January 23, 2020
In Faith I Confess 19th Prayer - English

Read by Laurie Terterian of
St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Douglaston, NY.
Over the last 22 years, the Armenian Heritage Cruise (AHC) has become a gathering point for Armenians scattered all over the world. Armenians from five continents live together in the Armenian spirit for an entire week, taking with them the unforgettable experience of sharing faith, culture, art and social life.

Indeed, neighbors, classmates and friends from Armenia but especially from the Middle East that have been separated for different reasons from those who have settled in places from Australia to California have had emotional reunions on the AHC. That has also been the case for family members that live on the same continent but far apart, who choose the cruise as the ideal site to meet, reliving the sweet and warm intimacy of the past. And finally, this cruise has been a wonderful opportunity for Armenians to meet compatriots they did not know.

As soon as the cruise comes to an end, the organizing committee sets about to work on the program for next year’s one. The large number of committee members examines in detail this enormous undertaking and reassesses it from every angle, listening to passengers’ suggestions and addressing issues, enriching its successful programs.

The 23 rd Armenian Heritage Cruise began on Sunday, January 12, aboard the splendid “Oasis of the Seas” ship of the Royal Caribbean line, which left the port of Miami with 6,000 passengers, including the 800 of the Armenian contingent. As every year, the AHC had attracted people of all ages from Armenia, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Britain, Canada and the United States.

And the ship blew its horn, cutting its path initially across peaceful waters and then the growing waves of the Atlantic towards the island of Labadee, Haiti; the port of Falmouth, Jamaica, and then the island of Cozumel, Mexico, where travelers soaked in the blessings of the tropical sun during this winter season amid the emerald-colored seas. The Armenian cruise passengers further enjoyed the entertainment organized by the AHC committee, with traditional music and meals.

The six days of the trip, which would begin with prayers and spiritual reflections, were enriched with a program that catered to the tastes of the most demanding traveler. Dr. Samuel S. Badalian MD, Dr. John P. Bilezikian MD, Dr. Berdj Kiladjian DMD, and Hrair Garabedian, MD, gave presentations on major healthcare issues. Hagop Der Khatchadourian offered a thorough talk about the Armenian Cause, whereas Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, spoke about the Christian Armenian identity. Berj Chekijian shared his thoughts on occasion of the 50 th anniversary of the Armenian Museum of America. Alex Sarafian led a wine tasting evening of the “Aran” wine from Artsakh. Artist Kev Orkian presented an interesting documentary entitled “Armenia Uncovered” and Sona Manuelian spoke about the Daughters of Vartan. Members of different chapters of the Armenian Relief Society also had their own meetings.

In addition to this, there was a repertoire of artistic shows, including performances by the “Sayat Nova” dance company, a play by Kev Orkian and especially the concerts by Nersik and Arabo Ispiryan as well as Sarina Cross, accompanied by the DJ M-Kay band.

To top it all, there were also dance classes as well as daily backgammon and poker tournaments, which revealed different talents of passengers.

During the entire cruise, the AHC bookstore attracted the travelers’ attention with its selection of books and souvenirs.

An unexpected surprise caused the excitement of everyone, when it was officially announced that the AHC, without changing its mission, next year will organize a five-day stay in a Dominican Republic resort in lieu of a sea cruise. This was welcomed as the AHC committee has been listening to suggestions of passengers, always with the goal of providing the best to its loyal friends.
His Holiness, Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia visited the Zvartnots Center for children and teenagers with special needs in Bourdj Hammoud.

The institution, established 33 years ago when His Holiness was the Prelate of the Armenians of Lebanon, has been endowed with the latest specialized resources available. Under the direction of Ms. Varti Kevorkian, the center has its own council and a teaching staff comprised of specialists. This year 38 children and teenagers are following courses and receiving care at the center.
During his two-hour visit on Jan. 14, the Catholicos toured the premises, spoke with the students and became acquainted with the work carried out at the Zvartnots Center. His Holiness also urged Armenian organizations and compatriots to support this institution that educates and cares for our special-needs children.  

Bourdj Hammoud Mayor Mardig Boghossian and the center’s council members accompanied Catholicos Aram during his visit. 

His Holiness has proclaimed 2020 the “Year of Armenians with Special Needs,” calling on fellow Armenians to care for our special-needs compatriots and help carry out different programs in their support. 

Bible Readings for Sunday, January 26, Second Sunday after Nativity are: Isaiah 58:13-59:7; 1 Timothy 4:12-5:10; John 3:13-21.
“No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”  (John 3:13-21)


Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.

Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  (1 Timothy 4:12-5:10)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
On Thursday, January 23, the Armenian Church celebrates St. Vahan of Goghtn. He was the son of an Armenian prince and was abducted at age four by the Arabs. He grew up in the royal court in Damascus and received instruction in Islam. Catholicos John of Otzoon negotiated an agreement with the Arab emir for the repatriation of many Armenians who were held captive. Vahan, who was aware of his Christian heritage, wished to return to Armenia. He lived peacefully for about ten years. Subsequently there was a concerted attempt by the Arab royal family to bring him back. Vahan refused. After a period of peregrination, he was apprehended, imprisoned, tortured, and martyred in 737.

On Saturday, January 25, the Armenian Church commemorates the Holy Fathers Athanasius and Cyril. Athanasius is known as the “champion of orthodoxy,” and “Father of Orthodoxy.” He served as bishop of Alexandria for 45 years (17 years in exile). He attended the Council of Nicaea where he was regarded as a theological expert. He is respected and revered in the Armenian Church. Cyril of Alexandria succeeded his uncle, Theophilus, as patriarch of Alexandria in 412. He was a brilliant theologian in the Alexandrian tradition, and like Athanasius, is highly regarded by the Armenian Church. He presided over the third ecumenical council (Ephesus). He wrote treatises clarifying the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, commentaries on the Gospels of John and Luke, dogmatic theology, and many letters and sermons.

The Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship program was established in 1993 and continues to be the central mission of the Prelacy’s projects in Armenia and Artsakh. As part of the program, letters are received regularly from sponsored children addressed to their sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads .

This week’s letter is from Mary* who is sponsored by Anna Elasarian. 
Dear Sponsor,
I am very glad that I have the opportunity to express my gratitude for your dedicated help to us. This is Mary, and I am 15 years old. I graduated from middle school and now I continue my education in Gyumri’s #4 State Vocational school. My major is computer science and programming. I am doing really well in that school. The environment is totally new to me, and everything interests me. I am very motivated and eager to learn as much as I can about the world of informatics. I also work very hard. My hope is that I will acquire enough knowledge and skills to become a valuable professional.

I also practice Shotokan Karate and have a blue belt. I participate in competitions.

Although I am very busy, I still find time to go to a library with my friends. Reading is one of my favorite activities. I believe in self-education and reading professional literature helps in homework assignments. Nowadays, there are lots of Creative Centers and Study Groups in the city, and one can really learn a lot and use that knowledge to improve one’s skills in their chosen field. I go to various Study Groups, and time will tell which one will prove itself useful.

Despite my hectic life, I don’t forget about my family and its problems. My brother will soon go to serve in the Army. My mom carries on her shoulders all the burdens of raising us up by taking whatever temporary jobs she can find. As we grow, our needs grow as well. Your assistance alleviates our family’s problems. Thank you very much for your helping hand in our most difficult times.

I wish you a long, healthy, and successful life. May God protect you.



* In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.
Currently there are children on the waiting list for the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program. If you would like to sponsor a child please click here for quick and easy online sponsorship. You may also contact the Prelacy by email ( sophie@armenianprelacy.org ) or telephone (212-689-7810), ask for Sophie. 
The St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization (Medsn Nerses) is now supporting its beneficiaries who pursue college education: the young who reach the age limit of 18 will receive aid that may be vital for their careers.

The College Sponsorship Program starts this year. An annual stipend of $250 will help defray some of the costs for the young men and women who have enrolled in an institution of higher education.

This marks the latest evolution of a program that then-Prelate Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, of blessed memory, urgently put together right after the 1988 catastrophic earthquake. At the time, the priority was to provide immediate help for earthquake survivors. Soon thereafter, the Orphan Sponsorship Program emerged as a priority benefitting thousands of children.

The programs have grown and blossomed greatly, and currently also include aid to orphanages, schools, students, the elderly, disabled servicemen, and a summer camp. Now, former members of the Orphan Sponsorship Program have become college students and will be needing new sponsors. With the highest standards observed since its inception, the St. Nerses the Great Charitable Organization will continue to track down potential candidates and bringing them to your attention.

Sponsors who have generously ensured a stipend for children may continue to do so as they mature into young professionals.

If you would like to sponsor a young student in the College Sponsorship Program օr a young child in the Orphans Sponsorship Program, you may contact the Prelacy by email (sophie@armenianprelacy.org) or telephone (212-689-7810).

Peter Balakian
In this volume of essays written over the past 25 years, poet Peter Balakian argues that the force of the lyric imagination is able to hold experience under pressure like a vise, while it also shadows history. Precise, lyrical, and eloquent, Balakian’s essays explore the ways poetry engages disaster and ingests mass violence without succumbing to the didactic. He gives the reader new insights into the relationships between trauma, memory, and aesthetic form. His essays on major Armenian voices like Yeghishe Charents, Siamanto, and Arshile Gorky, and the aftermath of genocide are a fresh contribution to contemporary literature and art. His range of essays includes also W.B. Yeats, Joan Didion, Hart Crane, Primo Levi, Robert Rauschenberg, Bob Dylan, Elia Kazan, and Adrienne Rich.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore ( books@armenianprelacy.org   or 212-689-7810)
Birth of Abbot Sukias Somalian (January 24, 1776)
Father Sukias Somalian, one of the less known names of the Mekhitarist Congregation, had an important role as organizer and sponsor of many of its cultural and educational activities.

He was born in Constantinople on January 24, 1776. After completing his studies in the island of San Lazzaro (Venice), he became a member of the order and a celibate priest in 1804.

In early 1817, he left for India with fellow monk Fr. Sargis Teodorian to collect a sum bequeathed to the Mekhitarist monastery for educational purposes by two wealthy Armenians, Raphael Gharamian and Samuel Mouradian. Lord Byron, who was then studying Armenian at San Lazzaro, wrote to his friend John Murray: “The present letter will be delivered to you by two Armenian friars, on their way, by England, to Madras. (…) If you can be of any use to them, either among your naval or East Indian acquaintances, I hope you will so far oblige me, as they and their order have been remarkably attentive and friendly towards me since my arrival at Venice. Their names are Father Sukias Somalian and Sargis Teodorosian [sic]. They speak Italian, and probably French, a little English. (…) Perhaps you can help them to their passage, or give or get them letters for India.” In the end, the donations of the two benefactors would result in the foundation of two Mekhitarist schools: the Mouradian School in Padova (1834) and the Rafaelian School in Venice (1836).

In 1824, Somalian was elected the fourth Abbot of the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice and two years later was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He was particularly interested in the collection and publication of Armenian manuscripts, and he fostered this task among his fellow members, encouraging the publication of some fifty manuscripts of ancient Armenian literature. Together with another member of the congregation, Fr. Nerses Sarkissian, in 1838 he published the works of Yeghishe, the historian and theologian of the fifth century who participated in the battle of Avarayr, with a prologue, annotations, and a textual study. His work in this field earned him a full membership in the Asiatic Society of London in 1839.

He also introduced the teaching of foreign languages at the Seminary of San Lazzaro. He was elected honorary member of the Athenian Academy of Venice ( Ateneo di Venezia ) in 1827. He compiled English-Armenian and Armenian-English dictionaries (1835), as well as a trilingual English-Armenian-Turkish dictionary (1843).

However, Somalian became most celebrated for being the first to produce a history of ancient Armenian literature in a European language, Quadro della storia letteraria di Armenia (1829), which had been preceded by an equally unprecedented bibliography of ancient Armenian translations ( Quadro delle opere tradotte anticamente in armeno , 1825). These works opened a completely unknown world to European scholarship and were received with great praise. From Pope Gregory XVI to many lay and religious scholars, Somalian and the Congregation were congratulated for these achievements, since until then Armenian literature had only been known in a quite partial and incomplete way by the work of some European scholars.

Somalian also wrote an Introduction to Geography and a biography of Mekhitar of Sepastia, the founder of the Mekhitarist Congregation, in Italian. He translated into Armenian a book by Swiss-Italian philosopher Francesco Soave, Portrait of the Honest and Wise Man (1836).

After twenty-two years in his position, Abbot Sukias Somalian passed away in the island of San Lazzaro on February 11, 1846.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
On May 29, 1977, on the Feast of Pentecost, Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian was consecrated Catholicos Coadjutor after his election a week earlier on May 22, 1977 by an Ecclesiastical Assembly of clergy and lay delegates of the dioceses within the jurisdiction of the Great House of Cilicia. The courtyard of the Catholicate’s Antelias complex began filling with people even before dawn to witness this historic day. Nearby rooftops were filled with pilgrims and spectators. The Catholicos Coadjutor is under the pontifical canopy held by the four godfathers (Hagop Hagopian, representing the diocese of Aleppo; Hovhaness Apcarian representing the diocese of Ispahan; Vahakn Hovnanian, representing the diocese of North America; Ara Yerevanian, representing the diocese of Lebanon). His Holiness’ sermon “The Imperative of Love” was based on the Gospel of John, chapter 21, verses 15-19. A television crew from CBS in New York covered the election and consecration and conducted an extensive interview with His Holiness one day prior to the consecration. The resulting program was broadcast on CBS-TV on Sunday, July 24, 1977.

‘Whom and How to Forgive’? (On Forgiveness)

Such is the title of the last article  by Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian, pastor of St. Gregory Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, which was recently published in Orthodoxy Cognate Page Media Network. “ What a popular topic. People talk about it a lot, people speculate about it a lot, people say something, but indeed do the opposite a lot,” the opening paragraph says. Click here to continue reading.

Please send your inquiries and comments (English and/or Armenian) to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org . Please remember that the deadline for submitting items for Crossroads is on Wednesdays at noon.

All parish news, photographs, and calendar items should also be emailed to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org .

Comments received may be shared from time to time. We are looking forward to yours.

( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
February 8, 2020 —The next Siamanto Academy class at the Prelacy office on Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. For more information, contact Mary Gulumian, director of the Armenian National Education Committee by email (anec@armenianprelacy.org) or phone (212-689-7231).

February 9, 2020— The Celebration of the Feast of St. Sarkis at St. Sarkis Church (Douglaston, NY). Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, during which an icon of Sts. Vartanantz will be consecrated.

February 18, 2020 —Celebration of Sts. Ghevontiantz at St. Stephen’s Church (Watertown, MA), presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate. Icon of Sts. Vartanantz to be consecrated during Badarak.

March 4, 2020 —The Embassy of Armenia in the U.S. and PostClassical Ensemble present “An Armenian Odyssey: The Color of Pomegranates,” a multimedia performance of Armenian music, culture and history, featuring Jivan Gasparyan and others, at 7:30 pm at Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

March 15, 2020 —Save the date and watch for details for the Eastern Prelacy’s 37 th annual Musical Armenia concert, 2:00 pm at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, West 57 th Street at Seventh Avenue, New York City.

March 28, 2020 —“Faith Building Women 2020 Symposium,” a daylong conference to heighten awareness of women in the Bible, organized by the Adult Christian Education department of St. Peter Armenian Church. The Symposium will take place at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Keynote speakers are Dr. Roberta Ervine and Arpi Nakashian. 

May 13-16, 2020 —National Representative Assembly (NRA) of the Eastern Prelacy hosted by St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Philadelphia. The Clergy Conference will begin on Wednesday, May 13; the full Assembly will convene on Thursday, May 14 and conclude on Saturday, May 16.

May 31, 2020 —Save the Date. St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York, 30 th Anniversary Banquet.
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