St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena celebrated its name day with Episcopal Divine Liturgy and the blessing of madagh conducted by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Rev. Boghos Baltayan assisted at the altar. Among the faithful in attendance were Church benefactors Sarkis and Suzan Kitsinian and family members. The celebratory service was held on Sunday, February 9,
The Prelate began his sermon by greeting and congratulating the parish family, benefactors, and faithful on the name day celebration and invited all to seek the intercession of St. Sarkis, brave witness to and martyr for the Holy Trinity, abode of grace, fulfiller of appeals, comfort to those facing difficulties or tribulations, who with the helmet of hope on his head and sword in his right hand as a shield of faith fought against worldly evil for love of God, and by his martyrdom became worthy of the crown of righteousness.
Prelate Mardirossian gave a historical overview of the life, persecution, and martyrdom of St. Sarkis, stressing that he was a faithful soldier of the king but above all a faithful soldier of the Heavenly King who defended his faith at the cost of his life. Connecting the day’s Gospel reading from John 6:22-38 on “the bread from heaven,” he noted that worldly praise and greatness were of no interest to St. Sarkis for he was not after the food which perishes, but the food which endures to everlasting life which God gave us through His only-begotten Son, the “bread of life,” so that whoever believes in Him shall never hunger nor thirst.
“In the example of St. Sarkis, let us lead our lives armed with hope and burning with faith, and beseech the Lord to increase our faith, hope, and love for keeping His commandments. In our pains and afflictions let us trust in God and in the intercession of His saints. Let faith be our shield of defense, and hope, the helmet of salvation. Let our prayers be offered with a pure heart and let us appeal wholeheartedly to the Lord to be the light on our journey of faith, hope, and love, to be the bread of life, true life, and our refuge,” concluded the Prelate.
At the end of Divine Liturgy, requiem service and the blessing of madagh was conducted concurrently. Prayers were offered for the souls of the first parish pastor, the parents of the benefactors, Delegates, Board of Trustees and Ladies Guild members, and all departed church servants.
At the conclusion of the service, as the choir sang the hymn “Oorakh Ler,” the Prelate headed to the narthex in a procession where the celebration closed with the singing of Cilicia, the Pontifical anthem, and the Armenian national anthem.
The annual name day celebratory luncheon followed at “Hovhannes and Hripsime Jivalagian Youth Center.” The program began with the invocation. Board of Trustees Chair Hagop Yedalian welcomed the Prelate and guests, congratulated all those bearing the names Sarkis or Mardiros, thanked the main madagh sponsor, Magy Ilanjian, all madagh and lunch contributors, and the Ladies Guild for their hard work over the past few days.
During lunch, guests enjoyed a number of traditional songs presented by the Church choir, led by choirmaster Deacon Yervant Keshishian, and recitations by the Kitsinian grandchildren Lori and Sako.
The Parish Pastor expressed gratitude to the Prelate for presiding over the festivities and thanked the Board of Trustees, Ladies Guild, choir, and sponsors for their service and support.
The Prelate delivered the closing message, which he centered on the importance of devotion, sacrifice, and service for the glory of God rather than for praise by our fellow man. He reiterated that in spite of his military prowess and accolades, St. Sarkis remained a humble servant of our Lord and never wavered from his faith and convictions, adding that this name day celebration must be an opportunity for affirmation of faith and renewal of our pledge of service in the example of St. Sarkis. He commended the service of the Parish Pastor, Board of Trustees, Ladies Guild, altar servers, and choir, stressing again the need to serve not for personal show but for the glory of God and, citing the proverb “you reap what you sow,” urged them to always reap love, goodness, and service. The Prelate concluded by conveying his blessings to all.