Western Prelacy 45th Representative Assembly

On Friday, May 19, 2017, the 45th Western Prelacy Representative Assembly convened at Holy Martyrs Church “Avedissian” Hall in Encino presided by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and with the participation of Catholicosate Central Executive member Mr. Khajag Dikijian, clergy, members of the Religious Council, Executive Council, Board of Trustees, Board of Regents, and CASPS, principals, directors, and a majority of delegates. This year’s Assembly was hosted by the Holy Martyrs Church Board of Trustees.

The two-day Assembly carried out its proceedings in view of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s “Year of Renewal” proclamation, with discussions and drafting of future events focusing around renewal and revitalization.

The first day’s proceedings began with prayer and requiem for clergy and lay servants who passed away in the previous year, namely Archpriest Fr. Mesrob Tashjian, Dikran Sarkuni, Jack Gahvejian, and Sarkis Yegenian.

The Prelate invited Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian to read the message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. His Holiness greeted the participants and urged them to draft future endeavors with a practical approach and a great sense of responsibility. Given that we are in the “Year of Renewal,” our Pontiff advised for renewal among all members of the Prelacy family and in all areas of service. His Holiness highlighted the importance of revitalization in our parishes, noting that individual parishes form the backbone of the Prelacy collectivity, as well as in our schools, and the priority of drawing our youth into the life of our church. His Holiness concluded by commending the Prelate, clergy, and Executive Council and expressing confidence that they will continue their service with renewed drive and initiative.

The election of the tivan followed, with Mr. George Chorbajian and Dr. Garo Agopian elected to serve as Chairmen, and Mr. Hamo Kasbarian and Mr. Vartan Minassian as Secretaries.

Catholicosate Central Executive member Mr. Khajag Dikijian delivered his message, in which he urged for the “Year of Renewal” message to be the guideline for future endeavors, called for serious examination of the challenge to engage our youth, and stating that the Western Prelacy is fortunate to have five members of the Brotherhood serving, called for closer collaboration between clergy and laity. In conclusion, Mr. Dikijian lauded the role of the Holy See of Cilicia Seminary, commended the diligent efforts of the Prelate and Councils, and wished success to all.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian thanked the Representative Assembly for their confidence in the Executive Council, reflected on the visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, and spoke on the need to plan not only for the coming year but the coming years.

On behalf of the host parish, Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian addressed the gathering, noting that the church is not merely a physical structure but a living expression of the service of its servants and faithful.

The Prelate began his message by giving thanks to God for granting another year of service to our church and nation and for the opportunity to collectively review the endeavors of the previous term and collectively plan for the coming year and years, looking ahead to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Prelacy in five years. His Eminence commended all those who serve under the umbrella of our Prelacy, noting that our successes are due to collective efforts, and stating confidently that all will continue to serve with added drive and vigor to reorganize, renew, and revitalize our collective mission. On behalf of the Western Prelacy family, the Prelate extended thanks and gratitude to our Pontiff for his paternal wisdom and guidance as well as for his visit in October of 2016.

Next, the Prelate went over some of the highlights of the past year, notably the addition of Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan and Very Rev. Fr. Vache Balekjian to the Prelacy family, efforts in the advancement of the Armenian Cause, support to the lawsuit by the Holy See of Cilicia demanding the return of our historic properties in Sis, aid to Artsakh following the four-day war, the ongoing “New Cilicia” village project in Artsakh, and more. His Eminence spoke of the unparalleled and indispensable role of the Armenian Church as a homeland, a school, a cultural center, and the bastion of our heritage in the Diaspora especially, and called for continued service with this awareness and reality in mind. The Prelate concluded by thanking all for their collaboration and cooperation, and Holy Martyrs Church for hosting this year’s Assembly.

The election of the resolution and vote-counting committee followed, after which of Board of Trustees Chairs or representatives presented the activities of their respective parishes in the previous year.

The Prelate thereafter announced that as in previous years, this year too, in collaboration with the Executive Council, it was decided that two individuals would be honored for their decades-long service spanning from the Middle East to the Western Prelacy. The two honorees, Mr. Zareh Markarian and Mr. Vahe Kradjian were invited to the podium to receive plaques of appreciation and commendation from the Prelate, who was joined by the Chairmen of the Religious and Executive Councils. Both expressed their thanks to the Prelate and Councils for the honor.

Prior to resuming the proceedings, the Assembly came to a decision to send a letter of thanks to the state of Texas for becoming the 46th state to recognize the Armenian Genocide, as well as letters to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemning the violence by Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail against peaceful protestors in Washington D.C.

The meeting continued with the presentation of the financial report, Auditing Committee report, briefing by the Board of Regents, briefings by the Religious and Executive Councils, and a review of the annual activities of the Prelate and Councils, which were found to be “highly commendable.”

In preparation for the Catholicosate General Assembly, which will be held inAntelias from December 5-8, 15 delegates and 3 alternates were unanimously elected. They are: Vahe Hovaguimian, Garo Eshgian, Hrair Balian, Gaidzag Zetlian, Vahan Bezdikian, George Chorbajian, Meher Der Ohanessian, Avo Kechichian, Joe Samuelian, Mark Shirin, Dr. Kaloust Agopian, Elo Boyajian, Seta Tarpinian, Rostom Aintablian, and Khatchig Yeretzian. The three alternates are: Dr. Garo Agopian, Adroushan Armenian, and Rima Boghossian. The first day’s proceedings concluded with the drafting of proposals to present to the General Assembly.

The Assembly reconvened on the morning of Saturday, May 20th. The second day focused on the drafting of future activities relating to the “Year of Renewal,” a strategic planning framework based on a plan of action provided by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the North American Prelacy in 2018, the 100th anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia and Homenetmen, and more. The proposals offered by the clergy conference held on the eve of the Assembly were presented, and the session also included the presentation and ratification of the new budget, election of the Auditing Committee, and unforeseen matters.

On behalf of the tivan, co-chair Dr. Garo Agopian thanked the participants for their input, the staff, and especially the Prelate for his diligent leadership. The Prelate delivered his closing message, in which he thanked the host parish, tivan, and delegates for their attentiveness and contribution, and expressed hope that delegates and Board of Trustees members will assembly in the coming weeks to put into action the guideline provided by His Holiness. His Eminence thanked especially Mr. Khajag Dikijian for his close collaboration and valuable suggestions, commended the staff, and once again welcomed the new clergymen. The Assembly came to a close with the benediction and “Cilicia.”

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