August 7, 2014

His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan and the Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy announce with sorrow the passing of Mr. Setrak Agonian, a long-time parishioner of St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in New York City. Mr. Agonian is survived by his wife, Didi.

Setrak Agonian served as the chairman of the Cathedral’s Building Committee and was a former member of the Board of Trustees. In 2009 he received the highest Prelacy award, “The Eagle of the Prelacy,” as the chairman of the Building Committee during the major renovation of the Cathedral, in recognition of his extraordinary service to the Cathedral and community.

Viewing will take place on Sunday, August 10, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, from 3 to 5 pm. The Wake/Homecoming service, officiated by Bishop Anoushavan, will take place the same day from 7 to 9 pm, with a service at 8 pm. The funeral service, officiated by Archbishop Oshagan, will take place on Monday, August 11, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral at 10 am. Interment will follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Queens.

Mr. Agonian was the recipient of several awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2011. For many years he was involved with the international sport of wrestling and the Olympics. He was the president of NYC Metropolitan Wrestling Association. He funded the expenses of Armenia’s wrestling team making it possible for the team to participate in the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994.

Mr. Agonian was the founder and the CEO of International Creative Metals, Inc. (ICM), and was the textbook example of a winner. An Armenian immigrant, he came to the United States from Bulgaria through the auspices of the American National Committee to Aid Homeless Armenians (ANCHA) when still in his teenage years with, as he would often say, “only six dollars and a sick mother.” He worked tirelessly to build a successful business. Today, throughout Manhattan his company’s work can be found at some of the world’s most famous architectural landmarks.

In lieu-of-flowers donations may be made to St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral.

We pray to All-Merciful God to receive the soul of His faithful servant in eternal peace and bliss.


Archbishop Oshagan will preside at the Madagh offering and the Blessing of Grapes this Sunday, August 10, during the annual picnic sponsored by Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island. The event will take place at Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts.


The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) will sponsor a teachers’ seminar to be held on August 23, at the Prelacy headquarters in New York, from 10 am-4 pm. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. The program will have the following lectures:

Sossi Essajanian: “Supporting the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development, Best Practices, and the Armenian Language Teacher”; Anahid Garmiryan: “To Be or Not to Be a Teacher: the Challenges of Bilingualism”

For more information, please email ANEC at or call (212) 689-7231/7810.


The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), jointly sponsored by the Prelacy and the Armenian Relief Society, sponsored for many years the Siamanto Academy for young adults. After a recent hiatus, the Academy is ready to resume its activities. The Academy offers courses on Armenian history, culture, and contemporary issues. Classes will take place on a monthly basis, every second Saturday, beginning in September at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church (Ridgefield, New Jersey), from 2 pm-5 pm. For additional information, please contact ANEC at
Anais Bayrakdarian and Der Aram at the camp in Dzaghgazor.

Anais Bayrakdarian, a 17-year-old parishioner of St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, and a graduate of the Prelacy’s St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute, traveled to Armenia in July where she joined with fifty children from the Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship Program at the week-long camp that takes place in Dzaghgazor, Armenia. Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian, pastor of St. Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, has organized and directed this program for the past five years.

Upon her return home, Anais wrote an essay about her experience. Apprehensive at first, Anais, expressed her concerns about how the others would respond to her presence. She writes: “…no sooner had the first day begun that any reservations I had were unfounded and absurd—the unbridled love and warm welcome I received was a wonderful assurance of that. As soon as I was introduced as an American visiting from the United States, cries of ‘Hello!’ and ‘How are you?’ accompanied by wide, toothy grins could be heard ringing throughout the camp not only on the first day, but for the entire duration of the program!” You can read Anais’ account here.
Some of the children in the Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship Program who attended this summer’s camp.

Bible readings for Sunday, August 10, Third Sunday of Transfiguration (Eve of the Fast of the Assumption), are Isaiah 7:1-9; 1 Corinthians 13:11-14:5; Mark 2:1-12.

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

The commemoration of groups of saints is a common practice in the Armenian Church. Today, August 7, the Armenian Church commemorates as a group the Holy Forefathers, namely, Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Eleazar, Joshua, Samuel, Samson, Jephthah, Barak, Gideon, and other holy patriarchs.


This Saturday, August 9, the Armenian Church commemorates the 200 Holy Fathers of the Council of Ephesus (431 AD). Ephesus, the third general ecumenical council, was convened by order of Emperor Theodosius II to settle the Nestorian heresy. A large number of high-ranking church leaders attended, headed by Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria. The principle decision of the Council was the condemnation of Nestorius. The Council excommunicated Nestorius and condemned the heresy, confirmed the Nicene Creed, and approved the title of Theotokos (God-bearer) for the Virgin Mary.

The Armenian Church accepted the canons and decisions of the council and designated a day in the liturgical calendar on the Saturday of the Paregentan of the Assumption to commemorate the holy fathers. The Armenian Church recognizes the first three ecumenical councils: Nicaea (325); Constantinople (381); and Ephesus (431), with special days in the liturgical calendar for all three.

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city that later became the chief city of the Roman province of Asia at the crossroads of the coastal route between Smyrna and Cyzicus. The Temple of Ardemis in the city was one of the great wonders of the ancient world. St. Paul took Christianity to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19). He stayed there for two years during his third missionary journey.

Ephesus is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. In chapter 2, Jesus praises the people of Ephesus for their perseverance and hard work, however admonishes them for forgetting their first love; their Christianity had become a faithful ritual rather than a relationship of love to the Lord. Ephesus, now located within Turkey in the province of Izmir, is a popular destination for international tourists.


This Sunday, August 10, is the Paregentan, or Eve of the Fast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. This is a five-day period of fasting (Monday to Friday) that precedes the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother which is next Sunday, August 17. Paregentan, which means “good living,” is a day of enjoyment and feasting before the beginning of the fasting period.

His Holiness Aram I received a delegation from South Korea last week, who invited him to attend an international conference on Justice and Peace that will take place in Seoul, South Korea. The newly appointed Ecumenical Officer of the Catholicosate, Very Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian attended the meeting. His Holiness welcomed the guests and their plan for the conference and said, “Presently, many people, like the Armenians, continue to demand their human rights. It is my firm conviction that there cannot be peace without justice.” The Catholicos said that religions must work for just peace through deeper involvement in interfaith dialogue and cooperation.


His Holiness Aram I announced the following new appointments of clergy:
(1) Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Pontifical Vicar, Diocese of Cyprus.
(2) Very Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian, Director, Office of Ecumenical Relations and Head of the Communications office.
(3) Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan, Dean, of Theological Seminary.
(4) Very Rev. Fr. Paren Vartanian, Grand Sacristan, Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator.
(5) Very Rev. Fr. Vaghinak Meloyan, Director, Program for the Formation of married priests.


The Youth Committee of the Catholicosate met last week with His Holiness Aram I. The members of the committee were accompanied by Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian, director of the Youth Department.

The committee presented its activity report and the findings of the survey they had carried out with its 50 members. The purpose of the survey was to identify the expectations of youth from the church. It was decided that after the compilation of the report and identification of priorities, the committee would expand its study to all other dioceses of the Catholicosate.

His Holiness thanked the members of the committee for the study and said, “Armenian youth are the life force and future of our church and society. They should not remain passive members, but should participate in and contribute to all aspects of our community life.” He assured the committee that he was committed to empowering the youth who are ready to act in order to safeguard the memory, traditions, and values of the Armenian people.


His Holiness Aram met with Patriarch Ignatius Aphram II of the Syriac Orthodox Church at the summer residence of the Catholicosate in Bikfaya, Lebanon. Also present at the meeting were Very Rev. Fr. Paren Vartanian, Grand Sacristan, and Rev. Torkom Donoyan, dean of the Seminary. The Catholicos and Patriarch discussed the situation of Christians in Syria and Iraq, the forthcoming International Ecumenical Conference on the Middle East, issues related to the on-going bilateral theological dialogues with the World Anglican Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the imperative of strengthening the historical ties between the two churches.

His Holiness Aram I continues to monitor the humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation programs for the Armenians in Syria. Most recently, Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian, Prelate of the Diocese of Peria (Syria) met with His Holiness in Antelias and briefed him on the current situation of the Armenian community in Aleppo, Damascus, Jezireh, Latakia, and Kessab, and also reported about humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation efforts underway.

The Catholicos expressed his appreciation of the work of the committees and praised their courage in defending the rights of the Armenian communities. After meeting with the Catholicos, Archbishop Shahan went to Tartous where he met with the clergy and lay leadership. He later also traveled to Latakia and Kessab and other areas in Syria. In each area the Archbishop conveyed the support and concern of the Catholicos and Armenians worldwide.

Archbishop Shahan celebrated the Holy Liturgy in Kessab on July 27 and anointed the newly restored altar of the church that had been desecrated during the recent occupation.


The crises in Syria, including the recent upheaval in Kessab, require 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: Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief

Thank you for your help
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])
Fall of Artzvashen (August 8, 1992)

The Soviet policy of “divide and rule” created ethnic enclaves (piece of land surrounded by foreign territory) under various pretexts, such as the incorporation in Azerbaijan of the highlands of the historically Armenian region of Gharabagh as an autonomous region (the lowlands were directly annexed to that country). It also created exclaves (piece of land politically attached to a larger piece, but surrounded by foreign territory), such as Artzvashen, part of the Gegharkunik province of Armenia.

The village of Artzvashen was founded in 1854 with the name of Bashkend by Armenians from Shamshadin, although an inscription on the St. Hovhannes church of the village, dated to 1607, attests to an earlier Armenian presence on the site.
The encircled land is the location of Artzvashen which is now in the hands of the Azeris.
The population of the village was entirely of Armenian origin. It had a surrounding territory of 40 square kilometers (15.5 square miles) and enjoyed a town status in the 1980s, managing four factories. This included a branch of Haygorg, the Armenian state carpet company.

In May 1991, during the last months of the Soviet Union, when the conflict for Gharabagh had already started, the inhabitants of the village surrendered their weapons to Soviet military units to avert an imminent occupation.

Indeed, Azerbaijan was prone to occupy those portions of Armenian territory that were completely landlocked, and one of them was Artzvashen. After a four-day resistance headed by the unit 016 of motorized artillery of Vanadzor, Artzvashen was surrendered to Azerbaijani armed forces on August 8, 1992. According to The New York Times, Azerbaijan announced the “liberation” of the town, destroying enemy tanks and weaponry, and killing 300 Armenian “brigands,” while Armenian reports did not mention any dead, but said that 29 people were “missing without trace.” The bodies of 12 Armenian soldiers were later delivered; one of the Azerbaijani colonels declared: “They fought until the last bullet. They are the pride of your nation.”

The Armenian population was given one hour to evacuate the village. According to the Regional Administration of Gegharkunik, 719 families (around 2,800 people) were displaced after its occupation. A total of 664 families resettled in the towns of Chambarak and nearby villages, and the rest went to other provinces. The migrants were not considered a separate commune, but the government of the Republic decided to create a separate working staff, financed by the national budget. This staff takes care of problems related to documents and workbooks of displaced people, as well as claims of property rights and improvement of living conditions.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
The Prelacy Bookstore has an extensive collection of books (in Armenian and English) about the Genocide including histories, historical novels, memoirs, eye witness testimonies, essays, and poetry. From now through next April we will feature one or two books each week from the Bookstore’s collection.
Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the
Century-Long Struggle for Justice

By Michael Bobelian

This book chronicles the struggle for justice after the Armenian Genocide and analyzes the reasons why justice is still missing. Carefully threading archival sources, interviews, and secondary literature, the author constructs a must-read narrative that illuminates the lack of substantial official recognition in America until this day.

Hardcover, $15.00 plus shipping & handling
Հայոց ցեղասպանութիւն. ականատես վերապրողների վկայութիւններ
]Վերժինէ Սվազլեան
Երեւան, ՀՀ ԳԱԱ «Գիտութիւն» հրատարակչութիւն, 2000
Այս գիրքը կ՚ամփոփէ Մեծ Եղեռնի վերապրողներէ գրի առնուած 600 անտիպ վկայութիւններ, որոնք կ՚ընդգրկեն յուշեր, դրուագներ, հայերէն եւ թրքերէն երգեր։ Հատորը ունի ընդարձակ ներածութիւն մը, բառարան եւ յաւելուածներ։
Գին՝ 25 տոլար (լաթակազմ, արեւելահայերէն՝ հայաստանեան ուղղագրութեամբ)
To order these or other books contact the Prelacy bookstore by email ( or by telephone (212-689-7810.
Lights all across Great Britain were switched off for one hour on Monday evening, August 4, in a tribute to the dead of the Great War, now called World War I. The tribute is based on a statement made in 1914 by Lord Edward Grey, the Foreign Minister, who on the eve of the war said, “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
The total number of casualties in World War I was over 37 million, with more than 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded making it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.
August 10—Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Picnic at Camp Haiastan, 12 noon to 6 pm. Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. Games and the Bouncing Bubble for children. Delicious shish, lost and chicken kebab dinners. Choreg and Armenian pastries. Live music by Michael Gregian and Ensemble. Madagh and Blessing of the Grapes at 3:300 m with participation of New England clergy. For information: 401-831-6399.
August 10—Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes, Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. Join us for a fun filled day and enjoy our delicious food, music by DJ Shaheen, backgammon tournament, children’s activities. Begins at noon. Admission is free. For information or 508-852-2414.
August 15-17—Armenian Fest / Blessing of Grapes, All Saints Church, 1701 N. Greenwood Road, Glenview, Illinois. Armenian food, desserts, beer and wine, dancing, activities for kids, raffle. Life music Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. Mr. Ash’s magic show Saturday. Friday 6 pm to 10 pm happy hour; Saturday 5 pm-11pm; Sunday 1pm to 7 pm. Blessing of the Grapes on Sunday at 4:30 pm. Free admission.
August 17—Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God and Blessing of the Grapes, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 E. 27th Street, New York City. Followed by luncheon and cultural program featuring singer Rouben Voskanyan. Organized by Cathedral’s Ladies Guild.
August 17—St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, Annual Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes.
August 17—St. Sarkis Church (Dearborn) Grape Blessing Family Fun Picnic at Kensington Park, Kensington, Michigan. Good food, music, biking, soccer, dancing, magician, swimming, playscape, kids games, door prizes, face painting, tavloo tournament and more.
August 17—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes, 1-5 pm  at Saddle River County Park, Wild Duck Pond area. Music, delicious Armenian food and desserts, arts and crafts, and playground for children, cards, and tavloo, and more.
August 17—Feast of Assumption, Blessing of Grapes, and Madagh, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
August 23—Teachers’ seminar sponsored by the Armenian Education Committee (ANEC), at the Prelacy offices in New York, 10 am to 4 pm. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. Lecturers: Sossi Essajanian, “Supporting the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development, Best Practices, and the Armenian Language Teacher” and Anahid Garmiryan, “To Be or Not to be a Teacher: The Challenges of Bilingualism.” For information: or 212-689-7810.
August 30—Concert, “Baroque & Before,” featuring Lucine Musaelian and Joyce Chen, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 E. 27th Street, New York City, at 5 pm.
September 7—Picnic Festival, St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, featuring musicians Leon Janikian, Jason Naroian, Johnny Berberian, and John Arzigian; presentation by Siroun Dance Ensemble of Central Massachusetts. 12:30 to 5:30 pm, church grounds. Shish, losh, and chicken kebab dinners, veggie plates, Armenian pastries, family games and activities.
September 7—St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, Annual Church Picnic after Sunday services will take place at The Quartette Club, 225 Wooster Street, New Britain. Armenian music, dancing, and food.
September 7—Holy Cross Church, Troy, New York, Annual Armenian Picnic, 12pm to 4 pm. Shish Kebob dinner, Lahmajoun for sale, Armenian pastries, live music. For info:
September 7—Lecture “Mkhitar Heratsi,” by Dr. Gregory Kazanjian, at 1 pm, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Organized by Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York.
September 12—St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, 2nd Annual “Taste of the Mediterranean” Wine Tasting Fundraiser, 4 to 6 pm at Uncork in downtown Racine. Event will again feature 6 wines for tasting, a “mezze” table, silent auction items, and 50/50 raffle. Cost of the event is $20 per person or $35 per couple. Last year’s even was a sell-out, so get your tickets early. For tickets and/or information contact Mary M. Olson by email (
September 18, 19, 20—2014 Fall Food Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
September 14—St. Sarkis Church, 38-65 234th Street, Douglaston, New York, Annual Picnic on the church grounds following church services. Admission is free. Enjoy excellent kebabs and salads. Terrific entertainment for everyone and special activities for children in the “KidZone.” Music, food, and friends…a wonderful afternoon. For information 718-224-2275.
September 18—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 12th Annual Golf Classic, River Vale Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey. Rain or Shine. 11 am registration and Grilled Lunch Buffet; 1 pm Tee Off. Format: Shotgun Scramble (All player levels welcome). Golf Outing Reservation: $195; limited to first 128 paid golf reservations. Reservation includes: Grilled lunch buffet, dinner banquet, golf, cart, and range balls. Contests and Prizes. Sponsorships available. For information: 201-943-2950.
September 21—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Tea party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain, Connecticut. Brought back by popular demand. Guest speaker from the Bigelow Tea Company. Goodie bags for all. Raffle prize is being provided by Armeny Custom Jewelry Design.
September 21—St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, “Designer Bag Bingo” luncheon in Founders’ Hall at 2 pm. Fifteen lucky winners of designer bags, including top labels, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Laboutin, Judith Leiber, Chanel, and others. Join us for a fun game of Bingo, Chinese auction, and enjoy the lavish Chanel inspired theme and décor, along with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Ticket sales limited. For reservations and information: Cissy DerHagopian 856-313-6848; Donna Walter 484-354-0388.
October 3—St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Douglaston, New York, Saturday School Dinner Dance Gala.
October 4—Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Diran Khosrofian and Deacon Harold Nazarian, at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan.
October 19—St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will ordain sub-deacon Ara Stepanian during the Divine Liturgy and preside over the parish’s 57th Annual Banquet.
October 12-15—Prelacy Clergy Gathering for Reflection and Renewal at St. Mary of Providence Retreat Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania.
November 7 & 8—St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 58th Armenian Bazaar, 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 is available). Enjoy delicious meals, Armenian pastries, gourmet items, arts and crafts, books, raffles, attic treasures. For information: 617-924-7562.
November 21, 22, 23—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual Bazaar, Food Festival, and Hantes. Mezze and Kebab dinners (chicken, shish, luleh); dessert table and trays of home-made delicacies; Boutique Booths; Chinese Auction; Supervised Game Room for children; Pre-packaged Monte, Sou Buereg, Kufteh, and Lehmejun; Take-out available; Live Music for dancing and listening. Traditional Kavourma dinner on Sunday served immediately after church service. For information: 201-943-2950.
December 6—2014 Armenian Winter Dessert Festival, Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
December 7—Ladies Guild of St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut, will host a Wine Tasting Party at noon in the church hall, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain. A wine talk and tasting will be provided by Taylor Brooke Winery, Woodstock, Connecticut, owned by Linda Varjabedian Auger.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
To ensure the timely arrival of Crossroads in your electronic mailbox, add to your address book.
Items in Crossroads can be reproduced without permission. Please credit Crossroads as the source.
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
Subscribe to our email list.