December 12, 2013
The Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan, presided over the Divine Liturgy and Requiem Service for the 10th anniversary of the passing of Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, who served as Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the United States and Canada from 1978 to 1998, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City. Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, delivered the sermon. Following the requiem service the dedication of the Cathedral’s new baptismal font took place. The font is dedicated to the memory of Archbishop Mesrob and was sponsored by the Ashjian, Seropian, Yessaian, and Papazian families.  Standing in front of the font, Archbishop Oshagan spoke about the late Prelate with his own personal memories going back to Seminary days, to his extraordinary service to the Eastern Prelacy, and the dedicated service to Armenia and Artsakh during the last years of his life. “His mind was always focused on his mission,” Archbishop Oshagan said. “He would come up with a strategic plan at night when he should have been sleeping and in the morning begin its implementation. Last week when I was in Antelias I went to his mausoleum and prayed,” Archbishop Oshagan concluded.
Following the dedication, the parishioners filled Pashalian Hall for a short program and luncheon refreshments. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, who was named in honor of the late Prelate, provided an overview of Archbishop Mesrob’s journey through life and his dedication to the Armenian Church and nation. Photos depicting Archbishop Mesrob’s service were posted on a wall beside a long table that contained copies of books written by him, or sponsored through his auspices, as well as samples of booklets that accompanied the many commemorations and celebrations he sponsored during the twenty years he served as Prelate. Many people especially recalled his visionary commemoration in 1985 for the 70th anniversary of the Genocide, “Remembrance and Hope: Five Days in Washington,” that several people concurred was “worthy of a centennial celebration.”
Archbishop Oshagan, standing in front of the new baptismal font at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, speaks about Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian. The font was sponsored by the Ashjian, Seropian, Yessaian, and Papazian families in loving memory of their Prelate, brother, uncle, and cousin.
Selected photos graced the wall alongside the many books and booklets that he wrote or sponsored.
I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
(from Nelson Mandela’s statement to the court after he was sentenced to life in prison)

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, sent the following message to the President, General Secretary, and Member Churches of the South Africa Council of Churches:
"The passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has left the people of South Africa fatherless and the world without a living symbol: the great architect of the Rainbow Nation. The ecumenical movement will remember the late Nelson Mandela as a great leader who not only struggled for peace with justice and spoke of reconciliation but also expressed these supreme values existentially in his life.
While Moderator of the Central and Executive Committees of the World Council of Churches, I had the privilege, in 1994, to attend the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela and to transmit a message of the love, hope, and reconciliation  of the ecumenical family to the people of South Africa. A few years later, in 1998, I had the opportunity to welcome him to the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe.
As the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church’s Holy See of Cilicia, I know that I speak for my whole community in saying that we have been and remain inspired by Nelson Mandela’s commitment to human rights and reconciliation. In the Middle East, where the three Monotheistic religions were born, although peaceful coexistence and mutual acceptance are in our prayers and thoughts, Madibas’ great legacy remains but a hope.
During this Advent period, as the world sends this great man to his eternal rest, let us turn to Bethlehem to receive the Prince of Peace and renew our commitment to justice, peace, and reconciliation among all nations.”

Archbishop Oshagan will preside over the opening reception of the Arthur Pinajian Exhibition, “Lost and Found: The Pinajian Discovery,” at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral this Sunday, December 15, 1 pm to 4 pm. The opening will include a presentation by Peter Hastings Falk, Chief Curator of the Pinajian Estate, as well as other representatives to answer questions. A 128-page hardcover book accompanies the exhibit with essays by art historians Falk, Richard J. Boyle, the late William Innes Homer, art critic John Perreault, conservator Jonathan Sherman, bestselling author Lawrence E. Joseph, owner of the collection, and Pinajian’s artist cousin, Peter Najarian.
The limited-run exhibition of 25 paintings will feature the artist’s lyrical landscapes and mid-century abstractions. After Pinajian’s death in 1999, five decades of accumulated artwork were found stacked up in the one-car garage and attic of the Bellport, Long Island, cottage he shared with his sister. He had left instructions for his collection to be discarded. His cousin refused to allow the collection to be destroyed.  The exhibition at St. Illuminator’s that opens on Sunday is the artist’s posthumous homecoming.
To read the full Pinajian discovery story and exhibition hours click here.

Archbishop Oshagan will attend the 10th Annual Holiday Gala of the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) tomorrow evening, Friday, December 13, at Cipriani, 42nd Street in New York City.
On Sunday afternoon His Eminence will attend the 5th annual Simply Christmas Concert at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York.

Mr. Jonathan Puddifoot, regional representative of the internationally respected humanitarian organization OXFAM, and Ms. Margarita Hagopian, representative of OXFAM in Armenia, met with Archbishop Oshagan on Tuesday, December 10. They discussed various projects in Armenia as well as project in villages undertaken by OXFAM and the charitable work undertaken by the Prelacy through its St. Nerses the Great Charitable Fund. Various possibilities of cooperation and partnership were discussed.
Archbishop Oshagan, Bishop Anoushavan, and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with the OXFAM representatives.
Members of the Central Committee of Hamazkayin met with the Prelate on Tuesday, December 10. The Central Committee members were Mr. Garbis Baytarian from Lebanon, Mr. Simon  Asertjian of Canada, and Mr. Vigen Yacoubian of Los Angeles. The Prelate and Hamazkayin leaders discussed various topics of mutual interest especially in the realm of education and cultural programs.
Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan with members of the Hamazkayin Central Committee.
The Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy will meet at the Prelacy offices in New York tomorrow and Saturday, December 13 and 14.

Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, attended a celebration of the Year of the Armenian Mother sponsored by the New York Erebuni Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society. The event took place on Saturday, December 7, at St. Sarkis Church hall, Douglaston, New York.
Bishop Anoushavan with members of the ARS Erebuni Chapter. Seated are the honorees, from left, Sonia Bezdikian, Valentine Berberian, Azadouhi Sarkissian, Susan Azarian, Gemma Melik Vartanian, Takouhi Orangian, Mary Arslanian. Honoreees missing from the photograph: Noemi Megerian, Luiza Kaloustian, and Arshalous Margossian.
Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, sponsored a successful Christmas Festival last Saturday, December 7. The annual event brought out a capacity crowd.
The popular Festival filled the hall.
Children came forth and voluntarily sang Christmas carols for an appreciative audience.
The New York Mayr Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society organized a fundraising luncheon on Sunday, December 8, at the Almayass Restaurant in New York City, where more than 100 gathered to support the Armenian community in Syria. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral attended and delivered the invocation.
Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian addresses the group who attended the fundraiser for the Armenian community in Syria.


The Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief is a joint effort of: Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); Armenian Catholic Eparchy; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Armenian Relief Society (Eastern USA, Inc.); Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Thank you for your help
Bible readings for Sunday, December 15, Fourth Sunday of Advent, are: Isaiah 38:1-8; Hebrews 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10.
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”?
Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”
But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:1-14)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, December 14, is the Feast of St. James (Hagop) of Nisibis (Mdzbin). He participated in the first ecumenical council in Nicaea (325), where he earned great respect from the Emperor Constantine and the other attendees. He was born and died in the city of Nisibis (Nusbyien) located in what is now southeastern Turkey, an important early Christian center in Asia Minor and a transit point of the caravans traveling east and west.
St. James is one of the most beloved saints in the Armenian Church. He is also honored by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, and the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. He was ordained Bishop of Nisibis in 320 AD.
St. James sought to find Noah’s Ark as proof for skeptics. On the eve of his ascent to the summit, as he rested, an angel appeared and told him that he need not climb to the summit and gave him a piece of the Ark which was nearby. This piece is kept at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The heavenly hosts rejoiced at the greatness of your feats by which you in the flesh became like the angels on high; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven. And we with a joyful voice celebrate your holy memory, O venerable witness of Christ, holy bishop James; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven. You decided on severe toils to see Noah’s Ark and from the angel’s hand received a portion of the wood which served the human race as salvation; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven.
(Canon to St. James, Bishop of  Nisibis, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

This Sunday, December 15, is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting for the coming of Christ that gives us reason to live in hope regardless of the many challenges and vicissitudes facing us. John the Baptist is the greatest Advent figure (read Matthew, Chapter 3 and Luke, Chapter 3).
Advent should be a time of reflection on our lives and the needs of others, near and far, who are less fortunate. It can also be a time of sadness for many who have recently lost loved ones or who are ill. A simple telephone call or a visit can boost the spirits of a friend, neighbor or relative. Take a breather from your frenzy of activity and relax and reflect.
More than 100 archive photographs from the early years of the Birds Nest orphanage in Byblos, Lebanon, was presented to His Holiness Aram I by Mr. Vartan Melkonian during his visit to the Catholicosate on December 2. The photographs are a gift from the K.M.A. Danish Missionaries who established the Birds Nest to house orphans they rescued from Turkey. Mr. Melkonian and his siblings were admitted to the Birds Nest in the 1950s after the death of their mother. In the 1970s during the war in Lebanon, he left for the United Kingdom where he studied music. Currently, he composes and conducts orchestras around the world, including the London and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras in London. Mr. Melkonian is the founder of the Melkonian Foundation that assists needy children. He is a steadfast supporter of the Birds Nest, his second home and first school.

Current and past members of the Armenian Church University Students’ Association (ACUSA) residing in Lebanon celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Association last Sunday in Beirut. ACUSA was founded in 1963 by the Very Rev. Fr. Karekin Sarkissian (later Catholicos) and a group of motivated university students. The Association received consistent support through the years by Catholicos Khoren I and Karekin II. His Holiness Aram has continued and further strengthened that support.
The Association’s current president, Razmig Michaelian, welcomed the guests and spoke of the vocation and achievements of the Association during the past 50 years. He invited members to make this anniversary an occasion to respond to new issues and challenges.
His Holiness Aram urged the members to work to make ACUSA responsive and relevant to our university youth population today. “We must assess the work of the Association thus far and seek new ways of working together,” he told them. He expressed his concern that Armenian youth are becoming marginal to our community life, and he suggested that the Association build-up the network of diaspora members and work to convince the Armenian youth everywhere to participate in  ACUSA-sponsored activities, as well as those sponsored by the church and community.

Johnny Ibrahim, the Consul General of Lebanon in Los Angeles, met with His Holiness Aram this week. The Consul General informed the Catholicos of the cooperation between his office and the Armenian community in Los Angeles. His Holiness thanked him for the cooperation and attention given to the Armenian community and expressed the hope for further cooperation.

V. Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian and V. Rev. Fr. Magar Ashkarian were elevated to the rank of Supreme Vartabed (Dzayrakouyn Vartabed) last week at the Catholicosate. The two clergymen were elevated after successfully presenting and defending their theses to His Holiness Aram I and members of the brotherhood. During the Liturgy on Sunday, December 1, at the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the celebrant Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran, blessed the new Supreme Vartabeds and explained the new responsibilities and expectations that accompany the title.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
Manuscripts of Chahan de Cirbied's Armenian grammar
Birth of Chahan de Cirbied
(December 16, 1772)

The Institute Nationale des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations), commonly known in French parlance as Langues O’, is an institution of higher education located in Paris, with roots that go to the seventeenth century. It is the direct heir to the Ecole des Jeunes de Langues founded by Colbert, prime minister of Louis XIV, in 1669, and of the Ecole des Langues Orientales Vivantes recreated by the Convention in 1795, shortly after the French Revolution.
Ninety-three languages and civilizations are taught at this institution. One of them is Armenian, and it happens that it has been taught there for 215 years, making INALCO probably the oldest establishment throughout the world that has taught Armenian on a university level. However, its mission is not only to learn about languages, peoples, and cultures on a purely academic level, but to know, in the primary sense of the term, all the others, the interlocutors and testify the richness and diversity of the people of the world.
The roots of the Armenian Chair at the former Ecoles des Langues Orientales Vivantes (School of Living Oriental Languages) are related to Napoleon Bonaparte and to a little-known Armenian writer, Jacques Chahan de Cirbied, whose Armenian name was Hagop Shahan Chrbedian (Յակոբ Շահան Ջրպետեան).
Cirbied was born in Edesa (nowadays Urfa). He had settled in Rome (where he became a priest), in Florence, and in Genoa between 1789 and 1792, and it seems that he met Napoleon somewhere in Italy. He moved to Paris in 1792, and his courses of Armenian were officially announced on December 11, 1798, to commence effectively in 1799. Unfortunately, Cirbied’s knowledge of French was poor, and for this reason his courses had to be temporarily interrupted between 1801 and 1811.
An imperial decree dated February 27, 1812, issued in Moscow, where Napoleon was engaged in the Russian campaign, gave Cirbied the title of professor at the l'École Spéciale des Langues Orientales (Special School of Oriental Languages).
Cirbied published eight books in French between 1811 and 1830. Among them, we mention: La grammaire arménienne (Armenian Grammar, 1811 and 1823), Histoire arménienne (Armenian History, 1818), and Grammaire de Denis de Thrace (Grammar of Denys of Thrace), 1830. He was succeeded in 1827 by his disciple P. E. Vaillant de Florival. He put himself to the service of Russia and was a member of the secret committee created by the governor of Yerevan, I. F. Paskevitch, to elaborate the bylaws that would regulate the relations between the Armenian Church and the Russian Empire (the Polozhenie, which would be issued in 1836). Cirbied passed away in 1834.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
Dr. Zareh Soghomonian, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Soorp Khatch Church in Bethesda, Maryland, has been nominated to be a candidate for the position of Vice-Chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) chapter in northern Virginia. Dr. Soghomonian is a world recognized expert in electrical electronics and systems engineering, specializing in electromagnetic, electrical machinery, power electronics, and power systems engineering. He is also a Subject Matter Expert for the US Navy, currently working in the Defense Solutions Group of QinetiQ North America, Inc., in Arlington, Virginia.

This 110 page Atlas includes 30 maps, 174 photographs, and an accompanying CD with all of the maps. A great educational resource for everyone.
$40.00 plus shipping & handling
Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times
By Robert Bedrosian

A 94-page soft cover book suitable for students aged 9 to 13.


The following five workbooks ALL FREE.
1. Elements of Armenian Church Architecture;
2. The Land of the Armenians;
3. My Origins: Discovering and Recording Family History;
4. Khatchkars: Armenian Stone Crosses;
5. Medieval Armenian Costumes: Paper Cut-Outs to color and display.

To take advantage of this special offer, contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( or telephone (212-689-7810).
It is now forty years that the Prelacy has been producing a pocket diary. The 2014 diary is dedicated to the 350th anniversary of the construction of the Cathedral of All-Savior Monastery in New Julfa, Iran. As Archbishop Oshagan explains in his message, “Outside of our Homeland and Cilicia, All-Savior Cathedral is one of the first churches erected that has remained in continuous service and that is endowed with historic works of art and artifacts. All-Savior Cathedral is witness to the enduring role of our church. The church, being the House of God, has been and will always be, our nation’s powerful fortress of survival and perseverance. In spite of the threats and tempests of diasporan erosion, All-Savior Cathedral has stood firm and maintained our faith, language, and culture.”
October 24 to December 19—St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, an 8-week Bible study program beginning Thursday, October 24, and continuing on Thursdays up to December 19 (no session on Thanksgiving, November 28). Sessions will be presented by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Executive Director of the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). Sessions will take place at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7:15-8:00 pm, Presentation; 8:00-8:45 pm, Q/A & Discussion. Registration is required. Register at or contact the Prelacy 212-689-7810, or the Cathedral at 212-689-5880.
December 12 to 22—“Lost and Found: The Pinajian Discovery,” a special exhibition from the extraordinary discovery of paintings by Arthur Pinajian that were rescued and preserved will take place at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. The limited run exhibition of 25 paintings will feature the artist’s lyrical landscapes and mid-century abstractions. An afternoon reception hosted by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan will take place on Sunday, December 15, from 1 to 4 pm. Art historian Peter Hastings Falk will discuss the discovery and the art.
December 15—Simply Christmas Concert, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.
January 5, 2014—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Christmas Eve Concert following the Jerakalouyts Badarak. Concert features Farmington Community Chorus. Reception follows.
January 6, 2014—Ladies Guild of St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, presents Annual Christmas Luncheon and Program in Lillian Arakelian Fellowship Hall.
February 1, 2014—Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.
February 2, 2014—St. Sarkis Men’s Club, Dearborn, Michigan, presents Super Bowl Party, at Lillian Arakelian Hall.
February 9, 2014—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Book Presentation by Deacon Shant Kazanjian following the Divine Liturgy at Lillian Arakelian Hall.
February 24-26, 2014—Annual Clergy Ghevontiantz Gathering hosted by Holy Cross Church, 255 Spring Avenue, Troy, New York.
March 1, 2014—St. Sarkis Sunday School, Dearborn, Michigan, Poon Paregentan Costume Party for everyone, at Lillian Arakelian Hall.
March 26, 2014—St. Sarkis Ladies Guild, Dearborn, Michigan, Mid-Lenten Luncheon following the Lenten morning service, Lillian Arakelian Hall.
March 28, 2014—Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm.
May 13-17, 2014—Clergy Conference and National Representative Assembly, and Annual Conference of the National Association of Ladies’ Guilds (NALG) of the Eastern Prelacy, hosted by St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.
June 1, 2014—Ladies Guild Annual Brunch, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.
June 1, 2014—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Toronto Children’s Choir concert in the church sanctuary.
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