December 3, 2015
Archbishop Oshagan released a circular this week encouraging all Eastern Prelacy parishes to support efforts to help our Syrian Armenian community. His Eminence advised parishes to designate a Sunday from now until December 27 for parishioners and students of the Sunday schools and Armenian schools to devote a time of prayer and giving for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Syria.

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 and the many challenges facing the Armenian community in Syria. Events will take place in the following locations: New York December 5; 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
Bishop Anoushavan will travel to Granite City, Illinois, this weekend, where he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, deliver the sermon, and ordain acolytes, at St. Gregory Church. His Grace will also preside over the parish’s 61st anniversary celebration.

In his annual appeal, Archbishop Oshagan reflected upon the extraordinary events that took place during the centennial year of 2015. “I believe you will agree that it turned out to be a truly remarkable year with the commemorations in Armenia and the Diaspora exceeding all expectations and with many unexpected and welcome initiative.”

His Eminence was particularly impressed with the involvement of our younger generations noting, “One of the most heartening aspects of the centennial commemorations was the presence and involvement of our young generations. They participated with great vigor and new and bold ideas. It led me to clearly see that our future is here. As a nation we took a giant leap this year. I am certain that 2016 will be an even greater leap for our church and community.”

When you receive the  Prelate’s 2015 Appeal please respond as generously as possible. This year-end appeal helps the Prelacy fulfill its sacred mission. What you give will come back to enrich your parish and community.
Bible readings for Sunday, December 6, Third Sunday of Advent, Eve of the fast of St. James (Hagop) are: Isaiah 37:14-38; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; Luke 14:12-24.

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets. Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’

So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”  (Luke 14:12-24)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
Wednesday, December 9, is the Feast of the Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary. This is one of the eight feast days devoted to the Holy Virgin Mary in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. This feast is always celebrated on December 9, and is part of the Church’s preparation for Christmas. The faithful rejoice in the event that celebrates Mary’s conception in fulfillment of the prayers of her parents and nurtured to become the mother of the Messiah. Bible readings for this Feast are: Song of Songs 6:3-8; Malachi 3:1-2; Galatians 3:24-29; Luke 1:39-56.

This Sunday, December 6, is the eve (paregentan) of the Fast of St. James (Hagop) of Nisibus. This five-day fast, Monday to Friday, leads us to the Feast of St. James, which is next Sunday. Traditionally the entire fifty-day period of Advent was a period of fasting, similar to Great Lent. In modern times, three week long fasts are observed during Advent: Fast of Advent (Hisnagats Bahk), Fast of St. James (Sourp Hagopeh Bahk), and the fast of the Nativity (Dznuntyan Bahk).

This Saturday, December 5, the Armenian Church remembers St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, a fourth century Bishop of Myra, Lycia in Asia Minor (now in Turkey). Nicholas was a defender of orthodoxy and because of many miracles attributed to his intercession he is called “the wonderworker.” He was a secret gift-giver and is believed to be the model for Santa Claus, often called St. Nick.

This Sunday, December 6, is the third Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season of anticipation for the coming of Christ that gives us purpose 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).

His Holiness Catholicos Aram recently inaugurated the new term of the Catholicosate’s Armenian Studies Department in the presence of the clergy, the director of the department, Mr. Jirayr Tanielian, the faculty, and thirty new students. 

The Catholicos expressed joy at the large number of students and spoke abut the importance of safeguarding Western Armenian. He then spoke about the various initiatives the Catholicosate is engaged in to preserve the original mother tongue. He also announced that the Catholicosate, with the help of the Armenian Studies Department, is in the process of acquiring university level accreditation.

Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Pontifical Vicar of Cyprus, and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) attended the meeting of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, near Geneva, Switzerland. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, from the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, was also present as Moderator of a committee of the Central Committee. After the presentations of various reports, the members of the Executive Committee decided on programs, budget, and staffing in light of current challenges.

Members of the WCC Executive Committee attended services at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva, where special prayers were offered in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches met in Vienna to review the work of the Pro Oriente Dialogue Committee, created in 1971, and the extent to which the recommendations of Vatican II calling for Christian Unity have been implemented.

Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian represented the Holy See of Cilicia and Bishop Armash Nalbandian represented the Holy See of Etchmiadzin. Dr. Johann Marte, president of Pro Oriente, expressed the hope that the newly constituted Catholic Church—Oriental Orthodox Churches International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue will advance the dialogue to promote Christian Unity. Professor Dietmar W. Winkler presented a brief history and achievements of the Commission since 1971.

The representatives proposed an agenda for the first meeting of the new period that will take place November 28 to December 1, 2016, in Vienna. The representatives attended an ecumenical prayer service at St. Gabriel Coptic Orthodox Church, where special prayers were offered for the Armenian genocide by Turkey one hundred years ago.
The Sunday schools from three Armenian churches in Connecticut—Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection, St. Stephen’s Church, and St. George Church—have joined forces to create a Christmas tree for the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Festival of Trees. The tree’s theme is “Traditions of Armenia” and showcases the Armenian heritage, to increase awareness among the non-Armenian community, and in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The decorated tree will be donated to the Wadsworth Atheneum as part of their fundraising, and will be sold during the Festival of Trees event. All are welcome to attend and purchase any of the trees and other decorations. 

The exhibit opens today, December 3, from 5 pm to 8 pm and will continue Friday, December 4 through Sunday December 13, 10 am to 5 pm. The museum and exhibit are closed Monday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 8. Entry is free on Saturday, December 12. The Atheneum is located at 600 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut.

The trees in the exhibit are evaluated by the visitors, who can vote for their favorite. The Armenian tree is  collaborative effort of representatives of the three Armenian church communities.
The tree project committee members include: Anita Arakelian, St. Stephen Church (missing from photo); Melanie Kevorkian Brown, St. George Church; Darlene Evslin, St. Stephen Church; Roxie Maljanian, Church of the Holy Resurrection; Cynthia Messikian, St. George Church; Anna Tufankjian, St. Stephen Church; Virginia Derbabian Wasynczuk, St. George Church.
The Board of Directors of the United Armenian Fund announced that the non-profit organization ended its operations on November 30, 2015, following the recent passing away of its main benefactor, Mr. Kirk Kerkorian, preceded by the closing down of his Lincy Foundation.

After 26 years of providing humanitarian aid to Armenia and Artsakh, the five major Armenian American religious and charitable organizations that formed the UAF have decided to concentrate their attention and resources on other projects that they sponsor and fund in Armenia and the Diaspora.

The leaders of UAF member organizations expressed their gratitude to Mr. Kerkorian for his generosity, who through his Lincy Foundation, contributed tens of millions of dollars over the past quarter century to fund the UAF’s operations, including the shipment of hundreds of millions of dollars of relief supplies to Armenia and Artsakh by air and sea.

The UAF was formed shortly after the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia to provide much needed humanitarian aid to the destitute survivors in the earthquake zone. But, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the blockade of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, the UAF decided to expand its mission to include the entire population of Armenia and Artsakh.

Over the years the UAF acquired, shipped and distributed all types of relief supplies, including medicines and medical equipment, agricultural equipment, seeds, computers, books, toys, winter clothing and shoes to hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages, and hundreds of charitable organizations throughout Armenia and Artsakh.

The UAF Board of Directors thanked the many generous donors who contributed large quantities of vital goods and supplies to the UAF ever since 1989. The Board also commended the UAF staff—President Harut Sassounian and Administrative Assistant Nouritza Abujamra—for their dedicated service to the organization and the needs of the people in Armenia and Artsakah.

In the past 26 years, the UAF has delivered to Armenia and Artsakh a total of $720 million worth of relief supplies on board 159 airlifts and 2,260 sea containers.

The UAF is the collective effort of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Relief Society, Diocese of he Armenian Church of America, and the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Archbishop Oshagan, Bishop Anoushavan, and Rev. Fr. Nareg with Mrs. Houry Boyamian and the presenters.
The recently published “Goodbye, Antoura,” was presented at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, under the sponsorship of the Prelacy and St. Sarkis Church on November 22. “Goodbye, Antoura,” is a memoir written by Karnig Panian and originally published in Armenia. This new English translation is garnering exceptional praise from many critics and reviewers.

Dr. Herand Markarian presented the book vividly describing the Antoura Orphanage that took in Armenian children with the intent of erasing memory of their Armenian heritage. Karnig Panian was one of those children who was renamed and forced to speak Turkish, but the memory of his Armenian heritage did not diminish.

A remembrance was offered by Karnig Panian’s daughter, Mrs. Houry Boyamian. She described her father as a man who devoted his life to preserving the Armenian heritage.

Bishop Anoushavan, Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, attended a celebration marking the 72nd anniversary of Lebanon’s independence on November 20 in New York City. The clergymen extended congratulations on behalf of Archbishop Oshagan and the Eastern Prelacy to Majdi Ramadan, Consul General of Lebanon. They also expressed their condolences for the recent terrorist attacks that took place in Lebanon.
At the independence celebration, left to right, Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Consul General Majdi Ramadan, Mrs. Vanessa Ramadan, and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
The Spitak Earthquake (December 7, 1988)
Earthquakes have frequently hit Armenia throughout history. Soviet Armenia had three major quakes in the first fifty years of existence in Leninakan (1926) and Zangezur (1931 and 1968). The fourth earthquake would be the worst, prompting a global effort for relief that remained unprecedented in the history of the former Soviet Union.

The seismic movement in the northern region of the Republic of Armenia occurred on Wednesday, December 7, 1988 at 11:41 am local time (2:41 am in the U.S. East Coast). The earthquake measured 6.8 on the surface wave magnitude scale. It was coincidental with the political turmoil that had been produced by the Karabagh movement since February 1988. In November of the same year, tens of thousands of Armenian refugees had arrived from Azerbaijan, and an unknown number of them had settled in the seismic area.

The cities of Spitak, Leninakan (nowadays Gyumri), and Kirovakan (nowadays Vanadzor) were greatly affected with large loss of life and devastating effects to buildings and other structures. Smaller outlying villages away from the big cities were also severely affected. Leninakan and Kirovakan were the second and third cities of Armenia by population.
Some of the strongest shaking occurred in industrial areas with chemical and food processing plants, electrical substations, and power plants. The nuclear power plant of Metzamor, 47 miles from the epicenter, did not experience damage, but vulnerability concerns triggered its shutdown from February 1989 until 1995.

Many buildings did not hold up to the shaking of the earthquake and just came down like houses of cards. A saying in Leninakan at the time made reference to the resistance of old buildings from pre-Soviet time: “Leninakan went away, Gyumri remained.” The scrutiny by earthquake engineering experts found fault in the substandard quality of construction during the period of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982). Lack of effective medical care and poor planning also contributed to the substantial scope of the disaster. Most hospitals collapsed, killing two-thirds of the doctors, destroying equipment and medicine, and reducing the capacity to handle the critical medical needs in the region.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was in New York on his first day of official visits with President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush at the time of the earthquake, formally asked the United States for humanitarian help within a few days of the earthquake, the first such request since World War II. One hundred and thirteen countries sent substantial amounts of humanitarian aid to the Soviet Union in the form of rescue equipment, search teams, and medical supplies, but private donations and assistance from non-governmental organizations also had a large part of the international effort.

A group of French recording artists and actors came together with French Armenian writer and composer Charles Aznavour to record the 1989 song “Pour toi Arménie” (For you Armenia), with lyrics and music by Aznavour himself, as a call for help for the Armenians. Aznavour, together with his brother-in-law, French Armenian composer Georges Garvarentz, formed a foundation called “Aznavour for Armenia.” Almost two million copies of the disc were sold, which allowed the foundation to build 47 schools and three orphanages for the victims of the disaster.
As of July 1989 about $500 million in donations had been delivered to the Armenians from 113 countries. Most of those funds went into the initial relief work and medical care plus the beginning portion of the rebuilding phase. Yuri S. Mkhitarian, an Armenian State Building Committee official, gave an updated damage report that stated that 342 villages had been damaged and another 58 destroyed. One hundred and thirty factories had been destroyed and 170,000 people were out of work. Officials acknowledged that the work to complete the rebuilding may take up to five years or longer, a supposition that more than doubled Gorbachev's estimate of two years.

The number of victims of the earthquake was officially given as 25,000, even though there were estimates of up to 100,000. The material and moral impact of the earthquake was long-term. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the second independence of Armenia (1991), including the economic crisis and the Kharabagh war, became a hurdle to complete the efforts of reconstruction. Rebuilding in major cities and villages was completed after years, and still there were people living in makeshift homes twenty-five years after the earthquake.

A bronze sculpture by Frederic Sogoyan, “Armenian Earthquake,” which expresses Armenian gratitude for the aid provided after the catastrophe, was dedicated on March 1991 on the north lawn of the American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington D.C. The inscription reads: “To the American people / from a grateful / Armenian people / Earthquake assistance / December 7, 1988.”

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

This week’s podcast features:
• Interview with Hayg Oshagan, chairman of the ARF-ER Central Committee
• And much more.

Click on the image above to link to the Podcast
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.

November 26 to December 6—Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Fifth Annual Online Auction. Find the perfect Christmas gift for the special people on your list. To view and bid on auction items or make an online donation visit Information: or contact Talin Daghlian 201-446-2316.

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 5—Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church Annual Bazaar in Whitinsville will be held at the Pleasant Street Christian Reform Church Hall, 25 Cross Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, 10:00-4:30, dinners served at 11:30.

December 5—120th anniversary celebration of Lowell ARF Aharonian Gomideh, Kazanjian Memorial Pavilion, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 180 Old Westford Road, Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Dinner and program. Armenian National Committee Freedom Awards and Community Service Awards will be presented. Donation $50 adults; $15 students. Reservations contact Armen Jeknavorian, or 978-256-2538.

December 6—Episcopal Divine Liturgy and 61st Anniversary celebration, St. Gregory Church, Granite City, Illinois.

December 6—Greater Worcester Armenian Chorale presents a special Christmas Concert led by artistic director and conductor Konstantin Petrossian and featuring guest soloist soprano Knarik Nerkararyan. Concert begins at 1:30 pm with fellowship preceding the concert at 12:30 pm at Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. Admission is free. For information: 508-963-2076.

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.
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