LAS VEGAS—The weekend of June 9 and 10 was a momentous one for the Las Vegas parish as the community gathered to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the consecration of St. Garabed Church with a banquet on Saturday evening and Episcopal Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian presided over the celebration. Executive Council Chair Garo Eshgian and representatives of the Western Diocese, Armenian Evangelical Church, Assyrian, Ethiopian, Greek, and Maronite Churches participated in the festivities.
The banquet was hosted by Parish Council Vice-Chair Mr. and Mrs. Garo and Maria Bayramian. The program began with welcoming remarks by Mistress of Ceremonies Carnie Armenian, who stated that over the past five years St. Garabed Church has become not only a place of worship but also a gathering place for community organizations and members, a place to share in celebrations and sorrows, and a place to preserve our unique Armenian heritage.
She concluded by thanking all those who took part in the dream of creating a small Armenia in the Las Vegas desert. Parish Pastor Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian delivered the invocation. Parish Council Chairman Yeghia Yeghiayan thanked the Prelate for his guidance and direction, as well as the Parish Pastor, all volunteers and sponsors for their efforts and support, stating that the community was able to construct the first Armenian Apostolic Church in the area thanks to its faith and strong will. Adroushan Armenian, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia, spoke about the enormous effort and energy required to maintain our churches and community organizations, thanking all those who lend their moral and financial support to preserving the Armenian Church, language, and cultural heritage in Las Vegas. He invited all community members, of all ages, to continue to serve with renewed spirits. On behalf of the Executive Council, Chairman Garo Eshgian congratulated and the parish community and stressed the importance of having big dreams and serving with vision for the benefit of future generations. He commended the Parish Pastor, Parish Council, and all the committees and sponsors, wishing them new and greater achievements and milestones in the years to come. The candle-lighting and cake-cutting ceremony followed.
The Prelate began his message by greeting the guest clergy, greeting and commending the former and current parish pastors, Archpriest Fr. Avedis Torossian and Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian, Executive Council Chair Garo Eshgian, Parish Council, Men’s Society, Ladies Guild, volunteers, sponsors, and community organizations. He greeted and commended Honorary Consul Adroushan Armenian for his contributions to the parish community. The Prelate recalled the work of the past five years, from the ground-blessing conducted by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to the consecration of the Church and Cultural Center, acknowledging all those who had a hand in the realization of this dream, in particular the late benefactors Larry and Seda Barnes and new sponsors.
He reminded the community of what is possible with united, sincere, and unfailing service, and stated that though they have come far, there is still much work to be done to maintain and expand the parish community. The Prelate highlighted the importance of constant renewal, renewed energy, resolve, and approach in order to reach new heights, adding that the parish pastor must be the driving force of the community, the community must rally around him and he in turn must look to the people for encouragement and support to grow and strengthen the parish.
The official program concluded with the singing of Cilicia. The festivities continued with musical entertainment.
On Sunday morning, the Prelate celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Garabed Church. Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian and Archpriest Fr. Avedis Torossian assisted at the altar. Among the faithful in attendance were members of the “Ishkhan” Gomideh, ARS “Shushi” chapter, and Homenetmen “Artsakh” chapter scouts.
At the start of his message, the Prelate first greeted the parish family and guests and wished them many more milestones in their God-pleasing service and mission with hard work, determination, and perseverance, but most importantly, with faith, love, goodwill, unity, and harmony. He commended all those who have committed themselves to the prosperity of the community and urged all parishioners to become actively engaged in the life of the parish as the church belongs to the people.
Referencing the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew Chapter 12:1-8, the Prelate reiterated that our service to glorify God and meet the spiritual needs of the people must be genuine and not for outwardly appearances. “Faith in action should be the guiding force of our lives and service, acting on our faith with deeds of love and service. The time has come to put aside superficialities and insincerity and serve with conscience and conviction, our only purpose being goodness and righteousness, not praise or honor from those around us,” he stressed.
Given that the feast of St. Nerses the Great and Bishop Khat was commemorated the day before, the Prelate spoke on their exemplary faith and service, in particular their efforts in bringing the church closer to the people and dedication to the spiritual and social wellbeing of the common people. “As faithful Christians, let us commit ourselves to honoring God each and every day of our lives through deeds of love and mercy. As religious and lay leaders, let us commit ourselves wholly to the best interests of the people through our faithful and sincere service. And as faithful Armenians, let us commit ourselves to honoring the religious and cultural heritage our ancestors fought hard to preserve for all of these centuries,” stated His Eminence, and concluded by calling on the leadership and membership of St. Garabed Church to renew their efforts and energy and work together with love, mutual respect, and harmony to make and keep St. Garabed Church the bedrock and lifeline of the community.
The Prelate then blessed a book of synaxis Gospel readings donated by Garo Bayramian and his wife Maria, which featured a hand-crafted cover by Bayramian.
Later in the service, the parish pastor greeted the Prelate and wished him many more years of fruitful service. At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, requiem prayers were offered for benefactors Larry and Seda Barnes. A reception hosted by the Parish Council followed at “Koujakian” Hall.
The Prelate’s visit also afforded the opportunity to meet with the Parish Pastor and Parish Council to discuss the Church’s future endeavors.