Holy Trinity Church of Fresno Celebrates 113th Anniversary with Episcopal Divine Liturgy and Ordination of Acolytes

The weekend of January 18, 2014, was a memorable one for Prelacy family members in Fresno as the community gathered to celebrate the 113th anniversary of Holy Trinity Church with a banquet on Saturday night, followed by Episcopal Divine Liturgy and ordination of acolytes on Sunday morning.

H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, arrived in Fresno on Saturday to preside over the celebrations.

On Sunday morning, the Prelate celebrated Divine Liturgy, ordained acolytes, and delivered his message at Holy Trinity Church.  Parish Pastor Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian assisted at the altar.  The eight young men ordained were Raffi Apkarian, Jano Kamcheian, Nareg Apkarian, Armen Apkarian, Vahe Ohanian, Hovig Ohanian, Zareh Apkarian, and Aren Sanikian.             The candidates knelt before the Prelate to receive the four ranks of an acolyte.  His Eminence cut a small piece of hair from each candidate, signifying the earthly desire being cut from them, and bestowed the first rank of Porter with a symbolic key saying, “Do such that you will give account of your work to God.  Be alert and pray while you open and close the doors of this church”.  They then received the second rank of Reader with a lectionary and advised to “Take this book and be the teller of divine words and be acquainted with it.  The third rank of Confessor was granted with the Book of Rituals where the confessional is written as the Prelate said, “I give you the right to put your hands over the sick and to confess those who come to Baptism and to glorify with thanksgiving the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The candidates received the fourth and final rank of Illuminator, represented by a candle, as the Prelate said, “Receive this candlestick and the authority to light the candles and lanterns of the Church,”  and also were presented with a chalice “to fill it with wine to be used for sacraments.”

The Prelate then began his sermon, first congratulating the community on the joyous occasion of their 113th anniversary.  Speaking of the ordination of he eight young men, His Eminence highlighted the importance of such ordinations as an assurance of the continuity of our faith and heritage by passing along our faith and traditions from one generation to the next.   He commended the acolytes for their commitment to serving our church and those who inspired and encouraged them to take this step.

His Eminence then turned to the day’s reading from the Gospel of John telling of the first miracle of Jesus, turning water into wine, and the three lessons we can take from the story.  First, life doesn’t always go as planned.  There will always be unexpected situations that we had not anticipated.  When problems arise, as it did at the wedding with the shortage of the wine, we must turn to our Lord Jesus Christ just as Mary did.  Second, when we turn to our Lord, we must be willing to follow His commands and trust in His will and timing.  Mary submitted to His will and had full trust in Him, even though she did not fully understand His will.  Finally, when Jesus does provide for us, He does so excellently.
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  Not only did He turn the water into wine, He turned it into the best wine they had ever had.  When mankind was troubled, God stepped in and offered His best, His Son Jesus Christ; and He will also step in and provide for us abundantly and exceptionally in our time of need.  Just as Jesus performed a miracle by changing the water into wine thousands of years ago, He is still working miracles in our hearts and minds today, said the Prelate.  He has the power to change any situation, to work miracles in our lives and transform us into new creations if only we display a mustard seed of faith, concluded His Eminence.

On Saturday evening, the community gathered at the church hall for the 113th anniversary banquet, presided over the Prelate.  Master of Ceremonies Shaunt Yemendjian welcomed the Prelate and guests.  The U.S. and Armenian anthems were presented by Angele Ohanessian, accompanied by Naira Shahsouvarian, followed by the invocation by Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian.  During dinner, guests enjoyed a video presentation of church activities.  The program resumed with remarks by the MC in which he underscored the contributions of subsequent Boards of Trustees in the advancement of the church.  In his message on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Mr. Varoujan Der Simonian spoke of the service and dedication of a number of families and individuals who form the heart and soul of the church, among them the late Jeff Tanielian, who was honored posthumously with a certificate of commendation presented to his son.  The presentation of service awards continued with certificates given to Steve Bedoian, Rosemary Minassian, and Minas Arisian.  Meher Chekherdemian received special recognition for his years-long and ongoing service to the church.  On behalf of the Ladies’ Guild and Men’s Society, Mary Ikmalian and Richard Bedoian presented the Board with their financial support.  On behalf of the Executive Council, Mr. Bill Sahatdjian congratulated and commended the community and devoted servants.  Fr. Vahan thanked the Prelate and guests for their ongoing support, and invited those present to reinforce their ties with the church by participating more actively in community life.

The Prelate was then invited to deliver his message.

His Eminence greeted the community, thanking God for the opportunity to gather under one roof to collectively celebrate the 113th anniversary of Holy Trinity and to embark on a new year of service with renewed spirits.  Reflecting on the banquet theme of “Faith and Heritage”, the Prelate stressed the crucial importance of preserving and fostering our faith and heritage for the perpetuation of our people.  Faith and heritage is what distinguishes a nation and gives it a distinct character.  The Church has been the foremost institution in preserving our national identity and cultural unity.  Throughout repeated persecutions and conquests, what kept us and our national identity alive was our faith, stressed the Prelate.  Tying in the day’s theme to the “Year of the Elder” proclamation by His Holiness Aram I, the Prelate spoke of our elders as the strong roots that keep our society solid and healthy, as the carriers of our faith and heritage, transistors of our religious and national values, and keepers of our traditions and values.  We inherited our faith and heritage from our elders, just as they inherited it from their elders.  Thus, it is the duty of all of us to carry on the legacy of our forefathers, to preserve, uphold, and promote our faith and national heritage, and to enrich the spirits, minds, and hearts of our younger generation in particular with these values, stressed the Prelate.  In conclusion, His Eminence congratulated and commended the Pastor, Delegates, Board of Trustees, Men’s Society, Ladies’ Guild, altar servers, choir members, and all the volunteers who continue the mission begun 113 years ago, and invited the guests to take this opportunity to pledge their commitment to keeping our faith, heritage, and history alive and strong for generations more to come.

The program also included a musical portion.  Fifteen year old Marc Villegas, student of church organist Naira Shahsouvarian, presented the works of Chopin and Rachmaninoff on the piano.

The celebration came to a close with “Cilicia”.

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