Inauguration of ARS “Shoushi” Chapter Saturday School’s “Abraham & Verjine Koujakian” Playground
In celebration of the feast of St. James of Nisibis (St. Hagop), Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. Garabed Church in Las Vegas, during which he ordained Hagop Havanjian and Vahan Zartarian as acolytes and bestowed upon Raffi Roubanian the privilege of bearing a stole. Parish Pastor Archpriest Vahan Gosdanian and Archpriest Mesrob Galstanian from the Isfahan Prelacy assisted at the altar, while Archpriest Avedis Torossian participated in the service, which was held on Sunday, December 15.
Prelate Mardirossian conducted the ordination ceremony prior to the sermon, after which he delivered his message. He congratulated the newly ordained acolytes and stole-bearer, as well as the parish family, urging all to continue their service with faith, love, purity of heart, sincerity, and devotion in order to keep our faith and heritage alive and thriving for generations to come.
The Prelate then delivered his sermon on the day’s Gospel, reading from Luke 17:1-10 on the message of faith, humble and faithful service, and forgiveness. In our service to our church and nation especially, Prelate Mardirossian stated that we must have a heart of forgiveness, be quick to forgive others, and lift up one another, for we are all working together for a common cause. He added that, first and foremost, we must have faith, for as our Lord Jesus Christ said, all we need is the faith of a mustard seed, to say to the mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it would obey.
Prelate Mardirossian spoke on the legacy of St. James of Nisibis as a faithful and humble disciple of Christ, and pious clergyman with exceptionally strong faith and perseverance, adding that, “Our church is a family of disciples and we are all commanded to help each other grow in faith and in service. St. James and our church forefathers did not see the Lord with their physical eyes or hear His Words with their physical ears, but they saw, heard, and believed with their spiritual eyes and ears. They not only enlightened our nation with the light of the Christian faith, they dedicated and even sacrificed their lives for the Way, the Truth, and the Life that is our Lord Jesus Christ. This too is our calling and duty, to serve with staunch faith and a humble heart so that the light of our faith continues to radiate among the Armenian nation, in our churches, homes, and in our communities, for centuries more.”
The Prelate concluded his remarks by congratulating all those named Hagop on the occasion of their name-day, and conveying wishes for a happy and blessed New Year.
During requiem service, prayers were offered for the souls of Church benefactor Larry Barnes and his wife Seda Der Garabedian-Barnes.
A reception followed at “Koujakian” Hall, during which congratulatory wishes were delivered by Board of Trustees Chair Arpi Hicks, Fr. Vahan, and the closing message by the Prelate.
On Saturday, the Prelate conducted the blessing and inauguration of the ARS “Shoushi” chapter Saturday School’s newly built “Abraham and Verjine Koujakian” playground, which was sponsored by the Yemenidjian and Koujakian families in memory of their parents Abraham and Verjine.
In attendance were the benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Arda Yemenidjian, Hagop Koujakian, and Terenig Koujakian, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas Adroushan Andy Armenian, representatives of the Armenian Relief Society Regional Executive, Armenian Revolutionary Federation“Ishkhan” Gomideh, ARS “Shoushi” chapter, Homenetmen “Artsakh” chapter, St. Garabed Church Board of Trustees and Ladies Auxiliary members, Saturday School teachers, parents, and students.
The Prelate first visited the classrooms, where he had a warm interaction with the students and conveyed his blessings and commendation to them and their teachers.
The inauguration service began with the singing of the school anthem, after which Prelate Mardirossian, joined by the Parish Pastor, blessed the playground. Welcoming remarks were shared by Saturday School Principal Houry Darakjian, who thanked the Prelate for conducting the service and the benefactors for their continuous support. Soon after, students Alyna Danielian and Gor Grigoryan recited poems.
In her remarks, Arda Yemenidjian paid tribute to the memory of her father Abraham and mother Verjine, who was one of the founders of the Saturday School. Yemenidjian expressed her gratitude to the Prelate for presiding over the inauguration as a member of their family, thanked the members of the Saturday School for their dedicated service, and pledged continued support.
Prelate Mardirossian expressed thanks to the Lord for the day and fondly recalled the blessing of the foundation by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I in 2011, the generous benefaction of Larry Barnes, the consecration of the Church and “Koujakian” Hall he conducted in 2013, and the opening of the Cultural Center in 2014, commending all for their service. He blessed and commended the Yemenidjian and Koujakian families in particular for their continuous support.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling of the plaque followed.
Guests then gathered at “Koujakian” Hall for a luncheon, during which remarks were conveyed by Honorary Consul Adroushan Andy Armenian, “Ishkhan” Gomideh Chair Hovig Maknissian, ARS Regional Chair Silva Poladian, and a representative of the “Shoushi” chapter. The Prelate delivered the closing message, once again conveying his blessings and congratulations to all. The luncheon concluded with the singing of Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem.