Close to 2,000 worshippers gathered at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York on Easter Sunday and greeted one another with the joyous words, “Krisdos haryav ee merelotz! Orhnyal eh harootiunun Krisdosee!” during church services at the cathedral on April 5.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the Easter homily.
“As Christians, we can never forget that the victory of Easter came at a price,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “Christ walked the path of suffering and death, to overcome suffering and death for all mankind.”
Archbishop Barsamian spoke about the great meaning for Armenians this Easter, which marks one hundred years of the sufferings of the Armenian Genocide.
“Our gathering here today-a century later-stands as a testimony to the power of Christ to overcome the world.”
Archbishop Barsamian said that through their Christian faith, Armenians overcame the calamities of the genocide, and those who perished were not victims, but instead were martyrs.
He noted that on April 23, a historic ceremony will take place at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, during which the martyrs who died for their faith in 1915 will be acknowledged as saints of the Armenian Church.
“Recognizing the Genocide martyrs as saints should transform our own ways of living and worshipping,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “We will no longer pray for the souls of our martyrs, but instead we will ask them, as saints, to pray for us.”
After the Divine Liturgy, the Primate led a procession to the cathedral plaza, where 12 doves were released, symbolizing the dispatching of the 12 apostles. Armenia’s representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, was the godfather of the “Release of Doves” ceremony.
A reception followed in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium, where Archbishop Barsamian officiated over a home-blessing service. The faithful received nshkhars to take home.
The Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble, a Boston-based group under the direction of artistic director and conductor Hasmik Konjoyan, performed.
The St. Vartan Cathedral Choir sang the Divine Liturgy on Easter Sunday under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian. Florence Avakian accompanied on the organ.
Holy Week services
Easter was preceded by Holy Week, which commemorates the dramatic events leading to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
At St. Vartan Cathedral on Palm Sunday, March 29, the Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, cathedral dean, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and conducted the Turun-Patzek or “Door-Opening” service. At the conclusion of services, the faithful walked from the cathedral plaza to the western entrance of the building, carrying palms in commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
On April 2, Great and Holy Thursday, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the morning. In the evening, the “Washing of the Feet” ceremony was held, which re-enacts Christ’s humble service to his 12 disciples during the Last Supper.
The Order of the Crucifixion of Christ and the Order of the Entombment of the Lord (or TaghoomService) were held on Great and Holy Friday, April 3.
On Easter Eve, Saturday, April 4, Fr. Kiledjian celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Students from the Diocesan Khrimian Lyceum read scriptures and sang in the choir.
Similar celebrations were underway at parishes across the Diocese throughout Holy Week and Easter Sunday.