two Catholicoi offer flowers at the memorial at Yerablur Military Pantheon.

Last Sunday, January 25, St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley in North Andover, Massachusetts, celebrated its 45th anniversary. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar of the Prelacy, celebrated the Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and presided over the anniversary celebration.

Mrs. Sossy Jeknavorian was honored with the Prelacy’s Certificate of Merit for her years of dedication and serice to the parish’s Sunday/Armenian School. Past and present staff members received recognition from the Board of Trustees for their outstanding service.

To read an article by Tom Vartabedian click here.

Photos by Tom Vartabedian
Bishop Anoushavan with the faithful of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley.
Staff members of St. Gregory's Sunday/Armenian School, past and present, were the recipients of this year's award for outstanding service, presented by the Board of Trustees, while the school's director, Mrs. Sossy Jeknavorian, was honored with the Prelacy Certificate of Merit Award for her years of dedication and service in this capacity. From left to right: Diane Movsessian, Leslie Boloian, Sylvia Mahlebjian, Martha Hananian, Tom Vartabedian, Bishop Anoushavan, Sossy Jeknavorian, Dn. John Saryan, Der Stephan, Joanne Hidirsah, Vartkes Hovsepian.
Some of the students of the Sunday/Armenian School performed songs and prayers during the banquet. Back row, from left: Der Stephan, Leslie Boloian (4-5th Grade), Sylvia Mahlebjian (4-5th Grade), Diane Movsessian (K-1st Grade), Anna Shahtanian, Bishop Anoushavan. Middle Row, from left: Aram Ozoonian, Ava Movsessian, Alexander Movsessian, Sossy Jeknavorian (Director). Front Row, from left: Armen Tokatlian, Gabriella Melkonian, Narineh Boloian, Cameron Afarian, Andrew Movsessian, Taylor Romano.

Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society organized a presentation of Dr. Herand Markarian’s newly published book, The Martyred Armenian Writers, 1915-1922.  The event took place on Friday, January 23, at the Armenian Center in Woodside, Queens.

In his opening remarks, the pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, Rev. Father Mesrob Lakissian, said that this event was the Cathedral’s first event of the year commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. He asked the attendees to stand for a minute of silence in honor of the martyrs. Mrs. Zarmine Boghosian, the principal of Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, was the evenings MC and eloquently implemented the program.

In the first part of the program comments and addresses in English were given by Iris Chekenian, Shant Mardirossian, President of the Near East Foundation, and Dr. George Dermksian.  Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar of the Prelacy, spoke about the different facets of the book.  Congratulatory letters were received from the Central Executive Committee of Hamazkayin and the Hamazkayin of Armenia.  The Minister of the Diaspora, Mrs. Hranoush Hakobian, sent her comments in a video, which was shared with the audience.

Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s representative to the United Nations, stressed the importance of works of this nature especially during this commemorative year.

In the second part of the program, Dr. Markarian, briefly introduced each writer featured in his book, providing biographical information, literary accomplishments, and anecdotal information. Aida Zilelian-Sylak, Veh Harach Bezdikian, Natalie Gabrelian and Yeraz Markarian Meschian read translated pieces from some of the featured writers.

Dr. Markarian thanked all those who had helped in the production of the book, which can be purchased from Libra-6 Productions, Inc., 160 Waters Edge, Congers, NY 10920, for $25 (USA) including shipping and handling. Those interested in sponsoring the distribution of the book to colleges, public and private libraries are encouraged to get in touch with the publisher Libra-6 Productions, Inc. 
Dr. Markarian, surrounded by some program participants, cuts a cake honoring the new publication.
Dr. Herand Markarian autographs his latest book at a book presentation last week.

Bible readings for Sunday, February 1, Third Sunday after Nativity (Sunday of the Catechumens) are: Isaiah 63:7-18; 2 Timothy 3:1-12; John 6:22-38.

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:22-38)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

On the fifth day of the fast of the Catechumens, which is tomorrow, Friday, January 30, the Armenian Church commemorates the Prophet Jonah (Hovnan), one of the twelve Minor Prophets. The Minor Prophets are not considered less important that those called Major Prophets, but their books in the Bible are shorter. All of the Minor Prophets were servants of God who proclaimed His will to people in need of repentance.

The story of Jonah and the whale is one of the better-known stories in the Old Testament. Jonah’s feast falls on the last day of the Fast of the Catechumens. Just as the people of Nineveh fasted and repented from their wicked ways, so too do the people of God during this preliminary fast before Great Lent (Medz Bahk), the most penitential season of the year.


This Saturday, January 31, the Armenian Church commemorates the life of St. Sarkis the Warrior, his son Mardiros, and 14 faithful soldiers. This is a moveable feast that can occur between January 11 and February 15. It follows the Fast of the Catechumens. Although the fast is not connected to the feast of St. Sarkis, it has come to be associated with this saint, even often incorrectly referred to as the “Fast of St. Sarkis.”

Sarkis lived during the fourth century in Cappadocia. He rose through the military ranks because of his valiant campaign on behalf of the Emperor Constantine. With the accession of Emperor Julian, Sarkis took refuge in Armenia with his son. Later they joined the Persian army to fight Julian. Father and son fought with exceptional bravery. The Persian leader, Shapur II, tried to convince them to abandon their Christian faith and embrace Zoroastrianism. Both refused, and they were martyred. Fourteen loyal Christian soldiers who went to claim the bodies were also martyred. Eventually, other Christians successfully retrieved the remains and sent them to Assyria, where they remained until the fifth century when Mesrob Mashdots had the remains transferred to the city of Karpi in Vaspurakan, Armenia. A monastery was built over the site of the graves.


The armies of Armenian soldiers were led by Adom Knooni and Manajihr Rshdooni in the fifth century, before the battle of Avarayr. They were ordered by their Persian commanders to leave Armenia and proceed to one of the most distant outposts of the empire for the purpose of keeping the Armenian soldiers far away from Armenia and thus prevent them from defending the Armenians. The commanders recognized the Persian plot and returned to Armenia with their armies. They were pursued, captured and martyred by the Persian forces. The Holy Sookiasians were members of the Royal Court who were converted and baptized by the Voskyan priests. They lived in isolation at Mount Sougaved. When they refused to return to court and worship the pagan gods, they were martyred. This year Sts. Adom and his soldiers are remembered on Monday, February 2, and the Sts. Sookias and Martyrs are remembered on Tuesday, February 3.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Gostan Zarian (February 8, 1885)

The life span of Gostan Zarian, one of the foremost names of twentieth century Armenian literature, covered eight crucial decades. He was active in Constantinople with the Western Armenian generation before the genocide, then lived forty years in the Diaspora, and finally went to die in Soviet Armenia. He was a sort of “wandering Armenian,” not only physically, but also spiritually. His literature was at the crossroads of many influences.

Zarian was born in Shamakhi (Azerbaijan) on February 8, 1885. His father, a general in the Russian army, died when he was four, and he was sent to Baku, where he attended a Russian school. In 1895 he moved to France, where he continued his studies in Asnieres and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, two suburbs of Paris. After finishing high school, he went to the Université Libre of Brussels and obtained a doctorate in literature and philosophy in 1909.

Zarian initially wrote poetry and essays in Russian and French, until the famous Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren advised him to write in his mother tongue. The Armenian poet, who already spoke Armenian, went to Constantinople in 1910, where he started to participate in the renewal of literary life. In mid-1911 he left the Ottoman capital and went to Venice, where he studied Armenian with the Mekhitarist Fathers until the end of 1912. He married Rachel (Takuhi) Shahnazarian in December 1912, from whom he would have three children, and the newlyweds moved back to Constantinople. Zarian would actively participate in Western Armenian literary life until the beginning of the war. He was one of the leading voices of the group “Mehian,” together with Hagop Kufejian (Oshagan), Kegham Parseghian, Taniel Varoujan, and Aharon (Dadourian), and editor-in-chief of the homonymous journal Mehian, which was published from January-July 1914.

Zarian escaped with his family to Bulgaria in late October 1914, the day before Turkey declared war and joined the Central Powers, and thus he avoided the genocide. After living for a year in Bulgaria, he moved to Italy, where he lived for the next six years in Rome and Florence. In 1916 he published his poem “Three Songs,” translated from Armenian into Italian, which was widely critiqued. His literary activities were matched with an active engagement for the Armenian Cause. In 1919 he went to the Caucasus as a special reporter for several Italian newspapers. 

Zarian moved back to Constantinople in late 1921, when the remnants of the Western Armenian intelligentsia were starting again a cultural and literary movement. He published the monthly Partzravank, together with Oshagan, Vahan Tekeyan, Shahan Berberian, and Kegham Kavafian, which lasted from January-July 1922. He also published his first book in Armenian, a collection of poems entitled The Crown of the Days. At the end of the year, when the Kemalist forces were about to occupy Constantinople, the writer accepted an invitation of the Soviet Armenian government and moved to Yerevan. For the next two years, he taught European literature at Yerevan University. However, he returned to Europe in June 1924 and would spend the next four decades on the move. He lived in Paris, Venice, Milan, Corfu, Florence, New York (1942-1947), Amsterdam, Ischia, Beirut, Aix-en-Provence, Vienna, Rapallo, Oakland, California (1960-1962), and in 1963 he repatriated to Soviet Armenia.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Zarian published his major works of prose in the monthly Hairenik of Boston, such as The Traveller and His Road, Bancoop and the Bones of the Mammoth, and Countries and Gods, among others. He also published as a book his poems The Bride of Dadrakom in 1930 and Three Songs (1931), and his masterpiece, the novel The Ship on the Mountain (1943). He contributed prose, poetry, essays, and commentary to a variety of Armenian and non-Armenian publications, writing in Armenian, French, Italian, and, later, English. He published two short-lived journals, the literary monthly La Tour de Babel in French (1925), and the pioneering journal of Armenian Studies in New York, Armenian Quarterly (1946). He was friends with various noted European writers, such as English novelist Lawrence Durrell and others. He taught at the American University of Beirut and at the University of California at Berkeley.

His return to Armenia was somewhat controversial, because he had criticized the Soviet regime in several works. His novel The Ship on the Mountain was about the period of the first independence. It was reissued in a heavily censored way (1963) and this created a heated polemics. In any case, Zarian was almost ignored in the last years of his life. He died on December 15, 1969 and was almost totally forgotten by literary circles in Armenia until the end of the regime. Several of his works were printed in book form in the 1970s and 1980s in the Diaspora. His rediscovery in Armenia started with the twenty-first book century, and several works scattered in the press and also unpublished have also been published.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org).

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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Unbreakable as a Diamond

Diamond is another of those words that English and Armenian languages share due to some common source. More than two thousand years ago, the Latin word adamantem meant “the hardest metal,” and then it was used to mean our well-known diamond.  Then Old French borrowed from Medieval Latin (diamantem) and turned it into diamant. In the early fourteenth century, the word entered English as diamond.

Actually, the Romans had borrowed the word from Greek: ἀδάμας (adámas "unbreakable," with ἀ meaning “un” and δάμας “conquer, overpower”). The Armenians did the same: the word ադամանդ (adamand; Western Armenian atamant) already appeared in the Bible with the meaning of the precious stone.

Incidentally, the format of the Armenian word is very close to English adamant, whose meaning comes directly from the Greek meaning “unbreakable,” via Latin and French. While the English language created two words from the same original source, the Armenian language simply used atamant and, at times, gave it a metaphoric meaning. For instance, St. Gregory of Narek used the expressions atamantea sird (ադամանդեայ սիրտ “diamond heart”) or atamantea havadk (ադամանդեայ հաւատք “diamond faith”) to mean that the heart or the faith can be as unbreakable as a diamond.

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org).
February 5—Avak luncheon, sponsored by St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Speaker: Ruth Thomasian, executive director Project SAVE Archives, “Preserving Your Precious Photographs.” Guests may bring photos for discussion on persons, places, and situations.

February 5—“Code Name ‘Haiko’: Discovering the Last Unknown Participant in Talaat Pasha’s Liquidation,” a lecture by Dr. Vartan Matiossian, director of the Armenian National Education Committee, 7 pm in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, sponsored by the Zohrab Information Center. For information: zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or 212-686-0710.

February 6—Hamazkayin of New York presents a Bilingual lecture by Khatchig Mouradian, “From Der Zor to Kobani (Arabpunar): Turkey, Kurds, and Armenians,” Armenian Center, 69-23 47th Avenue, Woodside, New York, at 8 pm. Donation: $10.

February 7—Armenian Relief Society, NJ Shakeh Chapter presents “The Sound of Music” (in Armenian), performed by the Bedros Atamian Theatrical Group of Hamazkayin Sanahin Chapter, Montreal, Canada. Director and playwright, Lena Khacherian, at Fort Lee High School, 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, New Jersey. Tickets: $50, $35, $25. Contact: Ani Keshishian 201-417-0204; Anik Kechichian 201-394-4408; Lena Tarakjian 201-592-7991.

February 21—Eastern Prelacy’s Annual New England Regional Conference, hosted by Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. Conference is open to all clergy, board of trustee members, and delegates to the National Representative Assembly. Conference will begin at 9:30 am and conclude at 4:00 pm.

February 21—94th commemoration of the February 18th Revolt, sponsored by the Lowell “Aharonian” Gomideh, 6 pm, ARS Community Center, 142 Liberty Street, Lowell, Massachusetts. Dinner & program, “Seldom Visited Armenia,” a visual presentation  by Joe Dagdigian. Admission  $20 adults; $10 students.

February 28-March 1—Armenian Relief Society Youth Connect Program, at New York University, “Looking Beyond the Centennial.” Featuring: Khatchig Mouradian, ARS Youth Connect Program Director; Speakers, Scout Tufankjian, Photojournalist and Eric Nazarian, Filmmaker. For Armenian college students, 18-25 years old. Deadline for registration (required) January 30. Space is limited. $25 registration fee includes meals and the evening dinner. Overnight accommodation available for out-of-town students. For more information: arseastus@gmail.com or 617-926-3801.

March 1—One Nation, One Culture: A Cultural Evening of Song & Dance dedicated to the Armenian Genocide 100th Anniversary, Felician College, 262 South Main Street, Lodi, New Jersey at 4 pm. Organized by the New Jersey chapter of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, with co-sponsorship of AGBU Ararat NY, Homenetmen Regional Executive, Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, and Tekeyan Cultural Association of Greater New York.

March 5—Official opening of Exhibit on Armenian textiles, “Stitching to Survive: Handwork of Armenian Women,” 6-8 pm, at the United Nations, New York. Reception to follow. Organized by the Armenian Relief Society, Inc., and the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the UN.

March 6—Conference, “Rebuilding a Nation: The Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment,” 10 am-4 pm, at Salvation Army Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street, New York City. Organized by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of the Armenian Relief Society, Inc.

March 6-8—National Athletic Tournament, hosted by the North Andover (Massachusetts) “Sassoun” AYF Chapter; accommodations, Andover Wyndham Hotel, 978-975-3600, book under “AYF” for special rate ($109); March 6, Characters Sports Club, 7 pm-midnight for those over 21; March 7, basketball & volleyball, Lawrence High School field house, 70-71 North Parish Road, Lawrence; 8 am-6 pm, mini-bus transportation available. Saturday night dance at hotel, 8:30 pm with Kevork Artinian & Friends. For tickets: Rich Minasian rminas6@gmail.com or 201-218-7126. Contact Mgo Kassabian for flight information, mgo.kassabian@gmail.com.

March 7—Cultural program in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, under auspices of Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate. At 7 pm at Waterside Restaurant & Catering, 7800 River Road, North Bergen, New Jersey. Donation: $100. For information: Knar Kiledjian 201-233-1566; Lena Orangian 516-724-3005 or by email to zavag@aol.com.

March 7—The 2015 Kyrkostas Concert, sponsored by the Anthropology Museum of the People of New York and the Armenian Museum at Queens College will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by celebrating the accomplishments of the musicians, dancers, and artists of the survivors. At 7 pm at Kaloustian Hall, at the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, 209-15 Horace Harding Boulevard, Bayside, New York. Reception will follow the program. Donation  $15 per person (2 for $25), children 12 and under $5. For information, directions and reservations: 718-428-5650.

March 13-15—“Responsibility 2015,” International conference for Armenian Genocide’s centennial at Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York, featuring prominent historians, policymakers, authors, and artists. Organized by the ARF Eastern US Centennial Committee, under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region. www.responsibility2015.com for information.

March 20—Musical Armenia, presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm, Carnegie Hall, New York City. Featured artists Patil Harboyan, piano and Heather Tuach, cello, will present a program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that will include works of Armenian composers Atamian, Babajanian, Gomidas, Khatchaturian, Saradjian, Stepanian, and Talalyan. Tickets are $25 and will be on sale after December 20th at the box office and the Prelacy, 212-689-7810.

March 13-15—International conference, “Responsibility 2015” marking the Armenian Genocide’s centennial, at Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York City. Organized by the ARF Eastern United States Centennial Committee, under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region. For information visit the web site (www.responsibility2015.com).

April 23—Canonization of the Armenian Martyrs of 1915 in Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia.

April 25—Connecticut Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day at the Connecticut State Capitol. Keynote speaker: Noted author Chris Bohjalian.

April 26—Centennial commemoration of Genocide. Joint united Divine Liturgy in New York City (site to be announced), presided by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. To be followed by Times Square gathering “100 Years to Remember.”

May 7, 8, 9—National Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in Washington, DC, organized under the patronage of the Diocese and the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Presided by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia. May 7, Ecumenical Service at the National Cathedral, 7 pm; May 8, A Journey Through Armenian Music at the Music Center at Strathmore, 7:30 pm; May 8 & 9, Exhibits, Films, and Events at various venues; May 9, Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 10 am; May 9, A Time to Give Thanks, banquet, 6 pm, Marriott Marquis.

May 10 to June 4—Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Aram I to the Eastern Prelacy.

June 3-6—National Representative Assembly hosted by St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts.

July 18—Blessing of the Holy Muron (Oil) by His Holiness Aram I, at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. For details click here.

October 5-9—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.

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Items in Crossroads can be reproduced without permission. Please credit Crossroads as the source.

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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