43rd Representatives Assembly Commends Endeavors of the Prelate and Councils



On the afternoon of Friday, May 1st, 2015, the 43rd Representatives Assembly convened at the Prelacy “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall, presided over by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and with the participation of Clergy, Central Executive members Khajag Dikijian and Vahe Yacoubian, Religious and Executive Councils, Delegates, Boards of Trustees Chairs, principals, directors, and members of the Board of Regents. This year’s Assembly was hosted by the Crescenta Valley Church Board of Trustees. Over two days of discussions, the Assembly reviewed the annual activities report of the Prelate and Councils and drafted the future endeavors of our churches, schools, and committees.

The Assembly officially began with a collective prayer by the clergy and the invocation by the Prelate, who then invited Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian to read the Pontifical message of His Holiness Aram I. Our Pontiff noted that though we are in the Centennial anniversary year, our quest for justice is not limited to one year alone, rather it is an ongoing mission which must be the driving force of our collective life and works. His Holiness highlighted the recent suit filed against Turkey for the return of the historic Sis Catholicosate, expressing confidence of our Prelacy’s support and contribution to its success. His Holiness commended the efforts of the Prelate, Councils, and delegates in the mission of the church, commended the endeavors of our Prelacy and stressed the importance of renewal and revival, as well as the involvement of our youth, in the success of our collective life.

The election of the divan followed, with Dr. Garo Agopian and Mr. Varoujan Der Simonian elected co-chairs, and Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian and Mr. Hamo Kasbarian co-secretaries. Central Executive member Mr. Khajag Dikijian greeted the participants and had special words of appreciation for his colleague, Mr. Vahe Yacoubian, who recently hosted a reception in support of the Sis Catholicosate lawsuit. He exalted the diligent efforts of His Holiness Aram I and the Prelate, especially in this Centennial year. Mr. Dikijian reflected on the different roles of the Catholicosate of Cilicia throughout history. In the years following the Genocide it served as a center for spiritual and cultural rebirth for the exiled Armenian people, and today, it is a champion of our cause, advocating for the return of our national properties and rights. In conclusion, Mr. Dikijian emphasized the importance of collaboration between clergy and laity. Executive Council Chair Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian in his remarks expressed confidence that the discussions would be productive and fruitful, and stated that at this historic time we must continue our path to justice with unwavering faith and collective efforts. Welcoming remarks were also delivered by Mr. Hrayr Garabetian on behalf of the host parish.

The Prelate then delivered his message, the theme of which was collectivity. His Eminence noted that at the time of the Centennial anniversary, we witnessed unparalleled participation and world-wide exposure, all owing to unity and collective efforts. The achievements we experiences on the world stage are proof that anything is possible when we put up a united front, and it is our hope and wish that the impetus we received from the inspiring message of the Centennial, coupled with the intercession of our holy martyrs, will reinvigorate us and impel us in our service, said the Prelate. “Our eyes must be directed toward cooperation and collaboration. We must band together and bring our collective participation and collaboration to all the endeavors and events of our Prelacy, just as we did for the Centennial commemorations, for our strength lies in our collectivity and unity,” emphasized His Eminence.

The session came to a close with reports on the activities of each parish, presented by Boards of Trustees Chairpersons or representatives.

The second session included a review of financial reports and briefings by the Religious Council, Executive Council, and Board of Regents. Following a discussion on the merit of the activities, the Assembly once again found the endeavors of the Prelate and Councils highly commendable.

Each year near the conclusion of the first day’s proceedings, a member of our community is honored for their service and/or contribution to the advancement of our church and nation. The Prelate announced that this year’s honorees were Mr. and Mrs. Gaizag and Anahid Ohanesian, who would be awarded highest Prelacy honor, the “St. Dertad” and “St. Ashkhen” Medals for their generous support of the Catholicosate’s lawsuit against Turkey and of our Prelacy. The Prelate welcomed the honorees their family members and Raffi Cultural Association members in attendance, and introduced the Ohanesian couple to the Assembly participants. His Eminence saluted the couple’s demonstration of solidarity to the Holy See of Cilicia and our Prelacy over the past few months, beginning at the start of the year with a generous donation of $150,000 in support of the Catholicosate’s lawsuit demanding the return of our historic properties in Sis from Turkey. That was followed by another gracious donation to the Prelacy, bringing the total to $235,000, including a moving donation by Mrs. Anahid Ohanesian in memory of her brother, the late Paul Baghdadlian. The Prelate also announced that the couple is will be ready to further contribute to the Catholicoste and our Prelacy.

“We found it fitting to express our gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Gaizag and Anahid Ohanesian in the presence of you all, the Prelacy family,” said the Prelate, and invited Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian to read the letter of blessing and commendation. His Eminence had stated in the letter that the Ohanesians were the first to lend their support to the Sis lawsuit fund and encourage our fight to reclaim our properties and rights. In recognition of their service, dedication, and national spirit, we hereby award the Western Prelacy “St. Dertad” and “St. Ashkhen” medal to Mr. and Mrs. Gaizag and Anahid Ohanesian, praying for the Lord to pour His blessings on the Ohanesian family,” wrote the Prelate. The awarding of the medals followed, after which Mr. Ohanesian addressed the gathering, expressing gratitude to the Prelate for the great honor and reaffirming their support to the mission of the Catholicosate and the Prelacy.

With the close of the session, Assembly participants had the opportunity to personally congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Ohanesian. During the ensuing reception, remarks were conveyed in honor of the couple.

The second day’s sessions focused on the Armenian Genocide Centennial and the planning of activities for the new term. The Assembly commended the unity and mass participation of our community during various commemorations in the past weeks, and adopted a a historic decision was adopted to remit two letters to His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The first expressed the Assembly’s solidarity to the lawsuit demanding the return of our historic properties in Sis from Turkey. In the second letter, the Assembly requested that His Holiness bring to light the destruction of Armenian and Christian properties in Syria and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, a repeat of Turkey’s action against the Armenian people one hundred years after the Armenian Genocide, during his official visits and media appearances at the national commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Washington, D.C. from May 7 – 10.

The Assembly expressed grave concern for the escalating crisis in Syria where our national treasures continue to be destroyed and our Armenian brothers and sisters continue to face immense challenges. The latest act of violence was directed toward Forty Martyrs Church complex in Aleppo, a continuation of the cycle of devastation begun last year with the destruction of the memorial complex in Der Zor. The Assembly concluded that though the Prelacy has provided much humanitarian support to relief efforts, additional steps are needed to put an end to the continuing devastation. Thus, the Assembly came to a decision to appeal to His Holiness to bring much-needed attention to the tragedy that is unfolding in Syria at the hands of the Turks who carried out the same atrocities against the Armenian people and properties one hundred years ago. Carbon copies of the letters will be sent to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund and the Armenian National Committee.

The session concluded with the Prelate’s closing message. His Eminence once again reiterated that harmonious collaboration is the key to success, just as we witnessed during April 24 commemorations, and called on the participants to continue to serve in that same spirit of unity and cooperation. The Assembly came to a close with the benediction, followed by Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem.

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