FRESNO—On Sunday, November 1, the Holy Trinity Church of Fresno celebrated the 115th anniversary of its establishment. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian traveled to Fresno to join the parish family in celebrating the joyous occasion and to preside over the festivities. On Sunday morning the Prelate celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered his sermon at Holy Trinity. A banquet hosted by the Board of Trustees followed. This year’s banquet was held in honor of long-time Parish Pastor, Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian, who will be retiring soon.
The Prelate began his sermon by first congratulating the parish family on their 115th anniversary, commending the dedicated service of all the volunteers, and wishing them many more anniversaries to come. His Eminence next spoke of the Feast of All Saints’ Day, which was commemorated the day before, stating that the feast has even greater meaning this year as the 1.5 million martyrs of the Armenian Genocide are now in the ranks of the saints. “Let us honor the virtuous lives and works of our saints, and let us honor the ultimate sacrifice of our martyrs, our newly canonized saints, by committing ourselves to living and serving in their example, with utmost devotion to faith and nation,” said the Prelate.
Next the Prelate turned to the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 8:17-21, which tells the Parable of the Revealed Light. God’s Word, His Good News, is the Light which illuminates the lives of believers, and we, as His children, are commissioned to spread that Light, he said, just as our forefathers did. “Our saints and forefathers received the Good News with their physical and spiritual ears; they planted it firmly in their hearts and souls and allowed His Word to light their path as well as the path of our nation. Today, we continue to reap the fruits of their faith and labor.” Thus, His Eminence called on the faithful to take inspiration from the ideal example of faith and service set forth by our forefathers and to work together to ensure that His Word is rooted deep in the minds and hearts of our younger generations especially, for they are the future leaders and servers we are trusting in to continue the centuries-old legacy of our faith and nation.
A Requiem service was held at the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, after which faithful headed to the church hall for the 115th anniversary banquet. The program began with the American and Armenian national anthems performed by Kevork Ajamian. Board of Trustees member Warren Paboojian, who served as Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the guests. Lunch followed, during which guests enjoyed a video presentation of Fr. Vahan’s service. The program continued with presentations by Honorary Consul Berj Apkarian, Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, Homenetmen scouts, church choir, Sunday School, Ladies Guild, and Men’s Society in recognition of Fr. Vahan. Bill Sahatdjian delivered the Board of Trustee’s message, and Deacon Mark Shirin spoke on behalf of the Executive Council. Deacon Mark paid tribute to Fr. Vahan as a good shepherd and spoke of the numerous and various endeavors that have been realized in the past eighteen years under his capable leadership.
Fr. Vahan reflected on his over two decades of service in Fresno and within the Western Prelacy, and expressed his gratitude to all for their kind words. During the event former pastor Rev. Fr. Hrant Srabian was also honored on the 35th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood.
The program concluded with the Prelate’s message. His Eminence began by greeting and congratulating the parish family on the joyous occasion, and especially Fr. Vahan on his nearly eighteen years of meritorious service and leadership to the church and community. The Prelate stated that it takes a great deal of work, dedication, and teamwork to maintain any institution for over one hundred years, but more than anything it takes faith and love. “Serving our church is a labor of love. If the founders of this church, and successive generations, didn’t have utmost love and reverence for our Lord and for our faith, this would not have been possible,” stressed the Prelate, and thus commended the generations of delegates, Board of Trustees, Ladies Guild, Men’s Society, and volunteers, who in the example of the founding generation remain deeply tied to our faith, traditions, and national identity, and wholeheartedly serve to maintain this church as the beacon of the community.
The Prelate next addressed Fr. Vahan and commended him for his capable pastorship of the community stating, “You have been a faithful servant of God and a good and humble shepherd to your flock, serving for the advancement of this parish with love and devotion. As you prepare to enter retirement, we pray for the blessings of our Lord to be upon you in this next phase of your life.” His Eminence announced that soon the parish will have a new pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, who is a young member of the Holy See of Cilicia Brotherhood, and stated his expectation that the community will warmly welcome Fr. Dajad and work together with mutual respect, cooperation, collaboration, and harmony, for the continued splendor of this church. Finally, the Prelate wished for the anniversary celebration to inspire the parish members to serve with renewed commitment, enthusiasm, and vitality for the bright future of Holy Trinity Church. In conclusion, His Eminence once again commended and blessed Fr. Vahan and also Yeretsgin for her service, and presented them with the latest publication of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia titled “The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia: History, Treasures, Mission.” Fr. Vahan was the first individual within the Prelacy to receive the special gift.
The banquet concluded with the Prelate’s benediction and Cilicia.