September 18, 2014
This Sunday, September 21, is the 23rd anniversary of the Independent Republic of Armenia.
“…Thanks to God, we once again have a free and independent Armenia. However, it is not enough to simply take pride and joy in this fact. It is crucial that we bring our active participation to the sacred work of building the nation and the state. It is true that we are citizens of different countries and as such we have a primary responsibility to fulfill our civil obligations in those countries. Yet, we have a homeland that belongs to us and keeps reminding us that we all belong to one nation. While we are not physically living in Armenia, Armenia must become a living reality in our lives. … Helping Armenia is not a humanitarian task. It is a sacred vocation of each and every Armenian, since we all belong to Armenia whether we are living there or elsewhere."
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
(From message delivered at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York, upon arrival for his first pontifical visit to the Eastern Prelacy of the United States and Canada, October 1, 1997).

This Sunday, September 21, is the International Day of Prayer for Peace. Each year on the 21st of September, the World Council of Churches calls all churches to observe this day of prayer for peace, in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and a member of the Prelacy’s Religious Council, represented Archbishop Oshagan at a prayer service on the occasion of the opening of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The service took place at the Church of the Holy Family on Monday.
The Reverend Gerald E. Murray, Pastor of the Church of the Holy Family, welcomed the guests. Remarks were offered by The Most Reverend Gerald T. Walsh, Vicar General, Archdiocese of New York; His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, General Secretary of the United Nations; His Excellency Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the 69th session of the General Assembly; and His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
The service included prayers, readings, and hymns. Many of the prayers called for an end of violence and war, and especially for peace in Syria and the Middle East.
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian at the prayer service.
Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
Last Sunday parishes throughout the Eastern Prelacy celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, one of the five major feasts in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. Christians throughout the world celebrate this feast to honor the cross that is instantly recognized as the symbol of Christianity. What was originally a means of death became a symbol of life.
Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of St. Gregory Church in North Andover, Massachusetts, blesses the basil. The pungent herb is believed to have been found nearby where Queen Helena, mother of Constantine, found remnants of the True Cross. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built on the site of the discovery.
Archpriest Fr. Zareh Sahakian blesses the basil at All Saints Church in Glenview, Illinois. Adorning the cross with any kind of greenery in art and khatchkars is a long-standing tradition in the Armenian Church that distinguishes the cross as a Living Cross.
On Sunday, September 14, almost 60 senior citizens of St. Gregory's Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were honored during and after the Holy Liturgy. Complying with the declaration of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, of  2014 as "The Year of the Elderly,"  the Church community came together to celebrate this auspicious occasion with and for their devoted 65+ year-old members.
Receiving red carnations as they entered the Sanctuary, the seniors participated in the worship service, received Holy Communion, and heard a special sermon geared specifically for them that Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Pastor, delivered.  Being the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Der Hayr spoke of how our elders have carried their crosses in life, dedicated their lives to working, building, and sustaining the life of the parish and how they serve as the link between the past and future generations.
In remembrance of the day's event and of the Feast Day, each honoree was presented with a memento—a beautifully engraved cross key chain or cross pin, both with the symbolic vine and grapes wrapped around the cross.  After posing for a group photo, everyone then enjoyed fellowship and a sponsored brunch in Founders Hall, which included a cake with the inscription: "2014 - The Year of the Elderly".
Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian is surrounded by the seniors in front of the celebratory cake.
The Siamanto Academy, sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), started its activities on Saturday, September 13, at the Sts. Vartanantz Church of Ridgefield, New Jersey. Thirteen students from New Jersey and New York attended this first session. Dr. Vartan Matiossian, executive director of ANEC, made opening remarks to the students, emphasizing the aims of the academy. Ms. Talin Daghlian, newly-elected chairman of the Eastern Regional of the Armenian Relief Society; Ms. Sonia Bezdikian, incoming liaison of ANEC with the Eastern Regional, and Ms. Valentina Berberian, outcoming liaison, were present during this first session.
During this first session, Dr. Matiossian made a presentation on the historical process of the second independence of Armenia (1988-1991) and Ms. Jennifer Manoukian, literary scholar and translator, presented an outline of Western Armenian literature through the life of famous writer Zabel Yessayan. In the section of current issues, Dr. Matiossian discussed the falsification of Armenian history by Azerbaijan and the growth of tourism in Armenia.
The academy sessions will be held once a month, on Saturdays from 2-5 pm; classes on Armenian history, culture, and current issues will be taught. The next session will be held on Saturday, October 18. For more information, please call ANEC at (212) 689-7231 or email
Jennifer Manoukian leads the class during a lecture on author Zabel Yessayan.
Dr. Vartan Matiossian during one of the Siamanto Academy lessons.
The Eastern Prelacy is searching for candidates for an immediate opening for a part-time bookkeeper/accountant. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of three years of accounting experience. Must be proficient in Microsoft Office (advanced Excel), and QuickBooks. Knowledge of Armenian is desirable.
Qualified applicants are urged to send cover letter and resume to Dr. Vazken Ghougassian, Executive Director, by email ( or by USPS to Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016. No phone inquiries.

The Musical Armenia committee is accepting applications from young Armenian musicians who would like to be featured in a concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City. Those interested in apply should visit the Prelacy’s web site ( or click here.
The Prelacy inaugurated the Musical Armenia series in 1982 in order to promote the careers of talented young Armenian musicians from all over the world. Since then, the annual concerts have remained faithful to the objectives of the series. The 2015 concert will take place on Friday, March 20. Applications should be sent no later than October 30, 2014.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 21, Second Sunday of the Exaltation (Eve of the Fast of the Holy Cross of Varak), are: Isaiah 14:3-17; 2 Corinthians 10:18-11:10; Mark 10:1-12.
He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  (Mark 10:1-12)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
The ruins of the once great Monastery of Varak in the region of Van.
This Sunday, September 21, is the Paregentan (Eve) of the Fast of the Holy Cross of Varak. Monday to Friday are fasting days leading up to next Sunday, September 28, when the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak will be commemorated.

Next Tuesday, September 23, the Armenian Church celebrates the Febronia, Mariana, and Shoushan, daughter of Vartan Mamigonian and great-granddaughter of Sahag Bartev. Shoushan is perhaps the best known of the three. She was educated under the tutelage of St. Sahag and her mother, Sahaganoosh. Her father’s life and martyrdom influenced her to become a devout and faithful Christian. Her birth name was Varteny, but she was called Shoushan because of her extraordinary piety. She was married to Vazken, a son of a Georgian king, and had three sons and a daughter. After the death of her father-in-law, her husband became power-hungry, went to Persia, renounced the Christian faith and returned to Georgia with another wife, and tried to force Shoushan to renounce her Christian faith. Even after years of imprisonment and torture she refused to renounce the faith for which her father had fought so valiantly.
Febronia was a nun of extraordinary beauty at Nisibis in Mesopotamia. She was offered to be spared from persecution and torture if she renounced her religion. She refused and was brutally martyred.
Although the daughter of idol worshippers, Mariana was raised by a woman who was secretly a Christian and was baptized at age twelve. At the age of fifteen she confessed to her father that she was a Christian. She refused to renounce her religion, as well as the offer of marriage by a local official telling him that she was “married to Christ.” She was tortured for three days and beheaded.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
Execution of the 26 Baku Commissars (September 20, 1918)
In the history and the mythology of the October Revolution and the Soviet civil war, the 26 Baku Commissars have played a role similar to the 300 Spartans in the history of ancient Greece. Their death would be immortalized in Soviet times through movies, books, artwork, stamps, and public works, and even cities and towns would be named after some of them.
After the Bolshevik revolution of October/November 1917, a Soviet (council) of workers, villagers, and soldiers was created in Baku. This council came to power from April 13 to July 25, 1918 and created an executive organ, the Council of Popular Commissars, formed by an alliance of Bolsheviks and leftist Socialist Revolutionaries, and presided by a famous Bolshevik revolutionary, the Armenian Stepan Shahumian. It was known as the Commune of Baku.
The Commune faced various problems, from the shortage of food and supplies to the threat posed by the invading Turks. The Red Army units hurriedly organized by the Commune were defeated by the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, an Ottoman army unit organized by order of Minister of War Enver Pasha on the basis of the local Tatar (Azerbaijani) population, and retreated to Baku in July 1918.
The military defeat provoked the rise of a coalition of rightist Socialist Revolutionaries, Social Democrats, and Armenian Revolutionary Federation members, which asked help from British forces stationed in Persia to counterbalance the Ottoman advance. The Commune transferred power to the new provisional government formed by the coalition, called the Centro-Caspian Dictatorship, and left Baku for Astrakhan, which was under Bolshevik control. However, the new authorities arrested the members of the Commune under charges of embezzlement and treason.
However, a new attack of the Ottoman forces over Baku prevented the trial of the military tribunal, and, according to Soviet historiography, on 14 September 1918, during the fall of Baku to the Turks, Red Army soldiers broke into their prison and freed the 26 prisoners; they then boarded a ship to Astrakhan, which changed its destination to Krasnovodsk, on the other side of the Caspian Sea. They were promptly arrested by local authorities of the Transcaspian provisional government, also anti-Soviet, on September 17, and three days later executed by a firing squad between the stations of Pereval and Akhcha-Kuyma on the Transcaspian Railway, apparently under British pressure.
Isaak Brodsky's The Execution of the Twenty Six Baku Commissars (1925) depicting the Soviet view of the execution.
Although they have been named as “commissars,” not all of them were officials and not all of them were Bolsheviks. Among the executed men, there were Russians, Jews, Armenians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, and Latvians.
Along with Shahumian, there were five other Armenians: Baghdasar Avagian, military commander of Baku; Aram Kostandian, deputy commissar for Agriculture; Suren Osipian, chief editor of the newspaper Izvestia of the Baku Commune; Arsen Amirian, chief editor of the newspaper Bakinski rabochi; and Tadeos Amirian, commander of a cavalry unit. Arsen and Tadeos Amirian were brothers, and this explains why the latter, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, had fought on the side of the Commune.
After the establishment of the Soviet regime, the authorities of Azerbaijan exhumed the bodies of the 26 victims and reburied them in Baku, at the square named after them, where a pantheon was built in 1968. The anti-Armenian hysteria in Azerbaijan has reached the point that, in January 2009 the pantheon was demolished, since the activity of the Baku Commune is considered an “Armenian conspiracy,” and the remnants were reburied at the Hovsan cemetery, reportedly “with the participation of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clergy, and the corresponding rituals” (ironically, most of the commissars were atheists). Monuments and streets devoted to the commissars, whether Armenian, Russian, Georgian, or Azerbaijani, have also been demolished or renamed.
Meanwhile, the cities of Stepanakert (in Gharabagh) and Stepanavan (in Lori) continue to carry the name of Stepan Shahumian, whose statue in the proximities of Republic Square, in Yerevan, has been maintained. Amirian Street, an important street originating from the same square, has also kept its name.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
Charles Aznavour will perform this Saturday in Madison Square Garden in New York in what is being called a “farewell concert” and “only area appearance.”  Tickets are on sale at THEATERATMSG.COM or at 866-858-0008. The 90-year-old extraordinary entertainer still puts on a great performance.
Autumn arrives officially in the northern hemisphere at 10:29 pm (EDT) on Monday, September 22.
The crises in Syria, including the recent upheaval in Kessab, require our financial assistance. Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.
Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief
Thank you for your help
The Prelacy Bookstore has an extensive collection of books (in Armenian and English) about the Genocide, including histories, historical novels, memoirs, eye witness testimonies, essays, and poetry. From now through next April we will feature one or two books each week from the Bookstore’s collection.
Forgotten Fire
By Adam Bagdasarian
This novel on the Armenian Genocide, seen through the eyes of a child, depicts the story of Vahan Kenderian, the youngest son of a wealthy family. In too short a time, Vahan loses his home and family and, to survive is forced to live a life he could never have dreamed of. Somehow Vahan’s incredible strength and spirit help him endure even when he knows that each day could be his last.
$5.99 (soft cover) plus shipping and handling
Great Need over the Water:
The Letters of Theresa Huntington Ziegler, Missionary to Turkey, 1898-1905
Theresa Huntington’s letters from Kharpert, where she spent an uninterrupted stretch of seven years, constitute the core of this book. Through these letters we not only get a rich insight into the daily lives of the Ottoman Armenians, but also glimpses of their holidays and celebrations, their social customs and traditions. In addition, Huntington gives us an insider’s portrait of a missionary community and its relationship to Armenians and Turks during the perilous times of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
$20.00 (soft cover) plus shipping & handling

To order these or other books contact the Prelacy Bookstore by phone (212-689-7810) or email (
In the life of a nation, as in the life of an individual, there are milestones marking important events, some triumphant, some tragic, some auspicious, some awesome. Such milestones are common in the lives of most nations, but the vicissitudes of history have left some momentous milestones in the life of the Armenian nation. Such a milestone and perhaps the most crucial in recent history was August 24, 1990, the day that the Armenian legislature in Yerevan passed its declaration of independence, to begin “the process of establishing independent statehood.”
It is a day that should be remembered because the ramifications of this declaration go beyond its political significance. Certainly, it is essential that a mature nation, i.e., a people, ought to have its own state with all the rights and privileges of other states, “exercising the right of nations to free self-determination,” as the declaration reads. Yet the political aspect, fundamental though it is, is only one part of the total significance of the declaration.
Transcending the political act, yet buttressed by it, is the concept of nationhood. The declaration was the first step in the re-establishment of the dignity and self-esteem of a nation that had too long been in the shadow of oppression and persecution. It is also an assertion of national identity, defined by an ethos and a culture that only an independent homeland can nurture and sustain, unfettered by conditions and restrictions imposed by others.
The road has not been easy for Armenia since this declaration was issued—nearly one year before the official date of independence that we will commemorate this Sunday. It is, of course, a fact that many events have occurred and are occurring over which Armenia has little or no control. But there is much that Armenia does control.
On this 23rd anniversary of new independence and on the threshold of 2015, the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide, it behooves all to remember the important August 24, 1990 date and the text of the declaration that was passed that provided the Armenian nation with the opportunity to establish anew a society organized according to the Armenian ethos and based on fundamental civil and human rights, such as the freedom of speech, press, and conscience.
For more than seventeen centuries, the Armenian people lived and fought to maintain their religious faith and their own unique society. This declaration was a new milestone reaffirming that right to live as a people with its own way of life, its own beliefs, and on its own soil. May the Creator look with favor and grace the Armenian people with His protection.
September 18, 19, 20—2014 Fall Food Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
September 18—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 12th Annual Golf Classic, River Vale Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey. Rain or Shine. 11 am registration and Grilled Lunch Buffet; 1 pm Tee Off. Format: Shotgun Scramble (All player levels welcome). Golf Outing Reservation: $195; limited to first 128 paid golf reservations. Reservation includes: Grilled lunch buffet, dinner banquet, golf, cart, and range balls. Contests and Prizes. Sponsorships available. For information: 201-943-2950.
September 19—All Saints Church, Glenview, Illinois, 10th Annual Golf Outing, Fox Run Golf Link, 333 Plum Grove Road, Elk Grove Village. For information: Hagop Soulakian 847-858-7685 or
September 19, 20—Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Erebouni and Mayr Chapters present Two-Evenings with Emmy Award-winning director Bared Maronian, in support of his new documentary film, “Women of 1915,” on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Guest of honor: Johnson Garrett, great-grandson of Cleveland H. Dodge, founder of Near East Relief. Guest singer: Hooshere. Friday: Virginia Davies & Willard Taylor, 299 W. 12th Street PH, NYC; Saturday: Narine & Sandy Petropoulos, 114 Revere Road, Manhasset, NY. Donation $75.  For information: Anahid ( or 917-751-4916.
September 20—Charles Aznavour “Farewell Concert” at The Theater, Madison Square Garden. Only area appearance. Tickets: THEATERATMSG.COM or 866-858-0008.
September 21—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Tea party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain, Connecticut. Brought back by popular demand. Guest speaker from the Bigelow Tea Company. Goodie bags for all. Raffle prize is being provided by Armeny Custom Jewelry Design.
September 21—St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, “Designer Bag Bingo” luncheon in Founders’ Hall at 2 pm. Fifteen lucky winners of designer bags, including top labels, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Laboutin, Judith Leiber, Chanel, and others. Join us for a fun game of Bingo, Chinese auction, and enjoy the lavish Chanel inspired theme and décor, along with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Ticket sales limited. For reservations and information: Cissy DerHagopian 856-313-6848; Donna Walter 484-354-0388.
September 21—St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, Sunday School Picnic, 1 to 3 pm. Food, hayride, and games at Peter and Susan Baghdasarian’s farm, Uxbridge, Massachusetts. For information contact Sunday school director Priscilla Altoonian (
October 3—St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Douglaston, New York, Saturday School Dinner Dance Gala.
October 3 & 4—Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Diran Der Khosrofian and Deacon Harold Nazarian, at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan. Banquet to immediately follow at the Providence Marriott Hotel. Please contact the Church Office at 401-831-6399 for reservations/information.
October 11—Armenian Friends of America presents Kef 5, 7:30-12:30, Michael’s Function Hall, 12 Alpha Street, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Tickets $50; students 21 and under, $40. Proceeds will benefit Armenian churches of Merrimack Valley. Individually served mezza platters and pastries; musicians, Mal Barsamian (clarinet), John Berberian (oud), Bob Raphaelian (violin), Bruce Jigarjian (guitar), Jason Naroian (dumbeg & vocals). Advance ticket sales only. John Arzigian, 603-560-3826; Lucy Sirmaian, 978-683-9121; Peter Gulezian, 978-375-1616, Sandy Boroyan, 978-251-8687.
October 12-15—Prelacy Clergy Gathering for Reflection and Renewal at St. Mary of Providence Retreat Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania.
October 19—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will ordain sub-deacon Ara Stepanian during the Divine Liturgy and preside over the parish’s 89th  Annual Banquet.
November 7-8-9—Rouben Mamoulian Film Festival, 7 pm, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York. Sponsored by the Anthropology Museum of the People of New York, the Armenian Cultural Educational Resource Center Gallery at Queens College, and The Museum of the Moving Image. Opening night and reception will feature Love Me Tonight, the 192 musical comedy film produced and directed by Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier.
November 7 & 8—St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 58th Armenian Bazaar, 10 am to 9:30 pm at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, Massachusetts. Meals served from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (take out is available). Enjoy delicious meals, Armenian pastries, gourmet items, arts and crafts, books, raffles, attic treasures. For information: 617-924-7562.
November 21, 22, 23—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Bazaar, Food Festival, and Hantes. Mezze and Kebab dinners (chicken, shish, luleh); dessert table and trays of home-made delicacies; Boutique Booths; Chinese Auction; Supervised Game Room for children; Pre-packaged Monte, Sou Buereg, Kufteh, and Lehmejun; Take-out available; Live Music for dancing and listening. Traditional Kavourma dinner on Sunday served immediately after church service. For information: 201-943-2950.
December 6—Armenian Winter Dessert Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
December 6—St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, Annual Bazaar at Dutch Reformed Church, Whitinsvilloe, 10 am to 5 pm.
December 7—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Wine Tasting Party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain. A wine talk and tasting will be provided by Taylor Brooke Winery, Woodstock, Connecticut, owned by Linda Varjabedian Auger.
February 9-11, 2015—Ghevontiantz gathering of clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy.
October 5-9, 2015—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
To ensure the timely arrival of Crossroads in your electronic mailbox, add to your address book.
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:
138 East 39th Street | New York, NY 10016 US
Subscribe to our email list.