April 18, 2019
Today is Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum meaning “command.” Holy Thursday commemorates several events including the Last Supper as described in the Gospels, and the Washing of the Feet ( Votunlva ) that occurred when the disciples argued about which of them would be the greatest. Witnessing this sad behavior of his disciples, Jesus displayed a living example of “greatness,” by washing the feet of his disciples, showing true humility. The Great Thursday vigil flows into Great (or Good) Friday, with the Tenebrae (darkness) service where Jesus is arrested, tortured and sentenced. The Tenebrae service takes place with only the light of 12 candles (representing the disciples), and one large candle, representing Jesus. During the service, which includes some of the most beautiful hymns ever written, the candles are extinguished gradually, leaving only the one large candle —the Light of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
The world watched in horror as flames engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris this week. The image was there on everyone’s smart phone. Watching the flames reaching high up in the sky, the unthinkable of the imminent destruction of this iconic structure seemed possible. Fortunately the towers withstood as did centuries-old works of art and artifacts. The spire and the attic above the Cathedral’s soaring stone arches, that is described as a “lattice of wooden support beams” and a “tinder box” became fuel for the fire.

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most visited sites in Paris. Its popularity transcends religion. It is considered sacred by all. President Emmanuel Macron has pledged that the 850-year-old Cathedral will be restored within five years.

Archbishop Anoushavan announced that on May 5, Green Sunday, which is also known as the Sunday of the World Church, parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are requested to circulate a second plate offering for Notre-Dame Cathedral. “Let us do our small part in the international outpouring of support for the Cathedral’s renewal,” said the Prelate. Donations may also be sent directly to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39 th Street, New York, NY 10016. Indicate “Notre-Dame” in the memo area of your check.

The Prelate during the Opening of the Portals service.
Archbishop Anoushavan with Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian (right) and Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian (left), and Zaven Torigian, the Godfather for the curtain opening.
Archbishop Anoushavan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon on Palm Sunday at St. Stephen’s Church of Greater Boston. For many decades, St. Stephen’s has had the honor of hosting the Prelate on Palm Sunday to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, preach, and conduct the Opening of the Portals service. This year was the first time the parish hosted Archbishop Anoushavan as Prelate on this traditional day. Mr. Zaven Torigian was the Godfather for the curtain opening. Mr. Torigian, the editor of the Hairenik Weekly Armenian language newspaper, was chosen because of 2019 being proclaimed the Year of the Armenian Press by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Following church services, the Prelate enjoyed the fellowship hour with the parishioners, as everyone enjoyed the delicious baked goods prepared by the Ladies’ Guild.

Palm Sunday was celebrated with great festivity and excitement at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the Sermon with the assistance of Deacons Shant Kazanjian, James Haddad, Krikor Esayan, and Dickran Kabarajian.

Rev. Fr. Dr. Vahan Kouyoumdjian celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Stephen’s Church of Hartford-New Britain in Connecticut. The Havadk chapter of the ARS celebrated the 109 th anniversary of the Armenian Relief Society with a Lenten luncheon in the church hall.

Rev. Fr. Vahan blesses the Palms before being distributed to parishioners.

Rev. Fr. Vahan and Yeretzgin Maggie with ARS members.

Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian gathered with the Sunday school students of St. Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church of Racine, WI

Archbishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian welcomed the eighth grade students of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Hollywood, California on Tuesday, on their annual visit to St. Illuminator’s Cathedral as part of a class trip to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. This year the west coast students were joined by the eighth grade class of Hovnanian School in New Milford, New Jersey. The Prelate and Der Hayr greeted the students and their chaperones, giving them a tour of the Cathedral, providing interesting historical highlights, and praying together in the sanctuary. Later the students enjoyed lunch and fellowship in Pashalian Hall. 

Bible readings for Sunday, April 21 , Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, are: Acts 1:15-26; Mark 16:2-8. Evening Readings : Acts 1:1-8; Luke 24:13-36; John 20:1-18; John 5:24-30; John 19:31-37; John 20:19-25.

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus—for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ So one of the men who had accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-26)


And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
It is a long-standing tradition in the Armenian Church to give “ Yughakin ” donations, especially at Christmas and Easter. Yughakin literally means “price of oil.” Parishioners would donate money to purchase oil in order to keep the lanterns lit and the church illuminated. The tradition has continued throughout the centuries to modern times, although nowadays the money is not necessarily for oil for lanterns, but for utility bills that provide light, heat, and air conditioning. The concept is still very valid, so remember to make your Yughakin donation and help keep the doors of our sanctuaries open and the environment comfortable.
In the Armenian Apostolic tradition, the day following each of the five major feast days, is a Memorial Day (Remembrance of the Dead). Traditionally, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on this day, and afterwards the faithful visit the graves of their loved ones that are blessed by the priest with chants and incense.

We are pleased to announce that plans are underway for the 33 rd annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program, a unique Christian educational program for youth ages 13-18. Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the weeklong program will be held at St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from June 30 to July 7, 2019. For information and registration, please click here .

Opening of the Genocide Memorial in Bikfaya
(April 24, 1970)
Inauguration of the Bikfaya memorial. This picture appeared on the cover of the special issue of the daily Aztag (May 9, 1970) and was taken by AP late photographer (and later New Yorker) Harry Koundakjian.
Before 1965, there were only three memorials dedicated to the genocide of 1915 worldwide: the Martyrs’ Chapel in the monastery of Antelias (1938), the stele at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Beirut (1939), and the memorial at the courtyard of the San Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Buenos Aires (1961). Starting in 1965, there would be a true explosion in the construction of memorials, both in Armenia and in the Diaspora.

The commemoration of 1965 in Lebanon acquired a particular resonance. Even though the government yielded to Turkish pressure and did not authorize a projected march, the gathering of 85,000-90,000 Armenians in the sports complex of Bourj Hammoud became proof that from here on the commemorations would take a different direction.
As the end of the fiftieth anniversary, in April 1966, the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, Khoren I announced that a monument would be built at the St. Mary’s Monastery in Bikfaya, which belongs to the Catholicosate. The “Monument to the Fiftieth Anniversary” would be located on a rock near the chapel of St. Mary and the Seminary. It was commissioned to sculptor Zaven Khedeshian (1932-2018), already a noted name in Lebanese art.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 23, 1967, by the three Armenian spiritual leaders, Catholicos Khoren I, Patriarch Ignatius Peter XVI Batanian of the Armenian Catholic Church, and Rev. Hovhannes Aharonian. Bishop Karekin Sarkissian (future Catholicos Karekin II of Cilicia and I of All Armenians), the dean of the seminary, read a message on behalf of the memorial committee. He said:
“I want that the eyes of soul see with equal truth and joy the bronze statue of more than twelve meters of height elevating to the sky, which, through the image of the restoration of a human body, symbolizes the triumphant restoration of an entire people, from the terrorizing world of sand and ruins, rags and wounds, suffering and torture towards the world of healthy revival, febrile creation, and insatiable construction.”
A popular fundraiser was held to finance the construction of the memorial, a bronze abstract figure of a woman standing with hands toward the sky. The figure is mounted on a clef-like rock of five meters high, beyond which is located the public space for public assembly. The inauguration was anticipated for April 24, 1969, but recurrent political crisis in Lebanon prevented the public commemoration of the genocide that year.

The inauguration was postponed for April 24, 1970, when it became one of the main features of the 55 th anniversary of the genocide. The huge multitude, which by some estimates surpassed the number of 20,000, went from the ceremony held at the monastery of Antelias to Bikfaya for the inauguration. At one point, the traffic flow forced the mass to leave their cars on the road ascending to the Armenian monastery and reach the place by foot. People flooded the courtyard of the monastery around the memorial. After a stirring “hokehankisd” ceremony, the first speaker was Boghos Douzjian, representing the Memorial Committee, followed by Rev. Aharonian, Bishop Mesrob Terzian (in representation of Patriarch Batanian), and Catholicos Khoren. The keynote speaker was Khachig Babikian, Minister of Tourism, on behalf of the President of Lebanon, Charles Helou, who sponsored the inauguration.

During the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, the memorial underwent a sabotage bombing by the Phalange, a Christian militant party, and the lower portion of the monument was heavily damaged. The monument was heavily damaged but it did not fall. It was later repaired.

On the centennial of the genocide, the memorial was renovated and an altar dedicated to the martyrs was built nearby. The rocks and walls leading to the memorial were ornamented with symbols related to Armenian history, the Armenian Church, and the genocide, and a map of the Armenian Genocide was added near the monument. 

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ).
( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
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.
April 24 —Feast of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and March for Justice. Under the auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate. Divine Liturgy at 10 am, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 E. 27 th Street, New York City, celebrated by Rev. Fr. Stepan Baljian. March for Justice begins at 12:30 pm from the Cathedral to the Turkish Consulate. For information: 212-689-5880.

April 27 —Connecticut commemoration of the 104 th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at Connecticut Hall of the House at the State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 11 am. Featured speaker Salpi Ghazarian, Director of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Armenian Studies.

April 28 —Armenian Genocide commemoration in Times Square, 43 rd Street and Broadway, New York City, sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan. Free bus transportation to and from Times Square from New York and New Jersey. For details www.kofv.org/main/april282019 .

April 28 —Armenian Martyrs Memorial Committee of Rhode Island will commemorate the 104 th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, starting at 12:45 pm at the Martyrs Monument in North Burial Grounds in Providence. The clergy and altar servers of the three Armenian churches will participate. Keynote speaker: Stephen Kurkjian, emeritus editor and reporter for Boston Globe. For information email to joycey41@cox.net .

April 28 —Jointly celebrated Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, 10:30 am at St. George Armenian Church, Hartford, Connecticut with the participation of the clergy and faithful of the parishes of St. George, Hartford, Connecticut; Holy Resurrection, New Britain, Connecticut; St. Mark, Springfield, Massachusetts, and St. Stephen’s, New Britain, Connecticut.

May 3 —Opening reception of exhibit of Arpi Nardone’s Shadow Tole Art, 7 to 9 pm, at the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39 th Street, New York City, hosted by Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society of New York. The exhibit will be open to the public Thursday, May 2, 6 to 9pm; Friday, May 3, 5 to 9pm; Saturday, May 4, 2 to 8pm.

May 5 —60 th anniversary of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, NJ. “60 Years from Generation to Generation,” honoring Garabedian, Mirakian, Najarian, and Sarajian families. Banquet in grand hall. Information: 201-943-2950. ( SOLD OUT).

May 5— Mothers Day luncheon honoring Sonia Bezdikian, by Armenian Relief Society, NY Mayr Chapter, at Manor, Douglaston, NY, at 3 pm. Information/reservations: Mina Hovsepian (917)741-2966.

May 11 —Mother’s Day Dinner Dance, 6:30 pm at the Crowne Plaza, Warwick, Rhode Island, honoring Mother of the Year Maro Dionisopoulos. Reservations and Information: arsaraxprov@gmail.com.

May 16-18 —National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, hosted by St. Asdvatzadzin Church of Whitinsville, MA.

June 30-July 7 —33 rd St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute (ages 13-19) at St. Mary of Providence Center, Elverson, PA. Sponsored by Eastern Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). Information: arec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.

October 9-12 —On the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Translators a joint clergy conference of the Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will convene in Montebello, CA.

October 12 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, NJ continues celebration of 60 th anniversary with Elie Berberian and his band. Information: 201-943-2950.

October 19 —Armenian Friends of America Annual Hye Kef 5 Dance, featuring The Vosbikians, at Double Tree by Hilton, Andover, MA. For information: Sharke’ Der Apkarian at 978-808-0598; John Arzigian at 603-560-3826.

November 17 —SAVE THE DATE for 150 th anniversary of birth of Gomidas Vartabed, organized by the Eastern Prelacy. Details will follow.

Follow us on Social Media
The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email: email@armenianprelacy.org

Visit the Catholicosate webpage at  http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/en/