On March 25, 2018—Palm Sunday—the Eastern Diocese celebrated ACYOA Day. The annual event shines a light on the youth of the church, the ACYOA, and its ongoing efforts.
Members of the ACYOA Central Council fanned out across the Diocese last week to speak in local parishes about the importance of the ACYOA. Below are their thoughts on the experience. (And click here to view their photos.)
Mallory Maslar: The Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, gave me a warm welcome. It was amazing to see all of the Sunday School students come forward at the end of the badarak. We were blessed to have Archbishop Vicken Aykazian celebrate ACYOA Day with us as well as pastor Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan. Their ACYOA Juniors are truly inspiring. They put on a great video and luncheon, and I’m happy to see their enthusiasm in the future of the organization.
Nora Knadjian: Visiting St. the John Church of Southfield, MI, on Palm Sunday was such an inspirational experience. Not only did their ACYOA host a coffee hour for their community, but I also got to witness the installation of their new ACYOA Seniors board. These young adults were just campers at Hye Camp not too long ago. Watching them grow up in the church and give back to their parish was so uplifting.
Melissa Mardoian: I had the pleasure of visiting the St. Sahag Church in St. Paul, MN. There is something very special happening in this church—the deacons and choir members serving on Sunday are almost all from the younger generation. It lifted my spirits to see how pastor Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan has gathered the youth together to have the passion of serving the Lord. We enjoyed a lovely palm branch march with an engaging children’s service to follow. There is a lot of life in this parish, and it continues to grow as a kind, loving, and welcoming parish. Thank you, St. Sahag, for having me.
Danielle Malconian: The St. James Church (Watertown, MA) is an amazing parish. It has so many parishioners who are dedicated to the parish. It has a vibrant youth program, led by an amazing youth director, Maria Derderian. Pasto Fr. Arakel Aljalian and Yn. Natasha are inspirational leaders as well, and they truly have a parish that sets a standard for all Armenians. It is always a pleasure to be at St. James.
Arsen Yelegen: It was a pleasure to be part of the badarak at Holy Martyrs Church in Bayside, NY, and to celebrate Palm Sunday and ACYOA Day with the parish. Under the guidance of youth director Garen Karamyan, the ACYOA Juniors and Seniors worked to prepare the lunch and program. We were treated to a rendition of “Erevan Erebuni” by one of the ACYOA Juniors, and a traditional Armenian dance performance by the “Hye Bar” dance group which consisted of the youngest members of the parish. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Holy Martyrs’ founding, the ACYOA juniors presented a slideshow of old photos and also played a game of trivia to test the parishioner’s knowledge of parish history. Pastor Fr. Apraham Malkhasyan and the entire Holy Martyrs community were very welcoming, and I am grateful to have been part of the festivities.
Ronnie Malconian: I had a great time at Holy Translators Church in Framingham, MA, and at its Palm Sunday lunch. Pastor Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, Yn. LuAnn, and the parishioners were incredibly welcoming. I shared my personal experience with the ACYOA and had some good one-on-one conversations with parishioners after lunch. I also got to take part in the ACYOA Juniors putting together Easter baskets for less fortunate children.
Sona Dagley: Palm Sunday at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Chelmsford, MA, was truly a wonderful day, where I participated in a program hosted by the ACYOA Juniors. I had the pleasure of singing in the choir, where I could overlook the whole congregation and revel in the sight of a full parish. Following a luncheon, the ACYOA Juniors shared what they had accomplished in the past year. A second presentation showed the involvement of my late father, Fr. Haroutiun Dagley, in the church when he was involved in the ACYOA. I accepted the church’s annual “Friend of the ACYOA” award that was posthumously awarded to my father. To end the program, I spoke on behalf of the ACYOA Central Council about my experience in the ACYOA, and the positive impact it has had on my life. The parish was extremely gracious and numerous people approached me to share stories about my father. I am tremendously thankful to the church for the experience that this opportunity has blessed me with.