Prelate Bestows Title of Archpriest to Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian during Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Fresno – Requiem Prayers for ARS & ARF Members

On February 28, 2016, the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Fresno, during which he bestowed the title of Archpriest to Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian, in commendation of his nearly twenty years of service to the community. Also on this day, requiem prayers were offered in memory of ARS and ARF members.

Near the end of the service, as the choir sang the hymn “Hrashapar,” the encyclical granting the title of Archpriest to Fr. Vahan was carried to the altar where it was read by the Prelate and presented to Fr. Vahan. His Eminence congratulated Fr. Vahan on receiving the honor and commended his meritorious leadership and pastorship to the Fresno parish community in the past nearly two decades. He also wished the new parish pastor Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian great successes in his new responsibilities following in the footsteps of Fr. Vahan.

His Eminence also reflected on the special requiem prayers to be offered at the conclusion of the service, stating, “The scope of work and positive impact of these two vital organizations in the past century is truly remarkable and commendable. The faithful members of these organizations carried out their benevolent, humanitarian, educational, and nationalistic mission with utmost love, devotion, and altruism, for the advancement of our nation, the welfare of our brothers and sisters across the globe, the pursuit of our national demands, the preservation of our heritage, and the defense of our lands.”

The Prelate thereafter delivered his sermon on the parables of the Unjust Steward and the Rich Man and Lazarus, first giving an overview of the two stories and then expounding on the symbolism and valuable lessons they offer for our lives today. Speaking on the first parable, His Eminence noted that our Lord is the master and we are all His stewards here on earth, and with the individual talents granted to us by God, we each have a responsibility to use our unique abilities wisely, to their full potential, and for His glory. The Prelate then spoke on the second parable, which contrasts the earthly and afterlives of two individuals, a rich man and a poor man, stating that Lazarus, the poor man, was not rewarded in the afterlife because he had a difficult life on earth, but because he lived his life with faith and dependent on God, as opposed to the rich man who depended on his wealth. Also, the rich man had no concept of good stewardship and did nothing to help the less fortunate man sitting at his gate.

“Today is an opportunity and invitation to ask ourselves if we are being just stewards and what we can do to better ourselves. Life is fleeting, and it won’t be long before we will have to stand before our Lord and give account of our stewardship,” stated His Eminence, urging the faithful to live not as “sons of this world,” those who live only for the physical present world, but rather as “sons of light,” those who live for the future spiritual world. “Let us always be mindful and grateful of the blessings we have been endowed with, let us be good and just stewards and utilize our gifts for the glory of God and for the progress of our church and nation, let us be attentive to the needs of the less fortunate, and let us focus not on temporary worldly riches, but eternal heavenly riches,” concluded the Prelate.

Afterward, Fr. Vahan conveyed his remarks, expressing gratitude and thanks to His Holiness Aram I and the Prelate for the great honor.

Requiem service followed, after which the Prelate attended the 125th celebration of the ARF which was held at the church social hall. The event featured Dr. Viken Hovsepian as the keynote speaker and a cultural program. The Prelate delivered closing remarks and the benediction.

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