A group of 15 parishioners from the St. James Church of Evanston, IL, made a pilgrimage to St. Vartan Cathedral in New York to honor the 50th anniversary year of the cathedral’s consecration. Led by pastor Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, the group of faithful participated in some spiritually meaningful events over the weekend of September 28-30, 2018.
Arriving at the Diocesan Center in New York City, the Evanston pilgrims were greeted by the Primate, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, along with the Vicar of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan. Congregants gathered at the cathedral doors and proceeded into the sanctuary to venerate the altar as well as the relic of St. Vartan, which had been brought out from its safekeeping in the cathedral’s vaults for this special occasion.
At the end of the worship service, the Primate blessed the faithful with the relic of St. Vartan. Afterwards, accompanied by Dr. Christopher Sheklian, director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, pilgrims toured the cathedral and the Diocesan Center.
Dr. Sheklian is well known to the Evanston community, where he served as a deacon for almost a decade while completing his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago.
Spirit and Culture
Later that evening, the St. James parishioners attended a book talk at the Zohrab Center based on an unusual personal memoir of the Genocide period, titled, Hagop Vartanian: My Story. Dr. Sheklian introduced Gentre Vartan, grandson of the memoirist Hagop Vartanian, who told the story of how his grandfather’s informal papers were turned into a book. Members of the Vartanian family who were present read excerpts from the book.
The Primate presided over the evening and offered remarks. Also in attendance were Yeretzgin Yefkin Megherian—wife of the late Fr. Vartan Megherian, St. James Church’s very first pastor—and their daughter Zarmi.
Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan concluded the program with a brief talk on the importance of books as invaluable sources of information about church customs and traditions. The Vartan family made a gift their grandfather’s original papers to the Zohrab Center.
On Saturday, the Evanston pilgrims spent a marvelous day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, viewing its monumental “Armenia!” exhibition. They were thrilled to have as their guide exhibit curator Dr. Helen Evans.
Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan had the honor of celebrating the Divine Liturgy at St. Vartan Cathedral on Sunday morning, with Diocesan Primate Fr Findikyan presiding. Hokehankisd was offered for the souls of St. James’ founders and former pastors, as well as for the souls of late parishioners Jack and Yeranik Ipjian, who were among the godfathers of the cathedral 50 years ago.
George and Lorraine Marootian of the St. Vartan Cathedral Council organized a luncheon in honor of the Evanston pilgrims as a warm farewell to the pilgrims, who were eager to share the experiences of their spiritual journey with parishioners back home.
Click on the following link to view photos of the pilgrimage.