August 29, 2013
Meetings took place in Etchmiadzin yesterday and today, August 28 and 29, of the committee planning the upcoming conclave of Bishops of the Armenian Church. The committee, composed of bishops designated by His Holiness Karekin II of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I of Cilicia, has been actively involved for some time in planning the conclave that will convene in September.
Members of the planning committee are: Their Eminences Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Bishop Mikael Achabahian, and Archbishop Nareg Alemezian. They were joined at this meeting with members of the Joint Liturgical Reform Committee including Archbishop Yeznig Bedrosian, Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Bishop Arshag Khatchadryan, and Bishop Papken Charian.
The Assembly of Bishops will convene on September 24 through September 27 in Holy Etchmiadzin with the blessings and presence of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The Assembly is an historic event that will bring together all of the bishops of the Armenian Church throughout the world.
Story and Photos by Tom Vartabedian
Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian was officially presented as the new pastor of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, last Sunday, August 25, by His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, vicar general of the Eastern Prelacy, in what proved a delightful homecoming for the young priest, who was born and grew up in Massachusetts.
On hand to witness the celebration were members of his family, including his wife, Yeretskin Alice; his two children, Nishan and Hovhaness, his mother, Yeretskin Cheryl Arpineh, and sister Nayiri.  His dad, Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, attended to business as usual, celebrating the Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown, where he serves as the pastor.
“My father’s spirit is with me today,” said Der Stephan. “My new parish is very familiar to me. I’ve had an association with each and every one of the pastors who have preceded me here. In some cases, I’ve attended their ordinations which solidified my ambition to become a priest."
“As we embark upon a new journey here in Merrimack Valley, may we travel new inroads and meet new challenges together,” he added. “We are grateful to be part of its yet-to-be-written future."
Der Stephan spent the past five years after his ordination as pastor of St. Gregory Church in Granite City, Illinois. A passion for singing and music and especially the organ will be much to his advantage, aside from his deep spiritual values.
Speaking of Der Stephan’s zeal and vocation, Bishop Anoushavan said, “Ever since he was a child, I sensed a religious devotion in his life. Patience is a gift and it’s very obvious with this servant of God. Perhaps someday there will be a third generation in his family entering the priesthood,” the Vicar said.
Der Stephan will celebrate his first service as the pastor of the North Andover parish this Sunday, September 1. Next Sunday, September 8, following the Divine Liturgy, he will greet hundreds of attendees at the church’s annual picnic on the church grounds.
Bishop Anoushavan is flanked by Rev. Fr. Stephan and Yeretskin Alice and surrounded by some of the many parishioners attending the Liturgy and luncheon last Sunday.
Bishop Anoushavan with Der Hayr and Yeretsgin with deacons and choir members. Der Hayr is holding two-year old Nishan. A second son, Hovhaness, was born in April.
Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, pastor of Soorp Khatch Church of Bethesda, Maryland, blesses the grapes following the Divine Liturgy.
Altar servers and parishioners gather in the hall to witness the Blessing of Grapes in Bethesda.
The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) is sponsoring a seminar for teachers on Saturday, September 7, 2013, at the Prelacy headquarters in Manhattan. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. Several lectures and an open discussion are scheduled. For more information click here.

St. Illuminator Cathedral and the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) is sponsoring a series of seminars, “A Brief Introduction to Modern Armenian Literature,” to be presented by Dr. Vartan Matiossian, ANEC Executive Director, beginning Thursday, September 5 and continuing every Thursday through to October 3, at the Cathedral’s  Pashalian Hall.  The seminars will comprise an introduction, and independent overviews of Western Armenian, Eastern Armenian, Diasporan, and Soviet and post-Soviet Armenian literature. For more information click here.

Last Sunday, August 25, Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, represented His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan at a reception in support of the candidacy of Peter Koutoujian to Congress representing the 5th congressional district of Massachusetts. The reception was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Hirant and Ruby Gulian at their home in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.
Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian greets Peter Koutoujian wishing him success in the upcoming elections.
Peter Koutoujian, candidate for Congress, with Hirant Gulian, Richard Sarajian, Esq., and Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 1, Second Sunday after the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, Feast of the Discovery of the Blot of the Theotokos are: Isaiah 9:8-19; 2 Corinthians 1:1-12; Mark 4:35-40.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again., as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:1-12)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Sunday, September 1, the second Sunday after the Assumption, is the Feast of the Discovery of the Belt of the Theotokos. Because there are no relics of the Holy Mother’s earthly body (she was assumed into Heaven), her personal belongings became the object of devotion. During the time of the early Church, when Christians were persecuted, her possessions were kept hidden and secret. Her belt was the first item to be discovered in Jerusalem in the fifth century. This discovery is the basis for one of the eight feast days in the Armenian liturgical calendar devoted to the Holy Mother. The feast days dedicated to the Holy Mother are: Her Nativity, Her Presentation to the Temple, Annunciation, Conception of Mary, Purification, Assumption, Discovery of her Belt, and Discovery of her Box.

Next Tuesday, September 3, the Armenian Church commemorates the Holy Prophets Ezekiel, Ezra, and Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Ezekiel prophesied for about 28 years. The Book of Ezekiel, composed of 48 chapters, is ranked third among the great prophets. It is full of rich imagery, prophetic visions, and allegories.  Ezra was a learned and pious priest in Babylon.  The Book of Ezra describes the return to Zion following the Babylonian captivity. Zechariah, is the father of John the Baptist. He was married to Elizabeth, and John was born to them in their old age. The promise of a son was conveyed to Zechariah by an angel.

Next Thursday, September 5, the Armenian Church commemorates St. John the Forerunner and Job the Righteous. St. John the Forerunner, also known as John the Baptist (Hovhaness Mkrtich), is an important figure in the Gospels. He is recognized as the “forerunner” (Karapet) to the Messiah. He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea. At the age of 30 he began to preach against the evils of the times and called for penance and baptism because “the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”
Job is a good and righteous person who experiences and endures catastrophe after catastrophe. The phrase “the patience of Job” has entered the English lexicon as a popular cliché. The Book of Job is one of the five books classified as the “poetical books” of the Bible. The central theme is the mystery of suffering. Ultimately, Job is rewarded because “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” and “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.” (Job, chapter 42).
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, met with His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara al-Rai at the patriarchal headquarters in Bkerkeh on August 23. Attending the meeting were the former Patriarch Sfeir, and two assistant bishops of the Patriarch, and Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, who accompanied His Holiness. The focus of the discussion was the current situation in Lebanon and the impact of the conflicts in the region on Christian community in the Middle East. The discussion continued over a lunch hosted by the Patriarch.

Representatives of the Lebanese House Speaker, Nabih Berri, visited His Holiness Aram I last week at the Catholicosate’s Monastery in Bikfaya. Also attending was Mr. Jean Salmanian, the Catholicosate’s representative on the National Christian-Muslim Dialogue Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to invite His Holiness to the forthcoming annual commemorative gathering dedicated to Imam Musa Sadr. On this occasion the representatives also discussed with the Catholicos the political and economic situation in Lebanon and issues concerning security. His Holiness shared his main concerns: Security should be everyone’s priority regardless of all other considerations; the events in the region should not destabilize Lebanon; Christian-Muslim dialogue should continue. His Holiness assured them of the commitment of the Armenian community to these issues.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of William Saroyan (August 31, 1908)
William Saroyan was, without discussion, the most important name of Armenian origin in American literature and, in the 1930s and 1940s, one of its dominant names. For this reason, he became an indisputable name of iconic stature among Armenians in America and throughout the world.
His parents, Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, had come to New York in 1905 and after a short stint in Paterson, New Jersey, they settled in Fresno, California, where William was born. His father died in 1911, and Saroyan, along with his brother and sister, was placed in an orphanage in Oakland. In 1916 the family reunited in Fresno, where his mother Takoohi had already secured work at a cannery. He continued his education on his own, supporting himself with various odd jobs.
Saroyan’s first stories appeared in the 1930s, in the English page of Hairenik Daily and then in the Hairenik Weekly (today The Armenian Weekly). He made his breakthrough with the story “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” in Story magazine (1934), which lent its title to his first book in 1935. Several collections followed; by 1939 he had published seven books and the optimist strain of his “Saroyanesque” prose, among the tribulations and trials of the Depression age, had established himself as a leading writer. Many of Saroyan's stories were based on his childhood experiences among the Armenian American fruit growers of the San Joaquin Valley. My Name is Aram (1940) became an international bestseller and was translated into many languages. His play “The Time of His Life” won him the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award, which he accepted, and the Pulitzer Prize, which he rejected on the grounds that commerce should not judge the arts. It was adapted into a movie in 1948, starring James Cagney.
He had worked on the screenplay for the film “The Human Comedy,” but he was dismissed from the project. He then turned the script into a novel, which he published before the movie’s release, in 1943. The movie won him an Academy Award for Best Story in the same year. It turns out, then, that the movie was the source for the novel and not vice versa. The novel was the source for the homonymous musical of 1983.
Saroyan served in the Army during World War II and was posted to London in 1942. He narrowly avoided a court martial when his novel, The Adventures of Wesley Jackson, was seen as advocating pacifism.
Saroyan worked rapidly, hardly editing his text, and drinking and gambling away much of his earnings. This took a toll on his marriage with actress Carol Marcus (1924–2003), whom he married twice, from 1943-1949 and 1951-1952. They had two children, writer Aram Saroyan (1943) and actress Lucy Saroyan (1946-2003). After their divorce, Carol Marcus married actor Walter Matthau.
Interest in Saroyan’s novels declined after the war; their sentimentalism was harshly criticized. From 1958 onwards, Saroyan mainly resided in Paris. Since the 1950s he mainly published several volumes of memoirs and continued writing plays.
He visited Soviet Armenia for the first time in 1934. His interest for his roots never ceased, as evidenced in his writing. He visited Armenia two more times, in 1960 and 1978, and even visited the birthplace of his parents, Bitlis, in Western Armenia (1964).
Saroyan died in Fresno, of cancer, on May 18, 1981. Half of his ashes were buried in California and the other half was taken to Armenia, according to his will, and buried at Komitas Pantheon in Yerevan. To celebrate his 100th anniversary, a statue of Saroyan was placed in downtown Yerevan.
Note: Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (


The Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief is a joint effort of: Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); Armenian Catholic Eparchy; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Armenian Relief Society (Eastern USA, Inc.); Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Thank you for your help.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
The Wandering Cat
English and Armenian share a very similar name for cats: the Armenian form is կատու (Western Armenian [W.A.] gadu [gadoo]; Eastern Armenian [E.A.], katu [katoo]). Interestingly, the former pronunciation is closer to Italian gatto and Spanish gato, while the latter mirrors English cat.
Where did the cat and its names come from? The word appears in most Indo-European languages, but also in Afro-Asiatic (Semitic and African), Turkic, and Caucasian languages. Linguists use the term “wanderword” to designate items and names that have gone together around the world and left their trace everywhere with an unclear origin.
As it happens with any other domestic animal, wildcats came first. Their origin seems to have been in Africa. Therefore, the ultimate source for English cat and other worldwide names of this feline should be in the same continent. English cat is derived from Latin cattus (“domestic cat”), indeed, but the Latin term appears to have entered the Roman Empire from North Africa, where we have words meaning “wildcat”: Late Egyptian čaute (the feminine form of čaus “jungle cat, African wildcat”), Nubian (spoken on the border of Egypt and Sudan) kadís, and Berber (spoken in Morocco) kaddîska.
However, the source of the Armenian word gadoo/katoo cannot be Latin cattus, despite the close resemblance. Why? Latin was in linguistic and political decadence by 500 A.D., after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and, interestingly, the word կատու (gadoo) did not exist by then.
In the Golden Age of Armenian written literature (fifth century A.D.), cats were not called կատու, but կուզ (Classical/E.A. kuz, W.A. guz [gooz]).(*) This Armenian word, now out of use, came from an Iranian reconstructed form *kuz, which has survived in Kurdish kuze “cat.” That old Armenian gooz, in its turn, has survived in the name of a wild feline, the lynx: կզաքիս (gezakis).
Gadoo entered the Armenian language after the fifth century. Where did it come from? It has been suggested that the source should have been Syriac, a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries, quite influential in the first centuries of Armenian literature. Armenian must have borrowed the name from qattu, the Syriac “cat,” and, afterwards, loaned it to Georgian (katuni) and other Caucasian languages.
If you were wondering about that, Armenian and English cats also share their colloquial name:  puss has its counterpart in Armenian փիսիկ (pisig); compare also Romanian pisica. Probably all of them have come from the sound we make to attract these furry pets.
*) Knowledgeable people will notice that gooz is the same as the modern Armenian word for “hump,” but has nothing to do with it, except that Armenian կուզ (gooz) is a late medieval addition derived from Iranian kuz “hump.”
Note: The Armenian Language Corner appears in Crossroads every other week.  Previous entries can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
MONDAY IS LABOR DAY…the unofficial end of summer. Wasn’t July 4th just yesterday?
Enjoy the long weekend.
September 5 to October 3—“A Brief Introduction to Modern Armenian Literature,” a series of five seminars presented on Thursdays, 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) and the Cathedral. Presented by Vartan Matiossian, Ph.D.
September 7—Teachers’ Seminar sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) at the Prelacy offices, 138 E. 39th Street, New York City, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Details will follow.
September 8—Picnic Festival, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, 12:30 to 5:30 pm, featuring Armenian music by Leon Janikian, Jason Naroian, Joe Kouyoumjian, John Arzigian, along with Siroun Dance Group. Armenian food and pastries. For details
September 13—Opera Encore sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society Ani Chapter, Providence, Rhode Island, at the Wannamoisett Country Club, 96 Hoyt Avenue, Rumford, at 6 pm. Featured performers of Opera Providence are Yeghishe Manucharyan, tenor, and Victoria Avetisyan, mezzo-soprano, singing traditional and folk Armenian music, as well as traditional and Armenian opera selections. Full course dinner will be served. Proceeds will benefit relief efforts for the Syrian Armenian community. Tickets: $50 per person. For information/reservations contact Esther Kalajian, (401)595-7991 ( or Joyce Yeremian, (401) 354-8770 (
September 15—Book Presentation at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York, of “One Church One Nation” by Hrair Hawk Khatcherian.
September 20—St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin presents “Flavors of the Mediterranean” wine tasting fundraiser at Uncorkt in downtown Racine, 6 – 8 pm. Featured wines from France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Traditional mezza plates will be served. In addition to supporting the church, 10% of the proceeds will benefit the Mother and Child center in Armenia. For tickets/information contact: Denise Lansing, 262-639-8204; Mary M. Olson, 262-681-1535. Tickets are $20 per person or $35 per couple.
September 21—St. Illuminator’s Cathedral’s “Huyser” Music Ensemble presents “The Sound of Freedom,” a celebration of independence, at the Frank Sinatra School of Arts, Tony Bennett Concert Hall, 35-12 35th Avenue, Astoria, New York, at 7:30 pm. Tickets $25—$35. For information: 212-689-5880.
September 22—Presentation and book signing of A Place Far Away, a compelling new novel by Vahan Zanoyan, presented by the Agnouni, Bergen, Shake, and Spitak Chapters of the Armenian Relief Society, 2 pm at Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Refreshments served. All net proceeds from the book are being donated to organizations devoted to protecting children and fighting human trafficking in Armenia. Proceeds from book sales at this event will also benefit the ARS.
September 26—Presentation and signing of A Place Far Away, a powerful portrayal of the realities of human trafficking in Armenia, 7 pm  at Kavookjian Auditorium, St. Vartan Cathedral, 630 Second Avenue, New York City. Sponsored by the Armenian Studies program of the Department of Youth and Education, the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, and the Fund for Armenian Relief. All proceeds from the book are being donated to organizations devoted to protecting children and fighting human trafficking.
September 26—“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” sponsored by the Ladies Guild of St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Peter and Irene Vosbikian, Moorestown, New Jersey. Sumptuous brunch, vendors, Chinese auction, $50 per person. For reservations for the brunch contact: Mari Degirmenci 610-353-9199; Ashkhen Setrakian 610-527-3119; Cissy DerHagopian 856-231-9447; Theresa Hovnanian 856-231-1544. Transportation available from St. Gregory Church; departing 9:30 am and return trip at 3 pm. For transportation reservations ($20 per person) contact: Helen Guveyian 610-742-5871.
October 5—Symposium “Armenian Women as Artists and Mothers,” 2-6 pm, sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) at St. Illuminator Cathedral Pashalian Hall, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, in celebration of the Year of the Mother of the Armenian Family. Lecturers: Jennifer Manoukian (Columbia University), “Zabel Yessayan: Mother and Activist,”; Vartan Matiossian (ANEC), “Armen Ohanian: An Armenian Woman of the World,” and Melissa Bilal (Columbia University), “Lullabies and Tears: On Armenian Grandmothers and Granddaughters in Istanbul.”
October 19—Armenian Friends of America presents “Hye Kef 5” featuring musicians Leon Janikian, Joe Kouyoumjian, Greg Takvorian, Ken Kalajian, Ron Raphaelian, and Jay Baronian, 7:30-12:30, Michael’s Function Hall, 12 Alpha Street, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Proceeds to benefit all Armenian churches in Merrimack Valley and New Hampshire. Tickets: $40 adults; $30 students; includes individually-served mezza platters. For information/reservations: John Arzigian 603-560-3826; Sandy Boroyan 978-251-8687; Scott Sahagian 617-699-3581; Peter Gulezian 978-375-1616.
October 20—St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, 75th Anniversary Celebration to begin with Badarak at 10 am at the church, followed by a gala “tasting banquet” and program at the Racine Marriott. For information: Mary M. Olson, 262-681-1535.
October 27—90th anniversary celebration of St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate. Immediately after the Divine Liturgy at the church’s Founders Hall, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19128. 
November 1 & 2—St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 57th Armenian Bazaar, 10 am to 9:30 pm, at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown. Delicious meals (take-out available), Armenian pastries, Arts and Crafts, Books, Raffles, Attic Treasures, Auctions, and more. For information: 617-924-7562.
November 10—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, presents The Way We Were Ensemble of New York/New Jersey in their performance of “The Gamavors,” at 2 pm in the church hall. Coffee and reception with cast will follow performance. Tickets: $20 adults; $10 children under 12. For tickets: Mary Derderian, or 781-762-4253.
November 15-16-17—Annual Bazaar, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey.
November 17—Banquet and Program celebrating the “Year of the Armenian Mother,” organized by the Eastern Prelacy, at Terrace in the Park, Flushing Meadows Park, New York. Watch for details.
February 24-26, 2013—Annual Clergy Ghevontiantz Gathering hosted by Holy Cross Church, 255 Spring Avenue, Troy, New York.
March 28, 2013—Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm.
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