June 1, 2017

Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkisian blesses the flags at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral.

Last Sunday parishes of the Eastern Prelacy offered prayers of thanksgiving for the Republic of Armenia on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the first Republic (May 28, 1918) and the 26th anniversary of the current Republic (September 21, 1991). At St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian led the flag blessing ceremony of the U.S. Stars and Stripes and Armenia’s tri-color flag.


Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with the Ambassador of Armenia to the United States, H.E. Grigor Hovhannisian.

Grigor Hovhannisian, the Ambassador of Armenia to the United States, met with the leaders of the Armenian community at the Diocesan Center in New York yesterday. The ambassador discussed bilateral relations with the United States and Armenia. The ambassador said that the “United States of America is Armenia’s most important partner and plays an important role in the political and economic life of Armenia.” He also noted that the United States is actively engaged in the OSCE Minsk Group process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict with Russia and France, and the United States is the biggest humanitarian and technical aid provider to Armenia. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator Cathedral, represented Archbishop Oshagan at the meeting and conveyed the Prelate’s heartfelt greetings.


Bible readings for Sunday, June 4, Pentecost (Eve of the Fast of Elijah) are: Acts 2:1-21; John 14:25-31.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” . (Acts 2:1-21)


“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.  (John 14:25-31)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings  Click Here.
FEAST OF PENTECOST: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

This Sunday (June 4), the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost (Hokekaloust), the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and the birth of the Church. Jesus had commanded His apostles to “Go therefore to all nations and make them my disciples,” (Matthew 28:19). Recognizing the difficulty of this great responsibility, Christ had advised his disciples not to begin their teaching mission until after the “descent of the Holy Spirit.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that on that day of Pentecost the apostles gathered in one place, and suddenly a strong wind seemed to fill the house in which they were assembled, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (see reading above). It was the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shabuoth) commemorating the giving of the law on Mount Sinai and many different people from different lands had come to Jerusalem. They marveled that they could understand the Apostles’ words. This day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles marked the beginning of the mission of the Church to spread the Good News throughout the world.

In a sense, Pentecost is the opposite of what occurred in the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel when God disapproved of the building of a tower to reach the heavens and he created confusion by having the workers suddenly speak in different tongues, and unable to understand each other. At Pentecost He gave the disciples the ability to speak other tongues and thus be able to be understood by everyone everywhere.

Life-creating God, Spirit and lover of mankind, with tongues of fire you enlightened those united with one accord in love; therefore we also celebrate today your holy descent.

Filled with joy by your coming the Holy apostles began in different-sounding tongues to call into unity them that had been divided from each other; therefore we also celebrate today your holy descent.

By spiritual and holy baptism through them you have adorned the universe in a new and radiant garment; therefore we also celebrate your holy descent.

(From the Canon for the First Day of Pentecost according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)


On Sunday, May 28, on the eve of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the independence of Armenia, His Holiness Aram I presided over the Holy Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, Lebanon. During the Liturgy, prayers of thanksgiving were offered for the Republic of Armenia and a Memorial Service was offered for the victims of the 1918 battle of liberation at Sardarabad.

After the Liturgy, His Holiness, the clergy, representatives of Armenian political and civil society organizations, and the faithful gathered at the reception hall of the Catholicosate to celebrate the victory and Catholicos Aram’s name day. Rev. Fr. Karekin Shekherdemian addressed the audience on behalf of the Brotherhood. He first paid tribute to the national hero, Aram Manoukian, for his strong faith and courageous actions in pursuit of his people’s liberation. Drawing parallels, he said, “Catholicos Aram’s recent legal action against Turkey, demanding the return of the Seat of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Sis, is a demonstration of his strong vision and courage. Heroes are temporal, but their vision, commitment and work are immortal.” Following a brief interlude of songs dedicated to the battle and victims of Sardarabad by the Seminary’s Armash Choir, His Holiness addressed the guests.

The Catholicos described May 28 as a turning point in Armenian history, the symbol of liberation and gaining independence. However, he stated, “Historical events are shaped and given meaning through individuals. The late Catholicos, Karekin I Hovsepiantz, of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and Aram Manoukian, the founder of the first Republic of Armenia, are our role models. Our spiritual leader, Catholicos Karekin I Hovsepiantz, who was committed to his Christian faith and to the Armenian nation and people, accompanied the Sardarabad liberation journey. Aram Manoukian expressed the faith and the will of the people to defend Yerevan from falling in the hands of the enemy. Today, we need such leaders in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora because the struggles of May 28, 1918, continue and the people need wise leaders to guide them. Evoking the spirit of the late Catholicos Karekin I Hovsepiantz, Catholicos Aram paid tribute to the people of Artsakh and their struggle and promised his support to the people.

Earlier this week, the Honorable Christina Rafti, the Ambassador of Cyprus to Lebanon, accompanied by the political counselor of the Embassy, met with His Holiness Aram I in his office. They discussed relations between Lebanon and Cyprus and the on-going peace talks in Cyprus. They also discussed plans for the proposed visit of the President of Cyprus to Lebanon.
During a recent trip to Paris, Bishop Anoushavan visited the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul where he was welcomed by Rev. Fr. Dirayr Kilejian, both seen in this photo with the altar servers in front of an area under glass that holds soil from Armenia, Cilicia, and Jerusalem. It is especially meaningful to newlyweds who take their vows on the “soil of the Motherland.”

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.

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). 
At the opening of the art show, from left to right: Mher Khachatryan, the featured artist; Madagascar’s Ambassador Zina Andrianarivelo-Razafy; Archbishop Oshagan; Armenia’s Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan; Bishop Anoushavan.
Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan with singer Suren Avoyan who participated in the event.
On the occasion of “World NO tobacco Day,” the Permanent Mission of Madagascar to the United Nations organized an art show that opened last night at the UN headquarters. During the week of May 30 to June 2, the exceptional works by Mher Khachatryan on the theme “SMOKE” will be on exhibit to raise awareness on the danger of smoking. The opening event also featured Armenian national singer Suren Avoyan, and virtuoso violinist Nune Melik. The event was hosted by H.E. Zina Andrianarivelo-Razafy and the artist Mher Khachatryan.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

Watermelons in Winter?

In the East Coast, we may be used to having summer fruits during winter time. However, can you imagine that the Armenian Plateau would have watermelons in freezing periods? 

Actually, it did not. This is, nevertheless, something that the facts of language might suggest. Let’s start with the name of “winter” in Armenian: ձմեռ (tzumerr). This word has an Indo-European origin and shares it with many languages (for instance, Russian zima “winter”). It was attested from the fifth century A.D. onwards, and like several others, including մուկն (mookn “mouse”), ձուկն (tzookn “fish”), or ամառն (amarrn “summer”), it had a suffix –ն (n) at the end. Such words maintained this suffix in some derivative words like ձմեռնային (tzumerrnayin “winterly”), ձկնորսութիւն (tzugnorsootioon “fishing”), ամառնային (amarrnayin “relative to summer”), and others. On the other hand, a phonetic rule of Classical Armenian established words like tzumerr, amarr, and others, which had a strong r (ռ, like in English “curriculum”) in their roots, were declined with a soft r  (ր, like in English “chores”) and lost their suffix –n in the process. There were also derived words that went through the same rule. This is how we have, for instance, the words ձմերանոց (tzumeranots “winter place”) and ամարանոց (amaranots “summer place”), where the ռ has been replaced by րIn the same way, we have the Armenian word for “watermelon”: ձմերուկ (tzumeroog). Linguist Hrachia Ajarian, the author of a foremost five-volume etymological dictionary of the Armenian language, suggested that tzumeroog  was derived from tzumerr (the suffix oog is a diminutive, like in the word արջուկ/archoog “little bear,” but there are also words formed with this suffix, without necessarily being diminutives; e.g. hեղուկ/heghoog “liquid”). How did this happen? Ajarian said the reason for the connection between winter and watermelon was unknown; he assumed that it was because of the refreshing liquid of the fruit, which the villagers may have felt like ice during the hot summers in the Armenian Plateau. Nevertheless, he brought a comparative example: Georgian has the word zamtari (“winter”), from which the word sazamtro (“watermelon”) is derived (the Georgian language forms its words, unlike Indo-European languages, with prefixes). 

Going back to the beginning of this conversation, Armenians did not enjoy watermelons in the winter, but the fruit brought some of the winter cold to their bodies. This was enough to give them the idea for the name.

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

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Treaty of Batum (June 4, 1918)
The territory of the Republic of Armenia after the signature of the Treaty of Batum

In the early months of 1918, two parallel processes developed in the Southern Caucasus: on the one hand, Ottoman military actions, and on the other, diplomatic efforts. The signature of the Treaty of Batum marked a temporary end to both processes. 

After the second Russian Revolution (November 7, 1917, according to the Gregorian calendar) and the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks headed by Lenin, Soviet Russia took measures to sign a separate peace with the Central Powers. Russians and Ottomans signed the armistice of Erzinga on December 5, 1917, ending the armed conflicts between both sides. The armistice was followed by the Treaty of Brest Litovsk (March 3, 1918), which marked Russia’s departure from World War I. The Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Seim (Parliament) of Transcaucasia, formed by Georgians, Armenians, and Tatars (not yet named Azerbaijanis), held the peace conference of Trebizonda between March 14 and April 5. The Ottomans offered to surrender any ambition in the Caucasus in return for the recognition of the conditions of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, which delivered Western Armenia, Kars, and Ardahan to the Ottoman Empire. Akaki Chkhenkeli, head of the Transcaucasian delegation, accepted the treaty as a basis for further negotiation. However, Armenians refused to accept the situation and hostilities resumed. The Ottoman army advanced further to the east, despite Armenian resistance. 

A new peace conference between the Ottoman Empire and the newly-independent Republic of Trancaucasia (proclaimed on April 22) opened at Batum on May 11. The Ottomans left aside the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and increased their demands to include Alexandropol (nowadays Gumri), Surmalu (including Mount Ararat), Akhalkalak, and Akhaltskha. They also requested the construction of a railroad that connected Kars and Julfa (in Nakhichevan) with Baku. The transport corridor would run through Armenia, which was to give free right of passage. The Armenian and Georgian members of the Republic’s delegation began to stall the negotiations. The Ottoman army moved ahead and occupied Alexandropol on May 14. Between May 21 and 28, the fate of Armenia and Armenians was decided in the historic battles of Sardarabad, Gharakilise, and Bash Abaran. After the dissolution of the Republic of Transcaucasia on May 26-27 with the declaration of independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan, on May 30 the Armenian National Council of Tiflis (nowadays Tbilisi) assumed the authority of the Armenian provinces, retroactive to May 28. 

Despite its defeat at the three battles, the Third Ottoman Army held positions 4 miles from Yerevan and 6 miles from Etchmiadzin. Armenians had exhausted their possibilities of resistance and had no choice but to make peace with Turkey and sign a treaty that, despite its humiliating conditions, would give them a minimum respite, hoping that the world war would end soon and the Allied victory would bring justice to their cause. 

Three separate treaties were signed in Batum between the Ottoman Empire and the three Transcaucasian republics on June 4-5. The treaty of “peace and friendship” signed with the Republic of Armenia, represented by Alexander Khatisian, Hovhannes Kajaznuni, and Mikayel Babajanian, tacitly recognized its independence, ironically, three years after the genocide had started. The treaty left to Armenia Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, and the district of Nor Bayazid (now Gavar), around Lake Sevan. Parts of the districts of Sharur, Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, and Alexandropol were seized by the Ottoman Empire, as well as Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha, with a total of almost 18,000 square miles and a population of around 1,25 million people. Armenia was left with a landlocked territory of around 4,250 square miles (half of the extension of New Jersey), fifty kilometers of railway in the north and six kilometers extending west from Yerevan. 

As historian Richard Hovannisian wrote in 1967: “Thus, the Republic was created under conditions so tragic as to defy adequate description. Yet, there was an Armenia. In mid-1918, even that was a remarkable accomplishment.” The situation would change by the end of 1918.

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

Last Sunday’s Reflection was offered by Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts.

Click Here to watch.


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.

June 18—St. Gregory Church, 135 Goodwin Street,  Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, Father’s Day Picnic; Armenian music and dancing featuring Leo Derderian, David Ansbigian, and Haig Aram Arakelian; Activities for young and young at heart. Shish Kebab and Losh Kebab Dinners; Shish Kebab & Losh Kebab Sandwiches; delicious homemade pastries and baked good.

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.

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/