December 10, 2015
Yesterday, December 9, was he first annual observance of the “International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime.” Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar of the Prelacy, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, and Very Rev. Fr. Mamikon Kiledjian, Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral were among those who joined H.E. Zohab Mnatsakanyan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN, at the commemoration. Joining them were 6th, 7th and 8th grade students of the Hovnanian School of New Jersey.

The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution that was initiated by Armenia on September 11, 2015. This resolution follows up on another resolution, initiated by Armenia and adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 27, 2015. In its operative paragraph 22, the UN Human Rights Council recommended to the UN General Assembly to proclaim an International Day. December 9th was selected as the date for this international commemoration because this was the date the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted in 1948.

Ambassador Mnatsakanyan noted at the time of the introduction of the resolution that “millions of human lives have been lost as a result of the most horrendous crime—the crime of genocide that humankind has to its shame demonstrated ability to commit. We believe the International Day will serve an important platform for prevention by way of commemoration.”
The clergymen with students from the Hovnanian School of New Milford, New Jersey, who came to witness the first annual International Day in observance of genocide.
Some of the metropolitan area Armenians who came to observe the new International Day.
Bishop Anoushavan will attend a number of local events this weekend. On Friday, December 11, His Grace will attend the 12th annual Holiday Gala of the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF). On Saturday, December 12, the Vicar will preside over the Centennial Banquet of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York and the 10th anniversary of Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian’s ordination to the priesthood. On Sunday, December 13, Bishop Anoushavan will preside over the Divine Liturgy and attend the 7th annual Simply Christmas Concert at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.

The Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief is an ongoing obligation for all of us. This community needs our financial and moral support. Dr. Nerses Sarkisian, an Armenian community leader in Syria, is currently touring Armenian communities in the Eastern United States to speak about the current situation, how the money collected worldwide has helped the community, the many challenges ahead. Upcoming events include: Providence December 11; Washington, DC December 12; Granite City December 14; Philadelphia December 18; New Jersey December 19.

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: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Syrian Armenian Relief)

Thank you for your help
St. Gregory Church, Granite City, Illinois, celebrated the parish’s 61st anniversary last Sunday. Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General of the Prelacy, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the Sermon. Assisting at the altar was the pastor of St. Gregory, Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbanian. During the Liturgy, His Grace ordained the following five acolytes: Andy Asadorian, John Donjoian, Zaven Nalbandian, George Schweitzer and John Varadian.

After the Liturgy and ordination services, Bishop Anoushavan presided over the anniversary banquet and presented Certificates of Merit to four parishioners: Michael Haroian, Levon Manoogian, Mike Torosian and Barbara Varadian.
Bishop Anoushavan with parishioners of St. Gregory Church in Granite City, Illinois.
The Vicar ordains five new acolytes who will serve the St. Gregory parish.
Mid-Atlantic parishes were all represented at the Board of Trustees Workshop that took place on Saturday, November 21, at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City. Representatives included the pastors, members of the Boards of Trustees, delegates to the National Representative Assembly, members of the Prelacy’s Religious and Executive Councils. The all-day workshop was opened with a prayer and welcoming remarks by the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan.

Stephen Hagopian, chairman of the Executive Council provided updates on Prelacy programs. Also provided were descriptions of the Prelacy’s mission and purpose, goals, the role of the Religious and Executive Councils, and the challenges that included: Meeting the needs of our parishes and parishioners; Creating interesting and relevant programs; Attracting young men to the clergy; Attaining the financial resources to accomplish these goals.

A major portion of the workshop was devoted to parish development and progress. The parishes were encouraged to share their needs with the Prelacy so that the Prelacy could be helpful in advancing the parish. The role of the Boards of Trustees was examined in detail, with the understanding that the boards must “lead by example and the success of a parish depends on the example the board sets.

The role of the delegates to the National Assembly was also examined. Delegates must actively participate in the life of their parish in order to successfully represent the parish at the Assembly.

The partnership between the Prelacy and the Parishes was examined utilizing Archbishop Oshagan’s motto, “With each other, For each other.” Prelacy and parishes must work together closely and help each other.

The afternoon session concentrated on the Prelacy’s Mission Statement, and demonstration how parish’s can formulate their mission statement. And finally, “Programs and Best Practices,” was discussed.

As the attendees prepared to return to their homes, some of the parting comments were: “Sharing our experiences will make our parishes better”; “The Church is the most important thing in our daily lives and we need to use technology and social media to engage young people so they can receive the message of God”; “We need to encourage a dynamic exchange of ideas between and among parishes and prelacy.”

Archbishop Oshagan closed the workshop expressing his thanks to all who participated and to the Executive Council members, especially Karen Jehanian who helped organize the Workshop. With a very successful and promising beginning, similar workshops will take place in the New England and Midwest regions.
Above four photos, scenes from the workshop.
On the occasion of the Thanksgiving holiday, Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian visited the residents of the Armenian Home in Flushing, New York, on November 29. The residents, staff members, and guests were entertained by Harout Barsoumian (guitar) and Diana Vasilyan (violin), with Armenian and international selections.

Very Rev. Fr. Zareh speaks to the residents and guests at the Armenian Home in Flushing during a visit by Hayr Sourp and Der Mesrob.
The 2016 Prelacy Pocket Diary has already been received by many of you. The cover is a reproduction of the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide that was consecrated on April 23, 2015, during the canonization of the Martyrs in Holy Etchmiadzin.

The Eastern Prelacy has been producing the pocket diary continuously since 1974. Besides being a daily calendar with the major Armenian and American holidays noted, the diary contains information that will be helpful throughout the year.
The 2016 color poster of the Liturgical Calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church is now available at the Prelacy. This 27x36 inch poster belongs in every classroom, church hall and home.
The Armenian Apostolic Church uses a liturgical calendar to mark its feasts and fasts and seasons, like all traditional churches, but with its own unique features. As one can readily see, the Armenian Church year has eight seasons, depicted on the poster in different colors with the names of the seasons indicated in the outermost ring: 1) Nativity and Epiphany, 2) Lent, 3) Easter, 4) Pentecost, 5) Transfiguration, 6) Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, 7) Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 8) Advent. The innermost ring shows the months.
The weeks of the year are represented by the sectors of the circle, starting with Sunday and moving towards the center, with slots for each day of the week. Sunday is the first day of the week, mi-ya-shapat (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1), the day Jesus rose from the dead. Christians from the earliest times designated Sunday as “the day of the Lord” (deroonee / deroonagan). The word geeragee (Sunday) comes from the Greek Kyriaki, meaning dominical, lordly, royal. Thus, all Sundays are dominical days. Some dominical feasts could also be celebrated during the week, for instance, the Nativity and Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ on January 6.
In addition to dominical (deroonee) feasts, we also have feasts dedicated to saints. On saints’ days the church remembers and celebrates those Christians who have bore an exemplary witness to Jesus Christ and to his gospel—these include the apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, teachers, ascetics, bishops, priests, deacons, kings, queens, princes, and people from all walks of life, male and female, young and old. In our tradition, saints are commemorated and celebrated on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, except during the weekdays of Great Lent and the 50 days of Easter.

The church does not always celebrate. There are also days of fasting, set aside for self-restrain and self-examination. Hence festivities are not compatible with the ethos of the days of fasting. In the Armenian tradition, Wednesdays and Fridays are designated as days of fasting, except during the eight days of the Christmas festivities and during the forty days after Easter festivities. We also have ten weeklong fasts preceding major feasts and commemorations, observed from Monday through Friday, except for the fast of the Nativity, which is six days. And there is the great fast (medz bahk) of Great Lent, preceding the feast of feasts: The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Easter).
The liturgical calendar poster indicates all these with names and dates—showing all Sundays and other dominical days, saints’ days, and days of fasting.
As part of the celebration and commemoration of feasts and saints’ days, as well as observing days of fasting, the Armenian Church has assigned Bible readings for all these days. To see the daily Bible readings prescribed in our lectionary, please visit the Prelacy's website at
To order copies of the liturgical calendar poster, please contact the Prelacy at 212-689-7810 or at The cost of the poster is $5.00 plus shipping and handling.
Bible readings for Sunday, December 13, 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 12, 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 located in what is now southeastern Turkey, and important early Christian center in Asia Minor and a transit point of the caravans traveling east and west.

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, and angel appeared and told him that he need not climb to the summit and gave him a piece of the Ark, which was nearby. The 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 13, is the fourth Sunday of Advent. 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 spirit of a friend, neighbor, or relative. Take a breather from your frenzy of activity and relax, reflect, and call a family member or friend just to say, “I’m thinking of you.”
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Death of Catholicos Mateos II (December 11, 1910)
Mateos II was Patriarch of Constantinople and Catholicos of All Armenians in an extraordinarily difficult period of Armenian history, at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century.

The future ecclesiastic was born on February 12, 1845, in Constantinople as Simeon Izmirlian. He studied at local schools (Bezjian and Kum Kapu) and became a teacher at the St. Mary Church of Ortakeuy in 1862. After being ordained deacon, he was ordained a celibate priest (vartabed) with the name Mateos in 1869.  Patriarch Mgrdich Khrimian noted his intellectual capability and turned him into his personal secretary. His impeccable credentials and active service earned him the rank of dzayrakuyn vartabed in 1873. He was elected primate of Balikesir in 1874 and two years later was consecrated bishop. In 1881 he published a voluminous book in Armenian (1300 pages), The Patriarchate of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church and Aghtamar and Sis.
Izmirlian’s religious and political activities were at times inseparable from each other. In 1886-1890 he was primate of the diocese of Egypt, but had to resign for health reasons. He returned to his hometown, where he was ordained archbishop, and in December 1894 he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. His activism in order to improve the situation of the Armenians in the provinces led him to constant clashes with the authorities. His tenure coincided with the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896. His insistence on democratic reforms and Armenians rights, as well as his protest against the massacres earned him the title of “Iron Patriarch.” The Ottoman authorities tried to force him to present a letter that expressed his satisfaction with the situation, but Patriarch Izmirlian refused. Abdul Hamid II pressured him to abdicate, and in July 1896 he was exiled to Jerusalem for the next twelve years.

After the proclamation of the Ottoman Constitution (July 1908), Archbishop Mateos Izmirlian returned from his exile to Constantinople and was elected once again Patriarch after the resignation of Patriarch Maghakia Ormanian in October 1908. However, he did not remain in that position for long. Catholicos of All Armenians Mgrdich I Khrimian had passed away in October 1907. The National Ecclesiastical Assembly gathered in Holy Etchmiadzin elected Archbishop Mateos to replace Khrimian Hayrig in October 1908. The election was confirmed by a Russian imperial decree of April 15, 1909. The newly elected Catholicos departed from Constantinople in May. After introducing himself to Czar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg, he arrived in Etchmiadzin in June and was consecrated on September 13, 1909 as Mateos II.
Catholicos Mateos II would have a brief tenure of 15 months. He became the first Catholicos to make a pilgrimage to Ani, the ruined capital of medieval Armenia, by then within the Russian borders. His plan of action included the renewal of monastic life, the improvement of the Kevorkian Seminary, and the solution of various administrative issues.

The Catholicos passed away on December 11, 1910 and was buried in the courtyard of Holy Etchmiadzin. His correspondence was posthumously published in Cairo (1911).

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
During the last two decades, one of the most pervasive tragedies felt by Armenia as a consequence of natural disaster and war was the emergence of a large orphan population. The 1988 earthquake and the war in the defense and liberation of Artsakh resulted in an orphan crisis on a scale not seen since the 1915 Genocide. The continuing economic hardship that has faced the vast majority of Armenian families in Armenia and Artsakh has compounded the problem.

More than two decades ago the Eastern Prelacy began its Orphan Sponsorship Program. In the early years the orphans were all children of soldiers who died or were seriously wounded. Later the program was expanded to include any needy child in Armenia or Artsakh who had lost one or both parents.

We currently have a list of children waiting for sponsors. Once a child is accepted, he or she remains in the program until age 18. The annual donation is $225 per child. Sponsors are provided with names, addresses, and other pertinent information about their sponsored child and are encouraged to maintain communication.

During this joyous season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord, what better gift could there be then helping a child? Please consider becoming a sponsor. You can go online through the Prelacy’s web page ( Go to “Departments” and then to “Armenia Projects.” If you prefer to talk to a live (and nice!) person, contact the Prelacy at 212-689-7810 and ask for Sophie.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
What Is the Armenian Word for “Hotel”?
Any speaker of Western Armenian knows that the word for “hotel” is bantog (պանդոկ). However, if you visit Yerevan and you ask directions for the hotel where you are staying, they will look at you inquisitively, until you rectify yourself and say hiooranots (հիւրանոց), even if you know that hiooranots is that place in your home that you know in English as “living room.” (Western Armenian has the word hiooradoon / հիւրատուն “guesthouse”).

If you are curious enough to ask what bantog means there, they will tell you: “Tavern.” You will even find a restaurant called Bantog Yerevan (Պանդոկ Երեւան), translated into English as “Tavern Yerevan,” a few blocks away from the Marriot-Armenia hiooranots!

The standard word for a place of lodging in Armenian has been bantog since the fifth century (pronounced pandok in Classical Armenian, as it is today in Eastern Armenian). However, when you open the best dictionary of Classical Armenian, the monumental Nor Haigazian Lezvi Pararan (Նոր Հայկազեան Լեզուի Բառարան) published by three monks of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice (1836-1837), you find out that bantog means taberna (Latin), a word that translates into English as both “tavern” and “inn.”

Incidentally, there is a word close to bantog in Arabic, funduk (“hotel”), briefly borrowed by Armenian as pntuk (փնտուկ) before the 12th century. Since neither the origin of bantog nor of funduk can be explained through the Armenian or the Arabic languages, the natural conclusion is that there must be a common source for both. That common source is the Greek word pandokeion, which means “all-receiving” (the prefix pan “all” is the one we recognize in the word panamerican), and was borrowed by both languages without the ending –eion. A hotel or an inn is a place that may accommodate all sorts of people.
Back to the twenty-first century, the word bantog is used exclusively in Western Armenian with the meaning “hotel” and in Eastern Armenian with the meaning “tavern.” Where does hiooranots come from? Hioor (հիւր) means “guest” in Armenian (whether Western or Eastern), and hiooranots is a translation of the Russian word gostinitsa (“hotel”), where gost is the same word “guest.”

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
(Pastor of St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York)

This week’s podcast features:
• Answering Questions of Faith.
• And much more.

Click on the image above to link to the Podcast
From Hell to Heaven
By Armenag Antranigian

This extraordinary memoir was written in Armenian many years ago, but remained unpublished. This English translation was recently edited and published last month. It is highly recommended as an eyewitness account by a mature and literate survivor.  It tells the story of a young man who suffered the horrors of the genocide, witnessed the loss of the members of his immediate and extended family and his miraculous survival after two years of precarious existence, and finally his settlement in the United States.

From Hell to Heaven, 252 pages, soft cover, $20.00,
plus shipping and handling.
Մենք եւ Աշխարհը - Արեւմտահայերեն Հեքիաթներ եւ Երգեր

for ages 12 and older
$7.50, plus shipping and handling

To order contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( or telephone (212-689-7810).
SIAMANTO ACADEMY—Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

December 3, 10, and 17—“Living Out Our Baptism,” a three-part Bible study presented by Deacon Shant Kazanjian, executive director of Armenian Religious Education Council, 7 to 8:30 pm. Registration required. Contact or, or 212-689-7810.

December 3 to 13—2015 Festival of Trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. Come see the “Traditions of Armenia” Christmas tree, a collaborative effort in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, by the Sunday schools of St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain; Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection, and the St. George Armenian Church.

December 12—Advent Concert, St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, featuring organist Ara Eloian, vocalists Maroush Paneyan Nigon and Emily Movsesian. Group caroling in English and Armenian. This year’s concert is dedicated to the memory of Jeanette Nazarian; 7 pm in church sanctuary. Reception will follow. Admission is free; please rsvp 215-482-9200.

December 13—Christmas Food Festival by Armenian Relief Society New York Mayr Chapter at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York. Free Admission. For information contact Anais at 718-392-6982.

December 19—Emergency Appeal for Syrian Armenian Relief, at Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, at 7 pm. Guest speaker, Nerses Sarkisian, member of the Syrian Armenian Relief Coordinating Committee.

December 20—Nareg Armenian School Christmas Hantes following the Divine Liturgy, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Lunch and program and guest of honor, Gaghant Baba.

December 27—Sunday School Christmas Pageant, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, following the Divine Liturgy. Lunch and dessert served.

January 6—Christmas celebration followed by Avak luncheon, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Speakers: Yn. Alice Baljian and Elizabeth Blumin, “Healing Oils in the Bible.”
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:
138 East 39th Street | New York, NY 10016 US
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