For 10 days in April, on the heels of this year’s Easter celebration, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan traveled throughout the Midwest for an extended stay among the clergy and faithful of the region. He was warmly welcomed by parishioners throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, with whom he met in sacred, celebratory, as well as informal settings.
The excursion from April 9 through 19, 2021, was an opportunity for the Primate to hold meetings with leaders of the Diocese and sister churches; but just as importantly it was a chance to spend time with the local people, hear their ideas and concerns—especially in the midst of the ongoing pandemic—and inform them about the outreach efforts of the Eastern Diocese.
The trip began with a momentous event in the life of St. John the Baptist Church of Milwaukee, WI, in which the Primate ordained Dn. Albert Hambartsumyan as a priest, naming him “Fr. Guregh.” The Service of Calling on April 9, and the ordination on April 10, brought together local parishioners and faithful from throughout the region to witness the rare and impressive sacrament, resulting in a new pastor for the Milwaukee church. (Read about the ordination here.)
The Sunday following the ordination took Bishop Daniel to St. James of Nisibis Church in Evanston, IL, where he presided over the badarak with the assistance of pastor Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan. During the service, the Primate performed several ordinations to the minor orders, ordaining Aram Kirakosyan, Brandon Simon, and Alexander Khoja-Eynatyan as acolytes, and Melkon Melkonian, Vartkes Minatiskan, Haig Hagopian, and Alexander Khoja-Eynatyan as subdeacons.
Continuing on to St. Mesrob Church in Racine, WI, Bishop Daniel led a weeknight vespers service and blessed two new chalices: one dedicated in memory of the late Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian, donated by parish pastor Fr. Avedis Kalayjian and his extended family, and the other dedicated in memory of the late Charles Dadian, donated by the Dadian family.
Meeting With Clergy & Parishioners
Parishioners of St. George Church in Waukegan, IL, gathered with the bishop for a vespers service, and later welcomed the Primate to a special parish gathering. During his time in the community, Bishop Daniel also presided at the funeral of Susan Dayenian, a beloved parishioner of the Waukegan church.
Waukegan was also the locale for the Primate’s first in-person meeting with clergy of the Midwest region since the outbreak of the pandemic. Fr. Sahak Kaishian, Fr. Andreas Garabedian, Fr. Avedis Kalayjian, Fr. Tavit Boyajian, Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, and Fr. Yeprem Kelegian gathered with Bishop Daniel for prayer and discussion.
At Sts. Joachim and Anne Church of Palos Heights, IL, the bishop led an evening service assisted by pastor Fr. Tavit Boyajian. Later he met with parish leaders for an informal gathering in the church hall.
Friday, April 16 brought Bishop Daniel to Chicago, where he attended a formal meeting with that city’s Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Blase Cupich, at the Archdiocesan Center.
Accompanying the Primate on that visit was Fr. Andreas Garabedian, who later in the week welcomed Bishop Daniel to St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Chicago, IL, for the bishop’s long-awaited return to the parish where he ordained Fr. Andreas to the priesthood in 2019. The faithful gathered for the Divine Liturgy and a celebratory event afterwards, which was also attended by local Catholic clergyman Fr. Thomas Baima and Armenia’s Honorary Consul to the Midwest (and also a Diocesan Council member) Oscar Tatosian.
The Primate’s trip culminated in his presiding over the spring Sacred Music Festival. He welcomed the attendees of the online festival from Evanston, alongside Sacred Music Council chair Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, and delivered the keynote address on “The Badarak: Our Musical Sacrament.” (Read about the Sacred Music Festival here.)
Bishop Daniel’s visits to the Midwest parishes invariably included a meal or other gathering with local faithful, always observing the regulations imposed by the pandemic. In his messages, the Bishop conveyed his joy of reuniting with parishioners of the region face-to-face, after a year of separation. He also spoke enthusiastically about the activities and ministries of the Diocese, and about promising developments on the horizon. He engaged the parishioners in a discussion of their own efforts and challenges during the past year, and applauded their ongoing work to “Build Up the Body of Christ” throughout their respective communities, even under difficult circumstances of a worldwide pandemic.
Click the link to view photos of Bishop Daniel’s visits to the Diocesan parishes of the Midwest.