This past Palm Sunday—April 14, 2019—the Eastern Diocese marked ACYOA Day. The annual observance highlights the Christian youth group of the Armenian Church.
Members of the ACYOA Central Council spread out across the Diocese to speak in local parishes about the importance of ACYOA and its ongoing effort of ministry and outreach. Nora Knadjian visited St. Sarkis Church, in Charlotte, NC; Sona Dagley visited St. Hagop Church, Pinellas Park, FL; Ronnie Malconian visited the Church of Our Saviour, Worcester, MA; Mallory Maslar visited the Armenian Church of Jacksonville, FL; Melissa Mardoian visited St. John the Baptist Church, Greenfield, WI; Arsen Yelegen visited St. Mary Church, Washington, DC; and Nick Tashjian visited St. George Church, Hartford, CT.
ACYOA Central Council chair Nora Knadjian said: “In my visit to Charlotte, I met with local ACYOA members on Saturday to lead a Chapter Connections workshop. It was beautiful to reunite with them on Sunday to celebrate Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. During the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian called the children of the church to gather at the chancel, to be part of the ‘Opening of the Doors’ ceremony. The local ACYOA members are entering into a new, exciting era. They have great ideas and are looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Central Council Impressions
“I enjoyed visiting the Jacksonville community on Palm Sunday,” said Mallory Maslar. “I was welcomed with open arms by the entire community. I was able to share my camp experience and share stories about my ACYOA adventures. I loved seeing the community support this chapter. They are small, but they are mighty. The boys all shared their ACYOA experience over the years. I really enjoyed hearing that one of them is planning to attend the St. Nersess Deacon’s Training seminar this summer.”
Nick Tashjian said: “The St. George Parish is a great community with Armenian families from different parts of the diaspora. They were all willing to introduce themselves and welcome the central council to their parish. I spoke to the parish about the ACYOA; it was very informal, to the point where I ditched my written speech and just spoke to the parish. There was great interest in a senior’s chapter and several parents approached me about their kids in college. I spoke to the Juniors and Seniors once the lunch was over. I look forward to being in communication with St. George.”
“I loved being able to visit the Church of Our Saviour in Worcester, MA,” said Ronnie Malconian. “I saw that there were young adults on the altar as well as in the choir. I was happy to see that most of them also took part in the luncheon after church, showing a real connection to their church community. I want to thank the Church of Our Saviour for having me!”
For Arsen Yelegen, visiting the St. Mary in Washington, DC, gave him “the opportunity to serve on the altar, and it was wonderful to see all of the young faces also serving. After the badarak, the ACYOA Juniors prepared and served a luncheon accompanied by a musical performance by a few of the members of the Juniors. It was heartwarming to see the St. Mary community come together and celebrate the youth of the church.”
Melissa Mardoian “had the pleasure of visiting St. John Church in Greenfield, WI. I was welcomed by many old friends of my parents from their time in the ACYOA. The young adults that were present served on the altar during the service and made a point to engage with their church. They have something special at their church: a familial mindset that makes them a strong community.”
Finally, at the St. Hagop parish in Pinellas Park, FL, Sona Dagley noted that “the Sunday School did a wonderful job hosting the luncheon under the supervision of the ACYOA Seniors. I am excited to watch the youth in this area continue to grow and prosper in celebrating their faith and fellowship.”
Jennifer Morris of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries coordinated the ACYOA Day parish visits and continues to work with the ACYOA Central Council on all of their programming and initiatives.