Prelacy Family Rejoices at the Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner

Sunday, January 6, 2013 was a most festive day for Armenians worldwide as faithful gathered with their families to celebrate the Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, exchanging good tidings of love, peace, and goodwill, and wishes for a blessed New Year. Western Prelacy faithful ceremoniously celebrated the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany beginning on Christmas Eve, Saturday, January 5th, with Divine Liturgy and the lighting of the candles service (Jrakalooyts). H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrated Christmas Eve service at St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena. The celebration continued the following morning with Divine Liturgy and the blessing of water in Prelacy Churches. The festivities continued in the evening at the annual “Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner” where over 600 members of the Prelacy extended family gathered for an evening filled with tradition and merriment.

On Sunday morning, Prelacy Churches were filled to capacity as faithful gathered for Christmas service to collectively celebrate the Birth, Theophany, and Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Prelate celebrated Holy High Mass at Holy Martyrs Church in Encino where over 1,500 parishioners had assembled to partake in the joyous service and hear his spiritually uplifting sermon which centered on the tidings of peace, love, and humility brought to mankind by Christ’s Birth. “Christ was sent to save man from sin. The good news of His Revelation came from Bethlehem but how will He be revealed in our lives and souls so that we too can receive His Light? The timeless message of the Nativity and Theophany can live in us when we lead our lives following to Christ”, said the Prelate. Continuing his sermon, His Eminence reflected on the symbolic ceremony of the blessing of water, stating that through the Baptism of Christ, our Heavenly Father revealed His will and promise for mankind, and our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that He was ready to fulfill God’s will and journey to the Cross to grant us redemption and salvation. The ceremony took place at the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, with Sunday School student Alexander Tavitian as the Godfather of the Cross.

In the evening, Prelacy benefactors, sponsors, friends, and dignitaries gathered at Holy Cross Cathedral “Bagramian” Hall in Montebello for the traditional Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner.

Among the honored guests were Consul General of Armenia Grigor Hovhannissian with his wife, Consul General of Lebanon Johnny Ibrahim with his wife, Central Executive, Religious Council, and Executive Council members, Delegates, members of the ARF Central Committee, ARS, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, and ANC, Board of Regents and Principals, Board of Trustees, and Ladies Guilds. Los Angeles City Council member Eric Garcetti was in attendance as a guest of the ANC Hollywood Chapter and St. Garabed Church. Glendale City Council member Ara Najarian and Montebello City Council member Jack Hadjinian were among the public officials present.

The dinner was organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary and hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Talin Amroyan. The Master of Ceremonies was Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian, who ably fulfilled his responsibilities and added to the festive environment.

The official program began with the procession of the Prelate and Clergy members into the hall, candles in hand. It was a moving and heartwarming scene. With the hall illuminated only by candlelight, the crowd was still and followed attentively as the peaceful sound of Christmas hymns sung by the clergy filled the atmosphere. Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian read the account of the Nativity of Christ from the Gospel of Luke, which was followed by the traditional wine and bread ceremony and the Prelate’s invocation.

Master of Ceremonies Fr. Vicken welcomed the guests and conveyed his wishes for a happy New Year and a Merry Christmas. He then invited representatives from the Ladies auxiliary and Executive Council to in turn deliver their remarks. Mrs. Vartoug Avedikian, speaking on behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary, conveyed her well wishes for the New Year and for a joyous evening. Executive Council Chair Mrs. Rima Boghossian expressed thanks to the Prelate for his leadership and service, and addressing the guests thanked the vast Prelacy family for their ongoing support and encouragement.

Consul General Johnny Ibrahim thanked the Prelate for the invitation to participate in this beautiful tradition and reaffirmed that the Lebanese Consulate General remains a friend to the Armenian people and is always ready to assist and collaborate with our community. Consul General Grigor Hovhannissian expressed joy for the opportunity to attend the dinner for the fourth year, thanked the Prelate and community for their warm hospitality and support throughout this tenure, and stressed the importance of working together for the progress of Armenia.

The annual Prelate’s Christmas Dinner is a unique occasion for the community to hear directly the guiding words of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, who each year communicates to the guests through this taped video message. After conveying his New Year and Christmas blessings and well wishes, His Holiness spoke on the message of Christmas, which he summed up with one simple yet powerful word, “Renewal”. “God became man in Jesus of Nazareth in order to renew the human being. Renewal became one of the major foci of the life and the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Through His teachings, parables, and miracles, Jesus put a strong emphasis on the pivotal importance of renewal. In fact, renewal is a source of strength and progress. Renewal ensures credibility, vitality, and creativity. And renewal generates trust, confidence. The absence of renewal in our individual and community life means stagnation, marginalization. Therefore, we must take renewal most seriously. Renewal of our faithfulness to our moral, spiritual, and community values, it’s a must.

The evening also featured a cultural program of music and dance. Throughout the night, guests enjoyed traditional Armenian songs performed by the “Donagan” Band on traditional Armenian instruments. The newly reorganized Prelacy “Lousavorich” Choir, led by conductor Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian, performed Christmas hymns, and two dances were presented by Hamazkayin “Barouyr Sevag” Chapter “Nairi” dance group, led by artistic directors Cathering Hairabedian and Ari Libaridian.

The highlight and conclusion of the evening was the Prelate’s message.

His Eminence began his message by first thanking God for the blessing of welcoming another year and for the joyous occasion of gathering again as members of one family to celebrate the Glorious Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we start the New Year, our wish is for all your days to be filled with the timeless and spiritually uplifting Christmas tidings of love, hope, and peace, and for goodwill and harmony among men and nations, stated the Prelate. He conveyed thanks and appreciation to all those who contributed to the success of the evening, from Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian, to the participants of the cultural program who added to the merry atmosphere, to all the guests whose continued presence at this wonderful annual tradition is regarded as a beautiful expression of their unwavering allegiance. “We are blessed to share this evening with our dearest benefactors, friends and supporters, and we thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement of our mission”. The Prelate reviewed some highlights from the endeavors of the past year, among them the remarkable progress of the parish community of St. Garabed Church and Cultural Center of Las Vegas, who will be blessed with their own Church in just a few months, the recently installed freeway and street signs directing traffic to the headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Western Region, and new publications in honor of the Year of the Armenian Book. His Eminence noted that the endeavors of the Prelacy are wide-ranging and ever-expanding, and that we are thankfully able to fulfill all that we undertake owing to the hard work, collaboration, and support of our dedicated servants who devote their individual time and efforts for the collective good. The Prelate took the opportunity to express gratitude to the evening’s main sponsor Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Talin Amroyan, to Patrons the Carolan Family, Hank Khachaturian and Family, Mrs. Alice Navasargian, and all the devoted sponsors whose names were noted in the program book. He then joyfully announced that Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Talin Amroyan were donating $25,000 to the Catholicosate Seminary, in addition to their $75,000 donation as the evening’s hosts. The Prelate had yet another big surprise, as he gratefully announced that the children of late Prelacy benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Gagik and Knarik Galstian, were donating $150,000 to establish a new fund in their parents’ memory. His Eminence thanked Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Dr. Anna Galstian, Mr. and Mrs. Hovik and Seda Aghaian, and Mr. and Mrs. Armen and Aida Norhadian for their generosity and thoughtfulness, and announced that the room at the Prelacy which bears the name of their parents will be converted to a library in their honor and memory. (See full text of the Prelate’s message in the Armenian section).

The evening came to a close with the benediction by the Prelate and the collective singing of the Cilician and Pontifical anthems.


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