December 11, 2014

Last Sunday, December 7, parishioners of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York witnessed ordination service for four faithful members of the parish. Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, ordained Dikran Kabarajian to the order of the Diaconate and three Acolytes (Tbir), Aram Parnagian, Haig Nadjarian and Vahan Nadjarian. Intertwined with the Divine Liturgy, the minor orders of Doorkeeper (Ttrnaban), Reader (Untertsogh), and Candle Bearer (Mohmagrogh) were granted to three young boys who had been found to be prepared to enter into service to God to perform the responsibilities entrusted to them. The candidates were blessed by Bishop Anoushavan who then symbolically cut a piece of their hair in the form of a cross, saying “As we cut your hair, may the earthly desires be cut from you.”

The candidate for the Diaconate, Sub-deacon Dikran Kabarajian, on his knees was presented by his sponsor Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian. He was escorted to the altar still on his knees where he faced Bishop Anoushavan as deacons recited Psalms. During the ordination service His Grace placed his right hand upon the candidate and presented him with a stole signifying his elevation from sub-deacon to deacon. Deacon Kabarajian then began his service on the altar for the remaining portion of the Liturgy and Requiem Service.

During a reception that followed the services the four newly ordained altar servers each expressed their thoughts about the journey that led them to this day. Each thanked the Prelate and Vicar and their families, as well as Der Mesrob and Deacon Shant Kazanjian for their encouragement and help.

Archbishop Oshagan congratulated the newly ordained deacon and acolytes, and expressed his joy that young people are eager and ready to serve the Armenian Church.
A scene from the ordination service of Deacon Dikran Kabarajian.
Archbishop Oshagan congratulates the newly ordained altar servers during a reception following the services. From left, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Deacon Dikran Kabarajian, Acolytes Haig Nadjarian, Vahan Nadjarian, and Aram Parnagian.
Bishop Anoushavan speaks about the Archbishops of blessed memory.

On the same day as the ordinations described above, a requiem service was offered for Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian (11th anniversary) and Archbishop Zareh Aznavorian (10th anniversary) at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral with Archbishop Oshagan presiding. 

Following the services a reception took place in the Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall. Bishop Anoushavan presented a short video presentation of Archbishop Zareh based on a lecture about Christian education he delivered in California. The Prelate spoke about Archbishop Zareh’s extraordinary scholarship and Archbishop Mesrob’s outstanding administrative talent. Both have left a legacy that has strengthened the Church that will be remembered always.

Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Granite City, Illinois, this weekend where on Sunday he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church. He will be assisted at the altar by the parish priest Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian. His Eminence will preside over the parish’s 60th anniversary banquet.


For two decades Saint Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, has hosted a special Thanksgiving and Christmas prayer service and luncheon for the men and women of the 111th Precinct Police and Fire departments, under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan. The 20th anniversary of this annual event took place yesterday. Attending this year’s luncheon were police and firefighters not only from the 111th precinct but from other precincts in Queen, as well as the Chief of Police of Queens, and Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President, who in honor of the 20th anniversary proclaimed December 10 as “St. Sarkis Day.”

Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian holds proclamation presented by Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President, designating December 10 as Saint Sarkis Day.
Police and Firefighters from Queens who attended the annual Thanksgiving/Christmas lunch with Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan.

The 2015 Prelacy Pocket Diary is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  The cover of the Diary is the 100th anniversary logo that has been selected as the symbol of the Centennial Commemoration worldwide.

The motto “I Remember and Demand” and the Forget-Me-Not flower were selected as the logo. The Forget-Me-Not flower is universally recognized as a symbol of remembrance. The center of the flower in the logo is solid black representing the Genocide. This is surrounded by twelve pillars reminiscent of the twelve leaning pillars of the Tzitzernagapert Genocide Memorial in Armenia that represents the twelve lost Armenian provinces. The five petals of the flower represent the five continents that form the Armenian Diaspora.

The Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy will meet at the Prelacy offices in New York, tomorrow and Saturday, December 12 and 13.


The Sunday school students at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Granite City, Illinois, collected and sent donations of winter clothing to the children who reside at the Vanatzor Orphanage in Armenia. The donated clothing included coats, sweaters, gloves, scarves, and hats.
Some of the children model their new warm clothing donated by Sunday school students in Granite City.

Bible readings for Sunday, December 14, Fourth Sunday of Advent, are: Isaiah 38:1-8; Hebrews 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:1-10)

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

This Saturday, December 13, is the Feast of St. James (Hagop) of Nisibis (Mdzbin). He participated in the first ecumenical council in Nicaea (325), where he earned great respect from the Emperor Constantine and the other attendees. He was born and died in the city of Nisibis (Nusbyien) located in what is now southeastern Turkey, an important early Christian center in Asia Minor and a transit point of the caravans traveling east and west.

St. James is one of the most beloved saints in the Armenian Church. He is also honored by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, and the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. He was ordained Bishop of Nisibis in 320 AD.

St. James sought to find Noah’s Ark as proof for skeptics. On the eve of his ascent to the summit, as he rested, an angel appeared and told him that he need not climb to the summit and gave him a piece of the Ark which was nearby. This piece is kept at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The heavenly hosts rejoiced at the greatness of your feats by which you in the flesh became like the angels on high; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven. And we with a joyful voice celebrate your holy memory, O venerable witness of Christ, holy bishop James; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven. You decided on severe toils to see Noah’s Ark and from the angel’s hand received a portion of the wood which served the human race as salvation; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven.”
(Canon to St. James, Bishop of  Nisibis, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)


This Sunday, December 14, is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting for the coming of Christ that gives us reason to live in hope regardless of the many challenges and vicissitudes facing us. John the Baptist is the greatest Advent figure (read Matthew, Chapter 3 and Luke, Chapter 3).

Advent should be a time of reflection on our lives and the needs of others, near and far, who are less fortunate. It can also be a time of sadness for many who have recently lost loved ones or who are ill. A simple telephone call or a visit can boost the spirits of a friend, neighbor or relative. Take a breather from your frenzy of activity and relax and reflect.

His Holiness Aram I addressed the 300 women attending the Christian education course organized by the Christian Education Department of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, on December 2. He first spoke about the International Day for Elder Persons established by the General Assembly of the United Nations and observed since 1990. He said that elders are an integral part of our communities and everyone, regardless of age, has something to learn from the long experience of the elderly.

His Holiness spoke about the importance of 2015, as he paid tribute to the memory of the 1.5 million martyrs who perished during the Armenian Genocide. “We must continue demanding from the world the restoration of what was stolen from us through the Genocide planned and executed by Ottoman Turkey. We should press for the return of the confiscated church and private properties,” His Holiness told the assembled women.


Catholicos Aram traveled to the United Arab Emirates last week upon the invitation of Catholical Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Mesrob Sarkissian and members of the Diocesan Council. During his visit, His Holiness will consecrate the new Armenian Church and inaugurate the new Prelacy and school buildings in Abu Dhabi. He will also meet with the members of the Council as well as political figures and diplomats of the United Arab Emirates. The Armenian Church in Abu Dhabi is the second church that the Catholicos will have consecrated in the UAE. The first was the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Sharjah that was consecrated 16 years ago.

In his message to the community, His Holiness emphasized the need to set clear priorities and organize well-defined structures, because due to the problems in the region, many more families have been immigrating to these countries.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Foundation of the Oriental Theater (December 14, 1861)

The 1850s became a period of cultural awakening for the Western Armenian centers of Constantinople and Smyrna. Many young people were getting their higher education and bringing back new ideas with them. Armenians and Greeks used to be the carriers of European innovation in the Ottoman Empire. Theater was among those innovations.

Patriotic plays in Classical Armenian and comedies in Turkish were developing the interest for theater among the public. The Altunduri (Altunian) brothers headed the formation of a theatrical committee at the beginning of 1861 in Constantinople. Arakel and Stepan Altunduri knew good French and made several translations, but above all, they had the financial means to organize theater performances. The theatrical committee would become the founder of the first Armenian professional drama theater in modern times. They rented a building that belonged to Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Pera (nowadays Beyoglu), which was called Cafe Oriental. The premises were revamped and decorated, and a state license was secured. The theater was renamed “Oriental Theater.”

The first performance, on December 14, 1861, was “Two Sergeants,” a melodrama by French playwright Rota. The theatrical group was formed by ten actors (including important names of the time such as Bedros Maghakian, Serovpe Benklian, and Mardiros Menakian) and two actresses (Arusiak Papazian and Aghavni Papazian); the presence of women on the stage was a novel element in Armenian theater. The theatrical committee had hired an Italian director, Asti. An interesting element was that Mikayel Nalbandian, the Eastern Armenian writer and journalist, who was visiting Constantinople at the time, read a speech at the inaugural performance. He reminded the public that, “The theater stage is not less than the study chair; the stage of the theater is that chair where philosophy sits and, embodying the living word, with practical ideas and examples, liberates the public from the effort of understanding those ideas only through imagination.” He also encouraged the bravery of the actresses: “The history of Armenian theater will not forget the names of the respectable damsels, Arusiak and Aghavni Papazian, who are the first to have set foot on the theatrical stage. They have fought against common prejudices and have come to the arena after overcoming them. Long live them!”

The first season of the Oriental Theater lasted five months, until May 1862. The group presented four original plays and four translations. However, theater was still a field of polemics among progressive and conservative writers and public figures, and the Oriental Theater ceased its activities in April 1863. It was reopened in 1865 under the direction of playwright Srabion Hekimian. It was finally closed again in mid-1867 after several performances of Romanos Sedefjian’s  play “Vartan Mamigonian, Savior of the Fatherland,” dedicated to the memory of Nalbandian, who had passed away the previous year in a Russian prison.

Despite its short life, the impact of the Oriental Theater would be lasting. Many of its members would continue their activities in different groups and become pillars of Western Armenian theater until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
The Prelacy’s Bookstore has an extensive collection of books (in Armenian and English) about the Genocide including histories, novels, memoirs, eye witness testimonies, poetry, and essays. We will continue to feature titles from the Bookstore’s collection. 
By Armen Anush
Translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian

The author, who survived the deportation and massacre of his native Urfa, recounts the horrors of the Genocide and its psychological impact on the survivors. In vivid, documentary detail and a style at once poetic and profoundly compassionate, Armen Anush tells a story of irreplaceable loss and, ultimately, life-affirming transformation.

Soft cover, $15.00 plus shipping & handling
By Bertha S. Papazian

This book, a reprint of the 1918 edition, is an essay on Armenia and its plight, including documentation about the Armenian Genocide, making the case for the restoration of an independent Armenian state at the end of World War I.

Soft cover, $8.00 plus shipping & handling

To place an order or for information contact the Prelacy bookstore by email ( or by telephone (212-689-7810).
The crisis in Syria requires 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
December 12—Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) 11th Annual Holiday Gala, Cipriani 42nd Street, New York City. Cocktails and Silent Auction, 7 pm; Dinner & Program, 8 pm; Dancing & After Party, 10 pm. For tickets and information or 212-994-8234.

December 13—St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, “A 2014 Christmas Celebration” at 7pm in the Sanctuary. Usher in the Christmas season with family and friends. Featuring master organist, Ara Eloian, group caroling in Armenian and English. Reception following in Terhanian Hall. Admission is Free. RSVP to church office 215-482-9200.

December 13—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Sunday School trip to “The Festival of Trees,” The Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main Street, Hartford, at 10 am. All area Armenian Sundays schools will meet at the Wadsworth Atheneum to enjoy the decorated Christmas trees donated to the museum. Our goal will be to donate next year a Christmas tree decorated in honor of our Armenian ancestors and in commemoration of the 100th year Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. Everyone is welcome to join. Free admission, 10 am to 1 pm. Street parking is free.

December 13 and December 21—St. Stephen’s Church, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain, Connecticut, “The Purpose of Christmas,” movie and discussion in two sessions, following the Divine Liturgy and potluck lunch. This film shows the real purpose and meaning of Christmas. The 15-minute film will be followed by a Q&A discussion led by Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian.

December 13—Annual Christmas Party, Armenian Relief Society, Shakeh Chapter, at Sayat Nova, 91 Main Street, Hackensack, New Jerse7y, 2 to 4:30 pm. Donation: $35 adults; $20 children 2 to 12. For reservations: Ani Keshishian 201-417-0204; Lena Tarakjian 201-424-6545.

December 14—ARS Shake Chapter Holiday Bake Sale, following the Holy Badarak, Sts. Vartanantz Church Hall, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. All items are unique and homemade.

December 21—Armenian Chamber Music, presented by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of New York, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 2 pm. Featuring: Noune Karapetyan (soprano), Sargis Karapetyan (violin), Nune Hakobyan (piano). Program includes works of Armenian contemporary composers. Musical notes by Krikor Pidedjian (musicologist). Aram Satian, president of the Composers Union of Armenia will attend. Admission: $20. For information and/or tickets: St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, or 212-689-5880.

February 7, 2015—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 9-11, 2015—Ghevontiantz gathering of clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy.

March 13-15, 2015—“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. for information.

March 20, 2015—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, 2015—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 (

April 25, 2015—Connecticut Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day at the Connecticut State Capitol. Keynote speaker: Noted author Chris Bohjalian.

April 26, 2015—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, 2015—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 (location to be announced).

May 10 to June 4, 2015—Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Aram I to the Eastern Prelacy.

July 18, 2015—Blessing of the Holy Muron (Oil) by His Holiness Aram I, at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon.

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.

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