Record Show of Support at Prelate’s Christmas Dinner – Evening Hosted by Alex and Arda Yemenidjian

On January 6, 2015, “Bagramian” Hall in Montebello was bustling with Christmas cheer and merriment as six hundred of the Western Prelacy’s closest friends and supporters joined H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, to collectively celebrate the Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ at what has become a beloved tradition within the community, the “Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner”. The event is the undertaking of the Religious and Executive Councils and is organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary.

Among the dignitaries and honored guests in attendance were Consul General of Lebanon Johnny Ibrahim, Catholicosate Central Executive members Khajag Dikijian and Vicken Kassabian, ARF Central Committee representative Dr. Viken Yacoubian and members, representatives of ARS, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, ANC, parishes, schools, Prelacy committees, media, Forest Lawn, and also Armenia’s first Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian and newly-elected Mayor of Montebello Jack Hadjinian.

Master of Ceremonies Rev. Fr. Vazken Atmajian greeted the guests and invited them to stand for the start of the official program with the poignant clergy procession. Illuminated by candlelight alone, peace and tranquility reigned in the hall as the Prelate and clergy entered chanting Christmas hymns, uplifting the guests with love and harmony. The Apostle Luke’s account of Christ’s Birth was read, followed by the traditional wine and consecrated bread ceremony (tatakh).

On behalf of her fellow members, Ladies Auxiliary Chair Dzovig Zetlian welcomed the guests and wished an enjoyable evening for all.

The message of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, was then broadcast. Our Pontiff conveyed his New Year and Christmas well wishes to the Prelate and guests at the start of a new year, and then focused his address on the importance of service to our church and nation with greater organization, in pursuit of our demands, and with unity; organization as a source of strength, bringing together the leadership and people alike, perseverance as we demand our rights, especially on this 100th anniversary year during which we must continue our struggle with greater vigor and resolve, and unity of spirit. We are a dispersed people, but we must remain united in spirit and stand before Turkey as a united front, one nation, one homeland, one cause, said His Holiness.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Vahe Hovaguimian welcomed the guests to an evening he referred to as a demonstration of our faithfulness to the traditions of our forefathers and an opportunity to collectively renew and rededicate ourselves to the responsibilities and endeavors in the coming year. As we find ourselves in the year of the Genocide centennial, we must dedicate our efforts this year to “remembering and demanding,” said the Chairman. In conclusion, he expressed gratitude to the Prelate for his leadership, thanked the Ladies Auxiliary and Prelacy staff for their efforts, and thanked the guests for their continuous support.

Consul General of Lebanon Johnny Ibrahim was invited to deliver his remarks, which focused on continued unrest in the Middle East over the last four years especially. He noted that Lebanon is involved in efforts to combat terrorism and committed to protecting its minority populations. Lebanon has always been and remains a country of coexistence, and the Armenian people are a vital part of the country’s fabric, said the Consul General, and reflecting on the upcoming centennial of the Armenian Genocide, affirmed that the somber anniversary will be commemorated in Lebanon. He concluded by wishing a new year filled with joy, prosperity, and the fulfillment of hopes and dreams for the Armenian people and for all.

This year’s dinner was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Arda Yemenidjian. Among the major sponsors were Hank and Rita Khachaturian, Mrs. Tina Carolan and the Carolan Family Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Gaydzag and Anahid Ohanessian. Mr. and Mrs. Harout and Christina Jabarian provided the evening’s souvenirs featuring the Genocide Centennial symbol and motto “we remember and demand.” A record show of support was demonstrated this year by the Prelacy’s sponsors and supporters.

Prior to the official start of the dinner guests enjoyed the music of violinist Meroujan Markarian. The entertainment continued throughout the dinner featuring performances by the Greg Hosharian quartet (Greg Hosharian – piano, Salpi Kerkonian – flute, George Bilezikjian – drums, and Eileen Amirian – vocals), Christmas hymns by Taline Nalbandian, and a dance by Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company members.

The program concluded with the Prelate’s message. His Eminence began by thanking God for the blessing of another year and for granting the opportunity to exchange well wishes to one another at the dawn of a new year and the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Prelate conveyed gratitude to His Holiness Aram I for his indispensable leadership and guidance and thanked the evening’s sponsors for their valuable support, in particular Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Arda Yemenidjian for their generosity in hosting the dinner and the Prelacy’s newest sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Gaydzag and Anahid Ohanessian. The Prelate gave an overview of the commemorative events planned globally for the Genocide Centennial, calling for Armenians worldwide to unite their efforts and resources in fulfillment of our demands and goals. “The Armenian people became followers of Jesus and His Word from early on; we submitted ourselves as a nation to His will and followed the way of life He paved for us. We have had more than our share of trials and tribulations, but we placed our faith and our hope in our Lord and Savior and we rose again. No matter the challenges of tomorrow, we will rise again and again,” stressed His Eminence. (The full text of the Prelate’s message will be provided separately).

At the conclusion of his message the Prelate delivered the benediction, after which guests joined clergy to close the evening with the Cilician and Pontifical anthems.

Prelate’s Christmas Dinner Message

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