On Saturday, November 19, St. Mary Church of Livingston, NJ, celebrated its 90th anniversary with a celebratory dinner at the church’s Haroutune and Siranoush Toufayan Hall with over 200 parishioners and guests in attendance. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided over the occasion.
The evening, led by master of ceremonies Vartan Abdo, included memories and milestones of the church’s 90-year history, which started out in Irvington, NJ, before moving to Livingston. Rev. Fr. Mampre Kouzouian, who served as pastor of St. Mary Church for 12 years, shared remembrances of his time as the church’s priest. Current pastor Rev. Fr. Arakel Vardarzaryan offered his congratulations to the parish on its milestone.
St. Mary parish council chair Levon Ariyan and church members Dr. Robert V. Dorian, Arthur Tevanian, and Ara Nersesian recalled the parish’s former years.
Pianist Karine Poghosyan performed a medley of Armenian selections as part of the event’s musical interlude, and parishioners who had been members for more than 40 and 50 years were also recognized.
The evening concluded with congratulatory remarks by Archbishop Barsamian, who reflected on the parish, its previous pastors – including the late Patriarch Shnork Kaloustian and the late Bishop Houssig Bagdasian – and its history.
“Among Armenians, the family is a great source of our strength. And in the case of this parish, the strength of your families has allowed you to endure hardship-like the fire of three decades ago-and yet come back stronger, more committed than ever before,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “Tonight’s celebration is a tribute to both family and faith. These are the ideas that run through our history as a people, and as individual communities. They are the classic values that tie us together: homeland and diaspora; past, present, and future.”
He then presented the Diocese’s “St. Vartan Award” to Roy Stepanian for his dedication and active presence in the parish, as well as his leadership of the local Genocide Centennial commemoration in 2015.
“Roy and Nancy, and their children and grandchildren, are an active presence here, on the altar, in the parish organizations, in Sunday School,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “Roy is the worthy avak sargavak on the altar during badarak; and he has been a personal friend and counselor for many years.”
On Sunday, November 20, Archbishop Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, where he delivered his message congratulating the parish for growing stronger together over the history of the church. The badarak was followed by a fellowship hour.
The anniversary celebration was co-chaired by Nancy Stepanian, Suzanne Toufayan, Kristine Casali, and Lisa Dadourian.