Bright sunny skies and an unseasonably high temperature of 87 degrees greeted worshipers on Easter Sunday, as the faithful gathered at St. Vartan Cathedral to take part in the Diving Liturgy and traditional “Release of Doves” ceremony.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the Easter homily on Sunday, April 16. As many as 1,200 people participated in the day’s events at the cathedral, greeting one another with the joyous words, “Krisdos haryav ee merelotz! Orhnyal eh harootiunun Krisdosee!”
“The Armenian people embraced the hope of the Resurrection. It became the vital nerve of our civilization, the secret of our survival,” Archbishop Barsamian said in his sermon. “Think of the Vartanantz War, or the Genocide, or the earthquake. How could our people endure, how could we have overcome adversity, without this precious gift of hope?”
He added, “This is the message of hope we need to draw strength from today, as we face our own trials….For Jesus Christ is always with us, beside us, giving us hope for our lives.”
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.
Melanie Dadourian and Oscar Tatosian, co-chairs of the “Our Church, Our Legacy” endowment campaign, were the godparents of this year’s doves ceremony.
“I was so honored to be one of the godparents of the dove ceremony at the church my grandfather and the other godfathers helped build,” Ms. Dadourian said, referring to her grandfather, Dadour Dadaourian, one of the founders of St. Vartan Cathedral.
“Releasing the doves and being part of this special tradition made me feel connected to the hope of the Resurrection and even more inspired to continue supporting our church,” she added. “Through our work on the ‘Our Church Our Legacy’ campaign, Oscar Tatosian and I are committed to helping make our church more relevant to our every day lives through new tools and creative resources.”
Launched last fall, the “Our Church, Our Legacy” endowment campaign set a goal of raising $15 million to support the Eastern Diocese’s ministries. In a short time, the campaign has secured close to $8 million in pledges.
“As Armenians we are living evidence that strong faith endures,” said Oscar Tatosian. “Our endowment campaign is another example of our faith. We are building on our inheritance and leaving an important legacy for our future generations.”
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 Aghtamar Dance Ensemble, donning traditional Armenian costumes, performed.
The St. Vartan Cathedral Choir sang the Divine Liturgy on Easter Sunday under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian. Kris Kalfayan accompanied on the organ, with additional musicians on the flute, cello, and violin.
The Easter Divine Liturgy and “Release of Doves” ceremony were broadcast live online. The program is archived and available for viewing on the Diocese’s live-stream channel.
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, April 9, the Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, cathedral dean, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and conducted the Turen-Patzek or “Door-Opening” service.
The St Vartan Cathedral Council organized a special “Children’s Day” event on Palm Sunday. Children from New York City learned about the final days of Christ’s earthly ministry. They enjoyed arts and crafts, before concluding the day with a pizza luncheon.
On April 13, 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 Taghoom Service) were held on Great and Holy Friday, April 14. On Easter Eve, Saturday, April 15, the Very Rev. Fr. Anania Tsaturyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
Similar celebrations were underway at parishes across the Diocese throughout Holy Week and Easter Sunday.