April 6, 2017

Tomorrow is the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that is celebrated nine months before the Nativity on the seventh of April. It is the celebration of the announcing of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. 

“And behold. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

“The unspeakable mystery hidden from the nations and ages has been revealed today by the descent of the archangel to the holy virgin Mary, whom we have as intercessor for our souls before the Lord. …O joy of our sorrowful nature, blessed virgin Mary; at the greeting of the good news you received and bore in yourself the giver of the law of greeting. Always intercede for our souls before him.”

Canon for the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church


Archbishop Oshagan’s Easter message was featured in Armenian and English in last week’s Crossroads. His Eminence’s message focused on the Holy Resurrection, new life, and victory, which His Eminence says “is the promise that Jesus gave us through His resurrection, with the condition that we remain on the road of truth, following and fulfilling biblical principles and teachings. It is with this faith and assurance that the Apostle Paul declares, “Where, O death, is your victory?” because he knows full well that the true and lasting victory belongs to Christ, and in our case this victory is gained  by following Christ and implementing His commandments.” Read the complete message in Armenian and English.


Archbishop Oshagan returned to New York after spending ten days in Antelias, Lebanon, where he participated in the annual St. Gregory the Illuminator pilgrimage on the occasion of St. Gregory’s commitment to the deep pit (khor virab), which is a day of pilgrimage in Antelias. His Eminence participated in the procession with His Holiness Aram who carried the golden arm of St. Gregory. The trip was also a personal pilgrimage for the Prelate who this year is marking the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a celibate priest. His Eminence prayed at the altar of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, where he was ordained 50 years ago.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilcia, carries the golden arm of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Archbishop Oshagan is at the left.


Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives joined with Armenian American community leaders, genocide-prevention coalition partners, and diplomats representing Armenia and Artsakh in a standing-room-only Capitol Hill remembrance of the Armenian Genocide yesterday that featured strong bipartisan calls on the President and Congress to reject the gag-rule that Ankara has long enforced against honest American commemoration of this still-unpunished crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The annual Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide commemoration was sponsored by the Congressional Armenian Caucus, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Office of the Artsakh Republic, and Armenian American organizations.

Members of the Senate and House participating in the solemn observance included Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dave Trott (R-MI) and David Valadao (R-CA), Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Tom Suozzi (D-NY).

Capitol Hill veteran Dean Shahinian served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, inviting clerical leaders Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church to offer opening and closing prayers, respectively. 

Among those offering keynote remarks were His Excellency Grigor Hovhannissian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, the Honorable Robert Avetisyan, Artsakh Representative to the U.S, and Hayk Demoyan, the Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan.  Joining in the commemoration were California State University Fresno President Joseph Castro, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans and Mrs. Donna Evans, and representatives of In Defense of Christians, Hellenic American Leadership Council, A Demand for Action, and other friends and allies from human rights groups and the Greek, Assyrian and Kurdish communities.  ANCA National Board member Greg Bedian, from Chicago, took part in the remembrance

Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern  Prelacy with Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), Co-Chair Dave Trott (R-MI), Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Pastor of Soorp Khatch Armenian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, and Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) with ANCA-ER Communications Director Artur Martirosyan, Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, and Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian.



A Note from Crossroads: The following is a joint press release issued by a coalition of Armenian organizations in North America about the upcoming movie “The Promise.” We are printing the entire release in Crossroads, rather than as a link, because of the importance of supporting this movie that is being heavily challenged by Turkish interests. Please read and forward to friends and family.—Editor 

The Promise, the First Wide-Release Feature Film about the Armenian Genocide, Opens Across the United States and Canada on April 21

Armenian organizations in North America band together to ensure the success of the film through grassroots efforts

For the first time, a big budget, wide-release feature film—complete with a-list, Hollywood celebrities and a renowned, Academy Award-winning director—will depict the Armenian Genocide. This monumental film, The Promise, will be released in mainstream theaters across the United States and Canada on April 21, marking a major triumph for the Armenian community. Due to the exceptional caliber of the film, it will not be screened privately at community events. Instead, groups are strongly encouraged to go en masse to their local theaters to support the film and help it reach the highest possible box-office sales. For exact dates of the film’s international release, please see the end of this release and continue to check social media.

All Armenians and non-Armenians are urged to support the grassroots efforts leading up to the premiere of the film to ensure its success and encourage the film industry to produce more films about Armenian history. (1) Bring friends and family to the film during its opening weekend. (2) Spread the word about The Promise on social media with the hashtags #KeepThePromise and #ThePromiseTheFilm and invite friends and family to join the campaign. (3) Go to daytime and night screenings of The Promise during its opening week. (4) Review the film online at www.rottentomatoes.com and www.imdb.com as honestly as you see fit. 

Produced by the legendary Kirk Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures and directed by Academy Award winner Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), The Promise features an outstanding international cast, including Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Angela Sarafyan, and many more. All proceeds from the film will be donated to non-profit organizations, the first time for a film of this scale.
In the film, it is 1914. As the Great War looms, the vast Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Constantinople (Istanbul)—its once vibrant, multicultural capital—is about to be consumed by chaos. Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) arrives in the cosmopolitan hub as a medical student determined to bring modern medicine to Siroun, his ancestral village in southern Turkey where Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived side by side for centuries. Photo-journalist Chris Meyers (Christian Bale) has come only partly to cover geo-political news. He is mesmerized by his love for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian artist he has accompanied from Paris after the sudden death of her father. When Michael meets Ana, their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men, even as Michael hangs on to a promise from his past. After the Turks join the war on the German side, the Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities. Despite their conflicts, everyone must find a way to survive—even as monumental events envelope their lives.

In addition to the all-star cast, acclaimed musician and activist Serj Tankian served as the film’s executive music consultant and contributed a modern rendition of the Armenian folk song, “Sari Siroun Yar,” to the soundtrack. “It's been an honor to be an impartial ear and eye to the film,” said Tankian. “The best way to counter high budget disinformation campaigns by the Turkish government is to move people with the truth via the arts. I've been doing it for years with music and wanted to help do it through film somehow.” The original title song for the film was written and performed by Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden and the original score was composed by Academy Award winner Gabriel Yared (The English Patient).

In addition to the release in the United States and Canada on April 21, The Promise will also be released in the Middle East (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Yemen) on April 20; in Armenia and Russia on April 27; in the United Kingdom on April 28; in Poland on May 5; in Australia on May 25; in Thailand on June 1; in Spain on June 2; in Belgium on June 14; in the Netherlands on June 15; in Singapore on June 22; in South Africa on June 23 and in Italy on August 24. Please continue to check social media for updates on the film’s release in more countries.

The grassroots campaign to ensure the box-office success of The Promise has been a worldwide effort supported by a joint coalition of Armenian organizations in North America, including: All-Armenian Student Association (All-ASA), Armenia Fund, Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States & Canada, Armenian Film Foundation, Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY), Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Missionary Association of Canada, Armenian National Committee (ANC), Armenian National Institute (ANI), Armenian Network of America, Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of the United States, Armenian Students' Association of America, Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA), Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS), Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Canada, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society of the United States, Hayastan Foundation Canada, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States, ONEArmenia, Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA), Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada, Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Zoryan Institute.

To join the joint effort in North America, please contact communications@agbu.org.

To find out more about The Promise, please visit http://www.survivalpictures.org/the-promise/. To book a local theater to host a large group showing of the film, please email  KeepThePromise@agbu.org

Watch The Promise Trailer below


“They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief,” will have its official premiere on Saturday, April 8 at The Times Center, 242 41st Street, New York City. Produced by NEF Board Member Shant Mardirossian and award-winning producer, writer, and director George Billard, the film details the historic events that led to the Armenian Genocide and the consequent rescue that provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced men, women, and children. The feature-length documentary makes extensive use of never before seen footage of orphans who were in Near East Relief’s care. There will be an afternoon and evening showing, both followed by a panel discussion with notable documentary contributors. For more information and see the trailer, visit www.theyshallnotperish.com

There will be two screenings at The Times Center on April 8:

  • Matinee (2 pm ): $20 per person. Group rate of $15 per person available for ten or more.
  • Evening/Reception (5 pm): $50 per person, includes cocktail reception catered by Great Performances. A panel discussion and Q&A with the filmmakers and historians Taner Akcam, Peter Balakian, and Susan Harper will follow both screenings.

The film has an all-star cast; narrator Victor Garber; Voice-overs: Andrea Martin, Tony Shalhoub, Ron Rifkin, Kathleen Chalfont, and a powerful group of expert testimonies  including Peter Balakian, Keith David Watenpaugh, John Cooper, and Susan Harper.

Shant Mardirosian, the producer of the film, reports that the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) has agreed to distribute the film to public television affiliates across the country and possibly local stations will also show the film in April and the months to follow.


Bible readings for Sunday, April 9, Palm Sunday—Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem  are: Song of Songs 1:1-2:3; Zechariah 9:9-15; Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 20:29-21:17. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving g let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)


And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the roadside, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And Jesus stopped and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight and followed him.

And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of an donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant; and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has brought perfect praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city of Bethany and lodged there. (Matthew 20:29-21:17).

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings Click Here.

This Saturday, April 8, we commemorate the Raising of Lazarus as told in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha were good friends of Jesus. Their home in Bethany (near Jerusalem) was Jesus’ home whenever he was in Jerusalem. Lazarus’s sudden death threw his sisters into deep mourning. Jesus also wept for his friend. John’s gospel account emphasizes the fact that Lazarus was indeed dead by pointing out that his body was in the tomb. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus convinced many people of his unique powers, and according to John, the authorities took steps to try to silence him.

Lazarus represents humankind and Bethany represents the whole world. The major themes of this day are the forthcoming victory of Christ over death, the supreme sacrifice of love, and the resurrection as the ultimate triumph of love.

A hymn traditionally sung on Saturday evening (eve of Palm Sunday) says: “With the raising of Lazarus by which the dead were given hope, the descendants of Adam were also raised….” Thus, as the Lenten period comes to an end, we are greeted by the hope of Christ’s promise of the resurrection of humanity.

The forty days of Great Lent (Medz Bahk) come to an end with Vespers on Friday prior to the commemoration of the Raising of Lazarus. A new fasting period for Holy Week begins on Monday and continues through Holy Saturday.


This Sunday, April 9, is Palm Sunday commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week. The Church is joyful after forty days of repentance. Christ is coming to Jerusalem. He is coming in the name of the Lord in fulfillment of the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9-16).

Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and adorn your bridal chamber, O Sion, for behold your King Christ, seated on the new colt, shows meekness and comes to enter into your chamber. … Cry aloud, Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, who has great mercy. (From the Introit of Palm Sunday)

Archbishop Oshagan’s Holy Week schedule is as follows:

Palm Sunday, April 9, His Eminence will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the Sermon and preside over the “Opening of the Gates” ceremony at St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts.

Holy Thursday, April 13, His Eminence will preside over the Washing of the Feet and Tenebrae services at St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts.

Holy Friday, April 14, His Eminence will preside at the Good Friday Entombment Service at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island.

Holy Saturday, April 15, His Eminence will preside at Easter Eve Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.

Easter Sunday, April 16, His Eminence will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City.

Bishop Anoushavan’s Holy Week schedule is as follows:

Palm Sunday, April 9, His Grace will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, deliver the Sermon, and preside over the “Opening of the Gates” ceremony at Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland.

Holy Thursday, April 13, His Grace will preside over the Washing of the Feet and Tenebrae services at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey.

Holy Friday, April 14, His Grace will preside at the Good Friday Entombment Service at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City.

Holy Saturday, April 15, His Grace will attend Easter Eve Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.

Easter Sunday, April 16, His Grace will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.  


As they do every year during Holy Week, Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan, accompanied by metro area clergy, will visit the Armenian Home in Flushing, New York on Tuesday, April 11. On Wednesday, April 12 they will visit the Hovnanian School in New Milford, New Jersey, and the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Emerson, New Jersey.


Next week we enter the most solemn period for Christians—Holy Week—leading us to our greatest and most sacred holiday--Easter. The week before Easter marks a series of events in the life of Jesus, which were preordained. These events include the raising of Lazarus (described above) and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, where he is greeted by large assembly of people, who are carrying olive and palm branches (See Bible reading).

On Palm Sunday (Tsaghkazard) the altar curtain, which was closed at the beginning of Lent, is open. The palms are blessed and distributed to the faithful. Children dressed in their best clothes, carry beautifully decorated crosses as they parade around the church in a procession. In the evening, or as now done immediately following the Divine Liturgy, the faithful gather at the door of the church or at the closed altar, for the Opening of the Gates (Trnpatsek) ceremony, symbolizing the opening of the gates to the Kingdom of God. This solemn penitential service in preparation of Holy Week is unique to the Armenian Church.

Each day of Holy Week (also called Great Week, Avak Shabat) is a holy day. Monday commemorates the barren fig tree (Matthew 21:18-20). Tuesday commemorates the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:13). Wednesday commemorate the Anointment and Betrayal of Christ (Matthew 26). Thursday is Maundy Thursday, which originates from Christ’s command that His disciples love one another (John 13:34). In the evening the Washing of the Feet (Votunlva) takes place in remembrance of the events of the Last Supper. Late Thursday evening the betrayal and torment of Christ, Tenebrae (Latin for darkness; in Armenian Khavaroum), is commemorated. In one of the most dramatic services, Gospel readings describing Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, and denial by Peter, are read interspersed with the singing of hymns composed by Nerses Shnorhali, some of the most beautiful hymns of the Armenian Church. Holy Friday (Avak Ourpat), the solemnest day in the Christian calendar, commemorates the crucifixion, death, and burial of our Lord.


The Armenian Church’s hymns for Holy Week, from Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem to his passion and crucifixion, to his burial and resurrection, comprise some of the most beautiful and inspiring music ever created.

Palm Sunday is the first outburst of joy after the somber Lenten period, and the hymn “Rejoice, O Holy Church” (Ourakh Ler) expresses the joy of Palm Sunday. “Rejoice, O Holy Church, at the advent of the Holy Only-begotten, rejoice and delight with all the saints. Blessed are you. You who came, King of the universe.”

During the Opening of the Doors ceremony (Trnpatsek), the beautiful hymn, “Open to us Lord” (Pats Mez Der) is sung at the door of the church or in front of the closed altar. “We beseech you, O Lord, open for us, open for us, Lord, the gate of your mercy, we beseech you imploringly, O Lord.”

During the vigil on Maundy Thursday some of the most melodious and memorable hymns are sung including: “My Heart Trembles: (Sird Im Sasani); “Seized by the Love of Money” (Ardsatsiroutyampun Molyal), and the heartbreaking “Where Are You, O Mother” (Oor Es Mayr Im). “Where are you, most sweet mother? I fervently seek your motherly love. My eyes are filled with bitter tears; I have no one to wipe them away. Where are you, my mother?”

The final Lenten lecture was given by Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts, on “Armenian Church Traditions and Renewal.”
To see the presentation click here.
Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian presented the sixth and final Lenten lecture last night.


The 34th concert in the Musical Armenia series that took place last Friday at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall was received with great appreciation by the sold-out audience. Featured artists were Hasmik Vardanyan (cello) and Haik Kazazyan (violin); and their accompanists Karen Hakobyan (piano) and Hayk Arsenyan (piano).

The exceptional program that many attendees deemed to be “one of the best,” included selections by Rachmaninoff, Arutiunian, Sollima, Vitali, Baghdarsaryan, Babadjanian, and Ravel.

In his message the Prelate described Musical Armenia as “one of the most important events sponsored by the Prelacy,” and noted that the “series has promoted the careers of Armenian musicians while featuring the beautiful sounds of music by both classical and contemporary composers.”

The 35th Musical Armenia concert next year will take place on March 18, 2018, reverting to its original Sunday date. In celebration of the 35th concert a more extensive concert booklet will be published with historical photographs and information about previous featured artists.


Two regional Sunday School teachers’ seminars were held, one for the Mid-Atlantic region teachers at Sts. Vartanantz Church of Ridgefield, New Jersey, on Saturday, March 18, and the other for the New England region teachers at Sts. Vartanantz Church of Providence, Rhode Island, on Saturday, April 1, sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC).
The seminars were conducted by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Director of AREC, and Ms. Sossi Essajanian, Early Childhood Educator and co-director of the Sunday School at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. The seminars had three components: 1) a presentation on Baptism-Chrismation, 2) a lecture on “The Art of Teaching,” and 3) a workshop.  First, Dn. Shant gave a brief overview of baptism-chrismation. He walked the participants through the ceremony of baptism-chrismation, highlighting its overall structure, movements and symbolism, scriptural allusions and imageries. Second, the pedagogical component was presented by Ms. Sossi Essajanian. She discussed various teaching philosophies, instructional strategies, curriculum designs, and Bloom’s Taxonomy, offering the teachers a host of insights and options. The workshop was conducted by Dn. Shant and Sossi, where the participants used the material from the two lectures to enhance the existing curriculum on baptism-chrismation for different grade levels.

Seminar participants from St. Illuminator’s Cathedral (New York City), St. Sarkis Church (New York), and Sts. Vartanantz Church (New Jersey).

Seminar participants from St. Stephen’s Armenian Church (Massachusetts) and Sts. Vartanantz Church (Rhode Island) with Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church.

A scene from the seminar.


The 31st annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute summer program for youth ages 13-18 is scheduled to be held at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from July 2-9, 2017. 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 or contact the AREC office by email (arec@armenianprelacy.org) or telephone (212-689-7810). 

Click the picture below to visit the Datev Webpage for all information and reservations.


This past weekend St. Illuminator Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall was transformed into a museum-like venue. Visitors from near and far attended to view the mystical works of Arthur Pinajian. The highly successful event was hosted by the Armenian Relief Society Eastern USA region with proceeds benefitting the ARS Education Fund. 

The official opening reception Saturday evening drew a large crowd to the event that was spearheaded by Sonia Bezdikian, member of ARS Eastern Regional Board and chair of the event. The Curator of the event, Mr. Thomas Shultz, expertly assisted the ARS in finalizing each sale. Attending the opening were Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian,Vicar of the Prelacy, Silva Kouyoumjian, member of the ARS Central Executive Board. The committee expressed special thanks to Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the Cathedral, who supported and helped organize the event.

Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Silva Kouyoumdjian, ARS CE board member, with ARS EUSA board members, Art Exhibit committee members.


St. Gregory Church of Granite City, Illinois, unveiled a plaque last Sunday in honor of a dedicated parishioner, Mr. Grant Korkoyan, who died recently. Mr. Korkoyan had served the church in every capacity. 

Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, pastor of St. Gregory in Granite City with relatives of the late Grant Korkoyan in front of the plaque that was unveiled last Sunday.
The plaque that honors Grant Korkoyan.


The eighth grade students from the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Hollywood, California, accompanied by their teachers, visited St. Illuminator’s Cathedral on Thursday, April 6, 2017. The students are on a class trip to New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.  

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor, greeted the forty-two students and their chaperones and gave them a tour of the Cathedral with some historical highlights. Der Hayr answered the many questions posed by the students.

Dr. Vartan Matiossian, Director of the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), briefly addressed the guests. He reflected on his own experience as an Armenian school student and wished that the student draw from their experience to make everything pertaining to humanity and to Armenians a part of their lives in their future.

The students performed several recitations for the audience and were treated to a well-received cup of hot chocolate. Rev. Fr. Lakissian presented their teachers with a small token of appreciation for their visit and participation. 

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian and Dr. Vartan Matiossian with students and teachers from the Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School. 
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)

Birth of Levon Shant (April 6, 1869)

Levon Shant was perhaps the most important playwright in the history of Armenian theater, but he was primarily a seasoned and accomplished educator. He was also an active participant in the Armenian liberation movement.

Shant was born Levon Nahashbedian on April 6, 1869, in Constantinople. He lost his parents at an early age and adopted the last name Seghposian after his father Seghpos. He attended the Armenian school of Scutari (now Uskudar) until 1884, and then the Gevorgian seminary at Holy Etchmiadzin for the next seven years. He returned to Constantinople in 1891, where he worked as a teacher. He published his first literary piece in the local daily Hairenik in the same year. In 1893 he departed to Germany, where he studied science, child psychology, education, literature, and history in the universities of Leipzig, Jena, and Munich. Meanwhile, he started his literary career with the poem The Mountain Girl (1892), published under the pen name Levon Shant (shant/շանթ means “lightning”), but soon shifted to a series of novellas (Dreamlike Days and The Outsiders, 1894; Vergine, 1896; The Return, 1896, and The Actress, 1898). After finishing his university studies in 1899, he taught for more than a decade at the Gayanian Girls School in Tiflis and the Diocesan School of Yerevan. He became a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in the 1890s.

The turn of the century brought in him a different literary persona: the playwright. He wrote his first play, The Egoist, in 1901, followed by For Someone Else (1903), and On the Road (1904). After this string of plays inspired in contemporary life, he turned to the historical past and wrote his masterpiece Ancient Gods (1909), published in 1912, which made a huge impact on the Armenian literary world when it was premiered in Tiflis (1913). This was the first of several successful historical dramas he would write over the next two decades: The Emperor (1916), The Enchained One (1918-1921), The Princess of the Fallen Fortress (1922), Oshin the Bailiff (1932).

In Tiflis, Shant participated actively in the gatherings of the literary circle “Vernadun” (Վերնատուն), held at the attic of poet Hovhannes Tumanian’s home, and was in close contact with other writers of the group, like Ghazaros Aghayan, Avetik Isahakian, and Derenik Demirjian. In 1909 he published, together with Hovhannes Tumanian and Stepan Lisitsian, the series of Armenian textbooks Lusaber.

In 1911 he returned to his birthplace, Constantinople, and taught at the Central (Getronagan) and Esayan schools until 1914. By that time he was already married and moved with his family to Lausanne in Switzerland. He returned to the Caucasus in 1915 to supervise the publication of textbooks, but was unable to go back to Europe and remained in Tiflis until 1917, when he returned to Switzerland. However, after the independence of Armenia, he returned to Yerevan, where he became a vice-president of the Parliament of the first Republic. In April 1920 he led a delegation to Moscow to carry out negotiations with the Soviet regime, which would fail in the end. He was imprisoned by the new government after the Soviet takeover, but freed following the uprising of February 1921. In April 1921, after the end of the uprising, he left Armenia.

For the next thirty years of his life, Shant would live abroad, first in Paris, then in Cairo, and finally in Beirut. He wrote political essays, like Nationhood as the Basis of Human Society (1922) and Our Independence (1925). In 1928, together with educator and literary critic Nikol Aghbalian, theater director Kaspar Ipekian, and former prime minister of the Republic, Dr. Hamo Ohanjanian, as well as a group of less known A.R.F. members, he was one of the main founders of the Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural and Educational Society in Cairo. In 1930, together with Nikol Aghbalian, he settled in Beirut, where they founded the Armenian Lyceum (Jemaran) of Hamazkayin in 1930, later known as the Nishan Palanjian Lyceum and currently as Haig and Melanchton Arslanian Lyceum. Shant was the school principal for the next twenty years, while at the same time he taught pedagogy and psychology. He created a unique pedagogical atmosphere in the Jemaran, focused on his belief that the school should educate a humanistic education also linked to the preservation and development of national identity.

Engaged as he was in education and school management, Shant continued with the task of preparing school textbooks. He did not leave literature. In 1945 he published the novel The Thirsty Souls, and from 1946-1951 he published an edition of works in eight volumes, which included a yet unpublished history of Armenian literature. He passed away on November 29, 1951.

His name was banned in Soviet Armenia, as were many other writers who were A.R.F. members or sympathizers. Nevertheless, a monograph about him was published there in 1930, and a collection of his plays appeared in 1968. After the second independence, a school in Yerevan was renamed after him in 1994.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web page ( www.armenianprelacy. org ).

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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)

How the Horse Got It's Shoe? 

Some words have their own life until another word comes to replace them for a variety of reasons. The Armenian Highland was well-known for its horses and horse breeding since antiquity, and cavalry was an important component of the Armenian army. 

It is natural, then, that Classical Armenian would have a name for horseshoes. Believe it or not, that was the word loosin (լուսին), which we know to mean “moon.” Those who wanted to shoe a horse used the verb loosnel (լուսնել). Of course, the word loosin for “horseshoe” was inspired by its moon-shaped aspect. 

However, something changed sometime after the seventh century A.D., when the Arabs conquered the Armenian Highland and their language also had an impact on the Armenian language. Apparently, the latter lacked a word for blacksmith,” which Arabic had: baytar. The word was borrowed sometime during the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia (11th-14th centuries) in Armenian as պայտար (baydar), instead of բայտար, which today Western Armenian would have pronounced paydar. How do we know this? Middle Armenian—a sort of vernacular that came into use during that time—had also borrowed the European word baron and turned it into Armenian պարոն (baron “sir”), instead of the expected paron. 

This did not stop there. The Armenian termination –ar (ար) is linked to the root arar (արար “creator, doer,” as in khoharar/խոհարար “cook”). Generations later, it appears that someone thought in reverse: if the word baydar is used to mean someone who manufactures a horseshoe, and ar means “doer,” then bayd (պայտ) should mean “horseshoe”! The idea of this unknown someone had enough success, and, over time, the old loosin was confined to the sky and replaced by the otherwise inexistent word bayd to designate a horseshoe. It continues to be part of our lexicon until today. 

There is an illustrative and evidence-based anecdote about the use of baydar in Modern Armenian. Ottoman censorship during the reign of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1908) was so asphyxiating that the mention of certain names, including “Hayastan,” was forbidden. Such was also the case of writer Mikayel Nalbandian (1829-1866), the author of several patriotic tracts and poems (including the lyrics of the anthem “Mer Hairenik”). In 1893 researcher Abraham Ayvazian published his three-volume Collection of Armenian Biographies in Constantinople, which included biographies of many cultural figures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He had to include Nalbandian, and he managed to do it in the second volume (pages 98-143). How did he avoid censorship? Since the word nalband means “blacksmith” in Persian, he simply introduced Nalbandian as… Mikayel Baydarian

Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web page (www.armenianprelacy.org).


The 50th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan will be celebrated on Sunday, November 19, 2017. Please save the date and watch for the exciting details of this inspiring milestone.


This week’s Reflection is offered by Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, Pastor of St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts.

Click Here to view this weeks reflection.


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 6—St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, Avak Luncheon at 12 noon in Jaffarian Hall. Speaker: P. Richard Shahtanian, Esq., will present a seminar and answer questions regarding estate planning and asset protection.

April 8-12—The Anthropology Museum of the People of New York and the Armenian Cultural Resource Center Gallery at Queens College are bringing a special exhibit, “Armenian Ladies from the Past,” to the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, Bayside, New York. The exhibit highlights famous Biblical and Armenian women who have made important contributions to the Armenian community and history. Exhibit will be displayed in the church auditorium. Free admission.

April 8—Premiere of the documentary “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief,” at The Times Center, New York City.

April 9—Annual Palm Sunday Dinner, ARS Merrimack Valley "Arax" Chapter, St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church Jaffarian Hall, 158 Main St., North Andover, Massachusetts 01845; dinner & program; Guest speaker: Mr. Robert Megerdichian, presenting the Metal Artworks of Abraham Megerdichian; Adults $15, Children 12 & under $8; to reserve tickets contact Sharke' Der Apkarian (978) 808-0598.

April 17—“Orphans of the Genocide,” film screening and discussion with special guest, Bared Baronian, film director, hosted by St. Gregory Church of Granite City, Illinois and the local ARF, AYF, and ARS chapters.

April 18—Lecture by Dr. Talin Suciyan, “The Armenians in Modern Turkey: Post Genocide Society, Politics, and History,” organized by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) at the Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall, 7:30 pm, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Dr. Suciyan is assistant professor of Turkish studies at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

April 22.  Connecticut Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Connecticut State Capitol, House Chamber.  11:00 a.m. Keynote speaker will be The Hon. John Marshall Evans, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. Reception in the Hall of Flags, following the commemoration.

April 23—Remembering the Armenian Genocide, Gathering at Times Square, 2 pm (43rd and Broadway, New York City). Sponsored by Knights and Daughters of Vartan; co-sponsored and with the participation of all major Armenian organizations. Free bus transportation to and from Times Square. For information: www.KOFV.ORG/MAIN/APRIL232017.

April 23—Joint commemorative Badarak of the Armenian Genocide at St. Gregory Church of Granite City, Illinois, followed by  cultural/political event at St. Gregory Armenian Community Center.

May 7—Ladies Guild Fun Day, organized by the Ladies Guild of St. Gregory Church of Granite City, Illinois.

May 18-20—National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy hosted by All Saints Church, Glenview, Illinois.

May 21—St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts, 47th anniversary celebration and year-end hantes of church schools. Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the dedication of the Tom M. Vartabedian Library and anniversary/hantes.

November 19SAVE THE DATE. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan.

December 5-8—World General Assembly of the Great House of Cilicia, at the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon.

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/