July 20, 2017


Archbishop Oshagan delivers words of encouragement and prayers during the Closing Ceremony.

Archbishop Oshagan attended the 27th annual Eastern Region Homenetmen Navasartian Games that took place in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 1 to 4. The athletic and social events were all well attended and successful. The event honored the Homenetmen’s  99 years of service to the community worldwide, and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the organization’s US Eastern Region.

Archbishop Oshagan with the members from Rhode Island.



Archbishop Oshagan will attend the annual convention of the Armenian Relief Society, Eastern Region that will take place in Arlington, Virginia this weekend. His Eminence will deliver his message and blessing at the opening of the convention.


Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan visited the St. Sarkis Summer Camp today. Archbishop Oshagan spoke to the campers about Jesus’ special love for children worthy of the Kingdom of God. “You are the leaders of the future,” he told them.

The 12th session of St. Sarkis Summer Camp has reached to a bitter sweet end. It is hard to believe that these last two weeks have flown by so quickly. The campers had another fun filled packed week including a visit from their Saturday School Principal Mrs. Nairy Zohrabian. This week’s activities included: Drama, Church Time, Arts & Crafts projects, Armenian Culture, Zumba, Music, Painting, Bubble Master and The Fun Bus. The grown-up groups took an exciting day trip The Cradle of Aviation. One of the high points of the week was the Dinosaur Rocks. The Main Hall was transformed into a museum with over 30 amazing specimens. The campers received an interactive presentation and they got to touch many genuine specimens and dug for bones and fossils.

A special visit from His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate and His Grace Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, and Antranig Boudakian was a joyful surprise for the campers. Mr. & Mrs. Boudakian have been loyal and generous sponsors of the camp throughout the years. Everyone gathered in the sanctuary to pray and take a group picture. Archbishop Oshagan praised Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian for his achievement and patience. He also thanked all the teachers and counselors for their efforts. He was very happy and proud to see 90 campers and affirmed that they are the future of our church. The campers were happy that Bishop Anoushavan joined them for a home cooked luncheonDer Nareg noted that it is the generous sponsorships that have helped in the success of St. Sarkis Summer Camp, and thanked everyone who helped. Tomorrow is the last day of the Summer Camp and the program will conclude with water slides activities.


The campers and counselors at Sts. Vartanantz Bible Camp in Providence, Rhode Island.
Sts. Vartanantz Church Bible Camp concluded and everyone agreed it was a wonderful week of fellowship, fun, and “Running the Race for Jesus.” The Bible Camp ended last Friday with a special cookout lunch provided by the Men’s Club that included “make-it-your-own sundaes,” followed by a beautiful hantes/presentation by the campers under the direction of Raffi Rachdouni. Counselors guided the children in exploring the week’s theme through a combination of Bible time, arts and crafts, music and singing, and various activities. Counselors, campers, and parents, along with Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor, expressed great joy about the week’s activities and sadness that it was coming to an end.
Campers make their own ice cream sundaes.

The campers show what they learned during the Bible Camp at their closing hantes.


Bible readings for Sunday, July 23, Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Aylakerputiunm / Vartavar) are: Wisdom 7:25-8:4; Zechariah 14:16-21; 1 John 1:1-7; Matthew 16:13-17:13.

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—this  life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:1-7)


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:1-13)

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

On Saturday (July 22) the Armenian Church commemorates the Old Ark of the Covenant and the Feast of the New Holy Church. This combined commemoration takes place on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Transfiguration. Celebrating the old and new shows the perpetuity of the Church. God revealed Himself to humankind gradually through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the prophets. The church existed from the beginning, and that is why the Old Testament is accepted as part of the Holy Scriptures and recognized as a preamble to the New Testament. The hymn designated for this day proclaims, “Who from the beginning established your church with wisdom, O, Father of Wisdom, who revealed to Moses upon Sinai.”


This Sunday (July 23) the Armenian Church observes one of its five major feasts, the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (Aylakerputiunm / Vartavar). This Feast is observed fourteen weeks after Easter, and therefore can fall between June 28 and August 1. It commemorates an episode in the New Testament recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Peter, recalling Christ’s ascent up Mount Tabor with disciples John, James, and Peter.

The Transfiguration took place on the “holy mountain” (believed to be Mt. Tabor) where Jesus went with his three disciples. As He was praying, “His face shone like the sun and his garments became white as light.” The Patriarch Moses and Prophet Elijah appeared at his side. It was at this moment that his appearance was “transfigured” revealing himself as God to his disciples as a voice from above said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Jesus urged his disciples to keep silent about what they saw, but the incident was recorded in the Gospels.

The pre-Christian festival Vartavar (Festival of Roses) was joined with this new Christian holiday. Armenians would decorate the temple of the goddess Asdghig (goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and water) with roses, release doves, and engage in water games on this pre-Christian popular holiday. St. Gregory the Illuminator combined Vartavar with the Transfiguration. The fifth century historian Yeshighe wrote the prayer that is recited in church on this feast: “O Lord, bless the harvest of this year and defend from all the perils, and may your right hand, O Lord, protect us for the whole year.”

Vartavar became a traditional day of pilgrimage to churches named in honor of St. John the Baptist. The most popular destination was the Monastery of Sourp Garabed of Moush, founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the province of Taron near Moush. (Garabed means Forerunner, referring to John the Baptist). The monastery was large and expansive and built like a fortress in the mountains. More than one thousand pilgrims could be accommodated. After 1915 the complex ceased to exist. The monastery was destroyed by the Turkish army, and the ravages of time, weather and scavengers completed its destruction. The once large and thriving Armenian monastery is now a mass of stone and rubble.

This Sunday is the name day for those named Vartkes, Vartavar, Vart, Vartouni, Alvart, Sirvart, Nevart, Lousvart, Hyvart, Baidzar, Vartanoush, Vartiter, Varvar.


The Monday after each of the five major feasts of the Armenian Church is a Memorial Day—a day of remembrance of the dead.


Rev. Fr. Mesrob and Yeretzgin join community members at a reception for Sossi Essajanian. Sossi is in the second row, center.

Family, friends, and community members paid tribute to one of the most beloved members of the New York Armenian community, Sossi Essajanian, at a reception last Friday at the Armenian Center in Woodside, New York. The reception was organized jointly by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and the ARF New York Armen Garo Gomideh, as a send-off for Sossi as she prepares to move out of the New York area for a new job.


In his remarks, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian emphasized Sossi’s dedication to the New York Armenian community, where she served as a co-director of the Cathedral’s Sunday School, was an active member of the ARF, Hamazkayin, and the Armenian National Education Committee, and served as advisor to the AYF Hyortik Chapter and the AYF Moush Chapter. Der Hayr wished her much success in all of her future endeavors.


Sossi thanked the members of the community for their unconditional support and noted that their drive and dedication is inspiring.

For the past seven years the Prelacy office has been fortunate to have the expert assistance of Sossi Essajanian who helped the Communications and Publications Department in countless ways. In spite of her full-time teaching position, her part-time and summer studies for advanced degrees, and her extra-curricular volunteer activities described above, Sossi managed to find time to work at the Prelacy office for at least several hours each week, depending on our needs and her schedule. We will miss Sossi’s spirit of dedication and her willingness to help wherever help was needed. We wish her abundant success and happiness as she begins a new adventure in her beloved vocation of educating young children. Thank you, Sossi, for being a devoted and knowledgeable colleague. We miss you already

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.


Survival Pictures will donate 100% of its proceeds from the home release sales of The Promise to organizations devoted to Armenian Genocide education initiatives in the United States. Digital downloads via iTunes and Amazon Prime are available now; the Blu-ray and DVD was released on Tuesday, July 18. The following two unique links to Amazon and iTunes have been created specifically so that all sales and downloads can be tracked and proceeds redirected to the designated Armenian charities. Purchases made directly from Amazon or iTunes without use of the unique URLs noted below will not benefit Armenian Genocide education.

The two specials links are:




Death of Stepanos Siunetsi (July 21, 735)

Stepanos Siunetsi was a very prolific medieval author and translator, as well as an important figure of the Armenian Church.

He was the son of Sahak, a clergyman, and was probably born in 688. His father was an archpriest in Dvin, the capital of Armenia and seat of the Catholicosate, where Stepanos studied. Afterwards, he received his religious education first in the monastery of Makenetsots (province of Gegharkunik, near Lake Sevan) and then in the famous seminary of Siunik, directed by Movses Kertogh. He was consecrated archimandrite and replaced the latter as director of the seminary. A few years later, he returned to Dvin, where he continued his intellectual activities. 

In 710 Stepanos traveled abroad to pursue what we would today call “graduate studies” in Athens and Constantinople, where he studied Greek and Latin literature, learned musical theory, and deepened his knowledge in theology and literary scholarship. He also produced translations from the works of several authors, such as Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, Nemesius of Emesa, and Gregory of Nyssa.

Around 720 he returned to Armenia and settled in Dvin, where he continued his literary and ecclesiastic work. He wrote biblical commentaries and, above all, church hymns, which entered the Sharaknots (collection of hymns) of the Armenian Church and are praised for their musical quality and freshness. He also wrote a commentary of Dionysus Thrax’s Art of Grammar. During his preaching, he met Prince Sembat Bagratuni, a staunch defender of the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, who quarreled with Stepanos and subjected him to persecution and death threats. The ecclesiastic escaped to Constantinople in disguise and found refuge near an Orthodox hermit to continue his theological and philosophical studies.

In 728 he went to Rome and brought the texts of several Fathers of the Church (Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Epiphanius of Cyprus) to Armenia. Catholicos David I received him with joy for this important discovery, which was coincidental with the death of Bishop Hovhan of Siunik. Stepanos was consecrated bishop and prelate of Siunik. Upon the request of the Catholicos, he wrote the work Commentary on the Four Evangelists, which is the only work of the old school of commentary of Siunik that has reached us in a twelfth-century manuscript discovered by Bishop Garegin Hovsepiants, future Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, in 1917. (The Commentary was recently translated into English by Dr. Michael B. Papazian. See below.)

Historian Stepanos Orbelian (thirteenth century) described Stepanos Siunetsi as a spiritual pastor of “sweet severity” and a careful guide, who both “nurtured the children with the milk of Christ” and “stroke the vicious ones like a sword.” Unfortunately, his severity towards the vicious ones cost him his life.

In 735 the prelate made a pastoral tour of the twelve districts of Siunik, where he redecorated the churches, preached the word of the Gospel and advised and punished sinful people. He visited the town of Moz in the valley of Yeghekis. He admonished  a woman of lewd behavior to repent, but she continued her indecent ways, and the bishop excommunicated her. Seeking revenge, the woman persuaded her lover to kill Stepanos while he slept. He was unable to carry it out, and the woman took the sword and killed Stepanos. The unfortunate ecclesiastic was buried in the church of St. Christopher.

According to Stepanos Orbelian, a strong earthquake hit the area for forty days in the same year, causing the death of some 10,000 people. Because of the lamentations of the population (symbolized by the interjection vay/վայ in Armenian), the region was said to have taken the name of Vayots Dzor (valley of the vays). The catastrophe was ascribed to a divine punishment for the tragic murder of Stepanos Siunetsi. His body was reburied in the monastery of Tanahat, where a small chapel was built over his tomb. In 1273-1279 the chapel was replaced by a magnificent church.

Stepanos’ sister, Sahakdukht, was also a teacher and the first Armenian female composer known as such. She renounced to worldly life and carried the life of a hermit in a cave at the gorge of Garni, near the ruins of the homonymous pagan temple. She taught children and composed church hymns. 



Commentary on the Four Evangelists

By Stepanos Siunetsi

(Translated by Michael B. Papazian)

Commentary on the Four Evangelists, by Stepanos Siunetsi, is one of the earliest extant commentaries written in Armenian by one of the most important and gifted Armenian theologians of the early Middle Ages. The Commentary presents valuable insights on biblical exegesis and theology during this period. Professor Papazian’s Introduction provides biographical information about Siunetsi as well as information about the commentaries.

Commentary on the Four Evangelists, 334 pages, soft cover, $20.00 plus shipping and handling

To order contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email (books@armenianprelacy.org) or

by phone (212-689-7810).


Each year we publish some impressions from students attending the St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute. This week and next we will publish a number of the impressions. Here are some for this week.

Datev is one of the best places I have ever been to. The people are amazing and I have a lot of fun hanging out with the community. (Michael Alojan, first year)

I’ve been coming to Datev for 11 years since I was a newborn, and I am excited that finally I am an official Datevatsi this year. My favorite part about Datev is the group activities that we do together. One of my favorite classes was the class on baptism because I liked the history behind it. (Taleen Lakissian, first year)

This year Datev was very good. It was a smart decision to make chapel after breakfast. Even though I fell in a lake, I had a good time and can’t wait to come back next year! (Peter Agopian, second year)

Coming to Datev gives you a chance to have fun, make new friends and be closer to God. It’s an experience everyone should have and it’s an amazing way to spend your week. (Arkina Meradian, second year)

I have been going to Datev for 3 years now and it is always something I look forward to each year. Datev is a place where you can have fun with your friends while learning about God and the Bible. Just going to Datev is such an enjoyable experience that is always so rewarding in the long run! (Margaret Jemian, third year)

This is my third year attending Datev. This year was amazing! I’ve met a lot of new people, whom I’ve become very close to. I am very happy with the new changes that were made this year. I enjoy having breakfast before chapel because everyone is more awake and focused on the songs during chapel. I also enjoy fewer classes than we did last year. My favorite change, however, is getting to sleep another hour in the morning. I’ve had a great week (as always) and can’t wait to come back next year! (Meghrig Arakelian, third year)

After four years of coming to Datev, I can truly say that it is the highlight of my year. From playing sports in the field to singing hymns in the chapel, Datev is a perfect balance of fellowship, worship and education. Although I am graduating this year, I can’t wait to return next year for the post-graduate program.  (Levon Tekeyan, fourth year)

I am a fourth year student at Datev. I enjoy Datev very much because of the balance, fun, education, and religion. Datev is a friendly environment where you can meet new friends and play fun activities like volleyball, basketball, swimming and Datev games. On the other hand, Datev is also full of interesting classes where we learn about the Bible, Armenian History, etc. These classes give the students different views of life and help them in their Christian journeys. Overall, I think Datev is a fun and educational experience for the Armenian youth. (Davit Isakhanian, fourth year)

Datev gives me the opportunity to strengthen my bond with God. The environment I have been able to experience over the course of four years has been amazing, as each year I become more and more comfortable- so much so that coming to Datev has become a routine summer commitment that I hope to continue even after I graduate this year. I was so lucky to be introduced to the program and I’m looking forward to returning for the next following years. (Sylvia Bayrakdarian, fourth year)

As my first year being a postgrad Datevatsi, I was excited to further my Christian education. Throughout the week, I’ve been able to learn about being a better Armenian-Christian, how to walk through my life with my faith and how to be receptive to the Word of God. I also really enjoy partaking in activities such as Datev Games, Fourth of July festivities, outings and creative activities. The serene environment allows me a week to clear my head and to surround myself with positive and interesting energy. (Aleen Takvorian, post graduate)

Datev is a weeklong camp for the Armenian youth that encourages involvement in the church. The beautiful morning and evening services instill a time to worship God. The classes help you learn more about God, our faith, and our history as Armenians. The afternoon activities help build friendships that will last a lifetime. (Shaunt Doghramadjian, post graduate/ outdoor activities director)




Last Sunday’s Reflection was offered by Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island.

Click here to watch.


August 13—St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City, Episcopal Divine Liturgy, Blessing of the Grapes, and Luncheon on the Feast of the Assumption . Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General. Luncheon, organized by the Ladies Guild, is $25 per person (free under 12). For information: email@stilluminators.org or 212-689-5880.

August 13—Annual Church Picnic at Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. Liturgy begins at 9:30 am under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate. Lunch served beginning at 12 noon on the church grounds. Enjoy shish, chicken, losh kebabs or a vegetarian dinner. Music by DJ Shaheen, tavloo tournament, Bouncy House for children. Traditional blessing of the grapes at 1 pm. Free admission and free parking.

October 2-6—Clergy Conference for Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will take place in Montreal, hosted by the Prelacy of Canada.

October 7—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey presents “The Battle of the Bands.” Dance all night with two bands featuring Onnig Dinkjian and Kevork Artinian. Mezza and Dessert tables. For information and reservations contact: Bea Movsesian 201-445-6867; Lynn Mahlebjian 201-739-6217; Silva Kouyoumdjian 201-779-6744.

October 14—Armenian Friends of America, Inc., present “Hye Kef 5,” a five hour dance featuring Onnik Dinkjian with John Berberian (Oud); Mal Barsamian (Clarinet); Ara Dinkjian (keyboard); Ron Tutunjian (Dumbeg), at DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, Andover, Massachusetts. Tickets: $55 (before September 1); $65 (after September 1); $50 for students 21 and under. Continuous buffet 7:30 to 9:30 pm; coffee and dessert will follow. Advance tickets only. Proceeds will benefit five Armenian churches. For information: Sharke Der Apkarian 978-808-0598.

October 29CHANGE OF DATE / SAVE THE DATE. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, under the auspices and presence of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 10 am. Followed by reception and dinner at The New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York City.

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/