We offer praise and gratitude to Almighty God for making us worthy of another year to start anew and resolve to live our lives as He intends. We pray that the difficulties of the past year remain in the past and that this new year is filled with an abundance of health, happiness, and prosperity. We thank God also for granting this evening for our Prelacy family to come together and exchange felicitations to one another as we rejoice in the Glorious Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Birth of our Lord and Savior, revealed by the Star of Bethlehem and the angel’s herald, brought to mankind the tidings of love, peace, and goodwill. On that silent and holy night, the heavenly host proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Centuries later, this proclamation continues to resonate strongly not only on Christmas, but every day that the Baby Jesus is reborn in our hearts. The world changes, society changes, but the Christmas message of love and hope remains unchanged for eternity as the guiding light of our lives. God’s Word and promise also remains an inspiration and an invitation to live in His holy example.
God sent His only begotten Son for the redemption and salvation of mankind. Jesus came to live among man to be a model of holiness and by example to show the way to live righteously. He humbled Himself and became like us so that we could become more like Him. Throughout the coming year, let us pledge to follow in our Lord’s ideal example by planting seeds of love and peace within our surroundings, demonstrating Christian love, compassion, and goodwill to one another, and with our humble and selfless service.
Dear loved ones,
In my tenure first as Locum Tenens and then Prelate, today is the 19th year that we are gathering as members of one family in a festive and friendly atmosphere to celebrate the blessed occasions of the new year and the Birth of our Lord. This annual event is also an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of the past year to which you all contributed. Here we present to you some highlights from the previous year.
The education and instruction of the younger generations remains our priority, with the proverb “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” as the inspiration for us, our Sunday Schools and our day schools. In this regard, the Christian Education Department was enhanced with an Executive Secretary to coordinate and make the activities of our Sunday Schools more efficient. In addition, Sunday School directors and teachers met regularly to share information and knowledge and collectively draft new projects.
In the past year our Prelacy was enriched with three new young pastors. In conjunction with the Religious and Executive Councils, Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian was appointed pastor of Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County, Rev. Fr. Boghos Baltayan pastor of St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena, and Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian pastor of St. Garabed Church of Las Vegas. We wish our new priests every success in their new assignments, and we thank our retired priests for their service. We are certain they will continue to assist in our mission as the need arises.
Two other parishes experienced changes as well. Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian was assigned to serve as Dean of Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello while still serving the North Hollywood parish until the assignment of a new pastor, and Archpriest Fr. Hrant Yeretzian was assigned the second pastor of St. Garabed Church of Hollywood. It is our expectation that our parishes will flourish with these new energies. In addition, a few months ago a young member of the Catholicosate Brotherhood joined our Prelacy. By the ordinance of His Holiness Aram I, Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian began his studies at Fuller Seminary. Alongside his studies, Fr. Boghos assists in our endeavors and will soon be assigned to a new mission.
Our endeavors are successfully realized thanks to the Religious and Executive Councils in collaboration with a number of committees and their devoted members. Among these are CASPS, Cultural-Educational, Building, Legal Issues, and Real Estate Committees, Ladies Auxiliary, Board of Regents, and others. By the decision of the Representatives Assembly, two new committee were established last year. The first is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the Armenian language. After months of hard work, the committee will soon present its findings. The second committee will focus on our youth and engaging them in our community life.
In the past year we are pleased to have published a number of books, most of which were dedicated to the Year of the Armenian Mother. We are particularly proud of a book consisting of prayers and well wishes written by young students for their mothers. The book will remain a beautiful reminder and enduring commemoration of the Year of the Armenian Mother. Another book of poetry and writings dedicated to mothers is in the works. Revised and enhanced editions of Garo Bedrosian’s popular book “Feasts of the Armenian Church and National Traditions” were re-published in both Armenian and English. Finally, we are in the process of republishing the Book of Rituals with some revisions that are in accordance with decisions by the Bishops’ Synod in Etchmiadzin.
In September, we had the privilege of participating in the aforementioned Bishops’ Synod, which was truly a historic gathering. Under the auspices of His Holiness Karekin II and Aram I, bishops from the four hierarchical Sees came together for the first time in centuries to discuss theological and ecclesiastical issues and also challenges facing our church and nation. Today we stand on the threshold of the Genocide centennial. The proper commemoration of this anniversary, the revitalization of Armenia and Artsakh, and the support of Syria is a pan-Armenian challenge and obligation. History has proven that the Armenian Church, with its four hierarchical Sees, has and remains at the forefront of such comprehensive challenges. One such example of this is the decision of the Bishops’ Synod, by the advice of our two Pontiffs, to establish an endowment fund with two million dollars to assist our brethren in Armenia, Artsakh and Syria. Our Prelacy will actively participate in this effort.
Earlier we spoke of our mission to foster the spiritual development of our younger generations. Here we would like to call attention to our educational institutions who are dedicated to the intellectual and emotional development of our youth and the formation of their national identity. We highly commend the Board of Regents of Prelacy Schools, our principals, directors, teachers, school boards, and parents for their devoted service to this noble mission. Also contributing to the success of our schools are our sponsors, and especially the Dream Fund. We are grateful for the benevolence of the Dream Fund, which has been vital for our schools, and hope to have their support this year to.
At this time I would like to make a special announcementt. You may know that Vahan and Anoush Chamlian School had a long-standing dream to have a gym. That dream began to be realized in October of 2011 when His Holiness Aram I blessed the foundation during his Pontifical Visit to our Prelacy. Today, construction of the gym is proceeding smoothly and we hope to see the final outcome soon. We are happy to announce that Prelacy and community benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Hakob and Hilda Baghdassarian have undertaken the main sponsorship of the gym with a donation of $250,000. The philanthropy of the Baghdassarian family is familiar to us all, spanning from our community to Armenia and Artsakh. We thank them again for their continuous and generous support of the Armenian Church and nation.
On the whole, our Prelacy experienced another successful year, for which we are grateful. Once again we thank all of you for your hard work, collaboration, enduring support and encouragement throughout the year and here tonight.
We wish you a blessed new year surrounded by the love of family and friends. With the passing of the old year let us leave behind any negativity and begin the new year with a tranquil mind, a joyful spirit, a healthy body, and a heart full of love. May the Christmas spirit of love, peace, and goodwill radiate through our words and actions as we strive to walk in the way of our Lord each and every day of the new year. And may the Peace of God reign among nations and bring harmony to the world.
Christ is Born and Revealed. Blessed is the Revelation of Christ.
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States
January 6, 2014