Presentation of Plaques In Memory Of Hacop Baghdassarian, Hacob Shirvanian, And Kirk Kabaklian;
Plaque of Appreciation to Anahid Baghdadlian-Ohanesian;
Varant and Hoori Melkonian to Host 2020 Christmas Dinner
MONTEBELLO—On Sunday, January 6, sponsors and friends of the Western Prelacy once again gathered at Holy Cross Cathedral’s “Baghramian” Hall in Montebello for the Prelate’s annual New Year and Christmas Dinner, which was held under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and by the initiative of the Religious and Executive Councils, and organized by the Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary. This year’s hosts were the Baghdassarian family, Mrs. Hilda and her sons Mr. and Mrs. Peter and Ruby and Mr. and Mrs. Gevik and Paola in memory of their husband and father, national benefactor Hacop Baghdassarian.
Among the guests in attendance were Consul General of Armenia Armen Baibourtian and Counselor Varazdat Pahlavuni, Consul General of Lebanon Mirna Khawly, clergy, members of the Catholicosate Central Executive, Religious and Executive Councils, ARF Westerm Region Central Committee, parishes’ Delegates and Boards of Trustees, members of the Board of Regents and CASPS, and representatives of community organizations including the ANCA-WR, Hamazkayin, Homenetmen, ARS, “Aharonian” Gomideh, Asbarez, Armenian-American Museum, Glendale Memorial Hospital, Glendale Police and Fire departments, Armenian-American Medical Society, and Forest Lawn.
The program began with welcoming remarks by Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian, who served as the Master of Ceremonies. On behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary, Mrs. Maral Keledjian welcomed the guests and wished for the spirit of Christmas to brighten our lives and homes. H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, conveyed his greetings highlighting the Nativity’s message of love and peace and the need to think, speak, and act in love and peace and follow the righteous path of Christ.
Next came the most poignant part of the evening as guests arose, candles in hand, to welcome the procession of clergy chanting hymns dedicated to the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord. With the hall illuminated solely by candlelight, the good tidings of Christ’s Birth was proclaimed through the Gospel account of the Nativity which was read by Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian. The traditional “tatakh” ceremony followed, with the eldest on each table immersing a piece of the holy host in wine and sharing it with the rest. The Prelate then delivered the invocation.
Guests viewed the video message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, which lay emphasis on the reorganization and revitalization of Diaspora institutions, including Prelacies. His Holiness commended the devoted service of the Prelate, Clergy, and Executive Council, and wished for a productive year for our church and nation. Finally, in light of his “Year of the Armenian Media” proclamation, our Pontiff underscored the media’s vital role in our collectivity and thus commended the service of all who work in the media industry.
The program continued with the Executive Council’s message delivered by Mrs. Elizabeth Boyajian, Secretary, who thanked the guests for their continued support and encouragement owing to which our Prelacy has grown and thrived in the past forty-five years. Felicitations were conveyed by the Consul General of Lebanon, who conveyed her New Year and Christmas well wishes to the Armenian community and lauded the vast contributions of the Armenian people in Lebanon in particular. The Consul General of Armenia conveyed his seasons greetings, highlighted our distinctive national identity as an amalgamation of faith and culture, and expressed his pleasure at serving in the heart of the Diaspora.
During dinner, guests enjoyed classical, popular, and nationalistic music by Greg Hosharian and the Armenian Pops Ensemble, as well as a solo vocal performance by Hovhannes Balyan. National icon Harout Pamboukjian made a special appearance, rousing the crowd with a number of his beloved songs.
At last, the Prelate was invited to deliver his message. He thanked the Lord for the blessing of a New Year, for the joy of the evening once more, and above all for the gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With filial love he greeted our Pontiff with thanks for his video message, and thanked all the guests for their presence and continued support.
“Tonight, joy and merriment abounded in our hearts and souls as we relived the birth and revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who by the love and mercy of God the Father took on flesh to liberate us from sin and grant us the promise of everlasting life, to bridge the gap between God and man, and to assure us that our God is a loving, patient, and forbearing God. The Nativity of Christ is indeed a powerful and beautiful testament to God’s faithfulness toward mankind, and all that the Lord asks of us in return is to live a God-pleasing life faithful to Him and to His commandments. At the start of each year, this timeless and inspiring message of Christmas reminds us to be mindful of God’s blessings throughout the year and to heed the message of the star of Bethlehem which is faith, love, peace, harmony, faithfulness, humility, and goodwill,” said the Prelate.
The Prelate recalled the milestone anniversaries celebrated in 2018, the centennial of the first Republic of Armenia, centennial of Homenetmen, 90th anniversary of Hamazkayin, the 110th anniversary of Asbarez, and of course, the 45th anniversary of our own Western Prelacy, stating, “These celebrations certainly brought pride and joy to us all, however, they also afforded the opportunity to reflect on the past to forge a stronger and brighter future. The rise in the number of churches and schools over the decades and the expansion of our service to the people is indeed a source of great spiritual satisfaction, and I thank God to have had a part in it. The successful fulfillment of our mission necessitates collective effort, thus, we take this time to recognize the collaboration and cooperation of successive delegates of the Representative Assembly, Religious and Executive Councils, parishes, schools, community organizations, and sponsors. As you know, our work is far from done. We have on the horizon construction plans for our parishes and schools based on the needs of our people, among other projects which we will surely accomplish by the will of God and our united efforts.”
The awarding of plaques followed. The Prelate somberly recalled losses we experienced during the past year, praying for the Lord to grant rest to the souls of all the deceased. He remembered Kirk Kabaklikan, who for years served devotedly, quietly and out of the spotlight, as a member of Prelacy and community committees and a Board of Trustees member at St. Mary’s Church of Glendale, and invited Kirk’s son Dr. Hovsep to accept a plaque of appreciation honoring his father’s devoted and commendable service and generosity to the Western Prelacy, St. Mary’s church, and the Armenian community.
With reverence and gratitude His Eminence remembered Hacob Shirvanian, a true and faithful servant of our nation, beloved community leader and activist, and gracious benefactor, who leaves behind an enduring legacy of service and generosity locally and in our homeland. He invited Hacob’s daughter and son-in-law, Alice and Vahik Petrossian, and sister Savey Tufenkian, to accept a plaque honoring Hacob’s lifetime of leadership, service, and benefaction to Western Prelacy, community, and the Armenian nation.
The Prelate next acknowledged last year’s host, Anahid Baghdadlian-Ohanesian, who this year made another generous donation, this time in the amount of $100,000, $50,000 of which will be allocated to the Catholicosate in honor of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s 50th anniversary of ordination, $30,000 special offering to Prelacy parishes, and $20,000 to the Prelate’s New Year and Christmas Dinner in honor of the Vicar General’s Episcopal ordination. Given that Baghdadlian could not attend the dinner last year, His Eminence this year presented a plaque of commendation to Baghdadlian and her daughter, Silvie.
Last but not least, with reverence and gratitude the Prelate recalled everyone’s beloved national servant and benefactor, Hacop Baghdassarian, whose family hosted the dinner in his memory. He invited the late Baghdassarian’s wife Hilda, sons Peter and Ruby and Gevik and Paola, and grandchildren, to accept a plaque for their boundless generosity and invaluable support of the Western Prelacy throughout the years and for honoring the memory and legacy of their beloved husband and father.
The Prelate took the opportunity to in advance thank and Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian, who will be hosting next year’s New Year and Christmas Dinner. He thanked Varant also for a beautiful gesture he made last month, contributing all in lieu of gifts donations on the occasion of his 60th birthday to the Prelacy, to date over $50,000, toward the construction of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North Hollywood.
The Prelate concluded his message by wishing the Armenian people in our homeland and the Diaspora, our parishes, schools, community organizations, sponsors, and supporters, a new year filled with goodness, happiness, and great successes, and calling for faithfulness to our Lord and service in the ideal example of our Lord characterized by mutual love, respect, accord, courtesy, sincerity, and humility, steadfast in purpose and in devotion.
The Prelate delivered the benediction and the evening came to a close with the collective singing of Cilicia, the Pontifical anthem, and Armenian national anthem.