June 21, 2018
Language, which is commonly thought of as only a means of communication, has played a far greater role for the Armenians. It is safe to say that the Armenian nation would not have survived with any semblance of ethnic identity if it had not been for two important factors: the Armenian Church and the Armenian language. The Armenian language as a factor in national survival is second only to the conversion of the Armenians to Christianity and the establishment of a national church. Thus, language has played a dual role for the Armenians: first, as a medium of communication; second and more important, as a cohesive force for national survival.

The invention of the Armenian alphabet in A.D. 406 by St. Mesrob produced a linguistic tool as remarkable as the language for which it was devised. The Armenian alphabet was invented and used for the Armenian language alone. It was designed to be a perfect phonetic representation of the spoken language.

It is even more amazing that a large and noteworthy body of literature grew immediately, using an alphabet that was a completely new invention and not an evolution of an earlier alphabet. If the Armenian alphabet had not been a perfect instrument for writing Armenian, it would have been impossible to use it to translate the Bible and the many other works that marked the early Golden Era of Armenian literature in the fifth century.

Today, June 21, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Sahag Bartev and Mesrob Mashdotz, the Holy Translators. The feasts dedicated to the Holy Translators are among the most beloved commemorations for Armenians. Sahag and Mesrob are honored two times during the liturgical year: on the Thursday following the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, which is today, and on the second Saturday in October. The visionary leadership of these two men who recognized the necessity of an Armenian alphabet changed the course of Armenian history. The two saints, Sahag and Mesrob, are forever linked in the minds and hearts of the Armenian people.

On July 1, His Holiness Aram I marks the 23 rd anniversary of his election and consecration to the throne of the Holy See of Cilicia. This year is also the 50 th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
By order of the Prelate, this Sunday, June 24, parishes of the Eastern Prelacy will offer Pontifical Prayers and Blessings on the occasion of the 23 rd anniversary of the election and consecration of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia. His Holiness was consecrated Catholicos of Cilicia on July 1, 1995. Additionally, this year marks the 50 th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 1968.

During the past 23 years under his leadership a new page in the history of the ancient Holy See of Cilicia has been filled with many accomplishments that include new initiatives for educational, religious, and cultural programs, strengthening the Armenian identity in the Diaspora, promoting and supporting ecumenism and interfaith relations, supporting the Armenian Cause, and launching and completing many new construction projects to enhance and facilitate the service and mission of the Catholicosate.

On this occasion, Archbishop Oshagan recommended to all clergy serving the Eastern Prelacy to focus their sermons this Sunday on the Cilician Catholicosate, His Holiness Aram I, and the work and mission of the Catholicosate, and to offer prayers for the strength and vitality of all of the hierarchical centers of the Armenian Church, as well as for the well-being of our devoted people.

“At this holy moment, standing before God and His people, I pray to God, repeating the words of the psalmist: Show me thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths; lead me in thy truth. (Psalm 25).

“I said these words in my heart, when, in 1965, the year of the 50 th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, I kneeled on the altar of this Cathedral to become a deacon.

“I prayed with these words when, in 1968, on the 50 th anniversary of the Independence of Armenia, still a young person, in this same sacred place I was ordained into the priesthood.

“Again, I prayed to God with these same words when in 1980, upon the invitation of the Armenian community in Lebanon, I approached this altar for Episcopal consecration.

“And today when, once more, with the will and grace of God and with the decision of our people, I kneel before God to assume the Pontifical duty, I pray to Almighty God with the same words of the psalmist, but this time with a greater sense of awe and responsibility: Show me thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths; lead me in thy truth.”

(From Sermon by Catholicos Aram I at his consecration and enthronement on July 1, 1995, in Antelias, Lebanon).

In Appreciation of the Service of His Holiness Aram I: A Great Ecumenist of Our Times:
Amidst many milestone celebrations, this year is the 70 th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches (founded on August 23, 1948). His Holiness Aram’s interest in the ecumenical movement goes back to the 1960s when as a young seminarian he participated in various activities related to “The Week for Christian Unity,” in Antelias, Lebanon. As he has described in his own words, “For the first time in my life I came to witness how people from different churches gather to pray and reflect together, and seek together the unity of the church. This very fact of togetherness struck me profoundly. It left a tremendous impact on my life at this early stage of my theological formation.”

His Holiness went on to become, as he is described internationally, “A Great Ecumenist of Modern Times,” who held top positions of leadership in the World Council of Churches for many years. He served as Moderator of the Central and Executive Committees of the WCC for two unprecedented terms spanning a total of fifteen years.

In 2009 Rev. Dr. Diane C. Kessler, at the time with the Massachusetts Council of Churches (now retired), wrote the following appreciation:

Aram I—an eloquent and powerful witness for unity
By Rev. Dr. Diane C. Kessler

Ecumenical organizations are essential to help the churches reach the goal of full, visible Christian unity. Those who provide leadership in these instruments attend countless meetings, spend hours in transit, read voluminous documents, broker disagreements, and weigh words as texts are drafted. These responsibilities are necessary means to nurture the process. Yet when religious leaders are trying to keep the ecumenical boat afloat and aimed toward Christian unity, they easily could drown in a sea of details, losing sight of the destination. His Holiness Aram I, however, has maintained his ecumenical sea legs. He has stayed at the helm and ridden the waves for decades, keeping his eyes on “the urgent call for unity.” He has offered a powerful witness to that call. As he said in Encounters for Unity , “once you are part of the ecumenical movement, it becomes part of you.”

The ecumenical movement needs witnesses—men and women who are willing and able to testify to the ways that their encounters with Christians in other traditions have informed and transformed their own lives of faith, and have influenced the life of their churches. Aram I has been such a witness. I have heard him speak on many occasions—during a visitation with Armenian Orthodox clergy in eastern Massachusetts, at a symposium on the future of the ecumenical movement held in New York City, at World Council of Churches assemblies in Harare and Porto Alegre, and at sessions of the Joint Working Group. Each time I hear him, I am struck by what a passionate and eloquent ecumenical witness he makes, both to the clergy and laity within his Church, and to Christians from all traditions. “I fell in love with ecumenism,” he said, “with this ‘strange’ movement that brings people together in one place and in all places. . .the Holy Spirit invites us to participate in it with humility and commitment.”

His Holiness has identified several affirmations from his ecumenical experiences which are worth repeating: “ecumenism is an opening of oneself to the other;” it “is an existential dialogue;” it “is a learning process;” it “is a process of mutual challenging;’ and it “is a pilgrimage towards unity.” These affirmations are rooted in forty years of experience. They began when he was a young seminarian in Lebanon in the early 1960s. We pray that the ecumenical movement will continue to be blessed by his faithful witness for many years to come.

(Editor’s Note: The quotations are from Encounters for Unity , edited by G. R. Evans, Lorelei F. Fuchs S.A., and Diane C. Kessler (Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 1995).

Last week we asked our parishes to describe how they celebrated the 25 th anniversary of the St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization. Here are three more responses.
Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island
Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, reports the following: On Sunday, June 10, the sermon was based on Jesus’ call for mercy in the Gospel reading of the day and how charity is an important part living a merciful life. Special attention was given to Jesus’ call to care for orphans and widows. The focus was ten given to all of the incredible work carried out by the Saint Nerses the Great Organization during the last 25 years. A second plate collection raised funds to support the work of the Organization. In addition, orphan sponsorship flyers were distributed to all parishioners, as well as being included in the weekly e-bulletin with a link to the Prelacy’s web page. Earlier this year, during a Lenten dinner in March the fifteen-minute video showcasing the work of St. Nerses the Great Organization was shown to parishioners.”
St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts
Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, pastor of St. Stephen Church, reports that the parish printed copies of the Orphan Sponsorship flyer and distributed to parishioners urging them to become a sponsor. A second plate collection was for the benefit of the orphan’s summer camp in Armenia.

Der Antranig’s sermon focused first on the history and the life and times of St. Nerses describing how he set up schools, provided and cared for widows, orphans, and the poor, and by example taught others to be charitable. “His patriarchate marked a new era in Armenian history. Nerses brought the church into closer connection with the people. He encouraged monasticism and sent monks throughout the land to preach the Gospel. But his real accomplishments as his charitable work.”

The second part of Der Antranig’s sermon focused on the St. Nerses the Great Organization today. Der Hayr described how the St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization was established and named by His Eminence Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian in 1993, to “provide relief for the families of soldiers killed during the Artsakh War. It was named after the great and holy Catholicos who established so many charitable and educational institutions and thereby helped so many people in Armenia in the fourth century. In like manner, this institution continues to provide charitable, educational, and social services to the people of Armenia. You may have heard the name or some of the programs, but even I did not know the wider scope of the service our Prelacy, through the work of this department, with its own office in Yerevan, has and continues to provide to our people. Today this program continues to be successfully guided by the strong and unwavering dedication and commitment of our current Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan.” Der Hayr then listed the many programs currently under the sponsorship of St. Nerses.
Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts
Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church, focused his sermon on the St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization, explaining how and why Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, of blessed memory, chose the name for the Prelacy charitable endeavors in Armenia. He spoke in detail about the programs and projects, including the Orphan’s Summer Camp that the Prelacy sponsors and oversees. Der Mikael made a plea to the parishioners to consider sponsoring a child, quoting James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The plate offering for two consecutive Sundays was sent to the Prelacy to benefit the charitable programs of the St. Nerses the Great Organization.
Bible readings for Sunday, June 24, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of the Discovery of the Box of the Theotokos are: Isaiah 2:5-11; Romans 9:30-10:4; Matthew 13:24-30.

What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written , “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 9:30-10:4)


He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from? He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30)

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

This Saturday (June 23) the Armenian Church remembers King Drtad, Queen Ashkhen, and Princess Khosrovitoukht. After torturing and condemning St. Gregory to the pit, and after his cruel and fatal treatment of the Hripsimiantz nuns, King Drtad became inflicted with strange debilitating maladies. Queen Ashkhen and the king’s sister, Khosrovitoukht (who had secretly become a Christian) convinced the king that only Gregory could cure him. Thus, Gregory was released from the deep pit. With the king’s subsequent recovery, all three helped Gregory spread Christianity throughout Armenia. In their later years the queen and princess lived in the fortress of Garni and the king retired to St. Gregory’s retreat on Mt. Sepouh.

Also celebrated this week:
Monday, June 25: Kallistratos, and the 49 Martyrs and Lucian the Priest
Tuesday, June 26: St. Zechariah the Prophet
Bishop Anoushavan delivers his sermon last Sunday in New Jersey.
Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, presided over the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon last Sunday at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey. After the Liturgy, His Grace joined the congregation at the Sunday school’s annual Fathers Day picnic on the church grounds. It was an afternoon of children playing, non-stop music for dancing by DJ, and of course delicious barbeque. The picnic was organized, prepared and hosted by the Sts. Vartanantz Sunday school community.
Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian, gather around the Fathers Day cake with all of the fathers attending the picnic.

Plans are underway for the 32 nd annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program, a unique Armenian Christian educational program for youth ages 13-18 to enrich their knowledge of the Christian faith in a wholesome and nurturing environment, with recreational activities and daily church services.

Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the Program is scheduled to be held at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from July 1-8, 2018.

For information and registration click here.
ARMENIA TRIP 2004: Fifth grade students of St. Stephen Armenian Elementary School have been going to Armenia since 2004. This photo of students in front of Mt. Ararat is from the first trip in 2004.
ARMENIA TRIP 2018: This year’s fifth grade participants in front of Mt. Ararat.
In May fifth grade students from St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (SSAES) traveled to Armenia for two weeks, in what most will remember as the capstone of their Armenian school experience. This year’s trip marks the fifteenth consecutive year that SSAES has brought graduating students to Armenia to internalize their understanding of Armenian history by experiencing their ancestral homeland, to connect with contemporary Armenian students, and to contribute to the development of modern Armenia . “The fifth grade trip to Armenia has become a significant part of the SSAES experience for our families,” says Mrs. Houry Boyamian, Principal of SSAES. “Students look forward to it from the time they start Kindergarten.”

The program is not simply a tour of Armenian heritage sites. While in Yerevan, SSAES students participate in music, robotics, and other activities with local students at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, an afternoon technology and recreation center. The fifth-grade students also partner with the Avedisian School on a project, including a Skype meeting prior to arrival. This year students from both schools worked with the Armenia Tree Project (ATP), a longtime partner of SSAES, on a joint environmental reforestation project which incorporated Abaran, the resting place of General Dro, in commemoration of the 100 th Anniversary of the First Republic . At the elementary school in Shushi, Artsakh, the students performed songs, poems, and dances for each other as a symbol of diversity and union in Armenian culture.

While much has changed since the first SSAES Armenia trip in May 2004, the impact on SSAES students and parents has been consistently powerful. “One thing I hear from parents is how impressed they are with our students’ knowledge of Armenian history, which they talk about together when we are visiting sites, traveling on the bus, and sharing meals together,” Megerdichian said. Another memory of hers, however, captures the flavor of the experiential impact. “We had spent a long time hiking up to Kantsasar Monastery. Several students were complaining; all of us were tired. When we finally reached the top, one of the boys grabbed my arm and declared, ‘Digin Ardemis! It is like heaven!’”

To read the entire press release click here.

To follow student experiences on the SSAES Armenia trip, visit ssaes.org/blog

To sponsor SSAES students to go to Armenia in 2019, contact Principal Houry Boyamian at houry_boyamian@ssaes.org.

Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, delivered the invocation at the Eighth grade graduation at the Hovnanian School in New Milford, New Jersey, last Friday, June 15. His Grace congratulated the graduates and expressed warm words of appreciation to the teachers, administrators, parents, board members, and students of the Hovnanian School for another successful year of education. Bishop Anoushavan and Mrs. Shake Tashjian, principal, are seen here with the 2018 graduates.
Birth of Levon Orbeli 
(June 25, 1882)
Levon (also known as Leon) Orbeli was the middle brother in a family of scientists and an important physiologist, mostly active in Russia, who made important contributions to this discipline.

Orbeli was born in Darachichak (nowadays Tzaghkadzor), in Armenia, on June 25, 1882. He was the brother of archaeologist Ruben Orbeli (1880-1943) and orientalist Hovsep (Iosif) Orbeli (1887-1961). The family descended from the princely Orbelian family, which ruled over the region of Siunik between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The future scientist graduated from the Russian gymnasium in Tiflis in 1899 and continued his studies at the Imperial Military-Medical Academy of St. Petersburg. He was still a second-course student, when he started working in the laboratory of famous physiologist Ivan Pavlov in 1901, the same year when Pavlov developed the concept of conditioned reflex. Orbeli's life and scientific career would be closely connected with Pavlov’s work for the next thirty-five years.

He graduated from the Military Medical Academy in 1904 and became an intern at the Naval Hospital in the Russian capital. He joined Pavlov as his assistant in the Department of Physiology at the Institute for Experimental Medicine from 1907 to 1920. He was sent abroad to do research from 1909-11, working in Germany, England, and Italy.

Afterwards, Orbeli occupied many top positions in the Russian scientific world. He was head of the laboratory of physiology at the P. F. Lesgaft Scientific Institute in Leningrad (the new name for St. Petersburg during the Soviet times) from 1918 to 1957. Meantime, he was professor of physiology at the First Leningrad Medical Institute (1920-1931) and at the Military-Medical Academy (1925-1950), which he also directed from 1943 to 1950.

In 1932 he entered the USSR Academy of Sciences as corresponding member and was elected academician in 1935. After Pavlov’s death, Orbeli became Russia’s most prominent scientist. He developed a new scientific discipline, evolutionary physiology, consistently applying the principles of Darwinism. He devoted particular attention to the application of the principles of evolution to the study of all the nervous subsystems in animals and man. He promoted the study of human physiology, especially vital activity under unusual and extreme conditions. His more than 200 works on experimental and theoretical science included 130 journal articles.

Levon Orbeli was director of the Institute of Physiology of the Academy (1936-1950) and of the Institute of Evolutionary Physiology of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (1939-1950), where he was elected academician in 1944. He served as vice-president of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1942-1946), where he founded and headed the Institute of Evolutionary Physiology in 1956. He was an academician of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in 1943 (his brother Hovsep was the founder) and had an important legacy in the development of physiology in Armenia. The Institute of Physiology of the Academy of Sciences carries his name.

He received many honors for his extraordinary scientific work. He was member of many foreign societies and earned the State Prize of the USSR (1941) and two important prizes of the Soviet Academy of Sciences In 1937 and 1946. He was bestowed with many decorations, including the title of Hero of Socialist Labor in 1945.

In the last years of Stalin’s life, sciences became the target of state repression. At a joint session of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1950, the official doctrine of “Pavlovism” was promulgated and many prominent physiologists, including Orbeli, were denigrated and blamed for being non-Marxists, reactionaries, and having Western sympathies. Like many others who were victim of these political games, Orbeli would be rehabilitated after the death of Stalin in 1953.

He passed away on December 9, 1958, in Leningrad, where he was buried. A museum in the town of Tzaghkadzor, in Armenia, inaugurated in 1982, on the centennial of Levon Orbeli’s birth, is dedicated to the three Orbeli brothers. 

Museum of the Orbeli Brothers.

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If you are in the Washington, DC area during June 27 to July 8, you might want to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the international exhibition of living cultural heritage presented annually in the summer in Washington since 1967. The Festival is a celebration of communities and cultures in the United States and around the world. The free event takes place on the National Mall for two weeks. This year Armenia is one of the featured cultures that include daily and evening programs of music, song, dance, performance, crafts, cooking demonstrations, and storytelling. For more information check the website ( https://festival.si.edu ). 

Have you ever had your abilities questioned by people who know what you are capable of? For one thing, Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ has. After so many signs, Jesus had been challenged by the Pharisees and "teachers" of the law to show that he was really the Son of God.

In this week's Prelacy Reflection,  Der Mikael Der Kosrofian  of  Soorp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church Of Whitinsville  reflects last Sunday's Bible reading from The Gospel of Matthew.

Stream this week's Prelacy Reflection now!
Today is the first day of summer (and the year’s longest day) in the Western Hemisphere. 

SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. New term begins on September 22, 2018. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.

June 24— Ways to Wellness: A Panel Discussion on Mental Health -- 1:30 p.m. -- St. Sarkis Armenian Church, 38-65 234th Street, Douglaston, NY. For more information, please contact Anahid at anahide@aol.com (Lecture rescheduled from an earlier date).

July 1-8– Datev Summer Program for youth ages 13-18-- The 32 nd annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Christian Studies Program will take place at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information and registration, contact the AREC office – 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org or click here.

July 14— Ladies Guild of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, presents “Hye Summer Night XII,” at Crown Plaza Hotel, Warwick, Rhode Island. Entertainment by Onnik Dinkjian, Hatchig Kazarian, Ara Dinkjian, Bruce Gigarjian, and Raffi Massoyan. Dinner/Dance $55.00 (6 pm to 12:30 am); Dance only $35.00 (8 pm). For dinner and table reservations: Joyce Bagdasarian, 401-434-4467 by July 7.

July 21 -- St. Illuminator Cathedral's Huyser Music Ensemble presents a first-of-its-kind Broadway caliber Armenian musical, entitled "We Shall Return Soon," at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Tony Bennett Concert Hall, Long Island City, New York, at 7:45 pm. Written and directed by Huyser's artistic director Harout Barsoumian, this musical is dedicated to the centennial of the first Republic of Armenia, seen through the memories of a 105-year-old Genocide survivor. The musical will feature the participation of Tekeyan Cultural Association's Mher Megerdchian Theatrical Group. For updates and more details, visit ​ http://www.huysermusic.org .

September 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019 —“Armenia!” a large exhibition dedicated to the medieval period of Armenian history and culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The exhibit is the first at the Met dedicated solely to Armenia. Curated by Dr. Helen C. Evans.
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 .

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