May 24, 2018
One hundred years ago, on May 28, 1918, the independent Republic of Armenia was established. It was born out of a widespread, international turmoil of massacres, war, famine, and revolution. It was the last hope of a people pushed to the brink of extinction. From its very inception the Republic was under siege, fighting against its two implacable foes, the Russians and the Turks. Internally it suffered from chaotic conditions and the lack of the basic necessities for its people. The Republic of Armenia was not born into the best of times.

Nevertheless, it was a dream come true, an independent Armenian state for the first time in more than five centuries. Woodrow Wilson’s promise of self-determination for all peoples came to the Armenians without the help of the United States or the Allies. Unfortunately, the Armenian Republic, in desperate need of political and military assistance, received only humanitarian aid to help keep its people alive. There was no help to keep the country alive.

Under constant attack by Turkish and Russian military forces along its borders, and with saboteurs and agents provocateurs creating chaos from within, the infant Republic succumbed after two short years of existence. The Turks and Russians shared the spoils, leaving only a vestige of Armenia, to be labeled the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic as part of the Soviet Union. The independent Republic of Armenia went out of existence.

Yet for decades, Armenians around the world still celebrated May 28 as Armenian Independence day because while the Republic was dead, the idea of a free and independent Armenian homeland was still alive and vibrant in the hearts and minds of Armenians everywhere. May 28 was a tribute to the past and a hope for the future. It symbolized the idealistic human spirit that compels a people to work toward the realization of their highest goals with dedication and responsibility. Thus, May 28 became a date that challenged Armenians to make the further effort to reach the goal of a free and independent Armenia. It was that indomitable spirit, the will to reach for the seemingly unattainable, the impossible dream, that bound Armenians together as a people not only with a common past, but also with a common future. The eternal human struggle has been and will always be to attempt to close the gap between what is and what ought to be. This is as true for nations as it is for individuals. The nation that abandons its dream abandons its future. May 28 was not only a reminder of what was, but what could be once more. And seventy-three years after May 28, 1918, on September 21, 1991, a new independent Republic of Armenia was created.

May 28 continues to be much more than a commemoration of the past; it is our commitment to the future and a reminder of our shared responsibility to keep the Republic of Armenia vibrant and strong, to support its ideals of a just society of self-government in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness for its people. May the Creator look with favor and give His protection and guidance to the Armenian nation.

By order of the Prelate, Flag Blessing and Prayers for the Armenian Republic will be offered in Prelacy parishes this Sunday (May 27) or next Sunday (June 3). Requiem services will be offered for the souls of the fallen heroes of Sardarabad, Bashabaran, Gharakilise, and the martyrs of the struggle for Artsakh.

Bless, O Lord, this tricolor flag. And just as after the flood you placed your rainbow on Mt. Ararat and established a covenant with mankind, now too after the flowing of so much holy and heroic blood, may this flag with its beautiful colors be sealed as a sign of our covenant with you.

Bless, O Lord, our country, our Fatherland, where you established the paradise of bliss at the time of the world’s creation. Over the course of centuries the inexorable enemy has reduced it to ruin, but now with your mercy and bountiful grace you have caused it to bloom even more. Adorn our churches, monasteries, schools, and charitable organizations with progress and holiness, and protect them from the enemies. Bless all that is good there, especially the first of names, the name ARMENIA.

(From the Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Republic of Armenia)
This Monday, May 28, is Memorial Day in the United States. Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to the United States. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday. It is now celebrated in every state on the last Monday in May.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That Grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia announced plans for an intensive summer course on the “Armenian Church; Historical and Contemporary Issues and Challenges,” for young adults, ages 18 to 30. The course starts on Monday, July 30 and end on Sunday, August 12. All lectures will be in English and will take place at the Armenian Theological Seminary at St. Mary Monastery, Bikfaya, Lebanon. The two-week program will include participation in the Feast of St. Mary’s Assumption, an intimate encounter with His Holiness, Q&A Roundtable, and Sightseeing.

Travel expenses will be covered by the Prelacy and accommodations and meals will be provided by the Catholicosate at its summer home in Bikfaya, Lebanon.

Deadline for application is May 31. For information contact the Prelacy by email ( ) or telephone (212-689-7810).
The National Representative Assembly’s Banquet and conferring of awards took place on Friday, May 11, at the charming and picturesque Harris’ Pelham Inn in Pelham, New Hampshire, under the auspices of the Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan. The National Anthems were sung by Knarik Nerkararyan and the opening prayer was offered by the Prelate. Jack Mardoian, chairman of the Executive Council offered opening remarks prior to the serving of dinner which was a delicious and traditional “Thanksgiving Dinner,” with all the trimmings.

Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of the host parish, St. Gregory Church in North Andover, Massachusetts, welcomed everyone noting, “It has been our honor to be your hosts; we are grateful for the opportunity to gather us all together in fellowship this week.” After dinner Der Stephan guided the program forward with the presentation of various awards. 
The Prelacy’s Youth Leadership Award was presented to Anna Shahtanian and Meline Almasian in recognition of their outstanding leadership qualities and achievements.
Der Stephan introduced the “power couple” of St. Gregory, James and Anna Apovian, who were presented with a Certificate of Merit by Archbishop Oshagan for their years of dedicated service.
A Certificate of Merit was presented by the Prelate to Armen Kourkounian for outstanding service to St. Gregory’s Board of Trustees, Men’s Club, and all social and cultural special events.
Der Stephan introduced Sharke Der Apkarian as one of the first parishioners he met when he assumed pastorship of St. Gregory Church. Archbishop Oshagan presented her with a Certificate of Merit in recognition of her varied services to the church as a member of the Board, a delegate to the NRA, executive on the National Association of Ladies Guilds, and Outreach Committee.
In a surprise announcement, His Eminence presented a Certificate of Merit to Christine Kourkounian who joined her husband as an awardee, in recognition of her outstanding service as a board member and as chair of the steering committee of the 2018 NRA.
Before closing the awards ceremony, His Eminence announced another surprise—actually three surprises—when he called upon Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of Sourp Asdvatzadzin of Whitinsville, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz of Providence, and Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, pastor of St. Gregory of Granite City, to come forward and accept the presentation of the Pectoral Cross ( Lanchakhach ) to wear on official occasions that is an honor bestowed on deserving clergymen.
NEXT WEEK: Yeretzgeen Conference and Conference of National Association of Ladies Guilds at the National Representative Assembly.
Bible readings for Sunday, May 27, First Sunday after Pentecost (Beginning of Sundays of Resurrection), Remembrance of the Prophet Elijah are: 1 Kings 18:29-46; 2 Kings 2:1-15; James 5:16-20; Luke 4:25-30).

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:16-20)


“…But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to one of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away. (Luke 4:25-30)

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

This Sunday (May 27) the Armenian Church remembers Elijah, the Messianic prophet of the Old Testament recorded in 1 and 2 Kings. Elijah was the greatest prophet in the Old Testament and therefore his feast day falls on a Sunday. He appeared along with Moses at the Transfiguration as the prophet of life and the new covenant; Moses was representative of the old covenant. The Armenian Church (like all the Eastern churches) holds Elijah in the highest esteem. Most importantly, Elijah did not experience death, but was taken to heaven, like the Holy Mother of God. He is mentioned in the Armenian hymn Ee Verin Yerousasgem , sung during the Requiem Service.

“Receive us in Jerusalem above, in the dwellings of the angels, in Eden, the paradise where Enoch and Elijah live worthily resplendent in dove-like purity and in old age. O merciful Lord, have mercy upon the souls of ours who have fallen asleep.”

From the Armenian hymn Ee Verin Yerousagem (Receive us in Jerusalem above), sung during the Requiem Service.
This Monday and Tuesday, May 28 and 29, the Armenian Church commemorates the virgin saints Hripsime and Gayane and their companions. Thirty-three nuns, led by Gayane, left Rome and sought refuge in Armenia hoping to escape the Roman Emperor who desired one of the nuns, the beautiful Hripsime. In Armenia, King Dertad became captivated by Hripsime’s beauty and sought to wed her. She refused. Enraged, the king had Hripsime (and the other nuns) imprisoned and tortured to death.

When Gregory was released from his imprisonment in the deep pit ( Khor Virab ) he built chapels over the relics of the nuns, which Catholicos Sahag Bartev renovated in the 4 th century. During the 7 th century, churches were built over both sites. The church dedicated to Hripsime, built by Catholicos Gomidas, is considered to be an architectural masterpiece and influenced the future course of Armenian architecture. Catholicos Gomidas also wrote a sharagan (hymn) in their memory—the well-known Antsink Nviryalk (Dedicated Beings).

The two churches, as well as a third ( Shoghakat ), are in the city of Etchmiadzin ( Vagharshapat ), not far from the complex of buildings that comprise the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

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.
Pentecost Sunday, May 20, a special prayer service for “Peace on Earth” took place at the end of the Soorp Badarak at St. Illuminator's Cathedral in New York City, as requested by the “Yeretsgeens” of the Prelacy at the NRA. The special prayer service was presided by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate.
Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Hovnan with ARS members participating in their annual Walk Armenia.
Last Sunday His Grace Bishop Anoushavan presided over the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey. His Grace delivered the sermon on the occasion of Pentecost. Following the Liturgy His Grace blessed a plaque donated by the Armenian Relief Society in memory of Knar Apkarian, whose one year anniversary of passing was remembered during the requiem service. Later Bishop Anoushavan joined the ARS members who gathered for their annual Walk Armenia initiative. 

Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey represented His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan at the Armenian Presbyterian Church, in Paramus, New Jersey, last weekend at the blessing and dedication of the church’s recently established Cultural Outreach Program. The purpose of the program is to showcase the talents of Armenian musicians, artists, and filmmakers. The evening also included a dedication of the church’s new hall that has been upgraded to be acoustically sound for professional concerts. Der Hovnan is seen in the photo with Vahig Shunorhokian (left) and Reverend Dikran Youmshakian (right).
On Saturday, May 19, Anahid Ugurlayan, Esq., was a guest of the Siamanto Academy. She offered an interesting talk about the protection of Armenian cultural property under international law. Her illustrated presentation, in a style accessible to the students, centered upon Armenian cultural heritage in current Turkey and the issues of protecting its remainders, which have been the target of a deliberate policy of destruction and neglect for decades. The talk was an interesting complement to related lessons on current issues that are part of the Siamanto Academy curriculum.

First Commemoration of Independence in Soviet Armenia (May 28, 1988)
Movses Gorgisian, May 28, 1988.
During the Soviet regime, the history of the first independence of Armenia was thoroughly distorted and the commemoration of May 28 was logically forbidden. The explosion of the Karabagh Movement in 1988 would change the general outlook. The claims to reunite the autonomous region of Mountainous Gharabagh to Armenia were accompanied by claims to address social, economic, and cultural burning issues of the present and hidden or distorted issues of the past.

From February 1988, huge crowds gathered at Theater Square (now Freedom Square), in front of the Yerevan Opera, in peaceful rallies to claim for the return of Gharabagh to Armenia. One such rally was held in the afternoon of May 28, 1988, to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the first independence. The well-attended gathering was organized by the Union for National Self-Determination, a political party founded by dissident Paruyr Hayrikian in 1987. Hairikian had been imprisoned in early 1988 for claiming that the Sumgait pogrom had been instigated by the Soviet leadership, and he would be stripped of Soviet citizenship and deported to Ethiopia. Other members of the party had taken charge, especially Movses Gorgisian (1961-1990), assisted by Mekhak Gabrielian. The “Mashtots” Union, an organization for the defense of Armenian language and culture, was also involved in the preparation.

After Gabrielian’s opening remarks, the first to take the stage was Movses Gorgisian, who started his message by saying: “People! I will show you something, don’t be afraid” He raised the tricolor flag of the first independence, until then a taboo subject, and he was echoed by several participants in the rally, who raised a total of seven flags in different places. “Do not be afraid of raising the tricolor flag of the republic,” added Gorgisian. He went on:

“The Armenian nation today celebrates the day of our statehood within the body of the Soviet Union, it is impossible to take that from us. We have prepared a message; we are addressing the government[s] of Armenia and the USSR to ask something: on this day, on May 28, in 1918 it became the day of the Armenian Republic, and the government has the obligation to approve it as the day of creation of our republic, in the same way that April was approved as mourning day.”

Banners placed on the stage read: “To proclaim May 28 day of united, all-national struggle for the just solution of the Armenian Cause” (Մայիս 28-ը հռչակել Հայ Դատի արդար լուծման համազգային պայքարի միասնութեան օր), “The only road to salvation of the Armenian people was found on May 28, 1918” (1918 թ. Մայիսի 28-ին գտնուեց հայ ժողովրդի փրկութեան միակ ուղին), “Today’s Armenia would not be a republic without May 28” (Առանց Մայիսի 28-ի այսօրուայ Հայաստանը հանրապետութիւն չէր լինի).

The main speakers were two noted linguists and intellectuals, Varag Arakelian and Rafayel Ishkhanian. Arakelian made a brief historical introduction and condemned the policy of Soviet Armenian authorities to lead the most glorious page of the last 500 years into oblivion. Ishkhanian rejected the label of “A.R.F. republic” that some people used to denigrate the first independence, while noting the A.R.F. majority in the government. He highlighted the role of Aram Manoukian as organizer of the victories of May and founder of the Armenian republic:

“The enemy reached Yerevan. The supreme command of the Armenian forces, led by Nazarbekov, had decided to hand Yerevan to the enemy and to organize the defense near Lake Sevan. The National Council of Tiflis had agreed with this decision. There was one man in Yerevan who said ‘No, if we hand Yerevan, then we will hand Armenia. If we hand Yerevan that means the end of the Armenian people.’ That man was Aram Manoukian. Unfortunately, I don’t see his picture here.” People held pictures of General Antranik, Karekin Nejdeh, various fedayis and also Hayrikian, who was then in a Moscow prison.

After the speeches, the doors of the Opera opened and the secretary of ideological issues of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party, the first secretary of the City Committee of the party, and other officials came out. They tried to take out the tricolor flags from the square, but in vain. They were met with cries of “Shame, go away!” Later on, poet Sylva Gabudikian had a televised speech, where she argued that the tricolor flag fragmented the nation, as it divided Armenia from the Diaspora.

Ironically, the next day the newspapers, all government-controlled, published the following news piece released by Armenpress: “On May 28, in the Theatrical Square of Yerevan, some people, veiled behind slogans related to Mountainous Gharabagh, tried to raise the issue of P. Hayrikian, known for his anti-Soviet declarations. They attempted to encourage people into illegal activities. Those attempts were condemned by those gathered there.”

From then on, the flag of the first Republic of Armenia would start appearing in the demonstrations for Gharabagh, and the idea of independence would begin taking roots. Two years later, on August 23, 1990, the Republic of Armenia would be reborn instead of the Armenian Socialist Soviet Republic, and the referendum for the independence would be held on September 21, 1991, while the once powerful Soviet Union was collapsing. 


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Armenian Prelacy
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(Prepared by Armenian National Education Committee

Long Live the Dead Language
In the best case scenario, when a king or queen passed away, his or her successor was usually ready to go. Hence the criers went around with the phrase “The king (queen) is dead! Long live the king (queen)!” Wherever a monarchy is still around, they probably still do this.

This is probably how the expression “long live” entered the vocabulary to express a preference for a person or a place. Somehow, it displaced a possible competitor like the Middle English word hail “healthy,” which we use nowadays only in the expressions “Hail Mary” and “Hail to the Chief.”

Most English speakers are familiar with the Spanish word viva (also in Italian and Portuguese), which is the subjunctive form of the verb “to live” ( vivir ) and the word that Spanish vassals used to greet their kings: ¡ Viva el rey ! (“Long live the king!”). In this regard, it seems the Romance languages are more “economic” than English.

The Armenian language uses the future tense (third person) of the verb “to live,” namely, the word կեցցէ ( getseh ). For example, we say Կեցցէ՛   Հայաստան   ( Getseh Hayastan “Long live Armenia”).

Wait a moment. Isn’t ապրիլ / abreel the Armenian word for “to live”?
Indeed it is, but that is the Modern Armenian word. The root of getseh is the Classical Armenian verb կեալ ( geal ), which means exactly the same. Generally speaking, we do not use the word ապրի /abree to cheer kings or singers, or to simply cheer Armenia, even though we use ապրիս /abrees to address our cheer to someone ( Ապրի՛ս , տղաս / Abrees, dughas “Bravo, my boy”) along with կեցցե՛ս / getsehs .

The same happens with the opposite of “long live,” that is, “down with.” While the expression is similar in Romance languages (e.g. Spanish Abajo el rey “Down with the king”), it is not the same for Armenian, where we use անկցի ( angtsee ), the third person of the future tense of the verb անկանիլ ( anganeel ) “to fall” in Classical Armenian. Thus, we would say Անկցի՛ թագաւորը ( Angutsee takavoruh “Down with the king”).

The Modern Armenian verb derived from anganeel is the familiar verb իյնալ (eenal “to fall”), and the root ang continues to exist in a batch of words like անկում ( angoom “fall”), անկարգել ( angarkel “parachute”), անկելանոց ( angelanots “asylum”), and others. 

Therefore, when you say that Classical Armenian is a dead language, don’t be so sure. You will be surprised to find so many words from the “dead” language that live everyday in our vocabulary. Getseh and angutsee are just two of them. 

Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian, pastor of St. Gregory Church of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts delivered a sermon on the occasion of Pentecost and the 100 th anniversary of the 1918 Republic of Armenia.

SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

May 25 —“Charley’s Aunt,” “ Charleyeen Morakouyreh ,” a comedy by Brandon Thomas presented by the Voice of Armenians TV NY, and Vladimir Kocharian Theatrical Group, under the direction of Karine Kocharian. Wayne YMCA, 1 Pike Drive, Wayne, New Jersey 07470, at 8 pm. Tickets: $50, $40, $30. For information 201-854-8767 or go to: .

May 28 —Providence ARF and ACAA-RI present a Special Concert to celebrate the 100 th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia. Maestro Konstantin Petrossian, conductor, featuring the Armenian Chorales of Rhode Island and Greater Worcester and Symphony Orchestra. Special appearance by famed soloist, Babin Boghosian, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, 30 Fenner Street, Providence, Rhode Island, 4 to 5:30 pm. Net proceeds will be donated to the Armenian Relief Society’s “Wounded and Disabled Soldiers Project.” Admission is free.

June 17 —“Yerevan, My Home,” presented by the Areni Choir, 6 pm at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67 th Street, New York, NY 10036. Concert is dedicated to Yerevan’s 2800 th anniversary and 100 th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia. Reception to follow. Donation : $50, $40 (children under12, $20). Tickets: Lincoln Center Box Office 212-501-3330; Germaine 917-288-2747; .

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 (Lecture rescheduled from an earlier date).

July 1-8, 2018 – 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 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.

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. .
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