Clergy Conference and Divine Liturgy in Commemoration of St. Ghevontiants

In observance of the Feast of St. Ghevontiants, on Monday, February 20, 2017, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and clergy traveled to Fresno where the following day the annual Ghevontiants clergy conference was held at Holy Trinity Church, hosted by parish pastor Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian and the Board of Trustees, and Divine Liturgy celebrated.

On Monday afternoon, Deacon Berj Apkarian, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno, hosted a reception for the Prelate and clergy at the Honorary Consulate, with the participation of Executive Council member Deacon Mark Shirin, Holy Trinity Church Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Bill Sahatdjian, Consulate supporter Dr. Vatche Vassilian, and community members. Following prayers and hymns of blessing, remarks of gratitude and solidarity were exchanged by the Prelate and Honorary Consul. During lunch, His Eminence conveyed well wishes for the prosperity of Armenia and the Armenian nation and commended the service of Mr. Apkarian and consular staff, while the Honorary Consul promised his continued collaborative efforts. Remarks were also delivered by Deacon Mark, Fr. Dajad, Mr. Sahatdjian, Deacon Mark, and clergy, and the atmosphere was enlivened with national songs. Following an exchange of mementos, the lunch concluded with the singing of Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem.

At 6:30 p.m., eve of the Feast service was conducted at Holy Trinity Church, after which the Prelate and clergy were hosted to a dinner by parish deacons. His Eminence thanked and commended the deacons for their dedicated service to our church and expressed hoped that they inspire others to serve, and on this occasion presented the latest book by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I titled The Armenian Church. Remarks were conveyed by the parish Pastor, and representatives of the Executive Council and Board of Trustees. The evening, which also featured patriotic and national songs, came to a close with Cilicia.

Tuesday morning began with breakfast hosted by the parish Ladies Guild, followed by morning service dedicated to the Feast of St. Ghevontiants. The Prelate delivered the meditation inspired by the “Year of Renewal” proclamation of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, stressing the importance and need for renewal in their individual lives and in their calling as clergy to better serve for the renewal and revitalization of our parishes and community. Citing from the Gospels and the Epistles the Prelate stressed the role of faith in pastoral service, following in the example of the staunch faith of the Ghevontiants saints, as well as the vital importance of God’s Word in the service of clergy, implementing His commandments and conveying them to the faithful.

The clergy conference convened with welcoming remarks by Fr. Dajad Ashekian and Mr. Bill Sahatdjian, the latter congratulating the Prelate on the 20th anniversary of his election.

In his message, the Prelate reminded the clergy of their great role within our communities and the importance of renewal in order to fulfill their mighty duties ably, and urged them to continue their valuable mission with further drive and commitment.

The conference continued with the election of the tivan. Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian was elected to serve as the Chair and Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian as Secretary. A Religious Council session was held, during which clergy presented reports on the endeavors and challenges of their respective parishes. The “Year of Renewal” Pontifical message was also read and discussed in length during the second session which convened after lunch. Clergy expressed their thoughts and offered suggestions on how to implement the message of His Holiness, while the Prelate once again reiterated the imperative for renewal. His Eminence also urged the clergy to encourage their community members and especially the youth to read the Pontiff’s latest book in English titled The Armenian Church in order to become better acquainted with our church and tenets. The last item on the agenda was dedicated to ongoing matters and suggestions for future endeavor. The conference concluded with the hymn “Disciples of Christ” and the benediction.

At 5:30 p.m., clergy and faithful gathered at Holy Trinity Church for Divine Liturgy presided over by the Prelate and celebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, with clergy assisting at the altar. During the service, His Eminence consecrated a new painting by artist Razmik Hajikian dedicated to Sts. Vartanants and Ghevontiants. The painting was commissioned by the Prelacy and sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Vahan and Anoush Chamlian, who were present for the ceremony. The Feast of St. Ghevontiants was commemorated thereafter with the special hymn for the occasion and intercessory prayers, after which Fr. Muron delivered his sermon on the historical significance of the Battle of Avarayr in the defense and upholding of our faith and on the sacrifice and legacy of the Ghevontiants saints. At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, “Der Voghormya” prayers were offered for the souls of recently departed clergy.

A community dinner hosted by the parish Men’s Society followed. The festive evening featured solo and group Vartanants and national songs by clergy members and vocal and piano performances by youth. The Prelate thanked the parish for its hospitality after which he briefly went over the day’s proceedings and highlighted the importance of keeping the bond between the church and people strong. He concluded by conveying his blessings and well wishes to all. The dinner concluded with Cilicia, the Pontifical anthem, and the Armenian national anthem.

On the morning of Wednesday, February 22nd, clergy conducted morning service prior to returning to their respective parishes renewed in their calling.

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