Holy Trinity Church of Fresno Celebrates 116th Anniversary

On Sunday, November 20, 2016, Holy Trinity Church of Fresno marked its 116th anniversary. The festivities included Episcopal Divine Liturgy, the ordination of acolytes, the blessing of new church vessels, and a celebratory banquet. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and bestowed the privilege of wearing a stole to acolytes Menas Arisian, Raffi Apkarian, Garen Zanontian, Nareg Apkarian, Hovig Ohanian, Armen Apkarian, Vahae Onanian, and Zareh Apkarian, after which he blessed the new vessels.

The Prelate was greeted by parish members, faithful, and Homenetmen scouts at his arrival to the church. Shortly thereafter, as the choir sang “Hrashapar,” the Prelate entered the sanctuary to begin Divine Liturgy. Parish pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, and deacons assisted at the altar.

The Prelate began his sermon by congratulating the parish family on their 116th anniversary and commending all the servers and volunteers for contributing their part to maintaining and advancing the historic parish community, in particular Fr. Dajad and Board members, while inviting and urging all the members of the community to become active participants in the life of the parish to ensure that the vision and efforts of the founders continues and thrives for generations more. His Eminence congratulated and commended also the eight new stole-bearers, urging them to continue to serve with faith, devotion, purity of heart, and humility, and to fulfill their new duties faithfully and dutifully so that they become worthy to receive the rank of deacon and beyond.

The Prelate then expounded on the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 11:1-13, in which our Lord Jesus Christ teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer and encourages them with the familiar words, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” His Eminence spoke not only on the power and importance of prayer, but on the way we pray, stating “our prayers must be earnest and heartfelt; they must come from a believing heart that is sincere and submitted to God’s will. Furthermore, we must pray in times of good and bad, and not just when we need something. Our Lord provides for our daily needs; let us give thanks every day for His blessings and build our relationship with Him through daily communication.”

Given that the day marked the eve of Advent, the fifty-day period leading up to the Birth and Revelation of Christ, the Prelate reflected on the season as a time of love, joy, and charity, a time to remember the less fortunate, and ahead of Thanksgiving, urged the community to lend its generous support to our less fortunate brethren in Armenia, Artsakh, and Syria and help Artsakh rebuild through the Armenia Fund Telethon. “Let us fulfill our national obligation, our Christian and brotherly obligation, by giving to the less fortunate. Let us open our hearts and give what we can to ensure the safety and preparedness of Artsakh against future aggression. This Thanksgiving, let us express our gratitude to God for His abundant blessings, not just with words but with actions, by sharing our blessings with others, showing love to our neighbors, and spreading the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ,” concluded the Prelate.

The 116th anniversary banquet followed at the church hall presided by the Prelate and with the participation of 300 guests, among them representatives of sister organizations, parish members, volunteers, and faithful. The program began with welcoming remarks by MC Ms. Tatevik Ekezian, followed by the national anthems performed by Hygo Ohannessian, and the blessing of tables by the Prelate.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Deacon Mark Shirin congratulated the parish family and went over the history of Holy Trinity Church, giving praise and honor to the founding fathers and pastors for their foresight and vision. He congratulated also the eight young new stole-bearers, praying for God to bolster and guide them in their service, and commended the pastor for educating the training the young men over the past few months. Deacon Mark spoke of another important anniversary, the 40th anniversary of the Prelate’s priestly ordination and 20th anniversary as Prelate, giving personal witness of His Eminence’s spiritual journey and highlighting his decades-long self-sacrifice, service to God, and abilities as a truly gifted individual. He concluded by wishing the Prelate continued good health and many more productive years of service as Prelate.

Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian thanked the Prelate for being with the parish on the special occasion and the guests for their presence. Fr. Dajad noted that Holy Trinity Church has been serving for 116 years, but the ordination of the new stole-bearers is a testament that the church is still young and still flourishing. He congratulated the young men and beseeched God’s blessings upon them, and also commended the parishioners and servants, stating that their hard work, love for God, and love for our church has been an extraordinary example to the young men and an inspiration to him as well. Finally, Fr. Dajad announced the youth group’s project of preparing care packages to orphans in Armenia, and encouraged the guests to contribute to the vital cause.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Bill Sahatdjian welcomed the guests, commended all the volunteers, stating that it would be difficult to have had the many accomplishments without the service of the volunteers. Mr. Sahatdjian asked the Chairpersons and members of each committee to stand up to receive recognition, and presented special service awards to three of individuals, Alice Abrahamian, Melvin Kevorkian, and Katchig Mihranian for their selfless service. Mr. Marvin Caprelian received a plaque to his extraordinary service spanning two decades. Finally, a special gift was presented to Mrs. Diana Shirin, in appreciation for her service. The program also featured a musical performance by Edgar Gevorgyan.

Next, the Prelate and Fr. Dajad were invited to present each of the new stole-bearers with certificates and gifts. This year, the parish had also decided to honor the Men’s Society and Ladies’ Guild for their service and valuable contributions. On this occasion, His Eminence presented a letter of blessing and commendation to the Men’s Society and Ladies’ Guild, in which he wrote, “Church is meant to be a community where we pray together, share in the joys and sorrows of our fellow parishioners, and serve one another with brotherly love. It is a gathering place for individuals of shared faith, shared values, and shared heritage, where not only our spiritual needs are met, but also our emotional and social needs. And that is precisely the kind of family atmosphere that the Men’s Society and Ladies’ Guild have created here, and for that, we honor and commend you today.”

The Prelate delivered his message, in which he congratulated and commended the Pastor, Delegates, Board of Trustees, committees’ members, volunteers, and sponsors who tirelessly serve for the advancement of the parish, stating that Holy Trinity, and indeed all of our churches and national institutions have stood the test of time thanks to the engagement, involvement, and service of its members. As the “Year of Service” comes to a close, the Prelate reiterated the core of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s message, a timeless message which he stated must prevail beyond the confines of this year. “Holy Trinity Church could not have endured and thrived for one hundred and sixteen years without you, its faithful servants and parishioners. As children of God, as faithful of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and as members of one and the same family, we are all called to work to build up the body of Christ, to build up our church, national organizations, and communities, and in doing so, we enrich our nation, our people, and those around us. Every member of the church should be serving in some way, according to his or her abilities, and most importantly, every member should serve with love and humility, in the ideal example of our Lord, ‘who came not to be served, but to serve.’” The Prelate continued, “We are confident that this parish community will thrive forevermore as long as it enjoys the service, support, and participation of its faithful. This morning’s ordination of eight young stole-bearers also heartens us, for the future of our church and nation lies with our younger generations.” In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Prelate concluded his message by once again thanking all of the volunteers and honorees for their valuable service, urged for active community participation by all, and reminded the faithful to give thanks to God always for all that we are blessed with.

Following his message, the Board of Trustees surprised the Prelate with a plaque in recognition of the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood and a celebratory cake.

The luncheon concluded with the benediction and Cilicia.

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