June 4, 2015
The Eastern Prelacy’s 2015 National Representative Assembly convened this morning at St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, and will continue until Saturday noon. The Clergy conference convened yesterday. The annual conference of the National Association of Ladies Guilds (NALG) will take place concurrent with the Assembly.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, will open a session of the Assembly tomorrow, and deliver his message and engage in a dialogue with the delegates before he and his entourage, V. Rev. Fr. Bedros Manuelian, Staffbearer, and V. Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian, Ecumenical Officer, return to the Holy See in Antelias, Lebanon, concluding the month long Pontifical Visit that energized and encouraged the entire community.

This will mark the first time that a Catholicos has addressed in-person the National Representative Assembly in the history of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.
His Holiness traveled to Canada yesterday where he met with the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and decorated him with the Prince of Cilicia medal, the highest civilian award offered by the Holy See of Cilicia.

His Holiness expressed thanks to the Prime Minister for the Canadian recognition of the Armenian Genocide and his support of the Armenian community in Canada. The Catholicos also expressed his concerns about the situation in the Middle East, especially the situation in Syria. His Holiness spoke to the Prime Minister about more effort being made to find solutions to the Syrian crisis.

His Holiness was accompanied by Bishop Meghrig Parikian, Prelate of Canada; Dr. Jirair Basmadjian, member of the Central Executive Council of the Cilician See; Mr. Krikor Der Ghazarian, chairman of the Executive Council; Mr. Hagop Der Khatchadourian, president of Hai Tad; Mr. Raffi Donabedian, chairman of Hai Tad; and V. Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian, Ecumenical Officer of the Holy See.

His Holiness returned to Boston the same day.
The Armenian faithful of New England filled—and over-filled—St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown, on Sunday, May 31, for the inspiring Pontifical Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Holiness Aram I. Included in the entourage on this occasion were Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Very Rev. Housig Mardirossian, Very Rev. Bedros Manuelian, and Dr. Dertad Manguikian. Also participating were all the Prelacy clergy serving in the New England area.

Two days earlier, on Friday evening, May 29, more than 350 community members attended the Pontifical Banquet which took place at the Westin Hotel. Honored with the Prelacy’s Spirit of Armenia award on this occasion was former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick in appreciation of his steadfast support of the Armenian community, and especially for the role he played in the erection of the genocide memorial at Armenian Heritage Park inside Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Also honored on this occasion was Mr. Missak Barsoumian who was awarded the Mesrob Mashdotz Medal by His Holiness Aram I, in appreciation of his exemplary efforts in promoting the Saturday Armenian School at St. Stephen’s Church.

His Holiness’s address focused on the faithful and heritage. “The beauty of our heritage,” he said, “is the people—you who are seated here this evening. With our knowledge and allegiance to our church and nation, it remains our cardinal responsibility to stay attached.”
Archbishop Oshagan presents the 2015 “Spirit of Armenia” award to Governor Deval Patrick, who as governor of Massachusetts wholeheartedly supported and championed the genocide memorial in the Rose Kennedy Greenway. In accepting the award, the former Governor said, “When the concept of a genocide memorial was being discussed…there were many disparaging moments when it came under duress. I was determined to see it through fruition..”
His Holiness decorates Missak Barsoumian with the Mesrob Mashdotz medal in recognition of his support of St. Stephen’s Saturday Armenian School that included the implementation of a $100,000 scholarship fund. “The value of education is keeping our precious heritage alive. I will always be there for the youth of our community,” Mr. Barsoumian said.
Catholicos Aram decorates Ambassador John Evans with the Knight of Cilicia award in recognition of his brave defense of truth and justice.
On Thursday, May 28, nearly 600 people filled the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center (ACEC) to commemorate Independence Day of the Armenian Republic of 1918. The program included a service of Thanksgiving for the Republic of Armenia, the blessing of flags, musical and poetic performances by the youth, and performance by the children’s choir, as well as remarks by Dr. Antranig Kasbarian. His Holiness delivered the keynote address.

During the celebration His Holiness presented the “Knight of Cilicia” award to John Evans, the former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia for his devotion to truth and justice. Peter Koutoujian, Middlesex County Sheriff, introduced Ambassador Evans, who took up his post in Yerevan in August 2004. In February 2005, during speeches in the U.S., he took a principled stand, and called the Armenian Genocide, “a genocide.” Ambassador Evans was recalled to Washington and eventually his distinguished diplomatic career came to an end. The Ambassador thanked the Catholicos and said, “All I did was to tell the truth. No one needs to thank me for that. All I did ten years ago was to break a taboo in the State Department and the U.S. government—a taboo that should never have existed in the first place.”
In his address at the ACEC gathering, His Holiness spoke about the first independent Republic of 1918 and said, “Yes, Armenians were able to have a free and independent Armenia, and today’s Armenia is part of the united Armenia that is the Armenian dream. Yes, we lost 1.5 million Armenians during the genocide. We lost churches, schools, and properties. But we also lost our homeland. We lost Western Armenia—Ayntab, Sis, Marash, Zeytoun, Adana…and Cilicia. The vision of a united Armenia must remain alive.”
The Clergy at the May 28th Celebration.
On Saturday, May 30, more than one hundred young adults gathered for breakfast and dialogue with His Holiness. Under the general Pontifical theme, “Your Church. Your Nation. Engage,” His Holiness engaged the youthful audience with his message of remaining faithful to our Christian and Armenian roots.

The gathering began with welcoming words by Dalita Getzoyan and Nairi Baljian, on behalf of the organizing committee. His Grace Bishop Anoushavan then spoke about the meaning of sainthood in light of the recent canonization of the Martyrs of April. Tamar Kanarian and Michael Markarian offered reflections about their experiences in the life of the church.

Questions were submitted during a lively question-and-answer session on a number of topics including interfaith dialogues, the Armenian American Diaspora, and ordination of women. Audience members, who were primarily college-age and above, appreciated the candor and thoughtfulness of the Catholicos’s responses to their questions.
About 100 young adults attended the breakfast dialogue with His Holiness on Saturday, May 30, at The Westin Hotel in Waltham.
On Saturday afternoon, May 30, His Holiness and entourage traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to visit the parish of Sts. Vartanantz Church. The entourage first visited the Martyrs Memorial in the North Burial Grounds where a short service was offered before they went to the church, where a large number of parishioners, Armenian and ecumenical clergy, were gathered. Upon arrival His Holiness, in traditional fashion, blessed bread and salt, before entering the church where a Hrashapar service took place.

His Holiness’s message centered on the power of hope. “Christ’s hope guided us through all of the storms we faced and saved us, because the hope we have in Christ is our faith,” he told the faithful.
The service at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence.
Vehapar and entourage visit the Martyrs Monument at the North Burial Grounds.
After leaving the Pittsburgh area and heading toward Chicago, His Holiness and entourage stopped in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a visit with dear and old friends, Mr. & Mrs. Zohrab Tazian. The trip prompted an article in The News-Sentinel, written by Kevin Leininger. You can read it here.

To read an article by Tom Vartabedian about Vehapar in New England click here.

For additional photographs from New England click here.

Watch for more Pontifical Visit coverage in next week’s Crossroads.
The 29th annual summer program for youth ages 13-18 is scheduled to be held at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from June 28—July 5, 2015. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. It aims to instill and nurture the Armenian Christian faith and identity in our youth through a variety of educational activities, coupled with daily church services and communal recreational activities. For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at armenianprelacy.org/arec/datev or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.
Blessing of the Flag and Prayers for the Republic took place at Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland, with Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian conducting the service with the participation of the scouts.
Bible readings for Sunday, June 7, Second Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin are: Proverbs 9:1-6; Zechariah 3:7-4:9; Hebrews 9:1-10; John 10:22-30.

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (John 10:22-30).

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
Today, June 4, is the Feast of St. John the Baptist (also called the Forerunner), and Bishop Athenogenes. John the Baptist is prominent in each of the four Gospels. He is associated with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus and is considered to be the “forerunner” to Jesus the Messiah. He baptized those who repented their sins, and he preached of the coming of one after him who is greater than he and would baptize not with water but with the Spirit. In the third chapter of Matthew, John is reluctant to baptize Jesus and does so only after encouragement from Jesus. The Armenian Church considers St. John the Baptist as one of the two prime intercessors to Jesus, the other being the Blessed Mother.

Athenogenes, a bishop and theologian was burned to death along with ten of his disciples in Sebastia, Armenia, during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian. Athenogenes wrote a hymn of praise proclaiming the divinity of the Holy Spirit. He is remembered as singing this hymn as he went into the flames.

This Saturday, June 6, is the Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s deliverance from the pit (Khor Viraben Yelkuh). Gregory is revered as the patron saint of the Armenian Church. He is recognized and memorialized in both eastern and western hierarchical churches. The Armenian liturgical calendar reserves three feast days in his honor: Entrance into the pit, deliverance from the pit, and discovery of relics. In addition to these three days, there are several feast days to which he is closely connected, namely the feast days for Sts. Hripsimiantz, Sts. Gayaniantz, Shoghakat, Holy Etchmiadzin, and King Trdat. The Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox churches, and Oriental Orthodox churches have special days in their calendars for the veneration of St. Gregory, who is considered to be one of the Fathers of the early Christian church.

Gregory was condemned to the pit in 287 AD by King Trdat and the persecution of Christians began. After the martyrdom of a group of nuns who came to Armenia from Rome led by Hripsime and Gayane, Trdat was stricken with strange maladies. His sister, Khosrovidukht, had a dream that Gregory was the only person who could heal her brother. Miraculously, Gregory was still alive after many years in the pit, thanks to an angelic woman who lowered food and water into the pit each day. Gregory emerged from the pit; the king was healed and baptized, and he declared Christianity to be the official religion of Armenia.

Gregory was not the first to preach Christianity in Armenia. That distinction belongs to the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew who came to Armenia in the first century, and thus gave the Armenian Church its apostolic designation. Nevertheless, Gregory is revered in the Armenian Church and is considered by Armenians to be the father of their faith. Hundreds of churches have been built and named in his honor.

“The ancient calendars of the still undivided Church celebrated him [Gregory] on the same day in both the East and the West as a tireless apostle of truth and holiness. The father in faith of the whole Armenian people, St. Gregory still intercedes from heaven today, so that all the children of your great nation may at last gather round the one table prepared by Christ, the divine Shepherd of one flock.”
Pope John Paul II in his “Apostolic Letter for the 1700th Anniversary of the Baptism of the Armenian People,” issued February 2, 2001.
Y. Tadevosian. The Vision of St. Gregory the Illuminator. 1901
This Sunday, June 7, is the Feast of Holy Mother Etchmiadzin, the cathedral built by St. Gregory after his deliverance from the pit, to the specifications he saw in a vision, and on the place marked by the Lord with a golden hammer. This feast day commemorates the establishment of the Armenian Church and the end of paganism.

Etchmiadzin is the oldest example of a four-altar, four-pillar, domed, cruciform church in Christian architecture. More than 1,700 years old, it is the oldest surviving Armenian Christian site. Relief sculptures on the exterior walls are some of the oldest examples of the Christian Armenian art of sculpting.
Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, recently held graduation ceremonies for their Sunday School, and year-end Hantes for their Mourad Armenian School.
Students of the Mourad Armenian School during their year-end hantes that took place in Aramian Auditorium of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence.
Sunday School graduates, Elyse Anoushian and Christopher Bailey, during graduation ceremonies at Sts. Vartanantz Church, seen with Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, assistant pastor, Ms. Anoushian, assistant teacher, and Ms. Sandra Bogosian, 8th grade teacher.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Death of Vahram Papazian
(June 5, 1968)
From Constantinople to Yerevan and from Paris to Moscow, Vahram Papazian would become the most accomplished Shakespearean actor of the Armenian scene worldwide for half a century.

He was born in Constantinople on January 6, 1888, in a middle-class family. He graduated from the Esayan School (1902) and the lyceum of Kadikoy (1902-1904), and had his debut on the stage in 1904. Then he went to the Murad-Raphaelian School of the Mekhitarist Congregation, in Venice, where he studied from 1905-1907.

In 1907 he departed for Paris and then for Baku, where he performed with an Armenian theater group for a few months. After this experience, he returned to Italy and studied at the Art Academy of Milan from 1908-1911. Famed actress Eleonora Duse was among his teachers. During his student years, he performed with Italian itinerant groups and gradually perfected his roles (Othello, Romeo, and Hamlet, among them). He returned to Constantinople in 1908 and his performances of Othello, at the age of 20, earned him the applause of Armenian audiences and the press. He went to Paris in the early 1910s to study the different currents of theater and become closely acquainted with acting techniques. As a professional actor, he performed from 1910-1913 in Constantinople and Smyrna, and from 1913-1917, in Baku and Tiflis. He enriched his repertory with a roster of roles in Armenian and non-Armenian plays.
Papazian as the title character in Shakespeare's Othello
Papazian played in fifteen Russian silent movies from 1917-1918 with the pseudonym of Ernesto Vahram, and would later play in three more films in 1922-1923. In 1920 he returned to Constantinople, where he performed until 1922. After the occupation of the city by the Kemalist forces, he settled in Soviet Armenia. He would perform and direct in Yerevan, Baku, and Tiflis between 1922 and 1927. He moved to Moscow in 1928 and then performed in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) from 1929-1931. In 1932 he played in Lithuania, Letonia, and Estonia, and in the same year he left for Paris, where he played Othello with the Odeon Theater group; his performances were singled out by the French press. In 1933 he visited Berlin, where he met the famous director Max Reinhardt and studied closely the German school of acting.

Thereafter, he returned to the Soviet Union and was distinguished as People’s Artist of Armenia and Georgia in 1933, and People’s Artist of Azerbaijan in 1935. He toured the cities of the three countries in 1934-1935, and continued his tour through Russia and Ukraine from 1936-1941. He played in Moscow in 1941 and settled in Leningrad from 1941-1944, where he survived the German blockade.
After years of new presentations in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and Transcaucasia, from 1946-1954, Papazian finally settled back in Yerevan as a member of the Sundukian Academic Theater, and he also directed plays in Yerevan and Leninakan (now Gumri). He returned to cinema in four films from 1953-1964, and in 1956 he was given the title of People’s Artist of the Soviet Union. In the last fifteen years of his life, the actor revealed himself to be an accomplished writer with his two-volume memoir, Retrospective Regard (1956-1957). He also wrote his reminiscences on Western Armenian actors, My Heart’s Duty (1959), and several books on performance analysis about the roles of Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.

His art belonged to the classical school, enriched by elements of neo-romanticism and psychological realism. His performances of Shakespearean roles were grounded on the traditions of ancient tragedy and the Renaissance, as well as his own Armenian viewpoint.

Vahram Papazian passed away in Leningrad on June 5, 1968, and was buried in the Pantheon of Yerevan. The State Theater of Stepanakert (Karabagh) carries his name.

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

Episode 40: Summer camp, Message of Catholicos Aram, Bible Reflection, and much more.
Click the image above to link to the podcast.
May 10 to June 5—Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Aram I to the Eastern Prelacy.

June 3-6—National Representative Assembly hosted by St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts. Clergy Conference, June 3; Full Assembly, June 4 to 6.

June 4-5—National Association of Ladies Guilds 2015 Annual Conference, St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts. For information: Sharke Der Apkarian, shakar07@comcast.net, or 978-808-0598.

June 7—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Sunday School Commencement Day.

June 14—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Nareg Saturday Armenian School Year End Graduation.

June 14—St. Stephen Church, New Britain, Connecticut, “Young Adults Gathering,” at Siroonian home in Farmington, Connecticut, at 4 pm. Focus of this group is young adults 20s and 30s. Great way to meet and make friends and connect to Armenian roots. Partners, friends, siblings, cousins, all welcome. If you wish to attend or for more information: ststephensarmenianhurch@yahoo.com.

June 18—Annual Cigar Night and Dinner, Men’s Club of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts. Drawing of Super Raffle of 2015 Mercedes Benz-CLA 250 will take place. Raffle tickets can be purchased online (saintgregory.org/organizations/mens-club).

June 21—Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Sunday School Father’s Day Picnic.

June 21—St. Gregory Church, annual Father’s Day Picnic, noon to 5 pm, on the church grounds, 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Many favorite Armenian dinners including shish kebab and rice pilaf. Baked goods available for purchase. Enjoy Armenian music and dancing, activities for children, raffle drawing. Admission and parking free. For information: (413) 543-4763.

June 28—Annual “Madagh Picnic,” St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, Blessing of the Madagh will take place at 11 am by Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian, and served at noon. All are invited to enjoy the picnic all afternoon up to 7 pm. Enjoy marinated shish kebab and chicken dinners, sarma, penerlee, khurabia, and other Armenian delicacies and pastries. Live Armenian music and children’s entertainment. Raffle drawing at 6 pm.

June 28-July 5—29th annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at armenianprelacy.org/arec/datev or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.

July 11—St. Stephen’s Church Ladies Guild, Hartford-New Britain, Connecticut, “Elizabeth Park Brunch.” Come see the roses and 100 acres of formal gardens, and enjoy offsite brunch and meeting at Pond House in the park. For reservations contact Sue Shabazian or Suzanne Midinian. For information: church office, 860-229-8322.

July 18—Blessing of the Holy Muron (Oil) by His Holiness Aram I, at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. For details click here.
August 9—“Pizza, Popcorn, and a Movie,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, hosted by Ladies Guild. Lunch and movie, $10.

October 5-9—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.

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

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.

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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