Biennial Ghevontiants Clergy Conference of the Three North American Prelacies

On February 5, 2013, the Feast of St. Ghevont and the Priests will be commemorated in the Armenian Apostolic Church.  The Feast honors the indestructible faith and sacrifices of a multitude of heroes who gave their lives in the name of their faith and nation in the first half of the fifth century.

The Feast of St. Ghevont is also a celebration of clergy.  Thus, on this occasion, each year Prelacy clergy join together to reflect on the life and virtues of the Ghevontiants Saints and renew their vows and commitment as clergy through Divine Liturgy and a day-long conference of lectures and meditations.  Every two years, the Prelates and clergy of the three North American Prelacies gather for a joint clergy conference.  The last one was held February of 2011 in Toronto.

This year’s joint conference was held the week preceding the Feast on Tuesday, January 29 and Wednesday, January 30 hosted by the Western Prelacy at St. Gregory Church in San Francisco.  The two day conference was presided over by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan (Prelate of the Eastern U.S.), and H.E. Archbishop Khajag Hagopian (Prelate of Canada), and featured   Clergy members arrived in San Francisco on the afternoon of Monday, January 28, and were greeted by Parish Pastor of St. Gregory Church Archpriest Fr. Khoren Habeshian, Prelacy Executive Council member Mr. Sako Shirikian, and parish representatives.  The clergy were hosted to a welcoming dinner in the evening at “Saroyan” Hall of the “Khachaturian” Armenian Community Center. Members of sister organizations participated in the dinner, and the evening provided the opportunity for conference participants to become acquainted.

Remarks were delivered by the three Prelates, St. Gregory Church Pastor, Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Rostom Aintablian, and “Kristapor” Gomideh member Mr. Edward Misserlian.

Tuesday, January 29, began with morning church service, followed by a spiritual meditation by St. Sarkis Church of New York Parish Pastor Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian on the theme of serving the Lord with a fervent spirit (Romans 12:11).

The conference convened with a prayer at “Vasbouragan” Hall.  Fr. Khoren Habeshian and Mr. Sako Shirikian welcomed the participants and wished success to the proceedings.  Archbishop Choloyan spoke of the conference as an opportunity for reevaluating the mission of clergy and renewal of faith, Archbishop Hagopian as a driving force for spiritual fulfillment and individual growth, and Archbishop Mardirossian, focusing on the conference theme of “Faithfulness and Service”, stated that it is an occasion for realistic evaluation and faithful implementation of clergy service.

The election of the officers followed with Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian and Very Rev. Fr. Meghrig Parikian chosen as Co-Chairs, and Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian as Co-Secretaries.

Eastern Prelacy Vicar General H.G. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian read the letter of H.H. Catholicos Aram I prepared for this occasion, after which Fr. Vicken Vassilian read the “Year of the Armenian Mother” message of His Holiness.  Three resolutions wre adopted with regards to the “Year of the Armenian Mother”: (1) For sermons during Great Lent to focus on the exemplary model of Armenian mothers, (2) daily spiritual and cultural events the week of Mother’s Day, (3) a two-volume publication dedicated to Armenian mothers compiled of passages from the Bible and Armenian literature.  A lecture on “Faithfulness and Service” by Archpriest Fr. Aram Sdepanian followed.

The proceedings of the first day concluded with presentations by the Prelates.

Archbishop Khajag Hagopian reported on the recent meeting of Prelates at the Catholicosate.  Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan spoke on the Catholicosate General Assembly and Etchmiadzin-Antelias collaboration, and Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian presented the re-edited version of the Book of Rituals, which the Western Prelacy will soon publish.  The day came to a close with evening services.

Day two began with morning church service followed by a spiritual meditation by Fr. Muron Aznikian on the passage from 1 Corinthians 9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Clergy then headed to Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan School, where the students presented a Vartanants program.  Archbishop Mardirossian conveyed the day’s message, in which he commended the administration and students.

The conference reconvened with a lecture on “Motherhood in the Bible” by Very Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian.  The remainder of the conference was devoted to discussions on mutual concerns, suggestions, and unforeseen matters.

The biennial Ghevontiants Clergy Conference concluded on Wednesday evening with Divine Liturgy.  The celebrant was Very Rev. Fr. Meghrig Parikian, Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Toronto, and the sermon was delivered by H.G. Bishop Anoushavan Tanieian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, a special requiem service was held in memory of all deceased clergy who served within the three Prelacies.

A reception followed at “Vasbourgan” Hall, during which closing remarks of thanks and commendation were conveyed.  The day came to a close with the Cilician, Armenian, and Pontifical anthems.

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