February 7, 2018
The struggle for freedom of conscience and worship
Armenians worldwide celebrate the Feast of Vartanantz tomorrow, commemorating the war between pagan Persia and Christian Armenia in 451. The king of Persia ordered all Christians under his rule to abandon Christianity and embrace Zoroastrianism. The Armenian clergy and leaders refused to follow this command and took an oath to fight the enemies of truth. Before the two armies met on the battlefield on the morning of May 26, 451, Vartan Mamigonian, the leader of the Armenian forces, addressed his soldiers: “He who supposes that we put on Christianity like a garment, now realizes that as he cannot change the color of his skin, so he will perhaps never be able to accomplish his designs. For the foundations of our faith are set on the unshakeable rock, not on earth but above in heaven, yet by faith we are established in heaven where no one can reach the building of Christ not made by human hands.”

Vartan was the leader of the Armenians in the decisive battle on the plains of Avarayr, and although outnumbered, the Armenians put up a fierce resistance against the mighty Persian Empire. Vartan and many of his soldiers died, but the Persians sustained even greater casualties, and they recognized the strong commitment the Armenians had to their Christian faith. With this battle the Armenians clearly demonstrated that Christianity had become a part of their national identity.

The resistance to Persian rule continued for more than thirty years, led by Vahan Mamigonian, nephew of Vartan. Vahan successfully negotiated the Treaty of Nvarsag, one of the earliest documents granting religious freedom and home rule.

The Armenian Church canonized the heroes of Vartanank as a group in the fifth century. In April 2015 our generation witnessed the historic collective canonization of the 1.5 million martyrs of the Armenian genocide. It was the first canonization by the Armenian Church since the 15 th century when Krikor Datevatzi was granted sainthood.

“Newly wondrous crown-bearer and leader of the grave, you courageously armed yourself against death with the weapon of the Spirit, O Vartan, courageous warrior, you turned the enemy to flight and have crowned the Church with your rose-colored blood. …

Surrounded today by the host of these crowned warriors, we sing glory in praise to you, O Holy Trinity, and we thank you for the mercy shown by you to the Armenian churches brightly adorned by the martyrdom of these strugglers.”
( Sharagan to Saint Vartan and his companions, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

The clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy are attending the annual Ghevontiantz clergy gathering that this year is being hosted by Holy Trinity Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. The gathering concludes today. The main topic of the gathering focused on the encyclical issued by His Holiness Aram I on the occasion of the 100 th anniversary of the Armenian Republic of 1918.

We have two parishes in the Eastern Prelacy named in honor of the Vartanank saints: in Ridgefield, New Jersey and Providence Rhode Island. Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon, tomorrow, Thursday, February 8, at Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey. Following the Liturgy a luncheon will be hosted by the Parish’s Ladies Guild, and a special Vartanantz program will be presented by the students (grades 4 to 8) of the Hovnanian School.

On Sunday, February 11, the Prelate will travel to Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, Rhode Island where he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, deliver the Sermon, ordain acolytes, and preside over the Vartanantz Day program and dinner hosted by the Ladies Guild and Men’s Club.

Rita (Lulu) Tatevossian

It was with a deep sense of loss that Archbishop Oshagan and the Religious and Executive Councils received the news of the passing of Rita “Lulu” Tatevossian on Sunday, February 4 at her home in Forest Hills, New York. She was 90 years old.

Lulu, as she was affectionately known by all, was a dynamic personality devoted to the Armenian American community including the Eastern Prelacy where she served as a member of the Prelacy Ladies Guild for many years and held executive positions on the National Association of Ladies Guild (NALG). She was a driving force on both of those organizations and she used her knowledge and expertise in planning many innovative events and commemorations. Lulu was also a dedicated member of the Iranian-Armenian Society (Armenian Society) of New York.

Lulu was born in Tabriz, Iran, the daughter of Hrand Galstian and Guenoffia (Howsepian) Galstian. Lulu and her parents immigrated to the United States in 1946. She graduated from George Washington High School in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan. She was a lover of the arts, especially music, and she studied piano, one of her great passions.

Lulu is survived by her husband Norik, her son Levon and his partner Sylvie Merian; her son Armond and many cousins, nieces, nephews and their families.

The wake will take place on Sunday, February 11, at Glascott Funeral Home, 102-03 Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills, 7 pm to 9 pm with service at 8 pm. The funeral service will take place on Monday, February 12 at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, 38-65 234 th Street, Douglaston, New York at 1 pm. Interment will take place at Cedar Grove Cemetery followed by a memorial luncheon at the Armenian Society, 39-03 Little Neck Parkway, Little Neck, New York.

In lieu-of-flowers donations may be made to the Armenian Society, Armenian Prelacy, or St. Sarkis Church.

Asdvatz Hokeen Lousavoreh . May she rest in eternal peace.

Bible readings for Sunday, February 11, Poon Paregentan (Eve of Great Lent) are: Isaiah 58:1-14; Romans 13:11-14:23; Matthew 6:1-21.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:1-21)


Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So, then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block on hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, but the sake of good, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. For those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 13:11-14:23)

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

This Saturday (February 10) the Armenian Church remembers the 150 Fathers of the Council of Constantinople, the second ecumenical council convened by Emperor Theodosius in 381. This council confirmed the work of the first council at Nicaea, and added five articles to the Nicene Creed regarding the Holy Spirit, the Church, Baptism, and Resurrection. The Council of Constantinople is one of the three ecumenical councils accepted by the Armenian Church.
This Sunday (February 11) is Poon Paregentan , the eve of Great Lent ( Medz Bahk ). Poon means “real” or “genuine,” and distinguishes this paregentan from others in the liturgical calendar prior to other periods of fasting. Paregentan literally means “good living.”

Poon Paregentan ushers the faithful into the Lenten period of fasting, penance, and reconciliation. During Lent the Church takes on a solemn appearance. The altar curtain is closed starting from the evening of Poon Paregentan, symbolic of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Holy Communion is not offered during Lent and the faithful are encouraged to use this period leading to Easter as a time of prayer and meditation to strengthen their faith.

Paregentan Sunday is the last day before the start of Lent. It is marked with good and abundant food, merriment, entertainment, and festivities of various kinds. Traditionally, all the food in the house that is forbidden during Lent would be consumed on Paregentan or given to non-Christian neighbors. During Lent all animal products, including dairy and eggs, are forbidden. The earliest Armenian tradition was even stricter and was referred to as Aghouhatz (salt and bread) because of its stringent restrictions.

On Wednesday, February 14, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple ( Dyarnuntarch in Armenian, which means “bringing forward of the Lord”). This feast always falls on February 14—forty days after the Nativity (January 6). It commemorates the presentation of the Lord to the Temple by Mary and Joseph according to Mosaic Law (See Numbers 18:15). In the temple, a righteous and devout man named Simeon to whom it had been revealed that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord, took Jesus in his arms, blessed God and said, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (See Luke 2:22-40)

Some pre-Christian Armenian customs have been incorporated into this feast, including one that remains popular to this day, especially in the Middle East and Armenia. In recent years the tradition has been revived here in the United States as well. On the eve of the feast, a bonfire is lit outside of the church using a flame from the altar. Young people, especially newlyweds, gather around the fire as the flames subside, the young men leap over the flames. The light of the bonfire is symbolic of Christ who is the Everlasting Life and Light of the world.

Because Lent is a time of prayer, meditation, and introspection in preparation of the resurrection of our Lord, social events and celebrations (including weddings) are not scheduled during Lent. Our faithful and all church affiliated organizations are urged to respect this tradition when planning events.

The Prelacy Lenten Program will begin on Wednesday, February 14, and continue through Lent to March 21. Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the Prelacy Ladies Guild (PLG), and the Ladies Guild of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, the Lenten series of lectures will begin with a church service at 7 pm at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, followed by the lecture and Q&A, and Table Fellowship. For information contact the Prelacy office (212-689-7810) or arec@armenianprelacy.org or the Cathedral office (212-689-5880) or office@stilluminators.org

The first lecture (Martyred for Christ: Proactive “Manliness” or Spiritual Labor?) will be presented by Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, next Wednesday, February 14.

Since 1982 the Eastern Prelacy has presented the annual Musical Armenia concert bringing to the forefront many talented artists of Armenian descent. This year’s concert is number 35 in the series that began 36 years ago and is renowned as a venue for talented young artists. Established by the late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian and the Prelacy Ladies Guild, Musical Armenia is dedicated to promoting young Armenian artists and to the performance music by Armenian composers. The Prelacy is able to present this annual concert series as a contribution to the artistic achievements of the community thanks in large part to a group of dedicated patrons who offer their financial support each year in order to cover the cost and keep the price of tickets affordable for all.

This year’s concert will take place on SUNDAY, MARCH 18, at 2 pm , at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City. The cost of admission is only twenty-five dollars. Featured artists at the 2018 Musical Armenia concert are composer Mary Kouyoumdjian and pianist Hrant Bagrazyan.

Mary Kouyoumdjian’s artistic projects range from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores. She is inspired by her Lebanese-Armenian heritage, her interest in Ethnomusicology, and her explorations of folk instrumentation. She is currently completing her doctor of musical arts degree in composition at Columbia University. Ms. Kouyoumdjian’s compositions will be performed by the ensemble Hotel Elefant, a contemporary group that focuses on the music of living composers, featuring guest pianist Timo Andres.

Hrant Bagrazyan is a prize-winner in multiple international competitions, including Third Prize and Bronze Medal at the Aram Khatchaturian International Piano Competition (2007) and Outstanding Performance Award at the NTD International Piano Competition in New York (2016). Mr. Bagrazyan has performed in the United States, Armenia, Belgium, and Poland. His U.S. orchestral debut took place in 2014 with a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra (Illinois). Mr. Bagrazyan is currently a doctoral student in piano performance at Michigan State University.

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.
Last year was a pivotal year for St. Illuminator Cathedral’s Lchkadzor sister community in the northeastern Tavush region of Armenia. The year was marked with the installation of a dry fruit processing facility in Lchkadzor by OxYGen (former Oxfam) non-profit organization that created several new workplaces for the community members. A project worth around $30,000 for this community located close to the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan became reality through the matching funds provided by St. Illuminator’s thanks to generous donations by the cathedral’s parishioners and friends. As described in the financial report submitted by OxYGen, the Cathedral’s $9,200 match funding was spent on the purchase of a 410 square meters plot for the Lchkadzor community cooperative, on works related to flattening of the land and installation of water pipeline, as well as to the further expansion of the production capacity of the green house facility in Lchkadzor sister community through the newly-installed heating system. This cooperation that goes back to March 2014 has already scored huge results in the sense of a fully functional green house facility in Lchkadzor, provision of school supplies to all students of the Lchkadzor school, and several “gifts in kind” humanitarian aid to community members in most need. In the past three years, the green house, employing over a dozen women farmers, has produced 3.5 tons of mixed high value vegetable crops (mostly tomato), supplying the local market that was previously dominated by imported tomatoes (mostly from Turkey) and other crops. As part of social responsibility, the “Debed” cooperative running the green house and dry fruit facility has provided more than 100 kg of tomato for the lunch breaks of lower grade students in Lchkadzor school.

“As Armenians, we have the responsibility to support our brothers and sisters in the homeland. I am very pleased to see the hope for the future in the eyes of people in our Lchkadzor sister community through our
community’s generous efforts,” said Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. “Some donations from the Diaspora to Armenia have made no impact or, at most, short-term impact. In this regard the Cathedral is thankful to Oxfam/OxEGen that not only matches the donations, but makes constant efforts for the mobilization and self-organization of farmers in Lchkadzor, provides everyday consulting that is the credential for sustainable development of Lchakdzor,” said Dr. Artur Martirosyan, a member of the Cathedral’s Board of Trustees who is in charge of the Armenia-related projects.

New horizons are ahead during 2018 for the farmers of Lchkadzor. The heating system installed by OxEGen through the support provided by St. Illuminator’s will enable the farmers to start the cultivation season in February, thus having an early spring harvest when the prices are comparatively high.

The cultivation of high value strawberry crops in the greenhouses will provide much higher income for the farmers. This would require a one-time investment for the special infrastructure and equipment necessary. Those interested to help support this or any other project in St. Illuminator’s sister community in Armenia should contact the Cathedral office by email ( office@stilluminators.org ) or telephone (212-689-5880).

In this week's reflection, Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian of Sts. Vartanantz of Providence RI helps us better understand the meaning of this past Sunday's bible reading.

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37 -38)
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..

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.

February 8 —Sts. Vartanank commemoration services by the four Armenian churches of Metro Detroit will take place at St. Vartan Catholic Church, 7 pm.

February 11 —Sts. Vartanantz Day Badarak and Celebration at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island. Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon. His Eminence will ordain two acolytes during the Liturgy. Dinner and program hosted by Ladies Guild and Men’s Club will follow. Deacons of the parish will be honored for their faithful service and the Armenian National Committee of Rhode Island will be honored for its advocacy for freedom in Armenia and Artsakh. Advance reservations recommended; contact Liz Kopoian at 401-353-2213. General admission $20; children under 12, $10.

February 14 —Lenten Sunrise ( Arevakal ) one-hour service followed by fellowship hour, Every Wednesday thru March 21 at 10:30 am, St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.

February 16 —Lenten Peace & Compline one-hour service followed by lecture every Friday evening at 7 pm through March 23, St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.

February 18 —Ways to Wellness: A Panel Discussion on Mental Health, 1:30 pm, St. Sarkis Church, 38-65 234 th Street, Douglaston, New York. For more information contact Anahid at anahide@aol.com.

March 7 —Ladies Guild Michink luncheon following Lenten church service, 11:45 am, St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.

March 10 —Documentary film by Near East Foundation sponsored by the four Metro Detroit Armenian Churches. Details to follow.

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.

March 25 —Ladies Guild Palm Sunday buffet luncheon at 1 pm after church services followed by special activities for children, St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.

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.

July 14 —Hye Summer Night 12 Dinner-Dance by Ladies Guild of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, 6 pm to 12:30 am, Crown Plaza Hotel, 801 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island. Featuring: Onnik Dinkjian (vocals); Hachig Kazarian (clarinet); Ara Dinkjian (keyboard); Raffi Massoyan (oud); Bruce Gigarjian (dumbeg). $55.00; children 12 years and under $28. Dance (8 pm) $35. For tickets and table reservations RSVP before July 7 to Joyce Bagdasarian, 401-434-4467.

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 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email: email@armenianprelacy.org

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