Name Day Celebration of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of San Francisco

In accordance with our church calendar, Saturday, March 21, 2015 was the Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Descent into the Pit, which is the name day of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of San Francisco. On this occasion, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, traveled to San Francisco over the weekend to join the parish in their celebration.

On Saturday evening, a dinner meeting was held with the participation of Parish Pastor Archpriest Fr. Khoren Habeshian, Delegates, Board of Trustees members, Ladies Guild members, and ARF Krisdapor Gomideh representative. On behalf of his colleagues, Board Chair Mr. Rostom Aintablian welcomed the Prelate and wished him health and vigor in his upcoming endeavors and events, in particular Genocide centennial commemorations. Fr. Khoren greeted the Prelate and on the eve of the centennial called for unity and collaboration to fittingly honor the memory of our martyrs. Krisdapor Gomideh representative Mr. Varant Kasparian thanked the Prelate for his visit and emphasized the value of such visits in bolstering the parish community, a sentiment also expressed by Ladies Guild Chair Mrs. Ano Chakalian in her remarks.

The Prelate greeted and thanked the parish members for their well wishes. Noting that regular communication with our parishes is of utmost importance, His Eminence assured that similar visits would take place more frequently.
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The Prelate reviewed the administrative structure of the Prelacy and went over the responsibilities and obligations of all parties, the Representatives Assembly, Religious and Executive Councils, Boards of Trustees, and called for the collective financial and moral support and involvement of all as we prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide locally, nationally, and internationally.

The celebration continued on Sunday morning with Divine Liturgy and the blessing of madagh. Parish Pastor Archpriest Fr. Khoren Habeshian and deacons assisted at the altar.

The Prelate began his message by thanking the Lord for the blessing of being with the parish community on their name day celebration, a long-standing tradition established in accordance with the pilgrimage day of St. Gregory Mother Cathedral in Antelias, a day which serves to renew and reaffirm our commitment to preserve and promote our religious and national heritage and to nurture spiritual growth in our younger generations. St. Gregory the Illuminator is the founder of our faith, the father of our spiritual renaissance, and the first Pontiff of Christian Armenia, said the Prelate, but he is also the epitome of unbending faith, unfading hope, and unfathomable will; a man who endured unimaginable suffering with remarkable courage, patience, and without despair, because he placed his fate in the hands of our Lord and trusted in His holy will. In the end, St. Gregory survived and emerged victorious. King Dertad failed in his mission and instead had an awakening, and his life was changed forever along with the course of our history, he said.
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His Eminence noted that this same faith and hope in our Lord led the Armenian people through tribulations for centuries, and in the last century out of the ashes of the Genocide. Our ancestors and martyrs were subjected to unspeakable horrors because of their faith and ethnicity, but that did not deter them from their allegiance to Christ and to our identity, he stressed. Inspired by the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ and the triumph of St. Gregory, they placed their fate in the hands of our Lord and became martyrs for the faith. And today, here we are, the heirs of a resurrected nation, with an independent homeland and a strong energetic Diaspora. On this 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, said the Prelate, “we remember the history and the legacy of our forefathers, and as we honor the memory of our martyrs, we reaffirm our allegiance to our religious and national heritage. We will not allow challenges to hinder our efforts to keep intact our centuries-old traditions and values. And on this feast day of St. Gregory, we renew our oath to be true followers of the faith of our forefathers and to support our churches, schools, and national institutions so that they can fulfill their mission of spreading the rays of our faith and heritage throughout our communities.”

The Prelate focused the second part of his sermon on the day’s reading for the sixth Sunday of Lent, known as Sunday of Advent, in which our Lord Jesus Christ addressed the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees who put on a superficial show of piety to receive attention and accolades from the people. Let us follow not in the example of the Scribes and Pharisees, but in the example of St. Gregory, our saints, and our forefathers who lived what they preached, who humbled and submitted themselves to the will of God and never lost faith no matter the circumstance. In exactly one month, we will witness the canonization of our martyrs into the sainthood. May our faith be as strong and genuine and our love and intentions as pure as that of our ancestors and martyrs. And may we lead with example in our service for His glory and for the vitality of the Armenian Apostolic Church, emphasized the Prelate and concluded by congratulating and commending the parish community once again.

The Prelate conducted the blessing of madagh during requiem service and the ceremony came to a close with Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem.

A farewell reception followed at “Vasbouragan” Hall for long-time parish supporters Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Yeranouhi Garabedian, who will be moving to Memphis to live with their son. Remarks were delivered by Fr. Khoren, Mr. Aintablian, and Mrs. Garabedian. The Prelate conveyed his well wishes to the couple and bid them farewell.

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