Prelate Presents Pontifical Encyclical and Pectoral Cross to Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian

On Sunday, June 18, 2017, the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin and Father’s Day, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Holy Trinity Church in Fresno, during which he presented parish pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, the Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, granting him the privilege of wearing a pectoral cross, as well as the cross itself.

During the service, after the choir sang the hymn “Oorakh Ler,” the Pontifical Encyclical was read by the Prelate and presented to Fr. Dajad along with the pectoral cross.
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His Eminence congratulated Fr. Dajad on receiving the privilege and also on the 5th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood, and commended his service to the Armenian Apostolic Church and to the Fresno parish community in particular. As the day also marked the 41st anniversary of the Prelate’s ordination into the priesthood, His Eminence spoke about the sacred calling of the priesthood and the mighty responsibility of clergymen to be good shepherds, leaders, teachers, counselors, and more. The Prelate commended Fr. Dajad for being faithful in his calling thus far, wished him continued service with even greater drive and dedication, and urged the parishioners to contribute to the advancement of the parish community with their joint service.

Given that it was also Father’s Day, the Prelate congratulated all the fathers and highlighted the tremendous role of fathers as providers, disciplinarians, teachers, role models, and an inspiration for their children. He urged the fathers to recognize and comprehend their true value and commit themselves to fulfilling their vast and worthwhile responsibilities for the development and instruction of their children, physically and spiritually.

Next, the Prelate delivered his sermon, beginning with the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin which was observed on that day, and the Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s deliverance from the pit which was observed the day before. His Eminence gave a background on the feast, which celebrates the establishment of the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin according to the vision of St. Gregory the Illuminator. He relayed the familiar story St. Gregory the Illuminator’s vision, following the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in 301, in which our Lord Jesus Christ descended from heaven and with the strike of a golden hammer designated the site where the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian nation was to be built, thus the name Etchmiadzin, “the descent of the only begotten.” The Prelate highlighted St. Gregory the Illuminator’s unyielding faith and absolute trust in God, which gave him the strength to endure in the pit for thirteen years and granted him the privilege of seeing our Lord Jesus Christ with His own eyes.

Finally, His Eminence reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from John 10:22-30, where Jesus emphasizes true discipleship and invites us to follow Him like sheep to a shepherd. “The Jews in today’s reading heard His words but did not believe, they saw His works but did not comprehend His message. We too have heard His words and seen His works, through the Bible, through sermons, through instruction by our church fathers, and more, and so, we must trust in Him and follow Him as our true and good shepherd with great conviction, as did St. Gregory the Illuminator and all of our saints and forefathers,” stressed the Prelate. “Our Lord Jesus Christ wants to provide for us, He wants us to heed His voice, to surrender to Him and allow Him to give direction to our lives. On this festive day, inspired by day’s feast, readings, and especially by the prime example of our patron saint St. Gregory the Illuminator, let us renew and reinforce our faith and let God lead the way,” he concluded.

The service concluded with Cilicia, after which faithful had the opportunity to congratulate Fr. Dajad. A luncheon on this joyous occasion followed.

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