Western Prelacy Holds 48th Representatives Assembly

Western Prelacy's 48th National Representative Assembly
Western Prelacy's 48th National Representative Assembly

Western Prelacy’s 48th National Representative Assembly

  • A Letter To President Trump Regarding War In Artsakh
  • Bishop Torkom Donoyan Elected Prelate
  • New Religious And Executive Councils Elected

The 48th National Representatives Assembly of the Western Prelacy convened on October 16 at “Avedissian” Hall in Encino, presided over by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Due to the current pandemic, the Assembly was held in a single day, instead of the usual two days. The activities of the Prelate and the Religious and Executive Councils were evaluated and activities for the forthcoming year were proposed and drafted. The election of the Prelate and Councils also took place.

Members of the Clergy, Central Executive members; Vahe Yacoubian and Gaidzag Zetlian, Religious and Executive Council members, Chairmen of Boards of Trustees and the Chairwoman of the Board of Regents participated in the Representatives Assembly. This year’s Assembly was hosted by St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of Las Vegas.

The Assembly commenced with prayer for Armenia, Artsakh, our soldiers and to those who have lost their lives during the war. The prayer was followed by the singing of the Armenian National Anthem. The Prelate greeted the participants and invited Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian to read the message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I., in which the Pontiff stressed; “During times of strife and upheaval, our prelacy must continue its mission through revitalized faith and service, especially for our youth and communities.”

The election of the assembly’s executive followed, with Boghos Sassounian elected as Chairman and Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian and Hamo Kasbarian elected as Co-Secretaries. The Prelate then invited the participants to stand for a moment of silence in memory of delegate Haigaz Terterian and Prof. Ara Manash whom we lost in the previous term, and also for the casualties in the recent war in Artsakh.

Expressing their unified outrage toward the war crimes perpetrated by the Turkish and Azerbaijani governments, the representatives decided to direct a demand letter to the President and Congress of the United States of America.

Central Executive member Vahe Yacoubian delivered his remarks to the Assembly, emphasizing on the statement made by the Pontiff, in which we must commit in our future endeavors within the prelacy. He reflected upon the effects of the Corona Virus and the recent war in Artsakh, stressing on the imperativeness of reorganization and wished strength and perseverance to the soldiers in Artsakh.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Garo Eshgian expressed hope that the 48th Assembly will open new horizons in the Prelacy’s mission and stated that we are living in troubling times due to the Corona Virus and the war in Artsakh, but that should not deter us in our efforts, because we will overcome all challenges through our spirit of oneness. Concluding his remarks, Eshgian expressed his gratitude toward Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, for his years of service and efforts in prospering the Western Prelacy.

On behalf of the host parish, Chairwoman Arpy Hicks greeted her colleagues.

Outgoing chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council Garo Eshgian with newly-elected Western Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan

Outgoing chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council Garo Eshgian with newly-elected Western Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan

The Prelate then delivered his message, which he acknowledged the challenges which our Prelacy faces during these difficult times. He wished for the ceasefire to persist and for the war to come to a lasting end, so that the both Independent Republics of Armenia and Artsakh will once again live in peace and for the civilians to return to a normal life. The prelate also thanked all the sponsors and donors whom have aided the Western Prelacy throughout the years. He appreciated the service and dedication of the Chairman and members of the Executive Council, Representative Assembly members, Board of Trustee members, Ladies Guild members, new and old employees of the Western Prelacy and to all those who serve the church. He concluded his remarks by thanking Catholicos Aram I., for his blessings throughout his 6 term tenure as the prelate of the Western Prelacy. The prelate informed the Assembly that he had delivered an official letter to Catholicos Aram I., expressing his desire to step down from his duties and responsibilities as the Prelate of the Western Prelacy. In conclusion, he prayed that God bestows insight, strength and endurance upon the newly elected Prelate, Religious and Executive Councils, so that they may serve for the praise of God, the betterment of the Armenian Church and the prosperity of the people.

The Financial and Auditing Committee reports were then presented, followed by briefings by the Religious Council, Executive Council, and Board of Regents. Following questions on the annual reports and a review of the year’s activities, the Resolution Committee found the endeavors of the Prelate and Executive Council highly commendable.

The next item on the agenda was the election of the Prelate. Before hearing the names of three candidates put forth by Catholicos Aram I., as per tradition, due to a candidate being present at the Assembly, Bishop Torkom Donoyan was escorted out of the hall. Thereafter, the names of the three candidates were read; Archbishop Gomidas Ohanian, Bishop Magar Ashkarian, and Bishop Torkom Donoyan. The delegates then voted by secret ballot and by a unanimous vote, Bishop Torkom Donoyan was elected to serve as Prelate of the Western Prelacy. Escorted by the Assembly executive, the newly elected Prelate proceeded back into the hall to a standing ovation.

The clergy formed a procession, and by the singing of “Ourakh Ler” and “Hrashapar,” they guided Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan, into Holy Marty’s Church to perform the “Canonical Prayer.” The newly-elected Prelate, recited the “Canonical Prayer,” received the Prelate’s staff from his predecessor Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and delivered his first message to representatives and clergy members.

Catholicosate Central Executive Council member Vahe Yacoubian

Catholicosate Central Executive Council member Vahe Yacoubian

The Prelate stated, “Prayer is fundamental in strengthening the spirit, enlightening the mind, having a healthy body and is a daily presence in my life. That is why, today, I pray with a deeper conviction that God will give me strength, as I am elected the Prelate of the Western Prelacy by His blessing and your votes. I believe and trust the words of the psalmist; “Lord I put my trust in You, do not forsake those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10.) The Prelate continued, “With sincerity and a deep gratitude, I thank Catholicos Aram I., and to the Representatives Assembly for the trust that you have placed in me.” He concluded his remarks by emphasizing the importance of working in unity, and that all of our future achievements will be fulfilled as we carry the responsibilities together.”

The last item on the agenda was the election of the Religious and Executive Councils. The new Religious Council was elected as follows: Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, Very Rev. Fr. Smpad Saboundjian, Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian, Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, Rev. Fr. Boghos Baltagyan, Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian, and Rev. Fr. Movses Shannakian.

The new Executive Council was elected as follows: Vahe Hovaguimian, Meher Der Ohanessian, George Chorbajian, Dr. Kaloust Agopian, Deacon Berj Apkarian, Dzovig Zetlian, Ara Shabanian, Garbis Bezdjian, Jack Hadjinian, Sarkis Tatiguian and Gevik Baghdassarian.

The National Representatives Assembly tivan contacted H.H. Catholicos Aram I., regarding the outcome of the Representatives Assembly and in turn the Pontiff ratified the elections of the Prelate, Religious and Executive Councils.

The ratification of the activities and budget for the coming term followed.

On behalf of the National Representatives Assembly executive, Boghos Sassounian congratulated the newly elected Prelate, Religious and Executive Councils, and invited Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate, to deliver his concluding remarks.

The Prelate once again thanked Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian for his service to the Western Prelacy, and wished him a healthy and long life, emphasizing that he will always remain his spiritual elder brother. He concluded by praising the efforts of the tivan and accomplishments of the outgoing council members, he congratulated the newly elected members of both councils and promised that all future endeavors will be taken in good faith and honesty. He also commended the employees of the Western Prelacy and thanked the Pastor and Board of Trustees of St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of Las Vegas for hosting this year’s Assembly.

Prior to the conclusion of the National Representative Assembly, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian once again congratulated the newly elected Prelate, Religious and Executive Councils. The 48th National Representatives Assembly came to a close with the Prelate’s benediction and singing of Cilicia.

On behalf of the newly elected Prelate, a dinner reception took place following the National Representatives Assembly. In attendance were members of Clergy, Religious and Executive Council members, National Representatives Assembly members, representatives of the A.R.F. Bureu and Central Committee and employees of the Western Prelacy.

The Master of Ceremonies was Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian. Congratulatory remarks were made by; Central Executive Council members Vahe Yacoubian and Gaidzag Zetlian, Ex-Chair of the Executive Council Garo Eshgian and Chair of the Religious Council Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian. Also, heartfelt congratulatory remarks were delivered by A.R.F Central Committee representative Garo Ispedjian and A.R.F. Bureau representative Dr. Viken Yacoubian.

Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan delivered his closing remarks and called on everyone to work with one goal in mind, for the praise of God, the betterment of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the people. The evening came to a close with the Prelate’s benediction.

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