St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will observe Holy Week, April 13 through 20, with a series of special services culminating in the Easter Sunday celebration on April 21, 2019.
Holy Week is the sacred commemoration of the dramatic events leading to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His victory over death and the redemption of humanity and the fallen world. The Armenian Church re-enacts these episodes in the days leading up to Easter.
This year marks the first time the new Diocesan Primate, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, will celebrate the Easter badarak at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral. What follows is the schedule of Holy Week events at the cathedral.
Palm Sunday and Surrounding Services
PALM SUNDAY—the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—falls on April 14. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan (Vicar of St. Vartan Cathedral) will be the celebrant for the services, which will begin with a Morning Service at 9:30 a.m., and will continue with the Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. The Turen-patzek or “Door-Opening” Service will be held after the Divine Liturgy.
The St. Vartan Cathedral Council will host a special “Children’s Day” program on Palm Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Children ages 5 and older are invited to take part in the Palm Sunday procession, and create arts and crafts.
Please note that this year, the cathedral is placing new emphasis on the services immediately before and after Palm Sunday: the Remembrance of the Raising of Lazarus on Saturday, April 13 (Divine Liturgy celebrated by Fr. Vazken Karayan at 10:30 a.m.); a short Christian Meditation service on Holy Monday, April 15 (beginning at 6:30 p.m., guided by Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan); and a Vespers service in remembrance of the Ten Virgins on Holy Tuesday, April 16 (beginning at 6:30 p.m.).
The Passion Cycle
April 18 is GREAT AND HOLY THURSDAY, and the day’s services memorialize the Last Supper, Jesus’ vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and trial. Two separate services will be celebrated on this day. In the morning, the Divine Liturgy will begin at 10:30 a.m. This will be followed by a luncheon.
In the evening, the “Washing of the Feet” ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m., with the Khavaroom or Vigil Service following at 8:00 p.m. During the Washing of Feet ceremony, twelve individuals from the community will stand in place of the apostles.
The crucifixion and death of Christ will be marked on April 19—GREAT AND HOLY FRIDAY—and again two services will occur. The Order of the Crucifixion of Christ will begin at 12:00 noon. This will be a short service, largely in English, enabling working people in Manhattan to attend, and it will be followed by a luncheon in the Diocesan Complex.
That same evening, at 6:30 p.m., the Order of the Entombment of the Lord, or Taghoom Service, will take place.
On GREAT AND HOLY SATURDAY, April 20, the Divine Liturgy will be preceded by a scripture-reading ceremony at 5:00 p.m. Easter Eve Liturgy will begin at 6:30 p.m., celebrated by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director.
The “Astghikner” Children’s Vocal Ensemble from Brooklyn’s St. Gregory mission parish (conducted by Maria Sahakyan) will sing the Divine Liturgy. A reception will follow the services.
“Christ is Risen!”
The drama of Holy Week culminates on EASTER SUNDAY, April 21: the central holy day of the Christian calendar, commemorating the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb and the news of his resurrection.
Matins will begin at 9:30 a.m. The Divine Liturgy will begin at 10:30 a.m. The Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, will celebrate the liturgy and deliver the homily. The St. Vartan Cathedral Choir will sing the Divine Liturgy under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian. Florence Avakian will accompany on the organ.
Immediately following the service, the Release of Doves ceremony will go forth on the cathedral plaza.
An Easter Sunday reception and program will follow the services, in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium. The reception will include a home-blessing service, and the recognition of the various names associated with the holiday. The reception is free and open to the public.
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral is located at 630 Second Avenue (corner of 34th Street) in New York City.