Easter Eve Celebration and Reopening of Armenian Genocide Monument at Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County

On Saturday, April 4, 2015, the eve of the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was joyfully celebrated throughout Prelacy Churches with Divine Liturgy and Easter Vigil service (Jrakalooyts). H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Easter Eve Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County. The celebration coincided with the reopening of the newly renovated Armenian Genocide monument.

With the triumphant words, “Christ was Resurrected and His enemies dispersed,” the Prelate began his sermon, thanking God for the blessing of once again partaking in the Divine Liturgy celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This past week during Holy Week services, we participated in the commemoration of the last days of Christ’s earthly life, said His Eminence. Through Scripture readings, we heard and witnessed how those Who opposed Him tried to dim His light and conceal His truth and righteousness. And for a brief time they believed they had succeeded. As was prophesied however, the Son of God, by the will of His Father and by His own free will came at the appointed time, lived among the people, taught by miracles and by example, and willingly suffered and shed His blood for our sins. Seeing Him on the Cross, His opponents thought they had won; but they had not, for Christ was buried and for three days descended into the depths of the earth to liberate the just souls. And on the third day, the women who had gone to the tomb were met with visions of angels proclaiming that He is risen, and to go and tell His disciples.

The disciples, seeing their Lord resurrected from the dead, were encouraged by the words He spoke to them in His last days on earth, “Be encouraged, I have overcome the world.” Today, we continue to be encouraged for He has indeed overcome the world and we too can overcome challenges and difficulties as long as our faith is rooted in the truth and power of His Resurrection, emphasized the Prelate. The story of the Armenian people did not end with suffering, for we overcame and were reborn. Today, in our national and personal lives, there are still those who work against us and seek to subdue us, but we will not falter, for the truth always prevails. With a triumphant spirit, let us therefore boldly proclaim, “Glory for Your Resurrection, Christ is Risen from the dead, blessed is the Resurrection of Christ,” concluded the Prelate.

Later in the service, parish pastor Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian welcomed and thanked the Prelate for celebrating the special occasion with the community, and commended the dedicated service of all throughout Holy Week.

The Prelate then presided over the candle-lighting service, during which faithful lit candles from the flame of a candle brought from the altar, representing the Light of our Christ radiating throughout the world and illuminating mankind. The service came to a close with the joyful words of the Easter hymn “Today He is Risen” echoing through the church.

BLESSING OF GENOCIDE MONUMENT In a procession led by deacons and choir members singing Easter hymns, the Prelate proceeded to the courtyard for the blessing and dedication of the renovated Armenian Genocide monument. His Eminence conveyed his blessings to monument renovation sponsors Mr.
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and Mrs. Bedig and Maro Fermanian for their enduring support of our church and communities. A candle-lighting ceremony followed, with the Prelate and sponsor family placing the first candles, after which Mr. and Mrs. Fermanian placed a wreath at the foot of the monument.
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Mr. Garo Kilejian delivered remarks on behalf of the “Armen Karo” Gomideh stating, “one hundred years ago, Turkey tried but failed to annihilate the Armenian people. Today, in front of this monument, we pledge to continue our path toward justice.” The program also featured songs and a recitation by members of the “Serop Aghpiur” youth group.

The Prelate delivered the closing message, noting the beautiful coincidence of celebrating the reopening of the monument, a tribute to the survival and rebirth of our nation, on the same day as the celebration of the triumphant spirit of the Resurrection. His Eminence blessed and commended the Postajian family, who sponsored the construction of the monument twenty years earlier during the Prelate’s tenure as parish priest, and also architect Karnig Keshishian for his contribution. We thank God for the growth and prosperity of this parish and for this day as we bless and dedicate this renovated monument, said the Prelate, a tribute to our martyrs who will soon be canonized into the sainthood. God bless our martyrs, glory to His Resurrection, concluded His Eminence.

The ceremony came to a close with the benediction, followed by Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem.

EASTER EVE DINNER A traditional Easter Eve dinner followed at Gugasian Hall hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Bedig and Maro Fermanian and prepared by the parish Ladies Guild and ARS “Sevan” Chapter members. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Sahag Yessaian expressed gratitude to the Prelate for his presence and thanked the sponsors and guests for their support and encouragement. The Prelate blessed the tables and conveyed his Easter congratulations to all, after which guests enjoyed dinner. In his address, Fr. Karekin first thanked God for the day and expressed joy for the continuation of the Easter Eve dinner tradition. He expressed gratitude to the Prelate for spending the day with the community, and thanked the sponsors, church servants, guests, and program participants for their support and service. Speaking of the planned renovation project of the church and complex, Fr. Karekin called on the guests to lend their valuable support toward the success of the project. Encouraged by the festive atmosphere of the evening, a number of donations to the project were made during dinner.

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