The Armenian Prelacy
The Armenian Prelacy

June 30, 2016
Independence Day - July 4, 1776
Monday, July 4, is the 240th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Last Sunday parishes of the Easter Prelacy offered Pontifical Prayers and Blessings on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the election and consecration of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia.
As most of you know, Archbishop Oshagan recently announced that the Eastern Prelacy will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the election and consecration of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, on Sunday, October 9. The milestone “20th anniversary” is being celebrated this year because last year was the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, and His Holiness did not want to detract attraction from this solemn anniversary.
The celebratory day will begin with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, celebrated by His Holiness. In the afternoon a special cultural program prepared specifically for this occasion will take place at the Marriott at Glenpointe in Teaneck, New Jersey, that will be followed with a banquet and anniversary celebration at the same venue. This event will be the one and only celebration honoring His Holiness within the Eastern Prelacy. A committee has been meeting regularly to plan a celebration that is fitting and enjoyable. Details of the event will be forthcoming.
His Holiness was consecrated Catholicos of Cilicia on July 1, 1995. During the past twenty-one years under his leadership a new page in the history of the ancient Holy See of Cilicia has been filled with many accomplishments that include new initiatives for educational religious and cultural programs, finding ways to strengthen the Armenian identity in the Diaspora, promoting and supporting ecumenism and interfaith relations, supporting the Armenian Cause, and launching many new construction projects.
Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Chicago this weekend where he will attend the Homenetmen Eastern Region’s 26th Navasartian Olympics. His Eminence will deliver the invocation at the banquet Friday evening and at the closing ceremonies on Sunday.
Last Monday evening Pashalian Hall at Saint Illuminator Cathedral was filled with the faithful of the New York metropolitan area to honor writer Peter Balakian, who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
The evening’s program was guided by the Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Herand Markarian who first spoke about the significance and importance of the Pulitzer and the great joy felt by Armenians worldwide when the winners were announced.
Professor Khachig Tololyan presented Balakian and his work with a cogent and challenging analysis that whetted the appetite for more knowledge of poetry and especially the work of this poet.
Before reading excerpts from his “Ozone Journal” that was honored with the Pulitzer, Professor Balakian thanked Archbishop Oshagan for this remarkable evening and expressed his appreciation to all of the attendees.
Archbishop Oshagan closed the evening with thanks to Dr. Markarian, Professor Tololyan, and especially to Professor Balakian. His Eminence noted that as he was listening to the poetry readings, although the words were in English, he felt the Armenian spirit in every verse.
The remarkable evening ended with a reception that offered the opportunity for the attendees to meet and congratulate Professor Balakian.
Below is a film of the Balakian reception, as well as a few photos from the event.
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Bible readings for Sunday, July 3, Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Aylakerputiunm / Vartavar) are: Wisdom 7:25-8:4; Zechariah 14:16-21; 1 John 1:1-7; Matthew 16:13-17:13.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud over-shadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome  by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they do not recognize him, but they did o him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:1-13)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
On Saturday, July 2, the Armenian Church commemorates the Old Ark of the Covenant and the Feast of the New Holy Church. This combined commemoration  take place on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Transfiguration. Celebrating the old and new shows the perpetuity of the Church. God revealed Himself to humankind gradually through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the prophets. The church existed from the beginning, and that is why the Old Testament is accepted as part of the Holy Scriptures and recognized as a preamble to the New Testament. The hymn designated for this day proclaims, “Who from the beginning established your church with wisdom, O, Father of Wisdom, who revealed to Moses upon Sinai."
This Sunday, July 3, the Armenian Church observes one of its five major feasts, the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (Aylakerputiunm / Vartavar). This Feast is observed fourteen weeks after Easter, and therefore can fall between June 28 and August 1. It commemorates an episode in the New Testament recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Peter, recalling Christ’s ascent up Mount Tabor with disciples John, James, and Peter.
The Transfiguration took place on the “holy mountain” (believed to be Mt. Tabor) where Jesus went with his three disciples. As He was praying, “His face shone like the sun and His garments became white as light.” The Patriarch Moses and Prophet Elijah appeared at His side. It was as this moment that His appearance was “transfigured” revealing himself as God to His disciples as a voice from above said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Jesus urged his disciples to keep silent about what they saw, but the incident was recorded in the Gospels.
The pre-Christian festival Vartavar (Festival of Roses) was joined with this new Christian holiday. Armenians would decorate the temple of the goddess Asdghig (goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and water) with roses, release doves, and engage in water games on this pre-Christian popular holiday. St. Gregory the Illuminator combined Vartavar with the Tranfiguration. The fifth century historian Yeshighe wrote the prayer that is recited in church on this feast: “O Lord, bless the harvest of this year and defend from all the perils, and may Your right hand, O Lord, protect us for the whole year.” 
Vartavar became a traditional day of pilgrimage to churches named in honor of St. John the Baptist. The most popular destination was the Monastery of Sourp Garabed of Moush, founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the province of Taron near Moush. (Garabed means Forerunner, referring to John the Baptist). The monastery was large and expansive and built like a fortress in the mountains. More than one thousand pilgrims could be accommodated. After 1915 the complex ceased to exist. The monastery was destroyed by the Turkish army, and the ravages of time, weather and scavengers completed its destruction. The once large and thriving Armenian monastery is now a mass of stone and rubble.
This Sunday is the name day for those named Vartkes, Vartavar, Vart, Vartouni, Alvart, Sirvart, Nevart, Lousvart, Hyvart, Baidzar, Vartanoush, Vartiter, Varvar.
The Monday after each of the five major feasts of the Armenian Church is a Memorial Day—a day of remembrance of the dead.
St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute at St. Mary of Providence Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania, will begin this Sunday July 3, under the sponsorship of the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). The summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. The program will conclude on Sunday, July 10, with a Divine Liturgy and luncheon at St. Gregory Church in Philadelphia. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian will celebrate the Liturgy.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Eastern Prelacy’s St. Gregory of Datev program that has touched the lives of hundreds of Armenian teenagers during the past three decades. We need your help to continue our mission fostering the Armenian Christian growth and development of our youth. Any size donation helps.
The Eastern Prelacy’s annual weeklong Datev program, organized by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), has grown extensively since its beginnings in 1987. The four-year program offers young Armenians an enriching curriculum that mixes theory with practice, under the auspices of the Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan.

Why Datev?
  • To instill and nurture the Armenian Christian faith and identity in our youth.
  • To encourage Armenian youth to become more involved in the life of the Church.
  • To discuss youth-related issues with Armenian clergy and teachers.
  • To provide a forum for our youth to expand their knowledge of Armenian culture through language, poetry, music, song and dance.
Rooted in the Armenian Christian faith and culture, the Institute is a four-year (one week each summer) faith-based program for youth ages 13 to 18. Those who complete the four year program may return for postgraduate classes. Classes for the five levels of study take place concurrently. The daily schedule reflects the Institute’s three main objectives: Education, worship, and fellowship. And the program includes worship services, Bible study, group discussions, lectures, and recreational activities. Your donation will help us embrace the next chapter of our journey with a renewed vision and commitment to bring our youth closer to God and the Armenian Church.
Your tax-deductible donations may be made on line (click here) or if you prefer you may send your donation to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016. Checks should be payable to the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; please indicate “Datev” in the memo area.
Summer interns serving the United Nations Mission of the Republic of Armenia paid a visit to the Prelacy office yesterday where they were warmly welcomed by Archbishop Oshagan, Bishop Anoushavan, and V. Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian.
Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan attended a reception and banquet for Cardinal Patriarch Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, the head of the Maronite Catholic Church, who is currently visiting the United States.
At a reception at the Lebanese Mission to the United Nations, left to right, Archbishop Oshagan, Patriarch Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Majdi Ramadan, Consul General of Lebanon  in New York, and Bishop Anoushavan.
During the opening prayer at the banquet,  from left to right,  Bishop Anoushavan; Bishop Gregory Mansour, Eparch of the Maronite Church of Eastern United States; Patriarch al-Rahi; Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and Archbishop Oshagan.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Mher Mkrtchyan (July 4, 1930)
Mher Mkrtchyan was one of the greatest Armenian actors of the Soviet period.
Son of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, he was born in Leninakan (nowadays Gumri) on July 4, 1930. His actual given name was Frunze, for which he was also known as “Frunzik,” but he later took the name Mher. His father wanted him to become a painter, but he started playing in the theatrical group of the textile factory of the town, which was next door to their home. He studied in the Art College and Theatre Studio of the city from 1945-1946, and then he played in the permanent group of the Mravian Theatre. He performed in a dozen of plays, and showed his maturity despite his young age.
He then moved to Yerevan, where he was accepted straight into the second year of the Acting Department of the Institute of Fine Arts and Theatre. He graduated in 1953 and he immediately started performing in the Sundukyan Academic Drama Theatre of Yerevan. He also directed many successful productions.
His film career began in 1955, and he played in 49 films until 1987. Mkrtchyan earned a reputation as one of the leading comedy actors of the Soviet Union thanks to his celebrated roles in Aybolit-66 (Rolan Bykov, 1966), Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (Leonid Gaidai, 1966), and Mimino (Georgi Daneliya, 1977). However, his acting talent and emotional depth were best displayed in several classic films of Armenian cinema: Triangle (1967), We Are Our Mountains (1969), Father (1973), Nahapet (1977), The Song of the Old Days (1982), Tango of Our Childhood (1985). In his posthumously published memoirs, Mkrtchyan wrote that his godfather in cinema was filmmaker Henrik Malyan:
“He was the first to notice me and trusted me to perform in his films, from Arsen (The Boys of the Orchestra), Gaspar (Triangle), Ishkhan (We Are Our Mountains), to Daddy (Father), Apro (Nahapet) and Grigor agha (A Piece of Sky), which all had the characteristic fate of the Armenian man: they are ingenious, hardworking, wistful, and dreamers.”
Among other honors, the actor won the USSR State Prize in 1978 and was also honored with the title of People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR.
Mher Mkrtchyan passed away at the age of 63 on December 29, 1993 in Yerevan. Thousands of people attended the funeral of their beloved actor. He was buried at the Komitas Pantheon. A museum remembers him in his birthplace Gumri and the Tekeyan Cultural Association of New York-New Jersey named its theater group after him.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (

By Peter Balakian
A limited number of books signed by the Pulitzer Prize winning author are available.
Soft cover, 82 pages, $20.00 plus shipping and handling
Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture
By Peter Balakian
Soft cover, 279 pages, $28.00 plus shipping and handling.
Also available by Peter Balakian:
  • The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response
  • Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers his Armenian Past
  • June Tree: New and Selected Poems (1974-2000)
  • Ziggurat
  • Bloody News from My Friend: Poems by Siamanto
Translated by Peter Balakian and Nevart Yaghlian
  • Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1918)
By Bishop Grigoris Balakian (edited by Peter Balakian)
To order contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( or by telephone (212-689-7810). The Bookstore has a big selection of books in Armenian and English for adults and children. Need a gift? Check the Bookstore. Click here.
The crisis in Syria requires our financial assistance.
Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks. 


Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Syrian Armenian Relief)
Thank you for your help.
“I bow before the mercy of the Lord, who willed that Armenia should become, in the year 301, the first nation to accept Christianity as its religions.”
“I pray here, with sorrow in my heart, so that tragedies like this never happen again, so that humanity may never forget and is able to overcome evil with good.”
“Memory cannot be stifled or forgotten! Memory is a source of peace and the future! May God protect the memory of the Armenian people. … Memory, infused with love, becomes capable of setting out on new and unexpected paths, where designs of hatred become projects of reconciliation.”
“The [solemn celebration in Saint Peter’s Basilica] was the commemoration of the centenary of the Metz Yeghern, the ‘Great Evil’ that struck your people and caused the death of a vast multitude of persons. Sadly, that tragedy, that genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century, made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors, even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples. It is so sad how, in this case and in the other two, the great international powers looked the other way.

July 3-10—St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute at St. Mary of Providence Center, Elverson, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or
July 16—Sts. Vartanantz Church Ladies Guild and ARS Ani Chapter, “A Hye Summer Night 10 Dinner Dance,” featuring Hachig Kazarian, clarinet; John Berberian, oud; Ken Kalajian, guitar; Jason Naroian, dumbeg; Khatchig Jingirian, vocals. Alpine Country Club, 251 Pippin Orchard Road, Cranston, Rhode Island. Dinner buffet $55 per person; dance only $30; students $30. For tickets/information: Joyce Bagdasarian (401) 434-4467; Joyce Yeremian (401) 354-8770.
July 16—Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Annual Convention Banquet and Cultural Program, featuring Huyser Music Ensemble of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Duet performance by Maral and Megheri Tutunjian, at Park Ridge Marriott Hotel,  300 Brae Boulevard, Park Ridge, New Jersey. Donation: $50. For reservations: Marina Babikian 201-888-5818.
July 19—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Ladies’ Guild presents “A Pilgrimage to Ethnic Churches of Detroit.” A guided tour of five historic churches in Detroit, 9 am to 5:30 pm, $45 per person. For reservations: Amy Hecht (248) 683-7155 or Mary Bedikian (248) 645-1490.
August 14—Annual Picnic, Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, at the Wild Duck Pond, Ridgewood, New Jersey, following the Badarak.
August 14—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Annual Church Picnic at Kensington Park, 4570 Huron River Parkway, Milford, Michigan 48380. Lunch beginning at 12 noon includes delicious kebabs and refreshments. Blessing of the Grapes at 3 pm. Armenian music, picnic games, kids area, and much more, rain or shine. For information: Church office (313) 336-6200.
August 14—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Picnic under auspices of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, at Camp Haiastan, Franklin, Massachusetts starting at 12 noon. Shish, losh, and chicken kebob dinners served all day. Armenian pastries and choreg available. Frenchies popcorn and apples. Blessing of the Grapes and Madagh at 3:30 pm. Music by Mike Gregian and Ensemble with guest Joe Zeitounian. All New England churches and communities are invited to attend. Rain or shine. For information: church office (401) 831-6399.
August 22—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, 41st Annual Golf and Tennis Classic at Tam-O-Shanter Country Club. Golf and dinner $250. Dinner only $125. For information: Church office (313) 336-6200.
October 6—SAVE THE DATE. Shadoyan Fashion Show “Exclusive Collection” of Evening Gowns and “Reincarnation” Armenian National Costumes. Sponsored by ARS Eastern USA. Details to follow.
October 9—SAVE THE DATE. Special event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Details will follow.
October 22—SAVE THE DATE. Armenian Friends of America presents Hye Kef 5, a 5-hour dance, 7 pm to midnight with buffet; Andover Windham, 123 Old River Road, featuring musicians Onnik and Ara Dinkjian, Johnny Berberian, Mal Barsamian, Jason Naroian and Paul Mooradian, with proceeds benefiting area Armenian churches. Advance tickets before September 1, $55, call either John Arzigian (603) 560-3826; Sharke Der Apkarian, (978) 808-0598; Lucy Sirmaian, (978) 683-9121, or Peter Gulezian, (978) 375-1616.
November 4, 5, 6—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 Messe and dessert menu for your Thanksgiving table available for take-out.
November 12 and 13—Armenian Fest 2016, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Providence, Rhode Island, presents Armenian Food Festival at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, Broad Street, Cranston, Rhode Island. Chicken, losh, and shish kebab and kufta dinners. Armenian delicacies, dancing to live music, arts and crafts, flea market, gift baskets, children’s corner, country store, jewelry, hourly raffles. Armenian Dance Group will perform on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Armenian food and pastry available all day. Saturday, noon to 9 pm; Sunday, noon to 8 pm. For information: or church office, (401) 831-6399.
138 East 39th Street | New York, NY 10016 US
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