September 24, 2015
Archbishop Oshagan will participate in the Interreligious Gathering with Pope Francis on Friday, September 25. The gathering of religious leaders will take place at the National September 11th Memorial & Museum at 11 am. This historic gathering will bring together representatives from many faith communities of New York City and area. The Pope arrived in New York yesterday evening after a visit to Washington, DC. He will remain until Friday. During his stay His Holiness will address the United Nations, celebrate a Mass at Madison Square Garden, attend Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. There will also be a Papal Motorcade through Central Park where thousands are expected to gather to see the Pope. His visit to the United States—the first of his Papacy and his life—will conclude in Philadelphia where the Pontiff will attend the World Meeting of Families that is convening in the Convention Center.

Archbishop Oshagan will attend the United Nations General Assembly on September 29, at which time the President of Armenia, His Excellency Serzh Sargsyan, will address the General Assembly.

Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Washington on September 30 to attend a luncheon honoring His Excellency Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia. The event is hosted by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and the following members of Congress: Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chairman, Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade & Finance; Robert Dold (R-IL), Co-Chair, Congressional Armenian Caucus; and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Vice Chair, Congressional Armenian Caucus.

During the luncheon the Wallenberg Foundation will posthumously bestow The Raoul Wallenberg Medal to Henry Morgenthau, Sr., in the hands of his grandson, Robert M. Morgenthau. Henry Morgenthau served as Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 27, Third Sunday of the Exaltation (Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak) are, Proverbs 3:18-26; Isaiah 65:22-25; Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 24:30-36.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:30-36)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Sunday, September 27, is the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak, a feast that is unique to the Armenian Church and is celebrated two weeks after the Exaltation of the Cross. After coming to Armenia, the Hripsimiantz Virgins lived near Mount Varak. They had brought with them a fragment of the True Cross. Fleeing persecution, they sought refuge on the mountain where Hripsime hid the cross among the rocks before fleeing to Vagharshapat. In 653, a hermit named Todik found the hidden cross by following a brilliant light that illuminated the mountain and guided him inside the church to the altar where he found the cross. The light shone for twelve days. In memory of this event, Catholicos Nerses (the Builder) established the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak. He wrote the beautiful hymn, “By the Sign of Your All Powerful Holy Cross,” (Nshanav Amenahaght Khatchit).

The Monastery of St. Nishan (Varakavank) was built on Mount Varak, which is in the southeastern region of Van. It was home to one of the greatest libraries and museums, filled with ancient and modern books and works of art. The Monastery became even more prominent when Khrimian Hayrik established a publishing house and a school there hoping to make the monastery an educational center. He founded the first newspaper to be published in historical Armenia, Artsiv Vaspurakani (The Eagle of Vaspurakan). The massacres and deportations of 1915 destroyed Hayrik’s hopes and plans, as well as so much more. Varakavank was destroyed by the Turkish army on April 30, 1915, during the siege of Van. 
Varakavank, in the southeastern region of Van before it was destroyed on April 30, 1915
By the sign of your all-victorious cross, O Christ, lover of mankind, keep us from the unseen enemy, for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever. On it you stretched out your spotless hands and shed your blood for the salvation of the universe for you alone are King of Glory, blessed forever. At your second coming when this holy sign shall appear once again make your servants worthy of renewal for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever.

May your cross be our refuge by its flame-like radiance; it is named the tree of life; you crushed the enemy and unloosed the sentence of death for the salvation of the universe. Sending up praises the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoices at the discovery of the holy cross like the four-winged rock which enlightened this world by its sun-like rays. Jerusalem rejoiced, believers were glad; they adorned themselves in marvelous garment for they saw the victorious sign; all creation was adorned with its light.
(Canon to the Cross of Varak from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church)

This Saturday, September 26, the Armenian Church commemorates St. George (Kevork) the Commander, a third century Roman general who challenged the Emperor’s persecution of Christians by publicly tearing up the Emperor’s decree, and he urged others to follow his example. To this day he remains a popular saint in the Armenian Church and is the patron saint of soldiers and scouts. As in many other instances, the Armenians have given St. George an Armenian national character. The Feast of St. George is always on the Saturday before the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak that is preceded by a week of fasting (Monday to Friday). Although the fast is not connected to St. George, through the centuries it has been popularly identified as the Fast of St. George.
A bronze sculpture of St. George slaying the dragon on the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) has developed and published a set of four language guides under the general title of “Let’s Chat / Զրուցենք.” These colorful guides contain words, phrases, and short dialogues which are particularly geared to beginners in the Armenian language. They are divided into thirteen sections, including “Meet and Greet,” “Numbers,” “Days of the Week,” and “Everyday Questions and Answers,” among others.
Let's Chat No. 1 includes phrases about meeting and greeting, mood, courtesy, who and where and what's going on.
Let's Chat No.2  includes numbers, age and time.
Let's Chat No.3  includes the days of the week, the months and the seasons of the year.
Let's Chat No. 4 includes everyday questions and answers and giving direction.
The text has been prepared in three parallel columns: English, Armenian (in Armenian characters) and Armenian (transliterated). The set may be used in classrooms teaching Armenian as a Second Language, and also in other contexts. It may also be used to prepare various didactic games for different classes.

The set is currently being distributed to the schools under the jurisdiction of ANEC.

Mr. Pashinyan answers questions after the screening.
St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City, presented a screening of two films by the well-known Armenian actor, director and producer Mr. Ruben Pashinyan at John Pashalian Hall last Sunday. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian welcomed the audience and introduced the guest. Ruben Pashinyan is a graduate of the Yerevan Engineering University and the Actor’s Studio of Yerevan State Chamber Theater. He is a brilliant documentary filmmaker and TV program scriptwriter, as well as an actor, director, and journalist. Mr. Pashinyan holds memberships in the Theater Workers Union of Armenia, the International Federation of Journalists, and the Armenian Journalists Union.

The first film, “Where the Euphrates, Son” (15 minutes) explores the idea of the Homeland and the continuation of Armenian lineage through the story of one grandfather who travels to Armenia as a tourist.

The Second film, “Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia” (40 minutes) explores the history and tradition of the lost country and of Cilicia, a once-powerful kingdom with a strong navy and army that controlled the borders both on land and in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The screening was followed by a Q & A with the producer, who received a warm welcome from the audience.
A scene from “Where the Euphrates, Son”.
More than 200 people attended the annual church picnic of St. Stephen Church of Hartford and New Britain on Sunday, September 13. St. Stephen’s is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year.  The selection of a new venue at Winding Trails in Farmington, Connecticut  CT along with live music by The Mugrditchian Ensemble helped to make this year’s picnic the most successful in years with both Armenian & non-Armenian attendees.  The various kebob dinners, as well as other choices, were enjoyed along with the pastry table with a variety of selections, including khadaif and paklava prepared by Yeretzgin Margaret. Keeping it all in the family, and available for sale, was “Der Aram’s famous Hummus.” (Reported by Rita Soovajian)
Picnicers enjoy dancing to live music at St. Stephen’s picnic.
The ever-popular pastry table.
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, recently received a group of people representing the participants of the Ecumenical Consultation on Refugees, jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC). After a brief presentation of the goals and expectations of the conference by WCC and MECC staff members, His Holiness shared his concerns on the current situation and treatment of  refugees. His Holiness asserted that religious institutions and governments should approach the migrant issue responsibly. Recalling the 1915 Genocide of Armenians by Turkey and their displacement from their homes, he said, “We share the pain of the refugees because they remind us of our grandparents who were forced out of their homes and leaving everything behind.” He then spoke about the dire situation of all refugees in the region and added that the current uprooting of Christians will certainly have a serious impact on Christian presence in the Middle East. His Holiness then asked the guests to take up the issue of assistance to refugees with their churches and governments and advocate on their behalf.

On September 12, His Holiness Aram I went to Anjar, Lebanon, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the resistance of Musa Dagh. The Catholicos was accompanied by Bishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate of Lebanon. They were met by the mayor of Anjar, Garo Pamboukian, representatives of Armenian civil society organizations, and thousands of Armenians who had come to Anjar from different areas in Lebanon.

Following the canonical prayers at St. Paul’s Church, the Catholicos went to the monument dedicated to the heroes of Musa Dagh where he was welcomed by the community. After a brief cultural program, the Catholicos addressed the people: “Anjar began as a refugee village and today it is a prosperous town. The commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the forty days of the self-defense of Musa Dagh and the Armenian Genocide have inspired us not to give up our demand for justice. Despite attempts by Turkey to eradicate Armenia and exterminate Armenians we survived because of our heroes and martyrs,” he said.

His Holiness spoke about the presence of Syrian Armenians currently living in Anjar and other areas in Lebanon. He urged everyone to welcome and help them. Several thousand Armenian refugees from Musa Dagh settled in Anjar in the 1930s and its neighborhoods are named after the six villages of Musa Dagh. Today it is a thriving community with its various churches, schools, and community organizations.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Death of Catholicos of All Armenians Kevork VI (September 26, 1954)
Anti-religious policies during the first two decades of the Soviet Union would progressively bring the Armenian Church to the brink of destruction. Archbishop Kevork Chorekjian, first as locum tenens of the Catholicosate of All Armenians, and then as Catholicos, would lead the effort to revitalize the Church.

The future Catholicos was born in Nor Nakhichevan (today part of Rostov-on-the-Don) on December 2, 1868. After elementary studies at the parish school, in 1879 he entered the Kevorkian Seminary in Holy Etchmiadzin. He graduated in 1889 and was ordained a deacon in the same year. He pursued higher education at the University of Leipzig (Germany) in the fields of theology and philosophy, and also at the music conservatory (1889-1894).

Upon graduation, he returned to the homeland. He first taught music at the Kevorkian Seminary for one year (1894-1895) and then went back to his birthplace, Nor Nakhichevan, where for almost two decades he would work actively as a teacher and musician.

The breakthrough in his life occurred in 1913. At the age of 45, he was ordained archimandrite (vartabed) by Catholicos Kevork V and designated vicar of the diocese of Nor Nakhichevan. Two years later, as a member of the Committee of Fraternal Aid, he organized help for the refugees who had escaped from the Armenian Genocide, and became its chairman, as well as member of the Synod in 1916. He was ordained bishop in 1917 and designated sacristan of the Holy See.

Bishop Chorekjian was named primate of the diocese of Georgia in 1922 and held the post until 1927, when he returned to Holy Etchmiadzin and became a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council. Meanwhile, in 1925 he was elevated to the rank of archbishop.
The Soviet regime had practiced a comprehensive policy designated to reduce to a minimum the influence of the Church in general over society, and the policies carried in Soviet Armenia followed this general trend. As a result, by the 1930s most of the married and celibate priests in Armenia had renounced to the habits or had been subjected to various penalties, among other repressive measures. These policies came to a peak in 1938, when Catholicos of All Armenians Khoren I (1932-1938) died in unclear circumstances, which have been generally regarded as an assassination carried by orders of the Soviet secret police within the framework of the Stalinist purges. The first secretary of the Communist Party in Armenia, Grigor Arutinov, even wrote a letter to Joseph Stalin in 1940 asking permission to close the monastery of Holy Etchmiadzin and to turn it into a museum. Fortunately, the letter had no consequences.
Archbishop Kevork Chorekjian was one of the few high-ranking ecclesiastics who remained in Armenia. An encyclical issued by Khoren I before his death designated him as vicar of the Catholicosate. He managed the position until April 1941, when a National Representative Assembly was called to elect a Catholicos. However, the conditions were not favorable for the election (many dioceses could not send representatives due to World War II), and the gathering formally elected Archbishop Chorekjian as locum tenens of the Catholicosate.

For the next four years, the Soviet Union was involved in a life or death struggle against Nazi Germany, which also bore its impact over Armenia. The levels of repression and political pressure somehow diminished, and Archbishop Chorekjian took advantage to start working towards the reconstruction of the Armenian Church.

He organized a fundraiser in the Diaspora to finance the creation of the tank convoys “David of Sassoun” and “General Bagramian,” which would be added to the Soviet army. This public relations campaign would have its effect later, when he raised the issue of the Armenian territories usurped by Turkey in a meeting with Stalin held in April 1945.

The National Representative Assembly gathered in Etchmiadzin in June 1945 and elected 76-year-old Archbishop Kevork Chorekjian as Catholicos of All Armenians. Four months later, he addressed the government of the U.S.S.R, the U.S.A. and Great Britain, asking for the devolution of Armenian territories. From 1945-1947, claims for the return of Kars and Ardahan to Soviet Armenian would be one of the focuses of Soviet foreign policy.

Stalin also allowed some leniency to the Church, and Kevork VI used this to reopen the printing house, which in 1944 started the publication of the official monthly Etchmiadzin, which replaced the old monthly Ararat (closed in 1919). Some of the buildings of the monastery, which had been confiscated, were returned to the Holy See, as were the monasteries of Surp Hripsime, Surp Keghart, and Khor Virap. The seminary, closed since 1918, was reopened in November 1945 and its library was restored.

Despite the establishment of the Iron Curtain and the beginning of the Cold War, Kevork VI tried to enhance the links between Soviet Armenia and the Diaspora, which had been severed in the late 1930s. He had a significant role in the organization of the repatriation of 1946-1948.

The Catholicos also worked to replenish the ecclesiastical ranks, which had been decimated in the 1920s and 1930s. Fifteen new bishops were ordained during the nine years of his reign, and assigned to various dioceses which had remained without a religious head for years.

Catholicos Kevork VI passed away on September 26, 1954. He would be succeeded in 1955 by Catholicos Vazken I (1955-1994).

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
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Yesterday was the first day of autumn. 
Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and those who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus never know the rhythms that are at the heart of life.

Besides the normal hustle and bustle of New York City (which is considerable), we are witnessing the convergence this week of the historic visit of the Pope, and the opening of the United Nations General Assembly that is bringing more than 170 worldwide leaders to the City, all with entourages and limos (and one Popemobile).

The opening of the UN that occurs every year at this time is enough to bring the eastside of Manhattan to a standstill. The number of street closings fills many pages. It remains to be seen whether moving from here to there will be a “piece of cake” or a New York horror story. It could go either way!
SIAMANTO ACADEMY—Meets every second Saturday of the month beginning September 12 at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

October 3—Third Annual Dinner Dance Gala hosted by the PTA of St. Sarkis’s Suzanne & Hovsep Hagopian Armenian Saturday School at the Douglaston Manor, 63-20 Commonwealth Boulevard, Douglaston, New York. Cocktails 7 pm; dinner 8 pm. Proceeds will fund many projects of the school and enhance technology. Enjoy great music and dancing, delicious food, fantastic raffle prizes, and the opportunity to support the school. For reservations:

October 5-9—Clergy Retreat, gathering of clergy from Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies, hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey.

October 15—Lecture (“Homeland and Genocide”) by Prof. Siobhan Nash-Marshall, Professor of Philosophy and the Mary T. Clark chair of Christian Philosophy at Manhattanville College, at the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York City.

October 17—St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley Annual Fall Fair, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Jaffarian Hall, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Shish, losh & chicken kebab dinners, lentil kheyma, regular keyma, vegetarian plates; pastries, games, raffles. For information: 978-685-5038 or Ann Apovian 978-521-2245 or Sossy Jeknavorian 978-256-2538.

October 17—Dinner/Reception at 6 pm, honoring the New York-New Jersey area Pillars of the Prelacy, Vahakn and Hasmig Hovnanian Hall, 138 East 39th Street, New York City.

October 18—Presentation of the Album “Retrospective” by well-known Canadian photographer Kaloust Babian, at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 1 pm. Organized by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York.

October 24—Concert dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide featuring singers Nune Yesayan and Sibil, with participation of the Hamazkayin NJ Nayiri Dance Ensemble and Arekag Chorus, 7:30 pm at BergenPac, 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey. Tickets: $85, $65. $45. For information: Ani Mouradian 973-224-2741.

October 25—Breakfast in the church hall ($10) after the Liturgy, St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, sponsored by the Ladies Guild.

October 28—Near East Foundation’s Centennial Gala Celebration, 6:30 pm, Cipriani, 25 Broadway, New York. Save the date.

October 31—100th anniversary of Hudson County (NJ) Shakeh Chapter of Armenian Relief Society, under auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Chart House Restaurant, 1700 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, New Jersey at 7:30 pm. Sponsored by Dr. Kourkin and Talene Tchorbajian. Featuring Elie Berberian from Canada. Donation $100. For reservations: Knar Kiledjian (201)943-4056; Silva Takvorian (201)779-6744; Marina Yacoubian (201)978-8926.

November 1—Arminstring Ensemble, St. Illuminator Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall.

November 6 & 7—59th Annual Bazaar, St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 10 am to 9:30 pm at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, Massachusetts. Meals served from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (take-out available). Delicious meals, Armenian pastries, Gourmet, Gift Shoppe, Raffles, Attic Treasures. Live auction Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. For information: 617-924-7562.

November 6, 7 & 8—Annual Bazaar and Food Festival of Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Live entertainment Friday and Saturday; Children’s activities; vendors; homemade Manti, Kufte, Sou Buereg, Choreg, and more. Traditional Khavourma dinner on Sunday. Extensive Mezze and desert menu for your Thanksgiving table available for take-out.

November 8—ARS Mayr Chapter of New York, Benefit Luncheon for the rebuilding of the ARS "Soseh" Kindergarten in Stepanakert, 1p.m. at Almayass Restaurant, 24 E. 21st Street, New York, NY.  Donation (includes full lunch, wine, and soft drinks): $75 (adults); $20 children under 12. For reservations: Anais at 718-392-6982 or Anahid at 917-751-4916.

November 12—An evening with Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc., Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (previously National Heritage Museum), 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts, celebrating 40 years and beyond. Reservations and information: or (617) 923-4542.

November 14—Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair, 10 am to 4 pm, at Jaffarian Hall, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Handcrafted items by local crafters & artisans. Light lunch served. For information: Dorothy 978-686-7769 or Rose 978-256-0594.

November 15—“Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future, 1925-2015,” St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, 90th Anniversary celebration. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet at Farmington Club, 162 Town Farm Road, Farmington, Connecticut. Details to follow.

November 14 & 15—Armenian Fest, hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, at Rhodes-On-The-Pawtuxet (1 Rhodes Place, off Broad Street) in Cranston. The largest indoor festival, serving delicious shish and losh kebob, chicken and kufta dinners and Armenian pastries. Live dance music. Armenian dance group performance on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. 50/50 main raffle prizes, hourly raffles, silent auction, country store, gift baskets, flea-market, arts and crafts. For more information:

November 22—Presentation of Goodbye, Antoura: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide by Karnig Panian, organized by Prelacy will take place at St Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. The book will be presented by Dr. Herand Markarian; Mrs. Houry Boyamian, daughter of the author, will provide insight about her father’s memoir that was just recently translated into English. For information: 212-689-7810.

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 6—ARS Holiday Dinner, St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, after church services. Save the date. Details to follow.

December 20—“Soup, Sandwiches, and Bingo,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, following church services, sponsored by Ladies Guild.
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