Fresno’s Holy Trinity Church Celebrates 117th Anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. Vahan and Anoush Chamlian are honored by Artsakh State Minister Arayik Haroutunyan
Mr. and Mrs. Vahan and Anoush Chamlian are honored by Artsakh State Minister Arayik Haroutunyan

Mr. and Mrs. Vahan and Anoush Chamlian are honored by Artsakh State Minister Arayik Haroutunyan

Benefactors Vahan and Anoush Chamlian Honored By Artsakh Government

FRESNO—On Sunday, November 19, the Holy Trinity Church of Fresno celebrated the 117th anniversary of its establishment with Episcopal Divine Liturgy and a banquet. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and presided over the banquet.

State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh Arayik Haroutyunyan, Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Artsakh to the United States Robert Avetisyan, Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Executive Director Ara Vardanyan, Armenia Fund Executive Director Sarkis Kotanjian, Prelacy Executive Council Chairman Vahe Hovaguimian and members, Sunday School students, Homenetmen representatives and scouts participated in the celebration. On this day, by the ordinance of the Prelate and the request of Homenetmen Western Region Executive, requiem prayers were offered in all Prelacy Churches for the souls of departed Homenetmen members.

The Prelate with Artsakh officials in Fresno

The Prelate with Artsakh officials in Fresno

The Prelate was greeted by faithful parishioners and Homenetmen scouts at his arrival to the Church. Shortly thereafter, as the choir sang “Hrashapar,” the Prelate entered the sanctuary in a procession to begin the Divine Liturgy, clad in a new Liturgical vestment gifted by the parish on the occasion of his milestone anniversaries. Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian, Parish Priest, assisted at the altar.

The Prelate began his sermon by congratulating the parish family on their 117th anniversary and commending all the servers and volunteers for contributing their part to maintaining and advancing the historic parish community, in particular Fr. Dajad and Board members. His Eminence greeted the honored guests, whom he noted were in town to take part in Armenia Fund’s 20th International Telethon on Thanksgiving Day, and urged the community to lend its generous support to the Telethon, titled “Fruitful Artsakh,” proceeds of which will be allocated to the construction of irrigation syste “As Artsakh is largely an agricultural economy, the success of this project is absolutely vital as it will boost the economy tremendously and provide a better life for its citizens,” stressed the Prelate.

The Prelate leads Mass at Fresno's Holy Trinity Church

The Prelate leads Mass at Fresno’s Holy Trinity Church

The Prelate then turned to the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 9:44-50 which conveys the message of humility and loving service to others with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that “he who is least among you all will be great.” The Prelate stated that true greatness is in servant-hood and in humbling ourselves to lift up and encourage others. By using the example of a child in the reading, Jesus teaches us that we must welcome and honor those whom society regards as unimportant. “In our religious and national ministry there is no great or least among us. We all are children of God and of our nation, and to be effective servants of our Christ and our nation, we must serve with humility and love for all, in the prime example of our Lord Jesus Christ Who came not to be served, but to serve,” stressed the Prelate. He stated that one hundred and seventeen year ago the founders of Holy Trinity Church did just this; they banded together as members of one family and toiled with faith, love, and humility to establish the parish, and urged the parish family to serve in their example to keep the community strong and prosperous for years to come. The Prelate concluded his sermon by paying tribute to the departed members of Homenetmen who served with faith, love, and humility for the greater good, the good of our youth, guided by the motto “elevate yourself and others with you,” and blessed the present-day members for their dedicated service.

The head table during the 117th anniversary banquet

The head table during the 117th anniversary banquet

During requiem service, prayers for the repose of souls were offered for Homenetmen members. At the conclusion of the service, the Prelate and Executive Council members met with the parish leadership, during which they commended the Pastor and Board members for their diligent service.

The 117th anniversary banquet followed, with the participation of over 300 guests including the representatives of the Republic of Artsakh, Armenia Fund, and the Executive Council. The program convened with welcoming remarks by Mistress of Ceremonies Cortney Shegerian and national anthe

The Prelate delivered the invocation. Executive Council Chairman Vahe Hovaguimian congratulated the parish community and stressed the importance of collective efforts. During lunch the guests enjoyed several dances and songs presented by the Armenian Song and Dance Group under the direction of Karine Hohannisyan. Fr. Dajad thanked the Prelate and Executive Council members for joining the parish on the special occasion, highlighted the parish’s accomplishments in the past year, and urged the youth to continue to maintain our church and community traditions. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Vice-Chairman Berj Apkarian welcomed the guests and invited State Minister of Artsakh Arayik Haroutyunyan for his remarks. Haroutyunyan stated that the support of the Diaspora has an immense influence on the success of Arsakh. “Armenia and Artsakh may not have many allies or natural resources but they have the Diaspora, which has always stood by the homeland,” he said, and on this occasion, on behalf of President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan, awarded the Republic of Artsakh’s “President’s Honorary Medal to Prelacy and national benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Vahan and Anoush Chamlian.”

Homenetmen scouts at the Holy Trinity Church

Homenetmen scouts at the Holy Trinity Church

The Master of Ceremonies read the biographies of this year’s honorees, Grace Kazarian and Mary Ekmalian, who were presented plaques by the Prelate, Fr. Dajad, and Board of Trustees Chair Bill Sahatdjian.

The Prelate delivered his congratulatory message, beginning by greeting the Executive Council members and congratulating the parish family stating, “Your celebrations and achievements are also our celebrations and achievements, for though we are comprised of different parishes, we are one family, united under the auspices of the Holy See of Cilicia and our Pontiff, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I.” His Eminence greeted the honored guests and encouraged the continued unity of Arstakh and the Diaspora by once again appealing to the community to open their hearts and extend a helping hand to Artsakh on Thanksgiving Day via the Armenia Fund Telethon.

Next, His Eminence next spoke on the value of collective service, stating that individually we may not be able to do much, but together we can achieve a great deal. When we make use of our individual gifts, talents, and resources as faithful stewards of God, and unite our efforts for the greater good, no doubt God will bless and lead our efforts to success, as has been the case with the faithful servants of Holy Trinity Church, he said. Service was at the heart of Christ’s mission; by example He taught us how to serve others and commands us to do the same, stated the Prelate, adding that generation after generation, comprehending the church’s invaluable role as the bastion of our faith and the heart of our community, have served the Fresno community in this manner. His Eminence noted that though the Year of Renewal is coming to a close, renewal is a continuous process and one that is necessary for us as individuals and for us as a collective. Quoting from our Pontiff’s Year of Renewal proclamation, the Prelate stressed the important role the youth play in the renewal of our community institutions, commended the Parish Priest, Delegates, Board of Trustees, Men’s Society, and Ladies’ Guild members, altar servers and choir members, and all the volunteers, for their diligent service and for engaging the youth in our church. He commended especially the young men and women who dedicate their time and efforts for the evolution and progress of the community. Finally, the Prelate reflected on the number of milestone anniversaries to be celebrated in 2018, the 100th anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia, the centennial of Homenetmen, the 60th anniversary of the North American Prelacy, and the 45th anniversary of our Western Prelacy, hoping and wishing that these momentous celebrations inspire all in their faithful service for the glory of God and the splendor of our church and nation.

The cutting of the cake dedicated to the Prelate’s milestone anniversaries followed. The celebration came to a close with the benediction and Cilicia.

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