ACYOA Juniors gathered over Memorial Day weekend at St. James Church of Watertown, MA, for the 44th annual Hye M’rtsoom program. The parish hosted 229 participants from 17 parishes across the Diocese for a weekend of worship, sports, and fellowship.
The Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian, pastor of St. James Church; Yn. Natasha Aljalian; and St. James youth minister Maria Derderian worked alongside dedicated community members to ensure the success of the weekend. Events were held at the St. James Church’s Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center, and participants were housed with local families. The V. Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, and Kathryn Ashbahian, of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, visited throughout the weekend.
On Saturday morning during morning service, the participants gathered in the chapel and heard an inspiring message by Fr. Odabashian. He shared his joy in being present with the Juniors and passed on the blessings of the primate, Bishop Daniel Findikyan.
Based on the weekend’s theme—“Ain’t No Mountain Hye Enough”—Fr. Simeon encouraged participants to grow closer to each other and to God as they overcome struggles and find community within the church. Throughout the day, participants created a photo collage on the youth center’s wall, which included a selfie of each participant and a description of their talents and favorite activities.
Serving the Community
Halfway through the sports, participants gathered in the kitchen to make hundreds of sandwiches for Pine Street Inn, a Boston shelter that serves the area’s homeless population. Once the sports concluded for the day, participants headed home for dinner with their host families, and then returned to St. James for an evening dance and activities.
On Sunday, May 26, Fr. Aljalian celebrated the Divine Liturgy and gave an inspiring message to the youth who filled the pews. While afternoon sports were taking place, participants also learned about the Dogs of Gyumri, a donation-based animal welfare and adoption center based in Gyumri, Armenia. Using old T-shirts, participants made dog toys with the organization’s founder, Sarah Derderian.
On Sunday evening, participants gathered at St. James Church for dinner and an awards ceremony and enjoyed dancing to Armenian and American music.
Monday morning, everyone gathered for a farewell breakfast before heading back to their parish communities.
ACYOA Central Council Awards
The “Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan Service Award” was given to Sarah Babikian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Chicago, IL, as an ACYOA Junior who has served the Armenian Church with the same humility and compassion as the late founder of the ACYOA.
The “Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan Leadership Award” was given to Shant Danadian of St. Paul Church in Syracuse, NY, as an ACYOA Junior who has taken on leadership roles within her ACYOA chapter and has approached those roles with Christian love, understanding, and patience.
The “Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan Vision Award” was given to Emma Daw of St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church in White Plains, NY, as an ACYOA Junior who has established programs that incorporate one or more of the five circles of the cross (education, worship, service, witness and fellowship), and who has made a lasting impression on his ACYOA chapter.
The ACYOA Junior “Chapter ‘A’ Award” was given to the St. John Church (Southfield, MI) chapter for its work as an ACYOA Junior organization that has done its best to create an atmosphere conducive to Christian love, education, and service.
Individual Sports Awards
Allan Kevorkian (Providence, RI)—1st place
Michael Connors (New Britain, CT)—2nd place
Apig Jamgotchian (Tenafly, NJ)—1st place
Daniel Karamanougian (Tenafly, NJ)—2nd place
Ryan Kozak (Fair Lawn, NJ)—1st place
Marianna Lilla (St. James – Watertown)
Chris Gigian (Watertown, MA)—1st place
Artash Oganesov (Cambridge, MA)—2nd place
Adi Najarian (Fair Lawn, NJ)—1st place
Lauren Dadekian (Fair Lawn, NJ)—2nd place
Shahe Jebejian (Fair Lawn. NJ)—1st place
Michael Nargizian (Fair Lawn, NJ)—2nd place
Team Sports Awards
St. Leon “A” (Fair Lawn, NJ)—1st place
St. Leon “B” (Fair Lawn, NJ)—2nd place
St. Leon (Fair Lawn, NJ)—1st place
St. Leon (Fair Lawn, NJ)—2nd place
St. Leon “B” (Fair Lawn, NJ)—1st place
St. Leon “A” (Fair Lawn, NJ)—2nd place
Boys: Aren Antranik (Providence, RI)
Girls: Melina Asslanian (Wynnewood, PA)
St. Leon ACYOA Juniors Chapter, Fair Lawn, NJ