Hakob and Hilda Baghdassarian Sponsor Chamlian Gym with $250,000 Donation; Generous Donations by the Carolan and Khachaturian Families; Eddie and Talin Amroyan Once Again Hosted the Dinner
MONTEBELLO—On Monday, Jan. 6, Bagramian Hall in Montebello was abuzz with Christmas cheer as six hundred Prelacy sponsors and supporters had gathered to celebrate the Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner.
Presided over by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, the annual dinner has become a beloved tradition within the community, bringing together members of the extended Prelacy family for an evening of festivity filled with warmth, love, and good cheer.
Among the dignitaries and honored guests in attendance were Consul General of Lebanon the Honorable Johnny Ibrahim, Deputy Consul General of Armenia the Honorable Artak Galstyan, Catholicosate Central Executive members Khajag Dikijian and Vahe Yacoubian, ARF Central Committee Chair Dr. Viken Hovsepian and member Dr. Viken Yacoubian, representatives of ARS, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, ANC, parishes, schools, Prelacy committees, Forest Lawn, and Glendale Memorial Hospital.
The event is the undertaking of the Religious and Executive Councils and is organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary. This year’s dinner was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Talin Amroyan, who also hosted the event last year.
Master of Ceremonies Rev. Fr. Vazken Atmajian announced the start of the official program with the entrance of the clergy procession.
The Prelate and clergy members entered the dimmed hall, illuminated only by the glow of candlelight, as the beautiful sound of Christmas hymns filled the serene atmosphere. Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian read the Gospel reading from Luke on the Birth of Jesus Christ, after which the traditional wine and bread ceremony (tatakh) took place.
Prior to blessing the tables, the Prelate presented the evening’s mementos, a decoration with the symbol of “faith, hope, and love,” donated by Mr. and Mrs. Harout and Christina Jabarian. The Prelate blessed the mementos, and through them the homes of the attendees, and also blessed the food.
On behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary, Maral Tarpinian welcomed the guests and conveyed wishes for a happy New Year.
Guests then watched the video message by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The Catholicos first conveyed New Year and Christmas well wishes to the Prelate and guests and commended the devoted service of the Prelate Councils, and volunteers to our church and nation. He then spoke of the New Year and Christmas season as a time for introspection both in our individual and collective lives, and a time for renewal given that the earthly mission of Christ was the restoration and renewal of mankind. His Holiness also reflected on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, advising “for reassessment and renewal to become the guiding principals of our lives and for preparations for the Armenian Genocide centennial to acquire an important place on the agenda of our church and community in the course of this year”.
The Catholicos took the opportunity to share a few thoughts with the youth. First, he stressed that life is a gift from God and it must be sustained by spiritual and moral values and with a clear vision, otherwise it becomes a life with no meaning and importance. Therefore, we must make our life a purpose-driven life by articulating in our actions those values, principles, and ideals which constitute our Armenian Christian identity, said Aram I.
Second, the Pontiff spoke of the pivotal importance of youth participation in our church and community, stating “our youth don’t belong at the periphery of our life. They are all to participate actively in the life of our church and community and should assume an important role in all spheres and at all levels of our church and community life.”
On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairwoman Rima Boghossian greeted the guests and gave a brief overview of the Prelacy’s scope of endeavors. Noting that His Holiness Aram I proclaimed 2014 “The Year of Armenian Elders,”. Boghossian invited all to give due recognition and honor to our elders. In conclusion she wished for all to embark on a new year of service with renewed spirits and efforts, wished for goodness for the Armenian nation, and especially for peace in Syria.
The representatives of the Lebanese and Armenian nations were then invited to deliver their remarks.
Consul General of Lebanon Johnny Ibrahim first congratulated the Prelate and the Prelacy family, wishing for a blessed New Year, Nativity and Theophany for the Armenian people. He noted that the Birth and Theophany of Jesus Christ symbolizes renewal, and is an invitation to cleanse our hearts and souls and start anew with renewed spirits, love and harmony. He also thanked the Prelate for his leadership and wished for many more years of friendship and collaboration between the Lebanese and Armenian communities. Deputy Consul General of Armenia Artak Galstyan conveyed his well wishes for the New Year and Christmas, wishing that the season is a time for spiritual renewal and a time to look to the future with renewed hopes and faith.
Fr. Vazken then acknowledged special guests in attendance, among them Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, and brought to the guests’ attention that on their tables was a prayer dedicated to Armenian mothers, sponsored by Mrs. Kohar Sulahian.
During dinner, guests enjoyed a cultural program of instrumental music by the “Donagan” Band, songs by Gevorg Tchakmanyan, Vahakn Hovents accompanied on the piano by Armenouhi Terteryan, and a performance by students of Lilia Dance Studio. Throughout the evening guests also enjoyed a slideshow of the Prelacy’s endeavors in the past year.
The program concluded with the Prelate’s message.
The Prelate began by thanking God for granting another year and opportunity for the Prelacy family to come together to exchange felicitations to one another on the Birth and Theophany of our Lord. He wished for the New Year to be filled with an abundance of health, happiness, and prosperity for all, and for the Christmas message and promise of love and hope to remain the guiding light of our lives, and an inspiration to live in His holy example. The Prelate then presented some highlights from the previous year, including Sunday School activities, new pastor assignments, new publications, participation in the historic Bishop’s Synod in Etchmiadzin, among others.
The Prelate thanked the members of the various Prelacy committees for their service and the sponsors for their contributions to the realization of the Prelacy’s endeavors. He expressed gratitude to the evening’s hosts Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Talin Amroyan for their generous sponsorship for the second year, to Mrs. Tina Carolan, the Carolan Family Foundation, and the Khachaturian Family for their continued benevolence, and to Forest Lawn for their donation to establish the Prelacy Good Samaritan Fund. The Prelate also commended the members of Prelacy Schools for their commitment to the intellectual and emotional development of our youth, and thanked school sponsors, specifically the Dream Fund, for their generous support. Speaking of school sponsors, the Prelate announced that he had special news to share. The hall erupted in applause as His Eminence announced that Prelacy and community benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Hakob and Hilda Baghdassarian had undertaken the sponsorship of Chamlian School’s new gym with a donation of $250,000. (See full text of Prelate’s message separately).
In conclusion, the Prelate commended the service of the Religious and Executive Councils and all affiliated bodies, and wished for the endeavors of the coming year to proceed smoothly guided by the Christmas tidings of love, harmony, and goodwill.
The joyful and memorable evening came to a close with the Prelate’s benediction and the Cilician and Pontifical anthems.