A dinner banquet to celebrate the New Year and Armenian Christmas–hosted by Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America was held Monday evening–at Baghramian Hall in Montebello. The was held under the auspices of the Prelacy Executive and Religious Council–and organized by the Prelacy Ladies’ Auxiliary.
Among those present were official guests; members of all Prelacy councils; all Prelacy clergy and other religious; as well as 650 lei persons including board of trustees representatives from throughout the prelacy; Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau and Western US Central Committee members; Armenian school principals and teachers; representatives of social–political–cultural–charity–and athletic organization; benefactors and friends of the Prelacy.
Following the official entrance of Prelate Mardirossian with his entourage–Master of Ceremonies Reverend Papken Charian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of San Francisco supervised the ceremony of the blessing of the holy bread. The Reverend then asked the eldest members at each table to light their table’s candle and the youngest members to dip the bread in the wine provided and share it with the table. Archbishop Sempat Lepedjian then offered his blessing of the dinner.
Chairwoman of the Prelacy Ladies’ Auxiliary–Sylva Sayabalian–spoke of the significance of maintaining cultural traditions and thanked Prelate Mardirossian for providing yet another opportunity to do so. She pointed out to the audience that "we are all members of the same family–church and nation." Sayabalian expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to the dinner–financially or morally.
Reverend Krikor Chiftjian read the Christmas message of His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. The Catholicos stressed that Christmas gives the Armenia nation an opportunity to renew their faith in God.
Vice-Chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council Armand Keosian delivered a speech in English and proceeded to present the official guest of the banquet. They were Congressman Brad Sherman; Consul General of Lebanon to Los Angeles Gibran Sufan; Baker–representatives of the Olsen–Le Croy and Danielian Law Firm as well as those from Cedars Bank.
Traditional Armenian Christmas dinner was served as a band performed with traditional Armenian musical instrumen’s. Following dinner–Arpine and Elsie Pehlivanian performed Christmas songs–as they were accompanied by Gloria Mikaelian on the piano. Soloists of the Hamazkayin "Ani" Dance Group Siranoush Kevorkian–Maral Adjemian and Suzi Parseghian-Tarpinain performed the Dance of the Pardis. Shake Toukhmanian recited Baruyr Sevag’s "Mor Tzerkeruh" and Yeghishe Charentz’s "Yes Im Anoush." Adjemian and Kevorkian performed another solo dance.
In his message–Prelate Mardirossian first thanked Catholicos Aram I for offering the Prelacy his message and well wishes. The Prelate then explained–in English–the meaning of Armenian Christmas. He wished a Merry Christmas to all and expressed gratitude to all friends and benefactors of the Prelacy.
The Bishop then explained the significance of Christmas in people’s everyday lives. "Let us take this 1998 Christmas as impetus to amplify our servitude to the church–which will–be assured–earn not only the gratitude of our nation but also the blessing of God," he said.
The Prelate continued to thank all those who contributed in preparation for or during the banquet–including the Holy Cross Church Board of Trustees. He reminded the audience of the $25,000 donation–made by Richard and Tina Carolann–to go toward the construction of the new Prelacy building. Prelate Mardirossian also thanked Jean and Asdghig Bedrossian for their sponsorship of the dinner banquet. He acknowledged the Mardirossian’s contribution to Prelacy projects throughout the year–including donations to schools–churches–the Catholicosal Monastery–and the Prelacy itself.
Bishop Mardirossian then announced to the audience that on the occasion of Christmas–the Mardirossians had donated $50,000 to the Prelacy–to go toward the construction of the new building.
The Prelate ended his speech with additional words of gratitude–as well as well wishes to the Armenian nation–and especially to Armenia and Karabakh.
The banquet concluded with the singing of "Cilicia."