Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]
April 14, 2004
ARMENIAN COMMUNITY REMEMBERS CHRIST’S LESSONS
By Jake Goshert
This Easter season, the Armenian community gathered at New York City’s St.
Vartan Cathedral to praise Jesus Christ: His life and sacrifice, His victory
over death — and the promise He holds out to all mankind.
“Whatever Jesus told to His disciples or the crowds around Him, it was not
only His word, but also His actions,” said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,
Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), as he
officiated of a Washing of the Feet service on Holy Thursday, April 8, 2004.
“We received an example of how to be humble, how to respect each other as
human beings, how to be helpful to each other as creations of our Heavenly
The Washing of the Feet service, a keystone of the Holy Week celebration,
re-enacts one of the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. To teach
humility to His disciples, Christ washed the feet of each one.
Each year, the Primate washes the feet of 12 people, who stand in for the
Apostles. This year, the group was made up of deacons, sub-deacons,
acolytes, and altar servers ordained by Archbishop Barsamian.
“With love and devotion they serve on the altar,” the Primate said. “They
are wonderful examples of how one can serve the church, and through the
church, serve the community.”
Sub-deacon Justin Ajamian has been serving his parish, the St. Leon Church
of Fair Lawn, NJ, for five years. He is motivated not just by his faith,
but also by his commitment to the Armenian heritage. Serving the church, he
acknowledges, does mean you become a role model for others.
“When younger acolytes and kids see you walk by in your shabig, they look up
to you,” Ajamian said. “I don’t like the attention, but you do what the
Lord calls you to do.”
The altar servers agree that it is important for them to serve as role
models for younger children.
“They’re bombarded with all types of messages from TV, school, and friends,”
said Deacon Chris Kesici of the St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ. “At
church they see something different: people who through prayer, worship, and
service express their love for God.”
Along with Ajamian and Kesici, other participants in the Washing of the Feet
service were: Dn. Anushavan Margaryan, Dn. Levon Kirakosyan, Dn. Manouel
Rakoubian, Dn. Nurhan Ezik, Dn. Levon Altiparmakian, and Sub-deacon Ardavazd
Arsenian (all from St. Vartan Cathedral); Dn. Sebuh Oscherician, Dn. Hrach
Kasaryan, and sub-deacon Jonathan Najarian (St. Leon Church); and Sub-deacon
Andrew Martaian (St. Thomas Church of Livingston, NJ).
HOLY WEEK CELEBRATION
St. Vartan Cathedral was alive with celebration throughout Holy Week and on
Easter, the holiest week in the Armenian Church calendar.
On Palm Sunday, April 4, 2004, Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of the cathedral,
celebrated a Divine Liturgy and a Turun-Patzek, or “Door-Opening”, Service.
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
On Holy Friday, April 9, the cathedral hosted a noontime service and an
evening service, the Order of the Entombment of the Lord, or Taghoom
Service. The Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Saturday, April 10, was
celebrated by Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, former Primate of England, with
music provided by the St. Vartan Cathedral Youth Choir, under the direction
of Maro Partamian.
The St. Vartan Cathedral Youth Choir is made up of students from the
Diocesan Khrimian Lyceum, and Diocesan Armenian Saturday schools of New York
and New Jersey. Students of the Diocesan Khrimian Lyceum also read from the
Scriptures on Holy Saturday’s services.
More than 1,500 faithful filled St. Vartan Cathedral for Easter services,
celebrated by Archbishop Barsamian and sung by the St. Vartan Cathedral
Choir under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian, with Florence
Avakian on the organ. The traditional Antasdan ceremony, or “Blessing of
the Fields,” followed on the cathedral plaza.
The overflow crowd on the plaza also took part in the “Releasing of Doves”
ceremony, during which young people, the Primate, and Armen Martirossian,
Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, released 12 doves into the sky,
symbolizing the Apostles spreading Christ’s message throughout the world.
The Easter celebrations were toped off by a luncheon, which included a
home-blessing service, a musical program by the a cappella group Zulal, and
the recognition of the various names associated with the holiday.
“As Christians, we must never forget that the story does not end with
Christ’s sacrifice and death, but with His resurrection. Our Lord had
something more to offer those He loved: not just death on the cross, but
something greater: the promise of eternal life with Him, in God’s Kingdom,”
the Primate said to the overflow crowd on Easter. “That is the gift He
holds out to us — the gift that is ours, if we will accept it. These past
weeks, many people have been deeply moved by what we owe to Jesus. But let
us not forget the gift He offers, which transformed death into hope: the
gift of Easter Sunday. That unshakable sense of hope is what truly
distinguishes us as Christians.”
E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable on the Eastern
PHOTO CAPTION (1): Twelve men ordained as deacons, sub-deacons, and altar
servers by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, line
up to take part in the Washing of the Feet service on Holy Thursday, April
8, 2004, at New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral.
PHOTO CAPTION (2): Re-enacting Christ’s humility, Archbishop Barsamian
washes the feet of Stolebearer Andrew Martaian from the St. Thomas Church of
Tenafly, NJ, one of 12 men participating in the Washing of the Feet service
on Thursday, April 8, 2004.
PHOTO CAPTION (3): An overflow crowd of more than 1,500 people filled New
York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral for Easter services on Sunday, April 11,
PHOTO CAPTION (4): Parishioners kiss Archbishop Barsamian’s hand cross
during a procession through St. Vartan Cathedral on Easter Sunday, April 11,
PHOTO CAPTION (5): Armenians line up to receive communion from one of the
three altars used to accommodate the overflow crowd of worshipers on Easter
Sunday, April 11, 2004, at New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral.
PHOTO CAPTION (6): Archbishop Barsamian performs the traditional Antasdan
ceremony, or “Blessing of the Fields,” on the plaza of St. Vartan Cathedral
on Sunday, April 11, 2004.
PHOTO CAPTION (7): Doves are released from St. Vartan Cathedral on Easter
Sunday to symbolize the 12 Apostles of Christ evangelizing the globe.
(Photo JK Hovhannes)
PHOTO CAPTION (8): Worshipers line up at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral to
take home blessed butter, following the “Washing of the Feet” service on
Holy Thursday, April 8, 2004.
PHOTO CAPTION (9): The Armenian a cappella group Zulal performs during the
Easter luncheon at New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral on April 11, 2004.
(Photo JK Hovhannes)
# # #