January 18, 2018
YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE
At the beginning of the New Year, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, issued an encyclical about the 100 th anniversary of the Independent Republic of Armenia that was proclaimed on May 28, 1918. In his encyclical, His Holiness instructs all prelacies under the jurisdiction of the Cilician See to make this historic event a focus of attention and celebration throughout the centennial year of 2018. In his encyclical the Catholicos writes,

“The desire and will to live free and independent, even at the risk of known death, has become one of the most remarkable aspects of the many decades of Armenian history beginning with Haig Nahabed. Our history is rich with heroic struggles against oppression.

“This is what happened in our recent history on May 28, 1918, when the Armenian people, with the faith and determination of Vartan Mamigonian and Ghevont Yeretz, re-established its own sovereign country to live free on its ancestral land in accordance to the collective will of the people. May 28 is a precise and meaningful turning point in Armenian history after the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1375) making the Armenian people subject to foreign powers. What a providential event this was when considering that just a few years earlier the Armenian Genocide took place in the Ottoman Empire, and in Yerevan the Armenian nation’s tricolor flag of independence was raised!”

Concluding his message, His Holiness appeals to all to mark this important date of the 100 th anniversary of the first Armenian Republic, with community oriented events and various programs, including lectures, symposia, and commemorations. He reminds everyone of the imperative to remain “faithful to the fatherland’s independence built with blood and sweat and defend it at all cost…. Those who shed blood on the road to independence are heroes and martyrs. Therefore, let us bow down to the creation and defense of the first Armenian Republic, just as from May 28 up to this date we bow before the memory of our known and unknown innocent heroes who fought, served, and were martyred.”

Read the entire message in Armenian or English .

INDEPENDENCE ENCYCLICAL WILL BE PRESENTED IN PRELACY PARISHES
By order of the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan, Catholicos Aram’s encyclical about the 100 th anniversary of the first independent Republic of Armenia, will be read in all Eastern Prelacy parishes on Sunday, February 4, during the Holy Liturgy. His Eminence also reminded parishes to make this milestone anniversary the focus and stimulus during the entire year.

60 TH ANNIVERSARY OF ST. STEPHEN CHURCH
St. Stephen’s Church of Greater Boston is celebrating its 60 th anniversary this weekend. On Saturday evening, January 20, a special program will feature Onnik Dinkjian performing sacred Armenian hymns, accompanied by Ara Dinkjian on the organ. The evening will begin with a reception at 5 pm, followed by the program at 6:30 pm, and a dessert reception at 8 pm.

On Sunday, January 21, Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Stephen Church. His Eminence will also preside over a special organ blessing ceremony. 
BIBLE READINGS
Bible Readings for Sunday, January 21, Second Sunday after the Nativity (Eve of the Fast of the Catechumens) are: Isaiah 61:10-62:9; 2 Timothy 2:15-26; John 6:15-21. 

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (John 6:15-21)

***
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”

In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:15-26)


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

A NOTE ABOUT THE READINGS
There are no Bible readings according to the Armenian Liturgical calendar four days next week, Monday to Thursday. These four days without designated readings coincide with the Fast of the Catechumens, which begins Monday and ends on Friday. There is only one Bible reading for Friday, January 26, the entire book of Jonah. This period is traditionally a time for reflection and repentance, and a time for the clergy and laity to witness their faith to the un-baptized who are preparing for baptism. The Fast of the Catechumens, which is unique to the Armenian Church, leads to the Church’s remembrance of the prophet Jonah, whose “entombment” in the belly of the whale represents the three-day burial of Jesus, and Jonah’s release represents the resurrection of our Lord.

EVE OF THE FAST OF THE CATECHUMENS
This Sunday, January 21, is the Paregentan or Eve of the Fast of the Catechumens. A catechumen is someone who is receiving instruction in the fundamentals of the faith while preparing for baptism. This occurs three weeks before Poun Paregentan (Eve of Great Lent) and ten weeks before Easter. The Fast of the Catechumens is five days of strict fast ( dzom ). Traditionally, the Catechumens were instructed for several hours daily and required to stand through every church service, separate from the baptized congregation. This continued until Easter when the catechumens were baptized and anointed and received their first communion.

THE SIAMANTO SERIES IS BACK
The Siamanto Academy continues its monthly activities this year. As a reflection of the monthly sessions, the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) last year started producing a series of educational videos featuring the subjects treated in the lessons. The first installment of the new series for this year has just been released. The series consists of bilingual PowerPoints about various subjects of Armenian history, culture, and current issues, with the explanation in Armenian. 


BLESSING OF WATER IN CONNECTICUT
The Blessing of Water service took place on Sunday, January 7, at St. Stephen Church of Hartford and New Britain, Connecticut. Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian, pastor, is with Deacons Ara Stepanian, Christopher Bagdasarian, and Archdeacon Ed Varjabedian.
Birth of Lord Byron (January 22, 1788)

Byron's visit to San Lazzaro by Ivan Aivazovsky
For two centuries, Lord Byron’s Armenian connection has become the stuff of legend, and the fact that one of the greatest British poets took an interest in the Armenian culture to the point of learning the language has been widely discussed.

George Gordon Byron was born on January 22, 1788 in London. He spent his childhood in Aberdeenshire. His father, a womanizer mired in debts, died when he was three years old, and he remained under the care of his mother. After his elementary education in Aberdeen Grammar School and a private school in Dulwich, from 1801-1805 he studied in Harrow School, a boarding school in London. In 1805 he went up to Trinity College, in Cambridge, where he spent three years, engaging in sexual escapades, boxing, horse riding, and gambling.

Byron had written poetry since his teenage years, and after he recalled and burned a book called Fugitive Pieces, he published his actual first book, Hours of Idleness, in 1807. It was savagely reviewed in Edinburgh, and Byron responded in 1809 with his first major satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.

As it was customary for young noblemen, Byron undertook a grand tour of Europe from 1809-1811. He avoided most of continental Europe due to the Napoleonic wars, and instead he traveled through the Mediterranean. He went over Portugal, Spain, Albania, and Greece, and he reached the Ottoman Empire, visiting Smyrna and Constantinople. He returned to England from Malta in July 1811.

The next year, Byron became a celebrity with the publication of the first two cantos of his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which established him as a leading romantic poet. His last period in England included the production of many works. However, his rising star was darkened by scandal. Various love affairs, including rumors of an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh, and the pressure of debt led him to seek marriage with Annabella Millbanke in 1815. They had a daughter in the same year, but the marriage did not end Byron’s escapades, but ended in disaster. His wife left him in January 1816 and divorced him. Rumors and debts did not end, and Byron left England three months later for good.

After a few months in Switzerland, Byron wintered in Venice, where he resumed his love adventures with two married women. It was natural, then, that he visited for the first time the monastery of San Lazzaro in November 1816. However, he was not just a random visitor of the Mekharist Congregation. He made his goal to get acquainted with Armenian culture and, more importantly, to study the Armenian language with Rev. Harutiun Avkerian (Pascal Aucher). In a letter of December 1816 to his publisher Thomas Moore, he wrote: “By way of divertisement, I am studying daily, at an Armenian monastery, the Armenian language. I found that my mind wanted something craggy to break upon; and this — as the most difficult thing I could discover here for an amusement — I have chosen, to torture me into attention. It is a rich language, however, and would amply repay any one the trouble of learning it. I try, and shall go on; — but I answer for nothing, least of all for my intentions or my success.”

He collaborated with his teacher in two books: Grammar English and Armenian (1817), an English textbook for Armenians, and A Grammar Armenian and English (1819), a grammar of Classical Armenian for the use of English speakers. Byron also translated from Armenian the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians , two chapters of Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia, and section of Nerses Lambronatsi’s Orations. The poet’s lyricism would become an inspiration for many Armenian poets of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In Venice, Byron also wrote the fourth canto of Childe Harold, and around the same time, he published other poems. He wrote the first five cantos of Don Juan between 1818 and 1820, and continued his work in Ravenna from 1819-1821. He fell in love with eighteen-year-old Countess Teresa Guiccioli, a married aristocrat who abandoned her husband and followed him to Ravenna, Pisa, and Genoa. Living in this city, in July 1823 accepted an offer from representatives of the Greek independence movement and left Genoa for Greece. He first settled in the Ionian Islands and then traveled to the mainland in January 1824.
Byron settled in Missolonghi, in southern Greece, and was entangled in the internal fights of different Greek factions. However, his presence in Greece would draw the increasing active participation of European nations. He sold his estate in Scotland to help raise money for the revolution. When planning an attack on Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth, Byron fell ill in February 1824. He made a partial recovery, but caught a strong cold in April, and then developed a violent fever, which caused his death in Missolonghi on April 19, 1824. His remains were sent to England for burial in Westminster Abbey, but this was rejected for reason of “questionable morality.” He is buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

A statue remembers Byron in Athens, and April 19, the anniversary of his death, is honored in Greece as “Byron Day.” A street also bears his name in Yerevan.

STORY OF NEAR EAST RELIEF ON NETFLIX
The documentary “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief,” is now available on Netflix. Produced by Near East Foundation Board Member Shant Mardirossian and award-winning director George Billard, the documentary details the unprecedented humanitarian efforts of thousands of Americans who saved a generation of orphans and refugees in the aftermath of the crisis that came to be known as the Armenian Genocide. The film teaches important lessons on the powerful role ordinary citizens can play in responding to humanitarian crises.

As the world experiences the largest refugee crisis since World War II, the producers of this film hope it will call attention to what society can do to help vulnerable populations, and the measures that can be taken to prevent similar atrocities from happening in the future.

The documentary will be available on Netflix throughout 2018. For more information, visit the film’s website: www.theyshallnotperish.com

PLEASE REMEMBER
SYRIAN ARMENIAN COMMUNITY NEEDS OUR HELP MORE THAN EVER

The crisis in Syria requires our financial assistance.
Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET OUR ONGOING RELIEF EFFORTS FOR THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY IN SYRIA WHERE CONDITIONS ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE DIFFICULT.

THE NEED IS REAL.
THE NEED IS GREAT.

DONATIONS TO THE FUND FOR SYRIAN ARMENIAN RELIEF CAN BE MADE ON LINE.

TO DONATE NOW CLICK HERE AND SELECT SYRIAN ARMENIAN RELIEF IN THE MENU.
OR IF YOU PREFER YOU MAY MAIL YOUR DONATION TO:

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.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.

January 20 —St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 60 th Anniversary Celebration.

January 28 —10 th Anniversary of Ordination of Fr. Stephan Baljian and 48 th Anniversary of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts. Under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate; Episcopal Divine Liturgy followed by banquet and commemorate program in Jaffarian Hall. For tickets contact Sossy Jeknavorian (978-256-2538). Adults $45; students $10.

February 4 —Armenian Relief Society, NJ Shakeh Chapter presents Kev Orkian, British-Armenian musician, comedian, and actor from London, 4 to 7 pm at Mahwah High School, 50 Ridge Road, Mahwah, New Jersey. Tickets: $50, $40, and $30. For information and tickets: Maggie Kouyoumdjian, 845-598-3284, maggie11370@yahoo.com ; Maral Kaprielian, 201-289-6486, kaprielianmaral@gmail.com .

February 5-7 —Eastern Prelacy’s Annual Ghevontiantz Clergy Gathering hosted by Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. This year’s theme is “Freedom,” in accordance with the encyclical issued by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.

March 11 —Annual General Membership meeting of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts; Sunday of the Judge, 12:30 pm in Jaffarian Hall; light luncheon will be served.


March 17 —“Sirusho in Concert” presented by Hamazkayin NJ and ARS Agnouni Chapter, dedicated to the 100 th anniversary of the Armenian Republic and the 90 th anniversary of Hamazkayin. With participation of Nayiri Dance Ensemble. Felician University, Breslin Theater, 262 South Main Street, Lodi, New Jersey, 7:30 pm. Tickets: $85, $65, $45. Purchase online here or email sirushonj@gmail.com .

March 18 —35 th Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Prelacy Ladies Guild. Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 57 th Street at 7 th Avenue, Sunday, March 18 at 2 pm.

April 22 —Remembering the Armenian Genocide, Annual Gathering at Times Square, 2 pm, 43 rd Street and Broadway, New York City. Free bus transportation to and from Times Square. Sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan; co-sponsored by Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian National Committee of America, ADL-Ramagavars, Armenian National Council, and with the participation of community-wide churches and organizations. Contacts: New York , Sam Melkonian 516-352-2587; Brooklyn , Tigran Sahakyan 347-291-7765; New Jersey , Leo Manuelian 917-418-3940 or 201-746-0409.

May 9-12 —Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly, hosted by St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts. The one-day clergy conference will take place on Wednesday, May 9. The full Assembly will convene on Thursday, May 10, at 11 am and will conclude on Saturday, May 12, at noon.

October 20 —Armenian Friends America, Inc., Sixth Annual HYE KEF 5, featuring world famous Onnik Dinkjian and the All Stars. Double Tree Hotel, Andover, Massachusetts. Details to follow. www.ArmenianFriendsofAmerica.org .
The Armenian Prelacy 
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Visit the Catholicosate webpage at  http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/en/