September 8, 2016

We Remember: Fifteen Years Ago
September 11, 2011

At this time of remembrance, we express our prayers of hope in the resurrection of our Lord, for the souls of those who lost their lives fifteen years ago in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

“The Lord alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress. I shall not be shaken.”
Psalm 62

Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Holy Mother, Theotokos (Mother of God). The story of the birth of Mary is not recorded in the Bible. The traditional account is from apocryphal writings that are not included in the New Testament. On this day we celebrate and glorify Mary’s birth, Mary herself, and her devoted and pious parents, who were waiting for the promised messiah and who in their advanced age prayed for a child. 
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.

For information and/or reservations ($250 per person) contact the Prelacy office by email ( or by telephone (212-689-7810).
Archbishop Oshagan participated in the 2016 National Advocacy Convention, “Beyond Genocide: Preserving Christianity in the Middle East,” yesterday in Washington, DC. The Convention sponsored by In Defense of Christians (IDC), is the first American organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness and advocacy for the Christian communities in the Middle East. An Ecumenical Prayer Service took place last night at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, bringing together Eastern and Western churches to pray in solidarity for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.  The Principal Celebrant was His Excellency, The Most Rev. Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Co-Celebrants were His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and The Most Rev. Gregory Mansour, Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn. The IDC convention is attended by members of the Middle East Christian diaspora, members of diverse Christian communities, members of Congress and their staff, political leaders, policy experts, and human rights activists from across the United States, including the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern and Western.

Archbishop Oshagan conversing with Toufic Baaklini, President of In Defense of Christians.
Archbishop Oshagan with The Most Rev. Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA (Eastern) in Washington, DC.
Archbishop Oshagan offered the invocation and message at the opening of the track and field games of the Armenian Youth Federation’s 83rd Olympics on Sunday, September 4. Hosted by the New Jersey Arsen Chapter, the games took place at the Rutgers University Bauer Track Facility in Piscataway, New Jersey, under pristine blue skies contrary to the ominous weather predictions. 

Archbishop Oshagan, who has missed only one Olympics opening since his election as Prelate in 1998, spoke about the true pleasure he feels attending this event each year. He praised the current membership of the AYF for perpetuating “the great tradition of the Olympics that began with your great-grandparents and carried forward by your grandparents and parents.” The Prelate noted that 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh. “Please remember,” he said, “that we all have a sacred duty and obligation to protect the freedom, independence, and integrity of Armenia and Artsakh. Ask yourself how best you can apply your skills to help your Homeland. As Armenian youth participating in these games, you must look beyond this playing field, to the greater playing field of the world. These are perilous times for all, but especially so for Armenia and Artsakh.” His Eminence acknowledged the presence of Houry Gebeshian the Armenian American gymnast who represented Armenia in the Olympics in Brazil.
The Prelate with Armenian American Houry Gebeshian who represented Armenia in the Olympics in Brazil.
Archbishop Oshagan delivers the invocation at the Olympics.

Bible readings for Sunday, September 11, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, are: Isaiah 49:13-23; Galatians 6:14-18; John 3:13-21.

“No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (John 3:13-21)


May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
(Galatians 6:14-18)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings Click Here.
This Sunday, September 11, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ( Khachverats ), which is the last of the five Tabernacle Feasts observed by the Armenian Church during the liturgical year.

This holiday is a celebration of the Holy Cross and is commemorated by most Christian churches on September 14. The Armenian Church celebrates it on the Sunday closest to the 14th. It is the oldest of the feasts devoted to the cross. The cross, once a means of death for criminals, gradually became the dominant symbol of the Christian world, an object of reverence and worship, and symbol of triumph over death. Christ’s apostle St James, Patriarch of Jerusalem, elevated the Holy Cross during a religious ceremony chanting the hymn, “ Khachee oh Krisdos Yergeer Bakanemk ,” (To Your Cross We Bow),” thus accepting the cross as a symbol of salvation and an object of utmost veneration. James was later martyred in Jerusalem, and upon his grave stands the expansive Armenian monastery of St. James in Jerusalem.

There are four feasts devoted to the cross in the Armenian liturgical calendar, with the Exaltation being the most important. The other three are: Apparition of the Holy Cross; Holy Cross of Varak; and Discovery of the Cross. Each of these four holidays devoted to the Holy Cross are related to the life and the salvific work of our Lord.

The ceremony for the Exaltation begins with the decoration of the Cross with sweet basil ( rehan ), a sign of royalty, and also as a symbol of the living cross that is carried through the church by the priest, deacons, altar servers, and choir in a procession. After the Bible readings, the officiating priest lifts the Cross and makes the sign of the Cross, and blesses the four corners of the world ( Andastan service), asking God’s blessing and bounty for the prosperity of the Armenian Church and for the fruitfulness of the land and all the holy places and their inhabitants.

The Khachveratz ceremony was prepared by Catholicos Sahag Dzoraporetsi (677-703). He also composed the hymn that is sung on this day. As with other Tabernacle Feasts, the Exaltation is preceded with a period of fasting (Monday to Friday), and followed by a memorial day ( Merelotz ).

Name day commemorations this Sunday include: Khatchadour, Khatchig, Khatcherets. Rehan, Khatchkhatoun, Khachouhi, Khatchperouhi, Khosrov, Khosrovanoush, Khrosrovitoukhd, and Nshan.
The day after the five Tabernacle Feasts is a Memorial Day in the Armenian Liturgical Calendar. Traditionally the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on this day and the faithful go to the cemeteries where graves are blessed to honor the memory of their departed loved ones.

Remembering the dead is an important ritual for the living. In a sense it is an act of faith and love, not meant necessarily to achieve understanding or bring healing. It is simply to remember, as we are doing this weekend with the remembrances of September 11, 2001.

Grace your home with the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, commissioned by the Prelacy and created by artist R. Petrosyan. All parishes within the Eastern Prelacy have already installed large versions of the icon in their churches. Now the framed icon in a size suitable for homes is available for purchase. For information please contact the Prelacy bookstore by email ( ) or by telephone (212-689-7810).
The framed icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide created by R. Petrosyan measures approximately 17-1/2” x 25”.
The Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy will convene for their monthly meeting tomorrow and Saturday at the Prelacy offices in New York City.


Vacation time is over! The Siamanto Academy will begin the 2016-2017 school year this Saturday, September 10. The Academy, under the direction of the Armenian National Education Committee, presents classes on Armenian history, culture, and current issues. Classes take place at the Hovnanian School in New Milford, New Jersey, every second Saturday of the month. For information: or 212-689-7231.

To see the short presentation about Siamanto Academy featuring Dr. Vartan Matiossian Click Here
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, Armenian journalist and author Tatul Hakobyan delivered a lecture on the Four Day April War between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh peace process and Armenia’s foreign policy at St. Illuminator's Cathedral on Tuesday, September 6. The event was held under the auspices of H.E. Archbishop Oshagan, and organized by St. Illuminator's Cathedral.

Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, introduced the guest lecturer to the attendees. Mr. Hakobyan has formerly worked as a correspondent for the newspapers Ankakhutyun (1991-1995) Yerkir (1998-2000), Azg (2000-2005), The Armenian Reporter (2008-2009), and as a political observer on regional issues of Radiolur news program of Public Radio of Armenia (2004). Since 2009 he has been an analyst at the independent Civilitas Foundation. Hakobyan is the coordinator of the ANI Armenian Research Center and the reporter with the CivilNet online TV and Aztag daily.

Among the topics he discussed was the role of the Diaspora in helping Armenia grow as a democratic nation. During the discussion portion Mr. Hakobyan and the audience touched upon Armenia’s domestic and foreign policy issues, relations between Armenia and Russia, Armenia and the United States.

 Also featured was a presentation of Mr. Hakobyan’s two books,  Karabakh Diary; Green and Black and Armenians and Turks.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Grikor Suni (September 10, 1876)

Coming from a family of musicians, Grikor Suni was a relevant name in Armenian music in the beginning of the twentieth century, and had an important activity in the United States during the last two decades of his life.

Grikor Mirzaian Suni was born on September 10, 1876, in the village of Getabek, in the region of Gandzak (nowadays Ganja, in Azerbaijan). At the age of two, he and his family moved to Shushi, the capital of Gharabagh. He enrolled in 1883 in a parish school and lost his father in the same year.

He studied from 1891-1895 at the Gevorgian Seminary of Etchmiadzin, where he was a classmate of Gomidas Vartabed, whom he befriended. After graduation, he organized a polyphonic choir and gave a concert of popular songs collected and arranged by him.

After pursuing private lesson in St. Petersburg from 1895-1898, he received a scholarship to attend the state conservatory, majoring in music theory and composition. He had two famed Russian composers, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov, among his teachers. Meanwhile, he was hired as choir director of the local Armenian church, and prepared arrangements of religious music. He graduated in 1904 and published a collection of popular songs in the same year.

In the late 1890s, Suni entered the ranks of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, where he remained until 1910. He composed the lyrics and music of the party’s anthem, Mshag panvor.

In 1905 Suni returned to the Caucasus, and taught music at the Nersisian School of Tiflis until 1908. In 1906 he wrote the operetta Aregnazan, based on lyrics of writer Ghazaros Aghayan, which was staged by the Armenian Theatrical Company of Tiflis.

In October 1908, fearing political persecution in Russia, Suni escaped to the Ottoman Empire with his family. He first settled in Trebizond (Trabzon), and organized concerts of Armenian choral and orchestral music in the region. In 1910 he moved to Erzerum, where he taught at the Sanasarian School during the next four years. He also continued collecting folk songs and dances, and organizing choirs.

At the breakout of World War I, the composer moved back to Tiflis, where he continued teaching and directing. He was also one of the founding members of the Society of Armenian Musicologists. After a sojourn in Tehran (1919-1920), he returned to Tiflis, but his poor health led him to move to Constantinople (1921), where he taught music and choral singing at several schools, and conducted a choir. Months after the Ottoman capital had been occupied by the Kemalist forces, in September 1923 Suni and his family arrived in the United States and settled in Philadelphia.

During the next decade and a half, the composer, who had adopted a pro-Soviet outlook as a result of his ideological affinities, participated actively in the artistic life of the Armenian American community, particularly on the East Coast. He also continued composing. A collection of choir music was published in Yerevan, in 1935.

Grikor Suni passed away in Philadelphia on December 18, 1939. Several fascicles containing songs by him were posthumously published in the 1940s in Philadelphia. One of his grandsons is historian Ronald Grigor Suny, professor of History at the University of Michigan.

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

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST with Fr Nareg Terterian: Season III

The popular weekly Podcast by Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, began its third season this week with a new podcast that includes an interview with Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy. Click on any image to link to the podcast, and tune in.

Father Nareg and His Eminence Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate, discussing summer vacation and community efforts
Father Nareg and Co-host Veh Bezdikian celebrating the start of Season III of the Podcast with Fr. Nareg
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 11 —Picnic Festival sponsored by St. Gregory Church, of Merrimack Valley, noon to 5:30 pm, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Music by Leon Janikian, John Berberian, Jason Naroian, and John Arzigian. Celebrating Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Shish, losh, chicken kebab, vegetarian dinners, take-out; family games and activities. Information: or 978-685-5038.

September 11—Annual Picnic of St. Stephen Church (New Britain/Hartford), at the Knights of Columbus Club in Unionville, Connecticut. Music by Mugrditchian Ensemble. Enjoy the day with family, friends, and lot of good food. The Divine Liturgy will take place at the picnic facility at 10 am. Picnic will follow the services. Dress is casual.

September 11—Presentation and dinner sponsored by the local ARS “Reubena” chapter on the “Armenian language and School: History and Importance.” The speaker is Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois.

September 18—Anniversary Dinner & Program of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois, hosted by the Ladies Guild.

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 —Shadoyan Fashion Show “Exclusive Collection” of Evening Gowns and “Reincarnation” Armenian National Costumes. Sponsored by ARS Eastern USA. Details to follow.

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 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 22 —Save the date: Celebration of 40th anniversary of the Hovnanian School at Rockleigh Country Club, 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: