LA CRESCENTA—Sunday, July 31, 2011 will be remembered as a particularly joyous day within the Western Prelacy for on that day, the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ was celebrated in all Churches and the Prelacy was blessed with a new priest.
Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale, during which he ordained Deacon Nazareth Kirazian into the priesthood, renaming him Rev. Fr. Ghevont. Deacon Nazareth Kirazian was previously the choir director at the Crescenta Valley Parish and will serve as the Parish Pastor. His ordination Godfather was Dr. and Mrs. Hovhannes and Marina Der Zakarian.
Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian and Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian assisted at the altar and in the ordination ceremony. Rev. Fathers Vazken Atmajian and Gomidas Torossian also participated in the Divine Liturgy.
Among the hundreds of faithful in attendance were Executive Council Chair Rima Boghossian, and members Vahan Bezdikian, Garo Eshgian, Kahren Beniasians, Delegates and Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Church and the Crescenta Valley Parish.
The ordination was conducted in accordance with the rites of the Armenian Apostolic Church established by our Church Fathers before the day’s Gospel reading.
Deacon Nazareth, on bended knee and surrounded by priests who were reciting Psalms, was led up to the left side of the altar. Once on the altar, the Prelate asked the assisting clergy members if the priesthood candidate is ready spiritually, physically, and mentally to take on the mighty responsibilities that would be entrusted to him and to serve his church and people ably. On behalf of the clergy, Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian attested that Deacon Nazareth was worthy to be ordained into the priesthood. The assisting clergy led him on his knees before the Prelate, who laid his hands upon the Deacon’s head and prayed for Almighty God to grace him with the necessary virtues to become a good servant of the Lord and our church.
As the choir sang “The Divine and Heavenly Grace” hymn, Deacon Nazareth was led kneeling to the center of the altar where he turned westward and presented himself to the people by facing them and raised his hands to the side of his head in a gesture of renunciation of worldly values and humble assent to serve the people. Turning eastward he faced the Prelate, who placed his right hand on his head and prayed that he may be worthy to perform with holiness the duties of the priesthood before the holy altar of our Lord. The Prelate took the deacon’s stole from the candidate’s left shoulder and placed it behind his neck over both shoulders in the form of a priest’s stole and prayed, “Take the yoke of our Lord Jesus Christ. For His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Before the “Kiss of Peace”, Deacon Nazareth again knelt before the Prelate to receive his priestly vestments. One by one, the Prelate blessed the cope, crown, and belt, and placed them on his shoulder, head, and waist. As the curtain closed and the choir sang the “Profound Mystery” hymn, the candidate was taken to the vestry where he was fully vested for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Meanwhile, with the singing of hymns and prayers for the occasion, clergy members raised the ornamental dove filled with Holy Muron to the altar.
When he was fully vested he was led to the altar for his anointment. The Prelate anointed the forehead and hands of the newly ordained priest and renamed him Rev. Fr. Ghevont, then handed to him the chalice and the plate on which the Eucharist bread is placed.
Following the ordination ceremony, the Prelate delivered his message. He first explained the meaning behind the prayers during the ordination, stating that the prayers offered were for the Lord to fortify the new priest spiritually and keep him firm in his faith so that he can serve our Lord with love and devotion.
Second, the Prelate explained why he renamed Deacon Nazareth Fr. Ghevont and reflected on a number of correlations. He stated that 35 years before, he was ordained a celibate priest by Archbishop Ghevont of blessed memory, and exactly 35 years ago to the day, he celebrated his first Divine Liturgy. Thus, he gave the name Ghevont to Deacon Nazareth in memory of the late Archbishop and in honor of this anniversary. He also noted that 10 years ago on May 24th, 2001 he had ordained deacons on the altar of the Mother Cathedral in Antelias and exactly 25 years to the day before that, he himself was ordained a deacon on that same altar. And on August 2nd, 1987, when he was Pastor of Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County, he was ordained a Dzayrakooyn Vartabed by then Prelate Archbishop Datev Sarkissian and ten years later on the exact same day he celebrated his first Divine Liturgy as a Bishop on that same altar. He expressed his gratitude to God for granting him 35 years of service thus far, 15 of which have been as Prelate of the Western Prelacy.
Speaking of the new priest, the Prelate noted that he is the son of a priest, the late Rev. Fr. Karekin Kirazian who served the Aleppo Diocese for many years. He was formerly a doctor healing the bodies of his patients, and now as a priest he will heal their souls, said the Prelate. He has been a choir leader and has vast knowledge of our church history and tenets. The Prelate informed the faithful that Fr. Ghevont will complete his 40 days of solitude at the Prelacy, after which he will be appointed to lead the Crescenta Valley Parish as Pastor.
The Prelate highly commended the current Pastor of the Crescenta Valley Parish Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, Delegates, and Board of Trustees for their service, and thanked the Pastors and members of St. Mary’s Church for hosting this ordination. Noting that the Parish now has its own Pastor, the Prelate expressed his wish that the Parish will soon have its own Church as well.
Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian was also commended for his part in the ordination ceremony and preparation of the candidate.
Referencing the day’s Feast, the Prelate gave an account of what transpired on Mount Tapor during the Transfiguration of our Lord, and concluded his message by wishing that Fr. Ghevont is transformed by his ordination as a priest and serves according to the teachings of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, the Prelate congratulated the Kirazian family, friends, and the Godfather and extended his best wishes to them, and also expressed hope that the Prelacy will be blessed with even more new priests.
The Liturgy continued with the “Kiss of Peace” as the newly ordained Fr. Ghevont gave his first blessing.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, with the singing of the “Oorakh Ler” hymn the Prelate was led out of the church in a procession, while the faithful came forward to greet the new priest and kiss his freshly-anointed hands. With his Godfather by his side, the washing of the new priest’s hands took place, thus concluding the ceremony.
In the afternoon, a luncheon organized by the Crescenta Valley Parish Board of Trustees was held at the Prelacy “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghzarian” Hall in honor of the newly ordained Fr. Ghevont. The luncheon was held under the auspices of the Prelate and hosted by Dr. Alber Karamanoukian. Among the guests in attendance were Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian, Rev. Fr. Ardak Demirjian, Executive Council members Garo Eshgian and Kahren Beniasians, Crescenta Valley Parish Delegates and Board of Trustees members, representatives of local sister organizations, and friends.
Congratulatory remarks were delivered and a cultural program was also part of the festivities. After the reception, Fr. Ghevont retreated to begin his 40 days of solitude and reflection, after which he will begin his service as Pastor of the Crescenta Valley Parish.
On the evening of Friday, July 29th, the Prelate conducted the service of the calling into the priesthood at St. Mary’s Church.
Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian
Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian, baptismal name Nazareth, was born in Aleppo, Syria. He is the son of the late Archpriest Fr. Karekin Kirazian.
He received his primary and secondary education at Grtasiradz and L. Najarian Schools, and later studied at Aleppo College. He also completed the Sunday School program at the Aleppo Diocese.
He continued his education at Yerevan State Medical University from where he received his degree in Internal Medicine, and later specialized in Cardiology. He also holds a Ph.D. and is the author of seven medical manuals.
He is married to Dr. Tatiana Navasartian, and they have two children.
In 1982 he returned to Aleppo where he practiced medicine until 2002. From 2002-2003 he served as Principal of Gulbenkian School in Damascus, and as the choir director at St. Sarkis Church.
In his youth, he served as an altar boy at St. Kevork Church in Aleppo, where he received the privilege of bearing a stole by Archbishop Ghevont Chebeian. For a time he served as the church’s choir director.
Having also received musical instruction, he formed and led the “Magar Yegmalian” Choir in Aleppo whose repertoire included Armenian church, patriotic, and traditional songs as well as non-Armenian songs.
He relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 and served as the choir director at the Crescenta Valley Parish and will soon serve as the Parish Priest.