September 17, 2020
Click each activity to be redirected to its respective webpage.
The National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy elected the new Executive and Religious Council, in its first meeting of this kind convened entirely on a virtual platform by videoconference. Following an opening prayer by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, the Prelate invited Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian of St. Sarkis, Douglaston, NY, to first say a prayer in memory of the lives lost 19 years ago on September 11, 2001.

With 70 out of 76 eligible delegates in attendance, a quorum was achieved. Simone Topouzian, Chairperson, called the meeting to order, with delegates credentials, the
Executive Council’s report, the Financial Report and the budget draft approved by the Assembly with no objections. Janet Haroian served as secretary. The reports and the draft had been previously circulated and questions from the delegates answered by the Executive Council in due time.

Archbishop Anoushavan then introduced the virtual assembly to the message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I streamed live from Antelias. “In spite of tremendous difficulties of different nature and scope, the Prelacy, under the leadership of Surpazan, with religious and lay councils thanks to God, they have made significant achievements,” Aram I said. “They all deserve—in fact, you—my warm thanks and deep appreciation.”

We are living, His Holiness said, “in unusual times… humanity is still under the constant and fearful threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and it seems that the challenges, concerns, problems generated by this pandemic will be around us for the foreseeable future.” Hence, he urged the faithful “to be realistic in planning and organizing the activities and the agenda priorities of the Prelacy as well as of our parishes.”

In his address to the Assembly, the Catholicos mentioned his directive encouraging parishes to entrust women and youth with leadership positions in our churches and communities. He also expressed his happiness over the theme of “learning and growing together,” as learning is an endless process in the life of a person, organization and community. We should all become a source of learning including learning from the pandemic, he said.

In his closing remarks, the Catholicos called on strengthening our national unity.

“We need to deepen the sense of togetherness: we are one nation, we are one people, we are one community, we are one Church,” Aram I said. “That sense of togetherness brings us together: we need to strengthen this bond.”

Upon the request of Mrs. Topouzian, Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian of St. Sarkis, Dearborn, Mi., reviewed the voting procedures and conducted a “test” vote on behalf of the Nominating Committee. As the test run was being conducted, Mrs. Topouzian invited Anoushavan Surpazan to deliver his message to the Assembly (see the full text below).

In his address to the delegates, His Eminence outlined the challenges the Prelacy had faced in this unprecedented year and how it had responded to them.

“At first, when the lockdown was imposed, many people were frightened and others were uncertain,” Archbishop Anoushavan said. “Yet we managed to learn a new way to thrive.”

He acknowledged the toll the Covid-19 pandemic had taken and that the difficulties are not over yet.

“There is no doubt that we have paid a high price in the loss of precious lives and the downturn of the economy,” he said, adding that “there is a long way to go before the journey is finished.”

Still, “the fact that we were challenged but not defeated is the solid reality that the loss was not in vain but laid the foundation of a new era.”

The Prelate then summed up his thoughts in three major concepts:

Divine Guidance: Thank God that even though we were deprived of the opportunity to celebrate together Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, and all the following feasts together, God continues to lead us by hope in the resurrection “to discover a new dimension of the power of faith over fear and in the face of uncertainty.”

Collaboration: “It is often the case that disasters, rather than prosperity, will bring people closer to one another,” His Eminence said. “The pandemic was not an exception to this phenomenon… collaboration stands as one of the major keys for our common success,” he said, highlighting the heroic sacrifices of the medical community, officials, and the public during the pandemic.

Innovation: This concept, which has a become a byword for our experience in the era of the pandemic, “Necessity is the mother of invention” has become the byword in our experience in the era of the pandemic. “innovation has become the driving force for plans and activities throughout the Prelacy.”

To finalize, His Eminence invoked “the magnificent Badarak chant, ‘Heavenly King, keep unshaken our Church and keep in peace the worshipers of your holy name.’ God works in mysterious ways through each of us and for each of us. May God bless and protect from visible and invisible viruses, enemies, and powers. May He keep the world, Christendom, the Armenian Apostolic Church, unshaken, and the worshipers of His Holy Name in peace.”

After the voting for Executive and Religious Councils was finished and the minutes were ratified, following one minor correction, Chairwoman Topouzian invited the Prelate to offer his closing remarks. After thanking the delegates for their participation in a historic session of the Assembly, Archbishop Anoushavan again urged everybody to have “faith over fear,” with the certainty that we will emerge stronger from the pandemic.

Crossroads will report on the result of the Executive and Religious Council elections following ratification by Catholicos Aram I.
Prelacy Raffle Drawn: Five Winners
As the meeting came to a close, the drawing of the annual Prelacy raffle was livestreamed via Facebook Live from St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York. Melissa Simonian, of N. Providence, RI, won the fifth prize; the fourth went to Bearge Deirmenjian Miller, of West Chester, PA; Vache Assadourian, of Fairview, NJ, took the third prize, and Edward Barsamian, of Woodside, NY, won the second. Edward Asadorian, of Granite City, IL, won the top prize of $5,000.
Had I delivered my opening message to the National Representative Assembly with this theme, “Learning and Growing”, as originally scheduled for May 14 in Philadelphia, the content of my remarks would have been markedly different. The ensuing pandemic, which totally changed and threatened the course of our normal life, became a test of learning and growth by mobilizing our inner and dormant abilities to overcome it. As St. Paul eloquently states: “We boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” (Rom 5.4).

At first, when the lockdown was imposed, many people were frightened, and others were uncertain about how to meet the challenge of spending a full week in isolation. As the gravity of the situation unfolded, the impossibility became a reality of month after month of personal and community isolation. We thought that the entire system of our functionality would be paralyzed and could collapse, and yet we managed to learn a new way to thrive. There is no doubt that we have paid a high price in the loss of precious lives and in the downturn across the economy, and still there is a long way to go before this journey is finished. Nevertheless, the fact that we were challenged but not defeated is the solid reality that the losses were not in vain but laid the foundation for a new era.

With this understanding. I would like to share a few thoughts, which I have discerned from this pandemic. Humbly, I must confess that my intellectual and spiritual growth over the past six months, when compared with my six decades of life experience, is quite remarkable. Taking into consideration the time limit of our august Assembly, I would like to condense my thoughts with the following initials: DCI, which stand for Divine Guidance; Collaboration, and Innovation.

Divine Guidance: In retrospect, by recollecting our first experiences starting in March as we faced the global threat of this microscopic virus and on a daily basis as we were overwhelmed with often contradictory information, we witnessed the transformation of our most advanced healthcare systems and technology. Moreover, we were cautioned that everyone should consider themselves potential carriers of the virus; indeed, the gravity of our entire knowledge, and our very existence and beliefs were shaken. Within the atmosphere of this unprecedented uncertainty, we were more frightened than the first man, Adam, when he was watching the sunset and amid darkness was not sure what was going to follow. Thank God for His Providential care that eventually the sunrise prevailed and with tiny yet solid steps we were able to move forward. Thank God that, even though we were deprived of celebrating together Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, and all the following feasts together, nevertheless, He continues to lead us by hope in the Resurrection to discover a new dimension of the power of Faith over fear and in the face of uncertainty. I thank the Lord also for directing and enabling me, within the health agencies’ protocols, to travel by land and to personally visit our parishes to convey to them the message that the social distancing imposed by the coronavirus could never distance the Prelacy from our beloved communities, and to assure all of our faithful that together we would overcome the pandemic with the Prelacy’s Prescription: Prayer, Prudence and Patience.

Collaboration: It is often the case that disasters, rather than prosperity, will bring people closer to one another. The pandemic was not an exception to this phenomenon. In general, when we observe the gradual advance from the pandemic turmoil to a life that is returning to normal, collaboration stands as one of the major keys for our common success. The heroic sacrifice of the physicians, nurses, and medical staff who were and are on the front line of this invisible war; the public servants who provide our necessities and comforts; the officials in the many governmental agencies who are dedicated to supporting the scientists as they search for the cure for this virus; and the cooperation of the citizens in following the instructions; definitely, each and all have contributed an essential ingredient to success.

Likewise, during this pandemic the principle of collaboration in our Prelacy was more evident than at any other time. His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, after consulting with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, instructed us temporarily to take unprecedented steps to revise our liturgical and sacramental life. Since the beginning of the lockdown, every Monday evening the Prelacy has scheduled a two-hour conference call with all of our pastors, updating our experiences throughout a poignant journey and always exploring new ways and means to secure both the spirit of our Church’s mission and the overall wellbeing of our congregations. On a regular basis we have been in communication with H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, and H.E. Archbishop Papken Tcharian, Prelate of Canada; also with His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and His Excellency Varujhan Nersissian, Ambassador of Armenia to the United States, sharing our common concerns and solutions during this time. Prelacy Executive Council meetings as well as Prelacy Staff meetings have been held on a regular basis, securing a comparatively smooth transition. Our Pastors, in conjunction with local sister organizations, have been able to reach out those who were in need, most especially to our seniors who are living on their own.

With the cooperation of our Pastors and Boards of Trustees we were able to maintain the stability of respective communities as we paved the way toward a gradual reopening of our churches. With our schools’ Principals we have been able to provide the essentials of our Armenian culture to our youngest generation. With the help of our domestic media, and media abroad, we have been able to communicate timely advice and to promote a positive spirit in confronting the pandemic. Yes, all these and more are part and parcel of a miraculous word, collaboration, which has become more dynamic nationwide, especially as we have been most recently challenged by the catastrophic explosion that took place on August 4th in Beirut, Lebanon. Armenians dispersed all over the world have stood together and expressed their solidarity spiritually, morally and financially. I am pleased to inform you that, with the spontaneous collaboration of our parishioners and friends, as of today we have raised a total of $316,984 [Editor’s note: as of September 12, 2020] to reach out to our brothers and sisters to provide relief and aid in the process of healing. Our contribution is transferred via the Catholicosate to the Lebanon Central Coordinating Committee headed by Archbishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate. We pray that in due time, with God’s blessing and our collaboration, the scars will begin to disappear and the country of the cedars will celebrate renewed peace and life and bring their positive input for the progress of the global family.

Innovation: The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” has become the byword in our pandemic experience. As with other institutions, innovation has become the driving force to update plans, programs, and activities throughout the Prelacy. The Prelacy, with all her churches and parish organizations, within a short period of time, has striven to cope with this unprecedented situation and to respond efficiently to the needs of our people. Our Pastors, to their credit, provide daily reflections along with live streaming every Sunday of the services and the Badaraks as well as the lighting of candles or offering special prayers for the deceased or the sick. Bible Studies, lectures, reading of Bible stories as well as passages from Armenian literature for children, the Siamanto Academy and Datev Institutes’ online courses for teens —all these programs, and more, have been reorganized within new parameters to meet the needs of our people. If I were asked in the beginning of this year to describe the word “zoom,” following the dictionary definition, I would have answered “to focus on a subject to examine more closely”. Since last March, however, Zoom has become the best means for our meetings with the Executive Council, clergy, staff, board members, principals, and today with our NRA delegates.

Having been forged within the positive outcome of the pandemic, we look forward with a more positive spirit and a clearer view. During the second year of my tenure, soon we will enjoy the ordination to the priesthood of a new candidate born and raised in America. Our Departments of Christian Education, National Education, and Communication have launched new projects, and with innovative collaboration will elevate the spiritual, academic, and technological objectives in our various communities. We pray and hope that God will enable us to implement the many new projects that have been planned for the coming year.

In concluding my remarks, I would like to thank the Almighty Lord for His Providential care in leading us to learn and to grow, not only in times of peace and prosperity, but also in times of tribulation and uncertainty. I extend my filial gratitude to His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, who directed us in this difficult period of turmoil. My deepest thanks and appreciation to my colleagues: to the Religious and Executive Council members for their unconditional collaboration; to the Prelacy staff for their superb dedication; to our Pastors who wholeheartedly carry the heavy yoke under the dispensation of God’s commandment of love and service; to the NRA members and boards of trustees who vigilantly continue their care over their respective churches and maintain the integrity of our communities; to our sister organizations for their support toward our common goal. I would like also to thank our parishioners and friends by making the following confession: during the pandemic, once every week when I used to visit the Prelacy to collect the mail, I was deeply moved to receive the appreciated envelopes of support sent by our trustees as well by our beloved parishioners and dear friends. I always stopped to read their names, one by one, and the clear voice of Catholicos Khoren I, of blessed memory, clearly echoed in my ears, “Son, in the coming years of service, through your experience, you will realize that you are serving a gold-hearted people,” and raising my tearful eyes to heaven, offered the genuine prayer which poured from my heart and faith with the magnificent words of our Badarak’s chant: "Թագաւոր երկնաւոր զեկեղեցի քո անշարժ պահեա, եւ զերկրպագուս անուանդ քում պահեա ի խաղաղութեան; Heavenly King keep unshaken your Church, and keep in peace the worshipers of Your holy name.” It is true that God works in mysterious ways through each of us and for each of us.

May God protect the world from visible and invisible viruses, enemies, and powers. May He keep Christendom and the Armenian Apostolic Church unshaken, and the worshipers of His Holy Name in peace.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Forty days have passed since the terrible explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. When I heard the news, I called a close friend of mine. He was devastated: “They took everything from us: home, job, savings, and even hope,” he said. “There is no reason to stay anymore here in this country”. I was literally speechless. He was a person who had witnessed the most severe and darkest days since the civil war of Lebanon in 1975, and I had never heard him say anything like this. By virtue of my vocation, I was supposed to encourage him but, for the first time, I felt that I myself needed that reenergizing power.

A couple days later, I got a text message from the same person, which I would like to share with you. It reads: “Never lose hope. Just when you think it’s over, God sends you a miracle. Amen”. I could not believe how this miraculous change had taken place, yet it was a fact, which happened with my friend, and since then, the miracle of hope started to impact on the life of the Lebanese people and our lives as well.

In light of this positive transformation of my friend, I came to have a deeper understanding of St. Paul. In his letter addressed to the Corinthians, the Apostle says, “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again” (2 Cor 1.8-10).

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, Hope is having something imperishable when we don’t have anything. It is the new beginning after a dead end. And that new beginning has started and will continue.
I wish I could say few more things about hope, but because our video director Greg Dosttur is signaling not to exceed five minutes, I positively yield to his command and say that I am glad that, as of today, our fundraising has surpassed $300,000. To be exact, $324,931. Today we have made the sixth transfer of $50,000, which is the maximum amount according to banking regulations. The transferred sum is distributed by the Lebanon Central Coordinating Committee to our brothers and sisters.
May God direct us all,

Prelate, Eastern Prelacy of the United States
To see the sixth list of donations, click here
To see the general list of donations, click here
On Sunday, September 20, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, will preside over the Divine Liturgy at St. Gregory Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian, Pastor, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon. Our faithful may follow the ceremony via live streaming.
By directive of the Prelate this Sunday, September 20, Prelacy parishes will offer special prayers for the Republic of Armenia on the occasion of the 29 th anniversary of its independence. During the Requiem Service prayers will be offered for the new martyrs of Artsakh’s struggle for independence.

O Christ our God, guardian and hope of the faithful, keep, guard, and bless the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian nation, the Armenian Church, and your people present in peace, under the protection of your holy and venerable cross. Deliver us from visible and invisible enemies. Make us worthy to thankfully glorify you together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

(From “Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Republic of Armenia.”)

As Armenia prepares to celebrate its 29th anniversary, it is worth to look back to assess the significance of this date. For a country that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the collapse of an economy and polity that had been coercively integrated for more than seven decades, this is no small feat.

For as Armenia was moving towards its independence, it was hit by a catastrophic earthquake; Azerbaijan was showing its true, Turkish colors, and conducting itself accordingly, with massacres of Armenians, notably the pogroms of Sumgait and Baku.

Yet in these 29 years, the longest continuous stretch of independence in six centuries, democracy in Armenia—flawed as it may have been at times—remained unquestioned. Changes in the government, not always without drama, were mostly peaceful and bloodless; last time around, the Velvet Revolution, it was a popular feast, that showed Armenia at its best in the civilized behavior of all political actors involved and the citizenship.

In hindsight, too, we may realize that we could not take Karabagh’s liberation for granted. Yet, today Artsakh is again Armenian, as it has always been, and accountable to no one but its citizens and the Armenian nation.

Despite all the challenges of a still small economy, emigration, and now Covid-19, Armenia is a thriving country, in an understated way. The World Bank notes that the government of Armenia “continues to enjoy strong public support” as it pursues an ambitious agenda of political, economic and judicial transformation.

“On the foreign policy front, Armenia has strengthened its ties with the European Union while maintaining a strong partnership with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union,” the World Bank says.

And for a country faced with so many geopolitical and geographical constraints, its economy is healthy. Real GDP growth was of 7.5 percent in 2017 and 5.2 percent in 2018, with still strong performance in 2019, when the economy expanded by 7.6 percent.

This, obviously, has come at a price, most dearly paid by young Armenian soldiers and the families they leave behind when they fall in the line of the duty. For the biggest catastrophe Armenia still faces is the uncivilized neighbors that flank it—Turkey and its little cousin, Azerbaijan, which keep embarrassing themselves and each other with their thuggish rulers that suffer from Ottoman megalomania and related delusions.

Armenia will carry on, regardless of all the challenges that still stand in our way and the new ones that will arise, for our nation is timeless, for our still young third republic is just turning 29, but our nation is timeless.

Today [Sunday, September 13] according to the Armenian Church Calendar, we are celebrating the Elevation of the Holy Cross, based on a historical event that took place in the 7th century. The Cross, which was discovered in the 4th century by the gracious zeal of Queen Helen, was preserved in Jerusalem. It was the symbol of Christian faith. In 614 A.D., the Persians, having invaded Jerusalem, took it with them captive to assure the superiority of their faith over Christianity. Emperor Heraclius fought back and, using a military superb tactic, defeated the Persian army and liberated the Cross. Since then, the feast of the Elevation of the Cross has become the biggest feast of the four dedicated to the Holy Cross.

The Cross, regardless of its material value of wood, silver or gold, whether we carry it on our chest or during processions, whether it is installed on the altars or on domes of the churches, is a reminder of the unconditional love of God toward mankind throughout all ages. It is also a constant reminder of a sacred mission. In the synoptic Gospels, our Lord Jesus Christ has referred on different occasions to the Cross as an essential experience in our identity as his followers, by saying, “whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38); also, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). In these commands, it is very clear that the Cross stands for surrender to God’s will, who knows what ultimate good is for us and mankind.

The Cross has also a unique dimension that mirrors the Divine essence, as we have witnessed in Jesus Christ. Indeed, when our Lord said to Thomas that, “If you know me, you will know my Father also” (Jn 14:7), He assured us that the more we focus on Him, our intellectual and spiritual scope will be widened and we will reach out and have access to realities beyond our comprehension, as St. Paul says: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). In this regard, I believe that the Cross reveals the depth of Godhead. Indeed, the Cross as much as is a reminder of the Love, Mission and horrible Passion of the Crucified One on Golghota, it is also a revelation of the Divine agony of the Creator since the Fall of Man, even before the Fall. For by the virtue of being omniscient, God knew that His act of love will be followed by an ever-continued consequence of suffering even beyond the Crucifixion, because of the petrified disbelief of humans. Nevertheless, with Love prevailing over suffering, God said, “Let there be light” and there was light and life.

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, God being infinite love, His suffering also transcends all comprehension. In this regard, the parental experience of love and suffering as a miniature may provide us a with a clue of the Divine experience. When we examine parental lifetime behavior of understanding, patience, forgiveness, care and worries toward their children, regardless of the latter’s behavior of gratitude or ungratefulness, obedience or disobedience, then we may have a glimpse of the gravity of the eternal loving Father’s suffering on behalf of our ignorance, indifference and denial. With each injustice, immoral and irresponsible act committed by creatures of all ages, the heart of the Creator grieves, afflicts and bleeds, always expecting that as carriers of His own image we would willingly regret and repent. He mourns even when unconsciously we condemn ourselves to damnation.

That is why the celebration of the Holy Cross invites us to a supreme consciousness and responsibility. After knowing that we have such a loving and caring heavenly Father, let us bring our share in edifying this sacred Creation. God doesn’t expect us to carry a burden more than we can do. He doesn’t expect us to carry the burden of the universe or, like Atlas, the celestial heavens forever. What He expects from us is to be who we are as children of God, by reflecting His light in darkened hearts, bringing hope to those who are hopeless and causing a smile amid tearful eyes. By doing all these and other positive things and living a virtuous life, there is no doubt that we will not only carry the sacred name of Christian, but also joyfully the sacred Cross, which, in the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “is easy, and light” (Mt 11:30) to all those who trust Him and follow in His footsteps.

With this understanding and faith let, us joyfully celebrate the feast of the Elevation of the Cross, by elevating the bars of Faith, Hope and Love in our hearts, thoughts and deeds, and praise the Almighty Lord.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 20, Second Sunday of the Exaltation (Eve of the Fast of the Holy Cross of Varak), are: Isaiah 14:3-17; 2 Corinthians 10:18-11:10; Mark 10:1-12.
Mark 10:1-12

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

* * *

2 Corinthians 10:18-11:10

For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Sunday, September 20, is the Paregentan (Eve) of the Fast of the Holy Cross of Varak. Monday to Friday are fasting days leading up to next Sunday, September 27, when the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak will be commemorated.
Next Tuesday, September 22, the Armenian Church remembers Febronia, Mariana, and Shoushan. The best known of the three is Shoushan, daughter of Vartan Mamigonian and great-granddaughter of Sahag Bartev. She was educated under the tutelage of St. Sahag and her mother, Sahaganoosh. Her father’s life and martyrdom influenced her to become a devout and faithful Christian. Her birth name was Varteny, but she was called Shoushan because of her extraordinary piety. She was married to Vazken, a son of a Georgian king, and had three sons and a daughter. After the death of her father-in-law, her husband became power hungry, went to Persia, renounced the Christian faith and returned to Georgia with another wife, and tried to force Shoushan to renounce her Christian faith. Even after years of imprisonment and torture she refused to renounce the faith for which her father had fought so valiantly.

Febronia was a nun of extraordinary beauty at Nisibis in Mesopotamia. She was offered to be spared from persecution and torture if she renounced her religion. She refused and was brutally martyred.

Although the daughter of idol worshippers, Mariana was raised by a woman who was secretly a Christian and was baptized at the age of twelve. At the age of fifteen she confessed to her father that she was a Christian. She refused to renounce her religion, and refused the offer of marriage by a local official telling him that she was “married to Christ.” She was tortured and martyred.

Also commemorated this week:
Monday, September 21, Sts. Mamas, Philictimon and St. Simeon Stylites the Elder
The Parishes of the Prelacy celebrated Khachverats, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross last Sunday.
Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York was followed by the ceremony of Antasdan (blessing of the four corners of the world) and the blessing of basil and the madagh that was dedicated to the 105th anniversary of the heroic battle of Mousa Dagh.
A scene from the feast at Soorp Khatch Church of Bethesda, Maryland.
Khachverats at St. Hagop Armenian Church of Racine, Wisconsin, with the traditional blessing of basil.
All Saints Armenian Church of Glenview, IL celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation.
This year, for the first time, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, of Philadelphia, added the traditional madagh to the feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross in memory of the victims of the devastating blast in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. Among the casualties there were 15 Armenians. Madagh was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Noubar and Ani Megerian, and was prepared and donated by Mr. and Mrs. Tony and Lena Streeter. The blessing of the madagh was held outdoors to let parishioners who could not enter the church for health restrictions take part in the ceremony. After the blessing, those parishioners received madagh and basil (rehan) on the curbside from the hand of Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian.
The blessing of basil ceremony at St. Stephen’s Church of Watertown, MA.
A scene from the celebration at Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church of Whitinsville, Massachusetts.
The community of St. Gregory Church of Springfield, Massachusetts, got together for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
In collaboration with ANEC one-day schools.
Classes start: September 26, 2020 at 10:30 am

For registration and more information visit:

The Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship program was established in 1993 and continues to be the central mission of the Prelacy’s projects in Armenia and Artsakh. As part of the program, letters are received regularly from children addressed to their actual or potential sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads.

This week’s letter is from Khachik* who is sponsored by the Ladies’ Guild of St. Gregory’s Church of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts.
*In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.
Dear Sponsor,

This year, I was promoted to 12th grade in school. I am a straight-A student. In the last few years I’ve been interested in mathematics and probably I will continue my future education in that field. I would like to tell you that in this difficult period of my life your help has a major significance. The holiest of humans’ traits is charity. Charitable people understand the aspirations of needy children and help them to stand on their own.
I thank you sincerely and wish you good health and success in your endeavors. May God protect you and your family.
Click here for online sponsorship of minors up to the age of 18.

Click here for online sponsorship of orphans who become students at a higher education institution upon turning 18.

You can always contact the Prelacy by email ( or telephone (212-689-7810) for the sponsorship of both minors and university students in the program of the St. Nerses the Great Organization in Armenia.
Archbishop Zaven Der Yeghiayan

This book is the English-language edition of the memoirs of Zaven Der Yeghiayan, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople during the First World War (1913-1922) and in its aftermath. The memoirs cover the momentous years from his election in 1913 to his withdrawal in 1922, a traumatic period for the Armenian nation marked by the rule of the Young Turks and their criminal legacy of genocide. Patriarch Zaven’s recounting of his agonizing conversations with Talaat Pasha and other Young Turk leaders, his appeals to European and Church leaders, his encounters and disappointments with Armenian figures, and his critical observations and pointed anecdotes provide glimpses of the mentality of the times.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore ( or 212-689-7810)


Death of Hovhannes Bagramian (September 21, 1982)
Marshal Hovhannes Bagramian (Baghramian) was a famous Soviet military commander during World War II, when he became the second non-Slavic military officer, after Latvian Max Reyter, to become the commander of a Front. He was among several Armenians high-ranking officers in the Soviet Army during the war and widely regarded as a hero in the Soviet Union and Armenia.

He was born in Elizavetpol, the historical Armenian city of Gandzak (modern Ganja, now in Azerbaijan) on December 2, 1897. His parents were from the nearby village of Chartakhlu, which was populated almost entirely by migrants from the village of Maghavuz in Gharabagh. His parents could not afford to send him to the local gymnasium and enrolled him in a two-year school. After graduation in 1912, Bagramian went to the three-year railway technical institute in Tiflis, following his father in the tradition of rail work. He was slated to become a railway engineer, when World War I changed his life.

He entered the Russian Army as a volunteer and joined in 1915 the second Caucasus frontier regiment of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, which was sent to expel the Ottomans from Persia. After the Russian victory, Bagramian returned to Tiflis and attended the military academy for officers from February to June 1917. After the October Revolution, he enlisted in the newly formed Armenian army and fought the Ottoman army in Sarikamish and Kars in April 1918. He took part in the crucial victory at Sardarabad and remained in the regiment until May 1920, when he participated in the failed Bolshevik uprising. He was jailed and sent to work in the fields for several months but was allowed to rejoin the military with the outbreak of the Turkish-Armenian war. After the Sovietization, Bagramian joined the 11th Red Army, where he was appointed cavalry regiment commander. In 1922, he married his wife Tamara, who was the widow of an officer killed during the Turkish-Armenian war left with their one-year-old son. They would have a daughter and live together until her death in 1973.

He was the commander of the Alexandropol cavalry regiment from 1923-1931. He graduated from the Leningrad Cavalry School in 1933 and the Frunze Military Academy in 1934, and then served as chief of staff of the 5th Cavalry Division (1934-1936) and worked as a senior instructor and lecturer at the Military Academy of the Soviet General Staff in 1938-1940. In 1940, Bagramian, then a colonel, became head of operations for the 12th Army based in Ukraine. Within three months, he was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Southwestern Front, headquartered in Kiev.

In a move atypical for a Soviet officer, he joined the Communist Party late in his career, in 1941. After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Bagramian took part in the great tank battles in western Ukraine and the defensive operation around Kiev. He was then appointed chief of staff to Marshal Semyon Timoshenko and was instrumental in the planning of two Soviet counteroffensives against the Germans, including the major push made by Soviet forces in December during the Battle of Moscow, and for this was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

In late 1942, he was appointed commander of the 16th Army, which was not called up to action until February 1943. Bagramian’s 11th Guards Army (the renamed 16th Army) was tasked to take part in the offensive in Kursk in July 1943. After the operation was successfully concluded, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel-General. In the following month, his forces took part in the large-scale tank offensives that forced Germany to remain on the defensive for the remainder of the war.

In November 1943, Stalin offered Bagramian the position of head commander of the First Baltic Front and promoted him to the rank of Army General. He had a key role in Operation Bagration, which was launched in June 1944 to eliminate a pocket of four armies of Panzer tanks. He was decorated with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his achievements in the success of the operation. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives that pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics in July-August 1944.

After the war, he remained in command of the Baltic Military District. In 1955 he was appointed deputy minister of Defense with the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union. He was also head of the Military Academy of General Staff and commander of the reserve forces of the Soviet Armed Forces.

He served as deputy of the Supreme Soviets of Armenia (1955-1982) and Latvia. In 1961, he was inducted as a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. He wrote articles in military journals about Soviet strategic operations and, most notably, co-authored the six-volume work The Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War (1941–1945). In August 1967, he accompanied General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin to North Vietnam, where he helped negotiate the transfer of logistics and arms to the country during the Vietnam War.

Bagramian retired in 1968 and published his two-volume war memoirs in 1971 and 1977. Based on these two volumes, he published My Memoirs in 1980, based on the previous two volumes. He dedicated a large portion of the book to Armenian issues, including the territories of Western Armenia, the Ottoman massacres of Armenians and the Armenian genocide, the Ottoman invasion of Eastern Armenia and the battle of Sardarabad, as well as other topics.

Marshal Bagramian was awarded numerous Soviet and foreign orders and medals for his service, including two Orders of Hero of the Soviet Union, seven Order of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, three Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov and the Order of Kutuzov.

Bagramian passed away on September 21, 1982, in Moscow, and was buried with full military honors at the Kremlin wall necropolis in the Russian capital. A town in Armenia, a military firing range, an Armenian army training brigade, and a subway station and central street in Yerevan are named in his honor. In 1997, the government of Armenia established a commemorative medal with his name, which is awarded to servicemen and civilian personnel who participated in World War II.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( 
In October 1957, His Holiness Zareh I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, sent as his legate Bishop Khoren Paroyan to the new Prelacy in the United States. Bishop Hrant Khatchadourian was elected locum tenens in 1958 and Prelate in 1961. He served as Prelate until 1973, during a period of great growth.                              

During the early years, the Prelacy rented office space until such time that the community could purchase permanent headquarters in Manhattan. A committee of supporters was formed to help organize the new Prelacy offices by raising money for all of the expenses of establishing and maintaining a functioning office. This committee met regularly to organize fundraising events and to actually help furnish the offices and even to volunteer their time to keep the office functioning professionally. This photograph, courtesy of Mrs. Julie Ishkhanian, was taken during one of the early meetings of this dedicated group of supporters. Others also joined to support this much-anticipated and welcome endeavor.

Seen in this photo, left to right, are: Standing, Mary Sheshedian, Mabel Manoogian, Bishop Hrant Khachadourian, Archbishop Khoren Paroyan, Julie Ishkhanian, Nuvart Kaprielian, Arsen Sayan, Krikor Assadourian, Rev. Fr. Kourken Yaralian. Kneeling, Harry Manoogian, Haig Coharian, Armen Babamian. On the far right, partial view of Rev. Fr. Nishan Papazian. Not seen, but a part of this committee is the photographer of this photo, Mr. Vahe Ishkhanian.
If you have old photos of our community, please send them to the Prelacy to the attention of Executive Director.
Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Lebanon Relief Fund)

Crossroads welcomes your letters (English and/or Armenian), as well as parish news, photographs, and calendar items. The deadline for submitting items is Tuesday evenings. Please write to

(Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style)
September 26 —First Siamanto Academy online session of the 2020-21 school year at 10:30 am. Students from all our parishes are welcome. For further information and to register, please visit:

Follow us on Social Media
The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email:

Visit the Catholicosate webpage at