Forty Martyrs Church of Orange County Celebrates 30th Anniversary



On Sunday, September 23, 2018, Forty Martyrs Church of Orange County ceremoniously celebrated the 30th anniversary of its consecration with Episcopal Divine Liturgy and a banquet. On the same day, prayers for the Republic and the blessing of the Armenian flag took place in all Prelacy Churches on the 27th anniversary of the re-independence of the Republic of Armenia. The day also marked the launch of the Armenian American Museum Groundbreaking Campaign.

On these special occasions, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Divine Liturgy, conducted the Prayers for the Republic service and flag blessing, and delivered his message at Forty Martyrs Church. The Prelate’s call for support of the Armenian American Museum was also read in Prelacy Churches. H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, participated in the service. Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian and deacons assisted at the altar. In attendance at Forty Martyrs Church were Executive Council Chair Mr. Garo Eshgian and members, parish and Ari Guiragos Minassian School members, and representatives of sister organizations.

Prior to the sermon, as the choir sang the hymn “Oorakh Ler,” members of the AYF “Ashod Yergat” chapter carried the Armenian flag to the altar to begin the Prayers for the Republic and flag blessing, after which the Prelate delivered his message. His Eminence gave thanks to the Lord that thirty years ago the community was blessed with its own church which was consecrated by His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II of Cilicia (later Catholicos Karekin I of all Armenians). He fondly recalled the consecration as he was serving as parish dean at the time, reliving the fervor and spiritual joy of that day. With gratitude he recalled the generous support of the Keuylian, Gugasian, Minassian, and Hovanian families through which the sanctuary, hall, school, and complex became reality, and the Barsamian family who in later years sponsored the Armenian Center. He blessed the memory of departed founders and sponsors, commended all sister organizations who together with the Church serve for the advancement of the community, and congratulated the parish family.

Next, the Prelate reflected on the 27th anniversary of the re-independence of Armenia, stating, “Today, we prayed for the Lord to bless our homeland of Armenia and Artsakh, to bless our tricolor flag, and grant wisdom and grace to the President, Prime Minister, and all servants. Twenty-seven years ago, the spirit of the first Republic was manifested with the re-gaining of independence, and today, our fatherland is in charge of its own destiny and legacy. In the past few months in particular, our nation underwent a rebirth and paved the path for a new Armenia,” stated the Prelate, and prayed for the leadership to lead our nation to new heights with justice, integrity, humility, and prudence.

His Eminence next announced that the day also marked the launch of the Armenian American Museum groundbreaking campaign. “On behalf of the Governing Board, I urge you all to lend your generous support to this historic project, for the Museum will be built with united efforts, and alongside our churches, schools, and community organizations will be of utmost benefit for our nation,” said the Prelate.

His Eminence thereafter delivered his sermon, having as a theme the following the passage from Matthew 7:24, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock,” the same passage which His Holiness Karekin II had chosen for his message at the consecration. The Prelate stated that through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about laws and morality, gave clear instructions on how to pray, how to do good, that we must lay up treasures in heaven, and let the light of our faith shine in our lives. “The wise man builds his house on the rock, while the foolish on sand. Wise is the man who hears the Words of our Lord and implements them, foolish is he who hears but does not heed. On this 30th anniversary, above all may we be and remain faithful disciples of Christ, hearing, listening to, and implementing His Word. Let us renew our faith and serve for the advancement of this Church as a house of faith built on the rock, as the birthplace of our soul. And let us go forward strengthened in faith, enriched by national pride, armed with Christian virtues, with a humble spirit, pure heart, and honest service, beseeching the Lord to guide us so that we can keep the foundation of our church and nation strong and unshakeable,” said the Prelate.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, requiem prayers were offered for Archpriest Fr. Ashod Kochian, Manuel and Veronica Keuylian, Haig and Vartouhi Gugasian, Giragos and Ari Minassian, and all departed church founders, Delegates, Board of Trustees and Ladies Guild members, deacons, choir members, sponsors, and volunteers.

Following the service, the community gathered at Gugasian Hall to collectively celebrate the 30th anniversary at a banquet organized by the Parish Pastor and Board of Trustees and hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Bedig and Maro Fermanian. The program began with the invocation the Vicar General. Welcoming remarks by the MC, Mrs. Kohar Zaher, who stated that alongside offering Christian instruction and spiritual nourishment, the Armenian Church has reinforced the Armenian identity in the faith of our forefathers. Fr. Karekin thanked the Prelate for presiding over the celebration and called on the faithful to stand by the parish. On behalf of the “Armen Karo” Gomideh, Mr. Garo Kilejian congratulated the parish, stating that church has been a bastion of faith and national values in the community, and also touched upon the re-independence of Armenia and the independence of Artsakh. During lunch, guests enjoyed a cultural program featuring songs by Hovhannes Balyan, a video presentation, a poem and hymn presented by Sunday School and Vacation Bible School students, a presentation titled “From Sis to the United States” by the parish youth group chronicling the 60th anniversary of the North American Prelacy and 45th anniversary of the Western Prelacy, and a recitation by Yeretsgin Sevan Bedourian. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Mr. Herair Jermakian delivered congratulatory remarks commending all whose who devotedly serve our Curch and nation. A plaque was presented to Mr. Vagharsh Keuylian, a member of the founding family, in appreciation for his years-long service to the church. Mr. Keuylian expressed thanks for the honor and called on all to preserve our spiritual and national values. The cutting of the cake followed. On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Mr. Garo Eshgian delivered congratulatory remarks, noting that without the past there is no present and that the 30th anniversary is not just a number rather an impetus for future endeavors and achievements.

The program concluded with the Prelate’s message and benediction. His Eminence stressed that the core message of the day is to be adherers and implementers of Christ’s Word, and to faithfully serve for the advancement of our Church as children and heirs of our Church and nation. “We made this promise to our Pontiff thirty years ago, and today we reaffirm that promise. We promise also to uphold the auspices of the Holy See of Cilicia as the driving force of our endeavors. Finally, especially here in the Diaspora, we promise to spare no effort to preserve and foster our identity. In the words of Taniel Varoujan, it is my prayer and wish today that we sow, sow, sow; sow for the sake of our nation, for the needy, for our Lord, sow even beyond the bounds, sow like the stars, sow like the waves, with boundless devotion, love, unconditionally and endlessly.” The Prelate concluded his message by blessing and commending all who contributed to the founding and advancement of the church, and called on all to care for the church, school, and community institutions.

The celebration closed with Cilicia.

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