September 22, 2016
Michael Najarian, Sr.
Archbishop Oshagan and the Religious and Executive Councils received with sadness the news of the passing of Michael Najarian.

A National Funeral will take place on Wednesday, September 28, 11 a.m. at St. Stephen Church in Watertown, Massachusetts, with Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian presiding. The homecoming wake service will take place Tuesday evening at St. Stephen’s Church.

Michael was a devoted member of the Armenian Church and served in many areas of leadership. He served on the Prelacy’s Executive Council from 1978 to 1982. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees and a delegate to the National Representative Assembly on behalf of St. Stephen’s Church. He was a frequent contributor to the Prelacy’s monthly newsletter, Outreach, and on various occasions organized Prelacy workshops and conferences. He was awarded the Knight of Cilicia insignia in 1997 in recognition of his devotion and distinctive service to the Armenian Church.

Asdvatz Hokeen Lousavoreh. May God Illuminate his soul.


Armenians throughout the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia with prayer services and celebrations.  All Prelacy parishes offered special services during the Divine Liturgy last Sunday. 

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, traveled to Armenia at the invitation of President Serge Sarkisian, to take part in the celebrations in Yerevan. His Holiness was accompanied by Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran, Bishop Norayr Ashekian, and Very Rev. Fr. Bedros Manuelian.

Following the celebrations in Yerevan, during a meeting of the Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Committee, President Sarkisian decorated His Holiness with the Republic’s “Mesrob Mashdotz” medal and the “Tigran the Great” medal to the President of Karabakh, Bako Sahakian, in appreciation of their work to strengthen Armenia and Karabakh, and their efforts to advance and protect Armenian culture and values.


Archbishop Oshagan was invited to attend an Independence Day Celebratory Art Exhibit and Concert at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York last night. The evening began with a thanksgiving prayer service, followed by a concert featuring cellist Laura Navasardian, clarinetist Narek Arutyunian, tenor Yeghishe Manoucharian, and pianist Sahan Arzruni. An exhibit of works by contemporary Armenian artists, “25 Years, 25 Artists,” was on display in the Cathedral’s complex as part of the celebration. Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian was the guest of honor. Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian accompanied Archbishop Oshagan. The service and concert was broadcast live online via the Diocese’s Livestream channel. 


The more than two decades of visionary leadership of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, will be marked on Sunday, October 9. The celebratory day will begin with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, celebrated by His Holiness. In the afternoon a special cultural program prepared specifically for this occasion will take place at the Marriott at Glenpointe in Teaneck, New Jersey, that will be followed with a banquet and anniversary celebration at the same venue. This event will be the one and only celebration honoring His Holiness within the Eastern Prelacy. All Prelacy parishes will be closed on October 9 to permit the participation of our clergy and parishioners.
Sunday, October 9, 2016

10:00 am
Pontifical Divine Liturgy
Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church
461 Bergen Boulevard
Ridgefield, New Jersey 07657

1:30 pm
Cocktail Reception
Marriott at Glenpointe
100 Frank W. Burr Boulevard
Teaneck, New Jersey 07666

3:00 pm
20th Anniversary Program
Grand Ballroom

4:30 pm
Celebratory Dinner
Grand Ballroom

Contact the Prelacy for Reservations ($250 per person)

To purchase banquet tickets or make a booklet donation online Click Here.

In designation drop-down menu, choose “General Fund.”

In comments/instructions, specify request for banquet tickets (with seating preference),

or booklet donation


The Pontifical Divine Liturgy will be broadcast live online beginning at 10 am on

Sunday, October 9 at the following link:


Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, where on Sunday, September 25 he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the Sermon at Holy Trinity Church on the occasion of the parish’s 82nd Anniversary. Also celebrated will be the 10th anniversary of the ordination of V. Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian and his recent elevation to Dzayakuyn Vartabed. The celebration will follow the Liturgy at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston, Massachusetts.


Bible readings for Sunday, September 25, Third Sunday of the Exaltation (Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak) are, Proverbs 3:18-26; Isaiah 65:22-25; Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 24:30-36.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:30-36)


But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision accounts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon the Israel of God.

Henceforth let no man  trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. (Galatians 6:14-18)

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


This Sunday, September 25, is the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak, a feast that is unique to the Armenian Church and is celebrated two weeks after the Exaltation of the Cross. After coming to Armenia, the Hripsimiantz Virgins lived near Mount Varak. They had brought with them a fragment of the True Cross. Fleeing persecution, they sought refuge on the mountain where Hripsime hid the cross among the rocks before fleeing to Vagharshapat. In 653, a hermit named Todik found the hidden cross by following a brilliant light that illuminated the mountain and guided him inside the church to the altar where he found the cross. The light shone for twelve days. In memory of this event, Catholicos Nerses (the Builder) established the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak. He wrote the beautiful hymn, “By the Sign of Your All Powerful Holy Cross,” (Nshanav Amenahaght Khatchit).

The Monastery of St. Nishan (Varakavank) was built on Mount Varak, which is in the southeastern region of Van. It was home to one of the greatest libraries and museums, filled with ancient and modern books and works of art. The Monastery became even more prominent when Khrimian Hayrik established a publishing house and a school there hoping to make the monastery an educational center. He founded the first newspaper to be published in historical Armenia, Artsiv Vaspurakani (The Eagle of Vaspurakan). The massacres and deportations of 1915 destroyed Hayrik’s hopes and plans, as well as so much more. Varakavank was destroyed by the Turkish army on April 30, 1915, during the siege of Van.

By the sign of your all-victorious cross, O Christ, lover of mankind, keep us from the unseen enemy, for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever. On it you stretched out your spotless hands and shed your blood for the salvation of the universe for you alone are King of Glory, blessed forever. At your second coming when this holy sign shall appear once again make your servants worthy of renewal for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever.

May your cross be our refuge by its flame-like radiance; it is named the tree of life; you crushed the enemy and unloosed the sentence of death for the salvation of the universe. Sending up praises the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoices at the discovery of the holy cross like the four-winged rock which enlightened this world by its sun-like rays. Jerusalem rejoiced, believers were glad; they adorned themselves in marvelous garment for they saw the victorious sign; all creation was adorned with its light.
(Canon to the Cross of Varak from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church)


This Saturday, September 24, the Armenian Church commemorates St. George (Kevork) the Commander, a third century Roman general who challenged the Emperor’s persecution of Christians by publicly tearing up the Emperor’s decree, and urging others to follow his example. To this day he remains a popular saint in the Armenian Church and is the patron saint of soldiers and scouts. As in many other instances, the Armenians have given St. George an Armenian national character. The Feast of St. George is always on the Saturday before the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak that is preceded by a week of fasting (Monday to Friday). Although the fast is not connected to St. George, through the centuries it has been popularly identified as the Fast of St. George.


St. Gregory Church of North Andover offered a prayer of thanksgiving in commemorating the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Taking part were, front left to right, flag bearers Paul Demoorjian, Charles Kochakian, John Boloian, and Armen Jeknavorian. Rear, from left, Deacon John Saryan, Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, and Deacon Avedis Garavanian. A dinner and program followed in Jaffarian Hall.

Archbishop Oshagan led the prayers of thanksgiving for the 25th anniversary of the independence of Armenia last Sunday at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York.


Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian leads the Great Procession of the Holy Cross during the celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross.


Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian delivered a lecture about the Armenian language and school at a luncheon sponsored by the ARS “Reubena” chapter.

Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Referendum on the Independence of Armenia
(September 21-23, 1991)

On August 23, 1990, the “Declaration on the Independence of Armenia” approved by the Supreme Council (former Supreme Soviet) of the Republic of Armenia initiated the process of independence according to the legal framework established by the Soviet Constitution, which was assumed to last up to five years.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last First Secretary of the Soviet Union, organized a referendum to preserve the Soviet Union, held on March 17, 1991, to ask whether the constituents considered “necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics.” Six republics, including Armenia, boycotted the referendum, which nevertheless had almost 70% of approval in the remaining nine republics. On March 1, the Supreme Council had issued a resolution to organize a referendum to allow Armenia to legally secede from the USSR.

The preparations in the spring and summer were not only on a legal and organization level, but also took the form of an ideological struggle. The new democratic authorities led by the Armenian National Movement (ANM), which had come to power in August 1990, struggled both against those forces that considered independence a dangerous and meaningless movement, or pushed for a declaration of independence without referendum. The legalist position of the Armenian authorities and the steps taken towards the establishment of democracy were heavily praised by the international press, since they did not leave room for any opposition from Moscow and ensured an orderly transition.

The month prior to the referendum was heavy in changes that impacted on the public reception: the successful resistance of democratic forces against the failed putsch of August 1991 in Russian that tried to re-establish the old Soviet order; the recognition of the independence of the three Baltic states; the proclamation of independence by the Supreme Councils of various republics, et cetera.

The campaign for the “Yes” multiplied its efforts in the first twenty days of September, and the declarations by public figures and organizations from Catholicos Vazken I to the Writers Union had a cascade effect that countered the anti-propaganda of Moscow agents and anti-independence forces. Levon Ter Petrosian, president of the Supreme Council, issued a declaration on the evening of September 19: “… We are taking a decisive step, which must be followed with the proclamation of the independence of Armenia by the Supreme Council. But we are all aware that independence is not a goal in itself for us. Independence is just a means to reach Freedom, because the supreme goal is freedom. Only the independent statehood of the nation may ensure freedom for each individual and people. We do not go towards independence with sentimentalism; we go with awareness, rationality, and true political calculation . . .”

The organization of the referendum fell upon the Central Electoral Committee headed by the vice-president of the Supreme Council, Babken Ararktsian. The referendum was orderly held and in a festive environment. On the third Saturday in September 1991, people across Armenia left their homes to do something they had never done before: vote in a referendum. Old and young alike crowded voting stations, determined to make their voices heard. Even newly married couples, still attired in wedding garb, set aside time to cast their vote. The 117 observers invited from more than two dozen countries and international organizations did not report any irregularity and noted that Armenia was the only country holding a legally binding referendum.

The participation in the referendum of September 21 was 95.4 per cent of legally registered voters (2,163,967 people), and 94.39 per cent of them (2,042,627 people or 99.51% of the actual voters) voted “Yes” to the question posed to them: “Do you agree that the Republic of Armenia becomes an independent, democratic state out of the U.S.S.R.?”

Armenia had become independent by the will of its citizens. On Monday, September 23, the results of the referendum were introduced to the session of the Supreme Council, which passed the historical decision:

“Faithful to the declaration on the independence of Armenia, based on the norms of human rights and free determination of nations, with the goal of creating a democratic, juridical society, on the grounds of the results of the referendum held about coming out of the U.S.S.R. on September 21, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia proclaims the Republic of Armenia an independent state.”
September 21 became, rightfully, a holiday. The Supreme Council addressed the population in the following terms, which were an anticipation of what Armenia would see in the next twenty-five years:

“The return to identity will not be easy. We are just starting to walk on the road of freedom. The path crossed by civilized humankind shows that this is not a matter of one day and, especially, it is not an easy road. Therefore, prudently incorporating the experience of progressive states, we must be able to maintain and enrich ours. Yes, we are going towards the family of the entire humanity, but under our own flag, with our independent statehood and our own profile. New trials wait for us on the road of freedom. This will be a daily test for us. Let’s keep our enthusiasm, but let’s also be filled with realism; let’s be dreamers, but with alert judgment.”

The Soviet Union collapsed barely three months later, on December 25, 1991, and the Republic of Armenia was accepted as a full member of the international community as a sovereign state, joining the United Nations on March 2, 1992. Meanwhile, as a result of the referendum held on December 10, 1991, the Republic of Mountainous Gharabagh had also proclaimed its independence as a second Armenian state, yet unrecognized to this day.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (


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  This week features:
  • The Independence of Armenia
  • An Interview with Mrs. Hoori Samuelian about a Wonderful event taking place this weekend in New Jersey
  • St. Sarkis Youth Connect, Saturday School and the Annual Picnic!
  • Hymn of the day
  • Bible Reflections
  Click Here or the Image Above to Listen
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.

September 25 —Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, will celebrate the 82nd Anniversary of the church; 10th anniversary of the ordination of Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, and his recent elevation to Dzayrakouyn Vartabed. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon and preside over the anniversary celebrations at Cypian Keyes Golf Club. Dinner donation $50. For reservations contact the church by email ( ) or telephone (917-794-7606.

October 2—Retirement Banquet in honor of Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, Pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. Reception 2 pm; dinner 3 pm at Crowne Plaza at the Crossings, Warwick, Rhode Island. Donation $75 per person. For information or reservations contact Ramon Zorabedian at 401-884-6626 or Margaret Stepanian at 401-272-3183.

October 6 —Avak Luncheon, noon, Jaffarian Hall, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts; speaker, Ani Babaian, “Armenian Churches in Iran,” with slide show and commentaries.

October 6 Shadoyan Fashion Show “Exclusive Collection” of Evening Gowns and “Reincarnation” Armenian National Costumes. Cocktails at 6:30 pm; fashion show at 8 pm; dinner to follow. Sponsored by ARS Eastern USA. Seasons Catering, 644 Pascack Road, Township of Washington, NJ. Donation: $100 (receives a raffle ticket). For inform ation/reservations: Diana, 201-790-0397 or enter Shadoyan.

October 9 —Eastern Prelacy celebrates the 20th anniversary of election and consecration of His Holiness Aram I. Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, with participation of regional parishes. Special cultural program prepared specifically for this occasion at the Marriott at Glenpointe, Teaneck, New Jersey, followed with a banquet and anniversary celebration. This event will be the singular celebration honoring His Holiness within the Eastern Prelacy.

October 9 —Anniversary Dinner & Program of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois, hosted by the Ladies Guild.

October 15 —St. Gregory Church, 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, 11 am to 6 pm. Delicious homemade Armenian food and pastries; shish kebab and chicken kebab dinners; also available lahmajun and vegetarian plate. Raffles. Take-out available. Free admission and free parking. For information: 413-543-4763.

October 15—Annual Golf Outing, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois.

October 22Celebration of 40th anniversary of the Hovnanian School at Rockleigh Country Club, 26 Paris Avenue, Rockleigh, New Jersey. Entertainment by Elie Berberian and Ensemble, featuring Steve Vosbikian and Raffi Massoyan. Honoree: Mr.  Aso O. Tavitian.

October 22—Armenian Friends of America presents Hye Kef 5, a 5-hour dance, 7 pm to midnight with buffet; Andover Windham, 123 Old River Road, featuring musicians Onnik and Ara Dinkjian, Johnny Berberian, Mal Barsamian, Jason Naroian and Paul Mooradian, with proceeds benefiting area Armenian churches. Advance tickets before September 1, $55, call either John Arzigian (603) 560-3826; Sharke Der Apkarian, (978) 808-0598; Lucy Sirmaian, (978) 683-9121, or Peter Gulezian, (978) 375-1616.

October 23 —Opening reception of joint photograph exhibit titled, “East Meets West,” compiled by Tom Vartabedian and Sona (Dulgarian) Gevorkian, featuring eclectic pictures of Armenia and Artsakh, 2-5 pm, at Armenian Museum of America (AMA), 65 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts, co-sponsored by Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives. Exhibit will be displayed through November.

November 4 & 5—60th Annual Bazaar, St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 11 am to 9 pm at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown. Meals served from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (take-out available). Delicious meals including chicken, beef, and losh kebabs, kufteh, and kheyma dinners, Armenian pastries, Gourmet, Gift Shoppe, handmade arts and crafts, raffles, Attic Treasures. Live auction Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. For information: 617-924-7562.

November 4, 5, 6 —Annual Bazaar and Food Festival of Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Live entertainment Friday and Saturday; children’s activities; vendors; homemade Manti, Kufte, Sou Buereg, Choreg, and more. Traditional Khavourma dinner on Sunday. Extensive Messe and dessert menu for your Thanksgiving table available for take-out.

November 12 and 13 —Armenian Fest 2016, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Providence, Rhode Island, presents Armenian Food Festival at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, Broad Street, Cranston, Rhode Island. Chicken, losh, and shish kebab and kufta dinners. Armenian delicacies, dancing to live music, arts and crafts, flea market, gift baskets, children’s corner, country store, jewelry, hourly raffles. Armenian Dance Group will perform on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Armenian food and pastry available all day. Saturday, noon to 9 pm; Sunday, noon to 8 pm. For information: or church office, (401) 831-6399.

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