November 17, 2016


Archbishop Oshagan has directed all Prelacy parishes to offer special plate collections this Sunday, November 20 and next Sunday, November 27 to benefit the annual Thanksgiving Telethon sponsored by the Armenia Fund.

Armenia Fund’s 19th International Thanksgiving Day Telethon 2016 will take place on November 24th from 1 pm to 1 am EST. Watch it live from anywhere at

Under the general theme of “MY ARTSAKH,” proceeds from Telethon 2016 will be allocated to initiatives for rebuilding war-ravaged communities in Artsakh, various measures to ensure the safety and security of the peaceful population of the republic, and the construction of homes for Artsakh large families.

Thomas Vartabedian

With deep sorrow, Archbishop Oshagan and the Religious and Executive Councils, announce the passing of Thomas (Tom) Vartabedian on Saturday, November 12, following a courageous battle with cancer. 

Funeral service will take place Saturday, November 19, at 11 am at St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, followed by burial in Linwood Cemetery in Haverhill. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Prelacy, will officiate. Visiting hours are on Friday, November 18, from 3 to 8 pm at St. Gregory Church. 

Tom was an award-winning Haverhill Gazette writer-photographer for 50 years and Armenian community activist who generously contributed his talent and experience as a writer, journalist, and photographer.  

He is survived by his wife Nancy, three children, Sonya, Ara, and Raffi, and six grandchildren.

Tom was a founding member of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley in North Andover, Massachusetts, where he taught Armenian School for 45 years, served on the Board of Trustees, and recently joined the choir. He was also a delegate to the Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly. He garnered national attention (even a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal) for an obituary writing class he launched last spring at the Haverhill Council on Aging, inspiring others to write their life’s story before they passed. 

He was a faithful contributor to the Prelacy’s Outreach magazine and electronic newsletter Crossroads with articles, photographs, and encouraging words that kept us in good humor. His word was as good as gold in meeting deadlines and capturing the right photo opportunity. 

In appreciation of his devoted service, the Prelacy awarded him its highest honor—The Eagle of the Prelacy—several years ago, joining just a few others who have been honored with this recognition.

Ara Demirdjian

Archbishop Oshagan and the Religious and Executive Council of the Eastern Prelacy received the news of the passing of Ara Demirdjian in Lebanon with great sorrow. Mr. Demirdjian was born on January 18, 1948 in Kessab, where he received his primary education at the Kessab Armenian School. He then attended the Karen Jeppe Jemaran in Aleppo and later earned a degree in political science from Haigazian University in Lebanon. 

Mr. Demirdjian taught Arabic in Beirut’s Suren Khanamarian School and the Neshan Palandjian Jemaran. He also served as the secretary of the Armenian bloc in the Lebanese parliament. From 1977 until his death he served as the ARF Bureau’s executive director. 

He was elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in 2008 and re-elected a number of times. He is survived by three children, Bedo, Sarhad, and Laleh and three grandchildren. His wife Zarmig Geordjian predeceased him in 2014. Funeral services will take place on Saturday, November 19 in Antelias, Lebanon.


Last Saturday, Archbishop Oshagan  presided over the 52nd anniversary celebration of Soorp Khatch Church, Bethesda, Maryland. On Sunday, His Eminence celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon.

Archbishop Oshagan and Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian with choir members and altar servers.

The Prelate addresses the large gathering at the anniversary dinner.


Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan will attend the celebration of Lebanon’s Independence Day at the Lebanese Consulate in New York, tomorrow evening, Friday, November 18.


In honor of Veterans Day the “Holy Seraphim” Choir of St. Gregory Church of Granite City, Illinois, sponsored a free patriotic concert, featuring the Liberty Clarinet Quartet from Scott Air Force Base. Refreshments were served after the concert.


Bible readings for Sunday, November 20, Eleventh Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Eve of the Fast of Advent), are: Isaiah 29:11-20; Philippians 4:8-23; Luke 11:1-13.

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say

“Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  (Luke 11:1-13). 


Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you. 

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. 

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only; for even in Thessalonica you sent me help once and again . Not that I seek the gift; but I seek the fruit which increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more; I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrance offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:8-23)

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


This Sunday, November 20, is the Eve (Paregentan) of the Fast of Advent (Hisnag). This is a week-long fast (Monday to Friday) leading up to the first Sunday of Advent, which is next Sunday. 

Advent is the period that guides us to the birth and baptism of Christ. It begins fifty days before January 6. Advent is intended to be a solemn and quiet time for prayer, reflection, and meditation in preparation for the mystery of the incarnation. 

Traditionally the entire fifty-day period of Advent was a period of fasting. Now there are three week-long fasts during Advent (along with the regular fasting days of Wednesday and Friday). The three week-long fasts are known as: The Fast of Advent (Hisnagats Bahk); The Fast of St. James (Sourp Hagopah Bahk); and the Fast of the Nativity (Dznuntyan Bahk).


This Saturday, November 19, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of All Saints, Old and New, Known and Unknown. The western churches celebrate All Saints Day on November 1. In the tradition of the Armenian Church, the date is variable depending on the season of the Cross. It can occur in late October or in November. The commemoration is rooted in the belief that there are many saints who are not known to us. Therefore, on this day all saints are honored.


On Monday, November 21, the Armenian Church commemorates the Presentation of the Holy Mother to the Temple (Unsayoum Sourp Asdvadzadzini), one of the eight feast days devoted to Mary in the Armenian liturgical calendar. The doctrine of the Holy Mother as “Mother-of-God” (Asdvadzamayr) and Bearer-of-God (Asdvadzadzin) was established in the fifth century at the Holy Ecumenical Council of Ephesus.



His Holiness Aram I and Pope Francis in the Vatican
The scheduled meeting between the Pope and Catholicos Aram I took place at the Papal office in the Vatican last Friday. After sharing greetings, the Catholicos expressed his great appreciation for the Pope’s two pronouncements on the Armenian Genocide of 1915 as the first genocide of the 20th century, which he made in 2015 at the Vatican and in 2016 in Yerevan. His Holiness Pope Francis reiterated his conviction on this matter.

Speaking of the conflicts in the Middle East and the current problems of the churches, Aram I said that the churches had endured difficulties at the cost of martyrdom for centuries and, yet presently, they remain committed to their vocation. He then thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican for defending the rights of Christians in the Middle East and for supporting efforts towards Christian-Muslim cooperation and conviviality. Pope Francis welcomed the Catholicos’ reminder, and in his turn stressed the vital importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and assured the continuing solidarity of the Vatican to this effect. In this context, the two Pontiffs emphasized the need to continue, with renewed pace, interreligious dialogue and collaboration in general, and Christian-Muslim in particular, to face together concerns and challenges of modern societies.

His Holiness Aram I speaking about the importance of the unity of the church, pointed out that establishing a common date for Easter would be a visible expression of Christian unity. The Holy Father reminded Aram I that during the last few decades the Catholic Church has given special attention to this matter and welcomes any efforts aimed at fixing a common date, which could be acceptable by all the churches.

Aram I also shared with Pope Francis the good news that Lebanon had a new president in the person of Gen. Michel Aoun. The Pope warmly greeted the election of a president, considering it an important step towards deepening the Christian-Muslim cohabitation in Lebanon.

Referring to the historical relations between the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia and the Vatican, which dates back to the time of the Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia, His Holiness Aram I reaffirmed his commitment to continue bilateral relation and collaboration with the Vatican. At the end of their meeting, both Pontiffs reemphasized the decisive importance of taking the church to the people through the kind of initiatives, which make the church a living and relevant reality in the life of the people.


Due to the ongoing war in Syria, the Armenian Relief Society has been concentrating on assisting the Armenian communities in Syria, especially in Aleppo where the situation is very dire. Continuing their efforts in this respect, the New York Mayr Chapter of the ARS organized a fundraising luncheon at the Almayass Restaurant in New York last Sunday. The event featured the talented tenor Mr. Kevork Hadjian. Mrs. Ani Nersissian, chairwoman of the Mayr chapter, welcomed the guests, and Mrs. Anais Tcholakian served as the master of ceremonies. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator Cathedral, encouraged everyone to pray for the Armenian community in Syria and to make generous donations.  

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with the ARS organizers of the event that benefited Syrian Armenian Relief.


St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (SSAES) in Watertown, Massachusetts, welcomed former SSAES student and Olympic Gymnast Houry Gebeshian on Thursday, November 10. There was a lot of excitement in the air when Principal Houry Boyamian presented Houry Gebeshian to the students gathered in the ACEC Hovnanian Hall. With the help of a PowerPoint presentation Gebeshian recounted her arduous journey that took her all the way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Her inspirational speech showed how determination, hard work and love of the homeland made her the first female gymnast representing the Republic of Armenia at the last Olympics. 

Olympic Gymnast Houry Gebeshian with SSAES Principal Houry Boyamian, teachers and students from grades 1 to 5.


Last Sunday His Grace Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General, presided over the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Sarkis Church of Douglaston, New York. Following the celebration, in the Chadrjian Hall, His Grace delivered an outstanding presentation of "My Prayer Book" authored by Archbishop Zareh Aznavorian, of blessed memory.

The 139-page pocketsize prayer book (3¼  x 5 ¼) contains prayers for different occasions—prayers from the Bible, prayers from the Armenian Book of Hours (Daily Services), prayers from the Church Fathers, including Gregory the Illuminator, Mesrob Mashdots, Basil the Great, Sahag Bartev, Gregory of Nareg, Nerses Lambronatsi, Nerses Shnorhali, and Dn. Hovhannes (Vartabed). It also includes a few prayers written by His Eminence Archbishop Zareh. All of the prayers were translated into modern Armenian from the classical Armenian (Krapar) by Archbishop Zareh.  Over 25 percent of the prayers are also translated into English.

His Grace Bishop Anoushavan read and commented on a selection of prayers from “My Prayer Book” to give the audience a taste of the prayer book.

“My Prayer Book” is available at the Prelacy’s bookstore for $5.00 (plus S/H). To order, please email or call 212-689-7810. 

“My Prayer Book,” is a thoughtful gift. Contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( ) or telephone (212-689-7810).

Bishop Anoushavan presents “My Prayer Book” in the St. Sarkis Chadrjian Hall last Sunday.

Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)

Death of Gevorg Akhverdian (November 17, 1861)

Painting of Sayat Nova by artist Mary Zakarian. Thanks to Gevorg Akhverdian, Sayat Nova’s research and preservation of Armenian folk music came to light fifty years after the troubador’s death.

In 1795 a priest called Der Stepanos was killed in Tiflis during an attack by Persian forces. He was actually Sayat Nova (1722-1795), the greatest Armenian troubadour, who had been forced by King Irakli II of Georgia to become a priest more than three decades before. His name and work remained in total obscurity until another native of Tiflis, Gevorg Akhverdian, would come to his rescue more than a half a century after his death.

Akhverdian was born on June 5, 1818, in the family of an officer of the Russian army. He graduated from the Lazarian lyceum of Moscow in 1834 and five years later he finished the medical school of the University of Moscow. He returned to the Caucasus, where he was an army doctor from 1839-1842. After a stint of four years as personal doctor for War Minister Chernishev in St. Petersburg (1842-1846), he came back to Tiflis as employee for the office of the viceroy of the Caucasus. Akhverdian was not a simple doctor, but his intellectual interests were much wider. He discovered the “Letter of Thrones” (Kahnamag/Գահնամակ), a document from the time of the Armenian kingdom, which established the order of hierarchy of the nobility. He participated in a project of gold mining for the Caucasian region and was also the head of the Armenian department of the committee that supervised the production of textbooks for the Caucasus. He also wrote a study on the guilds of Tiflis.

However, his major contribution to Armenian literature was the collection of works by Armenian troubadours. He discovered Sayat Nova’s handwritten collection of poems (called Davtar/Դաւթար) in three languages, kept at the library of a colleague, which contained 46 Armenian songs (written in Georgian characters), 114 Turkish songs (written in Armenian characters), and a few Georgian songs. He devoted himself to its deciphering and publication.

The collection of Sayat Nova’s songs was first printed in 1852. Akhverdian annotated the songs with explanations about many words that were difficult to understand to the reader. He also included a special study of the Tiflis dialect, which was necessary to understand Sayat Nova’s language and became the foundational pillar of Armenian dialectology. The second volume of his collection of songs by Armenian troubadours was published by his daughter Mane Akhverdian half a century after his death (1903).

Gevorg Akhverdian wrote a study on the history of Georgia based on Armenian sources, which remained unpublished. He passed away on November 17, 1861, in Tiflis, at the age of 43. 


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.

Season III - Episode 6 (87): A Grief Observed
In This Episode:
  • Unleashing new musical requests from you the listeners
  • Food Bazaar at St. Sarkis Church 
  • An Interview with our good friend and sponsor Dr. Carlo Bayrakdarian
  • Bible Reflection
  • Hymn Of The Day

Listen by Clicking Here or Clicking on the picture above!

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. NEW TERM BEGINS SEPTEMBER 10.

November 18-19—Fall Food Fest at Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Friday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. Enjoy a delicious meal of kebabs or kheyma, shop at the country store and bake table featuring katah choreg, tourshi, porov kufta, yalanchi and much more. For information 508- 852-2414.

November 19—Annual Armenian Dance at St. Gregory Church Community Center, Granite City, Illinois, organized by AYF “Antranig” Chapter.

November 20—91st Anniversary Celebration of St. Stephen’s Church, Hartford-New Britain, Connecticut. Banquet will follow church service at Case Mia at The Hawthorne, 2421 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, Connecticut. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet. $45 per person; $20 under twelve.

November 20—Thanksgiving Luncheon at 1 pm at St. Illuminator Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall, organized by St. Illuminator’s Ladies Guild. Admission: $30.00.

December 3—Children’s Christmas Concert with Maggie and Santa Clause. Organized by St. Illuminator’s Armenian Saturday School and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church Nareg Saturday School, in large hall of Sts. Vartanantz Church, at 4 pm. Tickets: $25.00. For information and tickets: Silva: 201-779-6744; Sts. Vartanantz Church: 201-943-2950; St. Illuminator Cathedral: 212-689-5880.

December 3—Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church Annual Bazaar, at the Pleasant Street Christian Reform Church Hall, 25 Cross Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, 10 am to 4:30 pm, dinners served at 11:30.

December 3 — 10th Annual Banquet by the Armenian National Committee-Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) in Washington, DC at the prestigious Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel.  Honored this year, among others, Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Dr. Levon Avdoyan, and Dr. Roger Smith. The theme for the banquet is "We Are Artsakh Strong" and special focus will be placed upon the activities being undertaken to strengthen and protect Artsakh. The banquet, sponsored by the ANCA Eastern Region Endowment Fund, will begin with cocktail reception and silent auction at 6 pm, followed by dinner and awards ceremony at 7:30 pm. The weekend will also include the first reunion of ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and Capital Gateway Program alumni, to be held in conjunction with the ANCA Christmas Party on Friday, December 2nd, ANCA-ER Special Briefing at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia on Saturday, December 3 from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm, with the participation of The Genocide Education Project (GenEd), Permanent Representative of Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the U.S. and Canada H.E. Robert Avetisyan, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S. H.E. Grigor Hovannissian. Brunch Seminar at the ANCA Washington DC Headquarters on Sunday, December 4th from 10 am to 12 noon. To RSVP for the Briefing and/or Seminar, please send an email to Space is limited to the first 50 RSVPs and priority will be given for out-of-town participants. For banquet tickets and for making donations please visit, for more information visit or contact ANCA Eastern Region at or  (917) 428-1918

December 11—Celebration of the 62nd Anniversary of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Granite City, Illinois. Episcopal Divine Liturgy, ordinations, and banquet.

December 18—Armenian Cultural Concert at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois.

The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email: