April 7, 2016
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)

His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of Etchmiadzin and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia will visit Karabakh in a show of united support for the people of Nagorno Karabakh and the military.

Join the Armenian community of the metropolitan area and raise your voice against Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. A demonstration is scheduled for this Saturday, April 9, against the recent Azerbaijani aggression in Nagorno Karabakh. The protest, which will begin at 12 noon at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (First Avenue and 47th Street in New York, is organized by the ARF New York Armen Garo and the New Jersey Dro Gomidehs and the New York/New Jersey chapter of the ADL (Ramgavar Party). For information: 718-578-9168 (Nazareth) or 201-214-8019 (Hakob).
New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratten attended a meeting of CAMECT (Christian Arab and Middle Eastern Churches Together) that took place on Monday at the Prelacy. It was the first time such a meeting took place with the leaders of the NYPD and representatives of New York Middle Eastern Christian community. The Commissioner spoke about security and building trust in New York. He emphasized that New York has always been a city of different religions and ethnicities. He also spoke of the need for more minorities in the police force. They all agreed of the need for further dialogue and to work together to build bridges and promote safety.

Mrs. Kristen Evans of In Defense of Christians (IDC) also addressed CAMECT about IDC and its recent initiatives, especially the successful efforts to urge the US Congress to classify as genocide the massacre of Christians and other groups by ISIS.

Archbishop Oshagan, who is president of CAMECT, expressed his appreciation of the dialogues and noted the importance to continue the channels of communication. 
Bishop Anoushavan and Archbishop Oshagan hear Commissioner Bratten address the gathering.
Local Christian Arab and Middle Eastern Churches Together (CAMECT) respresentatives with Commissioner Bratten and members of his staff at the Prelacy.
Archbishop Khajag, President Sargsyan and Archbishop Oshagan
Archbishop Oshagan welcomed and joined the entourage of President Serzh Sargsyan during his visit to Boston last week. President Sargsyan visited the city to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence.

The Prelate took part in visits to Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park, Massachusetts State House, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and St. Stephen’s Church and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown.

President Sargsyan was in the United States to participate in the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
Last Thursday the President of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Serzh Sargsyan and his delegation visited St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, in Watertown, Massachusetts. The officials accompanying the President were, Mr. Vigen Sargsyan, Chief of Staff; Ms. Hranoush Hakobyan, Minister of Diaspora; Mr. Levon Mkrtchyan, Minister of Education and Science; Mr. Grigor Hovhanissian, Ambassador to the United States; Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Ambassador to the United Nations; and Consul General, Mr. Sergey Sarkisov. The President was accompanied also by the Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan and by the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

The President and his delegation received a warm welcome by the school administration, board of directors and student body, as well as, by St. Stephen’s Church Pastor, Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian and members of the board of trustees. Two students in Armenian national costumes greeted the President with the traditional bread and salt. The rest of the students with the Armenian flag in hand, sang the Armenian National Anthem.

In her welcoming remarks the Principal, Mrs. Houry Boyamian, gave some information about the school, explaining that some of the students come from a dozen nearby towns. In other cases, parents drive long distances to provide Armenian education to their children.  She also explained that in the Greater Boston Area, where some of the best public and private schools of the nation are located, St. Stephen’s always maintains high educational standards to encourage parents to send their children to Armenian school. She stated that in addition to providing a quality education, the school passes onto the new generation the Armenian language, culture, history, and instills a sense of identity and love for the Motherland. For this reason, every year, in May, the school organizes the Graduating Class Trip to Armenia.

The President and his delegation had the opportunity to meet with each grade. First, they enjoyed two songs dedicated to Armenia presented by the preschoolers. Then they visited all of the classrooms individually and interacted with the students. 
Before leaving, the President presented a magnificent khatchkar to the Principal, as a gift to the school, and Mrs. Hranoush Hakobyan presented a gift of books and resource materials from the Ministry of the Diaspora.

All in all, it was an enriching exchange and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School appreciated that the President of the Republic of Armenia took the time to learn more about the strong Armenian community in Eastern Massachusetts.
Saint Stephen's Armenian Elementary School students greet President Sargsyan and his entourage.
Archbishop Oshagan, Archbishop Khajag and President Sargsyan with Saint Stephen's Armenian Elementary School students and staff.
A reception for Ms. Hrnoush Hakobyan, Armenia’s Minister of the Diaspora, took place at the Prelacy. The main topic of conversation was the Syrian Armenians who have settled in Armenia and the need for the government to meet their needs, especially a fast track to granting them citizenship. She explained that the Armenian government is working rapidly to help them and will continue to take extraordinary measures. She also emphasized the role of the Diaspora in this respect and noted the need for a strong Armenia. She expressed the hope that more and more diaspora Armenians will visit Armenia and help build a stronger country.
Archbishop Oshagan, Bishop Anoushavan, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian and Ambassador Mnatsakanyan with Minister Hakobyan.
Note: Beginning April 4 and continuing until Pentecost (May 15), each day four Gospels are read in the following order: (1) Morning—Luke; (2) Midday—John; (3) Evening—Matthew; (4) Evening dismissal—Mark.

Bible readings for Sunday, April 10, Green Sunday are: (1) Luke 6:12-49; (2) Acts 9:23-31; 1 Peter 2:1-10; John 2:23-3:12; (3) Matthew 8:18-9:8; (4) Mark 3:6-12.

When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone, for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things.” (John 2:23-3:12)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
Easter Sunday is followed by a period of fifty days (Hinook) during which there are no fasting days and no saints days. This period from the Resurrection to Pentecost (Hokekaloost) is dedicated to the glorification of the Resurrection. Each of the seven Sundays of Hinoonk has a special name. Last Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, was New Sunday.

This Sunday, April 10, is Green Sunday (Ganach Giragi), also called Sunday of the World Church (Ashkharhamadoor), that commemorates the establishment in Jerusalem of the first Christian church where Christ met with the Apostles in the upper room.

Green Sunday most probably originates from an ancient folk holiday celebrating spring. Our forefathers, seeing mother earth bloom after long winter months, glorified the Creator with an act of thanksgiving and celebrated by decorating the church and themselves with greenery. The reawakening of nature is symbolic of the Resurrection. Green is the color of life, freshness, and promise. After a barren winter we are filled with hope, life, and love.

Green Sunday is the perfect time for us to remember and reinforce our obligations to be good stewards of the earth and to be caretakers of the gifts given to us by God.

The 30th annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute summer program for youth ages 13-18 will be held at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from July 3-10. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. It aims to instill and nurture the Armenian Christian faith and identity in our youth through a variety of educational activities, coupled with daily church services and communal recreational activities. For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website by clicking the image below or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.
On Wednesday, April 6, on the occasion of Easter, a special Liturgy was celebrated at the Armenian Home for the Aged in Flushing, New York, presided by H. G. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian and celebrated by Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with the participation of Deacons Kevork Hadjian and Bedros Kalaidjian. After the service all residents of the Home received individual Holy Communion.
The residents received Holy Communion.
Bishop Anoushavan with Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian and Deacons Kevork Hadjian and Bedros Kalaidjian.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
The Massacre of Maragha (April 10, 1992)
The massacre of Maragha was one of the forgotten and under-reported episodes of the Karabagh war. The village of the Karabagh region was occupied and destroyed by Azerbaijani troops, the remaining inhabitants were massacred, kidnapped, or disappeared, and the village is currently under Azerbaijani control.

Maragha, formerly called Leninavan, was located in the region of Martakert, just across the border from the Azerbaijani town of Terter, in the oil-rich region of Mir-Bashir, and was one of the largest villages of the region. It had a population of 4,660 people, predominantly Armenians, according to the Soviet census of 1989.

The escalation of the conflict in the spring of 1992 led first to the bombing of the village, which resulted in considerable damage. Some residents fled and temporarily settled in other regions of Karabagh. Afterwards, Azerbaijani forces attacked Maragha on April 10, 1992. Artillery fire started early in the morning, followed by a ground assault from neighboring Mir-Bashir. The village was occupied in the afternoon by 20 armored vehicles and a battalion of 1,000 soldiers, reportedly followed by looters. The village had 500 residents at that time, according to the data of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A preliminary report published in 1992 by HRW noted that the 60 Armenian fighters who defended Maragha did not have adequate weaponry and had been unable to hold their positions. They had retreated to a spot overlooking the village. Previously, they had notified the villagers, who had mostly left, while the remaining civilians, mainly consisting of the elderly and disabled, had gone into hiding in basements and underground shelters. The Azerbaijani forces massacred the civilians. The Armenians retook the village the following day, and came across bodies of forty-three civilians, mostly mutilated.

According to eyewitness accounts, people were decapitated or killed by torture (dragged tied to a tank or burnt alive), while bodies were mutilated, dissected, and burnt. Non-combatants, including women and children, were captured and taken hostage. The Vice-Speaker of the British Parliament’s House of Lords, Caroline Cox, who personally visited the place, gave a harrowing testimony: “I, along with my team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, arrived within hours to find homes still smoldering, decapitated corpses, charred human remains, and survivors in shock. This was truly like a contemporary Golgotha many times over.”

Maragha was attacked again two weeks later. The remaining population was deported, and thirteen civilians were taken hostage. The houses were pillaged and burnt down afterwards. As a result, most of the village was destroyed, and the bodies were later buried in a mass grave near the village.

Amnesty International reported that a total of over a hundred residents had been slain, their bodies profaned and disfigured, and forty-five residents (including nine children and twenty-nine women) were taken hostage.

The Azerbaijani officers directly involved in the massacre were never held responsible or tried for the crimes committed in Maragha, while the Azerbaijani side has not responded to the accusations of massacre.

The events in Maragha were not covered by the international media. Cox explained that she had not brought journalists together with her to Maragha on those days because it was dangerous, but she took many photographs, which are printed in her book Nagorno Karabagh: Ethnic Cleansing in Progress. Cox also said in her interview that the English newspaper Daily Telegraph had agreed to print her report on the massacre of Maragha, but then they refused to do so.

The village is currently controlled by the Azerbaijani army, and its former residents now live in Russia, Armenia, and other areas of Mountainous Karabagh. The residents who stayed in Karabagh have built a village on the ruins of another village now called Nor Maragha (New Maragha), not far from the destroyed hometown. A monument in the new village commemorates the victims of the massacre.

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

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Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Syrian Armenian Relief)

Thank you for your help.
SIAMANTO ACADEMY—Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.
April 8—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Membership meeting, 7 pm in large hall. Light dinner will be served.

April 16—Reception for Pillars of the Prelacy in New England area, Cocktails and Dinner at Armenian Museum of America, 65 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts. Exclusive exhibition preview for the Pillars of “Metal Memories: Selected Metalwork from the Berdj Garabedian Collection.” For information (email@armenianprelacy.org).

April 17—“Walk Armenia,” sponsored by ARS Mayr Chapter of New York; a 2-mile walk starting and ending at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. Registration at 12 noon; walk starts at 1 pm. Registration fee: $25. Proceeds from the walk will benefit renovations to Camp Haiastan. For information contact Anais (anais@mindripple.com).

April 19—18th annual Armenian Youth Day, sponsored by the Armenian Martyrs Memorial Committee of Rhode Island starting at 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, at St. Sahag and Mesrob Church, Egavian Auditorium, Providence, Rhode Island. All youth between ages of 7 to 14 are invited for a full day of activities and lunch. There is no charge for this event.

April 23—“Remembrance, Witness and Resurrection,” Archdiocese of Boston commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley will host and lead the first ever Archdiocese of Boston commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. The Cardinal will preside at a 4 pm prayer service. Joining the commemoration will be His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. Ecumenical and interreligious guests and civic dignitaries will join a large number of faithful from the Archdiocese and the Armenian Church.

April 23—Connecticut General Assembly, in association with the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Connecticut, will commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide; flag raisin g at 11 am, commemoration at 11:30 am in the House Chambers of the Connecticut State Capitol. Guest Speaker: Shant Mardirossian, Chairman Emeritus of the Near East Foundation (formerly Near East Relief). Reception will follow event.

April 24—Armenian Martyrs Committee of Rhode Island commemoration of 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide at North Burial Ground, Providence, starting at 12:45 pm. Clergy from the three local Armenian churches along with deacons and choirs will participate. Federal and state officials have been invited. Dr. Barbara J. Merguerian of Wellesley, Massachusetts, is the guest speaker. For information: joyce41@cox.net or go to www.Ammri.org.

April 24— “Remembering the Armenian Genocide,” Gathering at Times Square, New York, beginning at 2 pm. Sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan. Free bus transportation available. For information (www.knightsofvartan.org). 

May 12, 13, 14—National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy hosted by St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. Also convening are the National Association of Ladies Guilds conference, and conference of Yeretzgins.

May 21—Friends of Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School (HMADS), Annual Gala, North Hills Country Club, Manhasset, New York. Educating today’s Armenian American students remains our first priority. Join us in the festivities and help ensure the future of our Armenian School. For reservations/information: 718-225-4826.

July 3-10—St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute at St. Mary of Providence Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at armenianprelacy.org/arec/datev or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
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Parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are invited to send information about their major events to be included in the calendar. Send to: info@armenianprelacy.org
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