On Sunday, May 21, 2017, St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, celebrated the opening of “Harry and Edna Keleshian Hall,” a vision of the late Harry Keleshian whose dream was to have a hall that would be the center of activity for future generations of Armenians coming through the parish.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and presided over the blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony of the new hall. He was assisted by parish pastor Rev. Fr. Mesrob Hovsepyan; Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian was in attendance at the badarak.
“Today we are starting a new chapter in the history of our community,” said Fr. Hovsepyan. “On this marvelous occasion, I’m sure Harry joins us from heaven to celebrate the opening of the new hall. I extend my congratulations to our entire community on this beautiful achievement.”
The Keleshians have been deeply devoted to supporting the Armenian Church in America. They shared a strong belief that the Armenian Church is the center of their Christian faith and community life. It’s a spirit Harry exemplified throughout his life—and which Edna carries on today.
Married in 1966, the couple developed and operated a successful stationery business in Fairfield County, CT. The family also supported numerous Armenian causes. In the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake, Harry was involved in the collection and distribution of 250,000 pounds of clothing donations for earthquake victims and assisted Americares in bringing 100 wounded children to the United States for medical treatment. He was also dedicated to the Armenian Church and the Eastern Diocese, serving as godfather of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church and St. David Church of Boca Raton, FL. The couple had two children: Alyssa Keleshian Bonomo and the late Arsen Keleshian.
“On behalf of my parents and especially my father, who I know is looking down on us today with such pride, I want to thank you all for coming together for this day and for this magnificent building,” said Alyssa Keleshian Bonomo. “Harry and Edna Keleshian Hall is all about community. It took everyone in our church family here to dig deep and build it.”
After officially opening the new facility, attendees witnessed the first event in Harry and Edna Keleshian Hall: an Armenian dance recital by young members of the St. Gregory the Enlightener parish.
During the celebratory banquet, master of ceremonies and Building Committee member Zaven Tachdjian welcomed guests and delivered a toast to honor the hall’s opening. ACYOA Juniors member Taleen Postian, Building Committee chair Ann Giragosian Daw, Thomas and Alyssa Bonomo, and Fr. Hovsepyan offered remarks.
Young members of the parish also performed a number of musical selections and Armenian poetry recitations. The Primate closed the event with his remarks and a benediction.
“Today’s opening of the Harry and Edna Keleshian Hall inaugurates a new chapter in the story of St. Gregory the Enlightener parish,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “At the same time, it is only the most recent blessing to grace this special community, which exemplifies a spirit of faith, family and friendship that will surely deepen in the generations to come.