Milwaukee Welcomes ACYOA Assembly & Sports Weekend

Young adults and clergy from across the Eastern Diocese gathered in Milwaukee, WI, over Memorial Day weekend (May 24-27) for the 73rd annual ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend. Primate of the Eastern Diocese Bishop Daniel Findikyan presided over the gathering.

The weekend was hosted by the ACYOA Seniors of St. Mesrob Church in Racine, WI and co-chaired by Alina Grigorian and Emily Janikian. They worked in partnership with their pastor the Rev. Fr. Avedis Kalayjian, Yn. Karen, and parishioners to create a memorable gathering of Armenian Christian young adults.

ACYOA’s General Assembly was held Friday, May 24, at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel. It was chaired by Rafael Grigoryan of the Armenian Church of Jacksonville, FL, and vice-chaired by Harry Kezelian of St. John Church of Southfield, MI.

Assembly and Awards

The assembly began with a healing service in the hotel led by the Primate. During the service, Bishop Daniel conducted a blessing of the water ceremony and distributed the blessed water to all of the participants.

Following the service, the 2019 General Assembly and Sports Weekend Committee welcomed the delegates and clergy to the weekend. Reports of the Central Council and the Diocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries were presented, followed by the report of the 2018 General Assembly and Sports Weekend Regional Host Committee.

Bishop Daniel addressed the General Assembly for the first time as bishop, welcoming the participants to the weekend. He echoed the theme of the Diocesan Assembly earlier this month—“Christ’s Healing in a Broken World”—and called upon the ACYOA members to be the ones to “build up the Body of Christ” in every aspect of the organization.

Bishop Daniel also spoke about his recent trip to Armenia—especially his visit to the Fund for Armenian Relief Children’s Center. He discussed the great work that FAR does for the people of Armenia and shared his experiences meeting the youth who live at the Center.

Delegates then broke up into small groups for a “Diving Deep” discussion titled “Fighting the Darkness by Shining our Light,” led by the ACYOA Central Council.

Members of the Central Council presented the annual ACYOA awards during the Primate’s luncheon on Friday afternoon. The “Chapter ‘A’ Award” was presented to the St. Sarkis Church of Dallas, TX.

The “Rev. Fr. Haroutiun and Yn. Patricia Dagley Award” was presented to Paul and Susan Mardoian of Sts. Joachim and Anne Church of Palos Heights, IL for their dedication and continued service to the youth of the Armenian Church.

The “Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Melkonian Award” was presented to the Rev. Fr. Tadeos Barseghyan of St. Sahag Church of St. Paul, MN, for his passionate leadership and dedicated service on behalf of the youth of the Armenian Church.

The “Sam Nersesian Award”—given to an individual who displays Christian values of love, patience, humility, and understanding—was presented to Andrew Yenicag of the Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, NY.

The “Gregory Arpajian Leadership Award” was presented to Arthur Sabounjian of the Holy Translators Church of Framingham. MA, for his leadership in the Armenian Church.

Following the Primate’s luncheon, delegates broke into small groups for reflections led by the ACYOA Central Council to discuss the change in ACYOA programming and suggestions they may have going forward.

Elections were held to fill four vacancies on the ACYOA Central Council, two of which were left by outgoing members Mallory Maslar and Ronnie Malconian. Sona Dagley and Melissa Mardoian were both re-elected for a second term. Rafael Grigoryan of the Armenian Church of Jacksonville, FL, and Alina Grigorian of St. Mesrob Church of Racine, WI, were both newly elected to the Central Council.

Sporting & Social Events

Following the General Assembly on Friday evening, participants of the weekend gathered at Glass and Griddle for a night of fellowship and socializing.

On Saturday, team and individual sports competitions were held at the Milwaukee Sports Complex. During sports competitions, three different presentations were given under the theme of “Mind Body and Soul.” The first speaker, Dn. Eric Vozzy gave a talk about Armenian spirituality, followed by a talk by Sarah Derderian about her life working in Armenia, and finally a talk by Dr. Christopher Sheklian about the Armenian Church and the environment.

In addition, Fr. Yeprem Kelegian led a group of participants in “ACYOA Acts of Kindness” which involved making sandwiches for the homeless and greeting cards for the elderly. Approximately 25 young adults participated in this outreach highlighting a significant meaning of the ACYOA.

That evening, the participants gathered at the Harley Davidson Museum for an evening of music, dancing, and games. Participants were entertained by Armenian music by the Mid-East Beat and Armenian dancing by the Armenian Dance Company of Chicago.

On Sunday morning, Bishop Daniel celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Mesrob Church, Racine, WI. He gave the sermon at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, and formally installed the newly-elected ACYOA Central Council. Participants also enjoyed a brunch graciously prepared by the St. Mesrob parishioners.

Later on Sunday, the sports finals took place (see the results below). At the gym on Sunday, Dr. Charles Hijinian had an impressive display of Armenian antiquities from his personal collection, to share with all those present.

On Sunday evening, participants gathered in the hotel ballroom for the sports competition awards ceremony. Following the ceremony, participants, ACYOA alumni, family, and friends enjoyed a night of music and dancing featuring the Kef Time Legacy Band. The weekend concluded on Monday morning.

Click on the link to view photos of the 2019 ACYOA Assembly and Sports Weekend.


2019-20 ACYOA Central Council
Sona Dagley (Holy Translators Church, Framingham, MA)
Vice Chair: Nora Knadjian (St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Chicago, IL)
Secretary: Nick Tashjian (St. Leon Church, Fair Lawn, NJ)
Treasurer: Rafael Grigoryan (Armenian Church of Jacksonville, FL)
Communications: Arsen Yelegen (St. Gregory the Enlightener Church, White Plains, NY)
Ministries and Outreach: Melissa Mardoian (Sts. Joachim and Anne Church, Palos Heights, IL) and Alina Grigorian (St. Mesrob Church, Racine, WI)


Co-ed Volleyball
1st Place: St. Sarkis Church “A” Team, Dallas, TX
2nd Place: Chicagoland “A” Team, Chicago, IL

Women’s Basketball
1st Place: St. Leon Church, Fair Lawn, NJ
2nd Place: Chicagoland, Chicago, IL

Men’s Basketball
1st Place: St. Garabed Church, Hollywood, CA
2nd Place: St. John the Baptist Church, Greenfield, WI

Hovsep Nahapetyan, St. Sarkis Church, Dallas, TX

Davit Avetisyan, St. Sarkis Church, Carrollton, TX

St. Leon Church Men’s Basketball, Fair Lawn, NJ

By Arsen Yelegen

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