On Thursday, February 28, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America commemorated the Feast of Vartanantz with a Divine Liturgy service and dinner program held at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York.
Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, pastor of the St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, celebrated the badarak. Diocesan Primate the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, cathedral vicar Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, Diocesan vicar Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Sacred Music Instructor Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, and Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian (of St. Stepanos Church, Elberon, NJ) all participated in the service.
Seminarians from St. Nersess Seminary served on the altar, while the St. Vartan Cathedral Choir sang under Maestro Khoren Mekanejian’s direction, with Florence Avakian accompanying on the organ.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a dinner program was held in the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium with the participation of the Mid-Atlantic Knights and Daughters of Vartan, featuring Arpi Nakashian, of the Diocese’s Creative Ministries department, as the evening’s keynote speaker.
Keep Breathing for Our Church
In her stirring remarks, Ms. Nakashian recalled how St. Vartan Mamigonian, the leader of the Battle of Avarayr, led 66,000 Armenian fighters against a vastly more powerful Persian force in A.D. 451. She emphasized that like St. Vartan and his companions, our faithful today are vested in the armor of God and sealed with the divine shield of faith that quenches the fiery arrows of life.
“Since the hearts of our saints are revived through us, as the living stones of our church, we have a responsibility: to keep breathing for our church,” she said.
The Astghikner Junior Vocal Ensemble and Yerevan Dance Ensemble, both of the St. Gregory Mission Parish of Brooklyn, under the direction of Maria Sahakyan, performed in honor of the occasion.
Knights of Vartan member Edward Barsamian served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Grand District Representatives DR. Edward Sanossian (Knights of Vartan) and Seta Izmirliyan (Daughters of Vartan) offered reflections on the meaning of the occasion and the continuing role of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan in promoting community life.
Diocesan Primate Fr. Daniel Findkyan closed the evening with thoughts about the moral victory won by Armenians following their material defeat at the Battle of Avarayr. Their tenacity to retain their faith, even in the face of armed opposition, eventually resulted (in A.D. 484) in the Persian empire’s recognition of the Armenian people’s right to practice Christianity without impediment.
Click here to view a gallery of photos by photographer Albin Lohr-Jones.
Above: Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, pastor of the St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, delivers a homily at St. Vartan Cathedral.