Following a longstanding tradition, every two years the Prelates and clergy from the Eastern U.S., Western U.S., and Canada gather for a joint clergy conference on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Translators. This year’s conference was organized by the Western Prelacy and held at Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello from October 8 to 11, presided by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Eastern Prelate Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, and Prelate of Canada Archbishop Papken Tcharian, and hosted by the Cathedral’s dean, pastor, and Board of Trustees.
Around forty clergymen arrived in Los Angeles on Monday, October 7, and in the evening enjoyed a dinner reception at the Cathedral’s “Tumanjan” Hall, which was attended by members of the Board of Trustees, delegates, Ladies Guild, sister organizations, Armenian Mesrobian School, and choir members and artists who provided cultural entertainment. Welcoming remarks were conveyed by the Cathedral Dean, Very Rev. Muron Aznikian, Board of Trustees Chair Hamo Kasbarian, and Mesrobian School Principal David Ghoogasian. On behalf of the Prelate, Vicar General Bishop Torkom Donoyan welcomed the clergy and thanked the host parish.
The conference officially began on Tuesday morning with Sunrise Service, which was followed by a spiritual meditation by Very Rev. Ghevont Pentezian on faith from Mark 11:22 – 23. The conference convened at “Tumanjan” Hall with the Lord’s Prayer. The three Prelates delivered opening remarks urging the participants to always serve with faith and strive to become and remain worthy laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. The message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I was read, in which was stated, “The Church in its essence is a mission, a Christian mission, and clergymen are apostles called to continue the propagate the work of Christ’s apostles. It is with this knowledge and awareness that clergymen must approach their calling and take the Church to the people armed with faith and love.” The tivan was elected as follows; Vicar General of the Western Prelacy Bishop Torkom Donoyan and Vicar General of the Canada Prelacy Very Rev. Keghart Kosbakian – Chairmen, Rev. Karekin Bedourian (Western Prelacy) and Rev. Torkom Chorbajian (Eastern Prelacy) – Secretaries.
The day included a number of lectures; “Christianity and family: social and moral matters” was presented by Very Rev. Muron Aznikian and moderated by Archpriest Karnig Koyounian, “Addiction, substance abuse and high risk behavior” was presented by Rev. Vahan Kouyoumjian, and “Human relationships” was presented by Rev. Nareg Terterian. Later, Archpriest Nerses Manoogian presented thoughts on the “Year of the Armenian Media.” The lectures were each followed by a question and answer session.
At the end of the day’s sessions, a requiem prayer was offered in the Cathedral courtyard, in front of Archbishop Sumbat Lapajian’s gravesite, for the souls of all clergy who served within the three Prelacies. Afterward, participants had the opportunity to visit the Archbishop Sumbat Lapajian Library-Museum. The day closed with peace and compline service.
Day two began with night service, followed by a spiritual meditation by Rev. Hagop Gyadayan on hope from Isaiah 40:31. The participants then visited Armenian Mesrobian School, where they were enthusiastically greeted by the administration, teachers, and students. Following the blessing of salt and bread, the program convened in front of the St. Mesrob Mashdots statue. Representatives of the Student Council delivered opening remarks and recited poetry. Principal David Ghoogasian conveyed welcoming remarks. The Prelate expressed his spiritual contentment for the visit. Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian spoke to the students about the legacy of the Holy Translators and urged them to stay true to our national identity. Clergy members had the opportunity to visit classrooms and become familiarized with the school’s endeavors, after which they gathered for lunch at “Inkandossian” Hall where students presented a cultural program dedicated to the Holy Translators.
The session continued with a report on the progress of the ten-year plan of action presented by the Vicar Generals of the three Prelacies; Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Very Rev. Sahag Yemishian, and Very Rev. Keghart Kosbakian. A discussion followed on drafting collaborative projects. The session closed with evening service and a spiritual meditation by Rev. Karekin Bedourian on love from Hebrews 2:4 – 5.
Day three began with a visit to the Armenian Martyrs Monument in Montebello, In attendance were Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjnian, Councilmember Angie Jimenez, ARF Central Committee member Stepan Boyajian, and “Tro” Gomideh member Vicken Pakradouni. An intercessory prayer service was held and remarks delivered by the Prelate, Jack Hadjinian, and Stepan Boyajian.
Next, clergy members visited Vahan and Anoush Chamlian School where they were again warmly greeted and conducted the blessing of salt and bread. The program began at the School auditorium with welcoming remarks by eight grade students. In the courtyard, first grade students presented a beautiful program dedicated to the Holy Translators, which the Prelate highly commended. Fifth grade students too presented a beautiful program at the “Anita Torosian Literacy and Resource Center,” after which Archbishop Tanielian spoke to them about the Holy Translators. The clergy then gathered at “Hacop and Hilda Baghdassarian Gym” for more stirring recitations and songs presented by the students. Principal, Dr. Talin Kargodorian delivered welcoming remarks. The Prelate blessed and commended the students for their wonderful performances, and Archbishop Papken Tcharian spoke to the students about the work and legacy of the Holy Translators.
Following days of inspiring services and proceedings, the final visit of the clergy was to the Western Prelacy headquarters, where they gathered at the “St. Dertad and St. Ashkhen” Chapel and sang a rousing rendition of the Lord’s Prayer.
In the evening, St. Garabed Church of Hollywood was filled to capacity for a special Divine Liturgy dedicated to the feast of the Holy Translators in which all of the clergy members participated. Divine Liturgy was presided by the Prelates of the Western and Eastern Prelacies, and celebrated by the Prelate of Canada, who also delivered the sermon. In attendance were members of the Central Executive, Executive Council, ARF Central Committee and sister organizations, Asbarez editors, Rose and Alex Pilibos School administration, teachers, and high school students.
Prior to inviting Archbishop Tcharian to deliver the sermon, the Prelate thanked the Lord for the opportunity to collectively partake in the special Divine Liturgy at the conclusion of the joint clergy conference dedicated to the Holy Translators. Over the past three days, we experienced a sense of renewal in our mission inspired by the message and legacy of the Holy Translators, and drafted future reorganization endeavors inspired by the message of His Holiness, stated the Prelate. He also noted that clergy had the opportunity to visit the Martyrs Monument in Montebello and schools, and greeted the Pilibos Shool students in attendance. The Prelate asked attendees to pray for the clergy in their mission to serve our church and nation, and announced that special prayers would be offered during Der Voghormya for the people of northern Syria under attack from Turkey.
Following the collective singing of the special hymn dedicated to the Holy Translators, Archbishop Tcharian delivered his sermon, which focused on the incredible blessing bestowed on the Armenian people by the work of the Holy Translators and honoring their legacy today.
“The work undertaken by the Holy translators was not an easy one. It was arduous work, but it was carried out because St. Mesrob Mashdots felt the people’s need to have our own written language. Through his work and that of his colleagues and subsequent generations of translators, our language was enriched, we became Armenian, we became a nation with unique national identity and in the presence of God. Today, that identity is our language, it is our faith, it is the treasure trove of spiritual-intellectual values bequeathed by our forefathers. Through the work of the Holy Translators, God spoke to us in Armenian, He spoke to us in our own language and our faith flourished and was strengthened. Today, let us truly comprehend and honor the legacy of the golden age by speaking Armenian, upholding our faith, and continuing our triumphant path armed by the spirit of our forefathers,” stated Archbishop Tcharian.
The service closed with the singing of the Pontifical anthem and Cilicia.
A dinner reception followed at “Karapetian” Hall. St. Garabed Church Parish Pastor Archpriest Vicken Vassilian served as the evening’s MC. Remarks were delivered by Executive Council Chair Garo Eshgian. During dinner, guests enjoyed a rich program of songs, dance, recitations, and instrumental performances by Pilibos School students and members of the church choir. The three Prelates delivered their closing messages expressing their spiritual contentment at the week-long observance of the feast of the Holy Translators and stressing the importance of renewal for all. Conference participants received mementos, and the evening came to a close with the benediction and Armenian national anthem.
Participants returned to their respective parishes on Friday morning revitalized and reinforced in their mission.