During His Three-Day Visit to Fresno on the 30th Anniversary of Armenian Independence


On Saturday, September 18, 2021, H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, departed on a three-day visit to Fresno where he was welcomed by the pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Very Rev. Fr. Ashod Khachadourian, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno and Executive Council member Berj Apkarian, and community representatives.

On the morning of Sunday, September 19, the Prelate celebrated Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church, during which he conducted Thanksgiving Prayers for the Republic on the 30th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia and blessed the Armenian tri-color flag carried by Homenetmen scouts. H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian participated in the service, which concluded with the collective singing of the Armenian national anthem.

The Prelate began his message by giving thanks to the Lord for the occasion, stating, “Today, God grants us wisdom to strengthen our faith through prayer, increase our hope in our Him and our love for one another.” On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Armenian independence, the Prelate prayed for God to pour His boundless blessings upon the Armenian homeland, the Armenian Church, and the Armenian people. He urged the faithful to have stronger faith and trust in the Lord as the guide of our lives and learn to depend on Him in all aspects of our lives as a homeland, as a nation, and as individuals. Citing the words of the Psalmist, the Prelate stressed that with God by our side we are strong and must feel strong all the days of our lives. He concluded his moving bilingual message by announcing that during his next visit to Fresno he will confer upon Very Rev. Fr. Ashod Khachadourian the right to carry Vartabedagan staff.


On the morning of Tuesday, September 21, Armenian Independence Day, the Prelate delivered the invocation at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting. He was joined by clergy members, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno and Executive Council member Berj Apkarian. The Board members welcomed the Armenian delegation and noted that it was the first time a Prelate was participating in the opening of their meeting. Mr. Apkarian spoke of the occasion, and then invited the Prelate to deliver the invocation. The Prelate prayed for God’s divine intervention for the preservation of Armenia’s independence, the protection of the Armenian army and soldiers, and the strengthening and expansion of American and Armenia relations. The members of the Board congratulated the 30th anniversary of independence and presented a proclamation on this occasion.

In the afternoon, the Prelate and delegation met with Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. Remarks were delivered by officials, with reference being made to the plan to declare Fresno and Yerevan sister cities, while Mr. Apkarian invited the Mayor to visit Armenia.


In the evening of Tuesday, September 21, an official dinner was held at Fort Washington Country Club to mark the 30th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. In attendance were H.G Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, clergy from the local Greek Orthodox, Evangelical, and Armenian Apostolic Churches, Consul General Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, Honorary Consul Berj Apkarian, Congressman Jim Costa, CA State Senator Andreas Borgeas, Fresno State University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval, President and CEO of Community Medical Centers Health System Craig Castro, Consuls, local public officials, Armenian community leaders, and sponsors, totaling over 200 guests.

Following the national anthems, the Prelate delivered the invocation. Ambassador Baibourtian delivered remarks dedicated to Armenia’s independence, and as a gesture of the mutual love and respect between the American and Armenian people, presented certificates of commendation and medals bearing the coat of arms of Armenia to Congressman Costa, Senator Borgeas, Mr. Jimenez-Sandoval, and Mr. Castro. The honorees expressed their thanks and appreciation to all.

The evening’s surprise was when the Prelate lauded Mr. Berj Apkarian for meticulously planning his three-day visit and, as a token of appreciation, presented him with a special souvenir from the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia, earning a standing ovation from the guests. The program concluded with the benediction delivered by H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

Community organizations participated in the official dinner. Worthy of note is the arrangement by the local ARS chapter to have youth, in traditional Armenian dress, escort the guests to their seats and the honorees to the stage and back. Guests also enjoyed Armenian music by “Element” band members Ara Dabanjian and Arakadz Aprahamian and compositions of Gomidas and Altounian by the 32-member Fresno State “Wind Orchestra.”

The Prelate’s three-day visit also included meetings with notable community members, sponsors, and friends, including the Chamlian, Parnagian, Sarabian, and Saatjian families whose homes and businesses he visited and blessed, praying for their health and success. Moreover, while visiting the Chamlian home, the Prelate read the congratulatory letter of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I addressed to Mr. Vahan Chamlian on his 90th birthday, bringing great joy to the couple.

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