Eastern Prelacy: Crossroads E-Newsletter – 8/14/2008

Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America
138 East 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 689-7810
Fax: (212) 689-7168
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Iris Papazian


Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Whitinsville, Massachusetts, where
this Sunday he will preside over services at St. Asdvadzadzin Church, on the
occasion of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. He will officiate the
Blessing of the Grapes ceremony that will follow the Liturgy on the church
grounds with the participation of New England area clergy.

Are you looking for a way to connect with friends and with your church?
Would you like to learn more about your Armenian spiritual heritage?
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Prelacy under the
Catholicosate of Cilicia, a workshop for students and professionals (ages 18
to 35) will take place September 26 to 28, at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox
Retreat Center in Charlton, Massachusetts.
Direct your questions via email to [email protected]
PLEASE NOTE: The registration form is now on the web page. Don’t delay. Send
in your form right away as space is limited.

The Pan-Diaspora Youth Conference opened today at the St. Asdvadzadzin
Monastery in Bikfaya,
Lebanon, with participants from around the world. Participation was limited
to a maximum of 110 in order to make the lectures and round-table
discussions more intimate and focused. Thirteen young people from parishes
of the Eastern Prelacy are attending the youth conference which will
continue through to Saturday, August 16. The general theme of the conference
is "The Armenian Youth Face the Challenges of the 21st Century."

A week of prayers began on Monday, August 11 and will continue until
tomorrow, August 15 at the St. Asdvadzadzin Monastery in Bikfaya, Lebanon,
the summer residence of the Catholicosate, as preparation for the Feast of
St. Asdvadzadzin (The Assumption). The prayers, under the auspices of His
Holiness Aram I and organized by the Catholicosate’s Christian Education
Department, start each day at 10 am and include Bible studies, sermons,
singing of hymns, and Gospel readings.

His Holiness Aram I received Berj Setrakian, president of the Armenian
General Benevolent Union (AGBU), in Bikfaya, on August 10. Hagop Ateshian, a
member of the Central Committee of the Catholicosate also attended the
meeting. His Holiness and Mr. Setrakian discussed issues of interest to the
Armenian nation worldwide, as well as projects underway both in Armenia and
the Diaspora under the auspices of the AGBU.

The dual anniversaries of the 110th anniversary of the establishment of
the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and the 50th
anniversary of the Prelacy’s affiliation with the Great House of Cilicia
will be marked with a gala banquet on Saturday, October 25, at the Marriott
at Glenpointe in Teaneck New Jersey. An exhibit about the history of the
Prelacy and a DVD film, "A Journey of Faith" will be on display during the
cocktail hour. We will provide regular updates about this event.

Major renovation of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City has
begun. Until the renovation is completed the Divine Liturgy will be offered
every Sunday at 10:40 a.m. at the Armenian Center, 69-23 47th Street,
Woodside, New York.

Armenian-American night-a free concert under the stars-will take place
this Sunday evening, August 17, 7 pm, at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre
of Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, New York. The concert will feature the
singer Karno with his band and the Akhtamar Dance Ensemble. For information:

Bible readings for today, Thursday, August 14 are: 1 Corinthians
15:34-49; Mark 3:20-30.
.and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.
When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were
saying, "He has gone out of his mind." And the scribes who came down from
Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts
out demons." And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How
can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that
kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house
will not be able to stand. And Satan has risen up against himself and is
divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a
strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the
strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever
blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can
never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-for they had said,
"He has an unclean spirit." (Mark 3:20-30)

This Sunday, August 17, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of
the Assumption (Verapokoum) of the Holy Mother of God and the Blessing of
the Grapes. Although in modern Armenian verapokoum means "change again," in
classical Armenian it means "transport up."
According to tradition, Mary, the Mother of Christ, died and was buried
by the apostles. The apostle Bartholomew, who was not present at her
funeral, wished to visit her grave, but when the gravestone was lifted they
were surprised to find that the body had disappeared. It was believed that
Christ had come and taken his mother to the Heavenly Kingdom. Based on this
event, the Church Fathers established the Feast of the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the five tabernacle feast days in the
Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. It is celebrated on the Sunday
closest to August 15. The feast is preceded by a week of fasting and a
memorial day the day after.
Because Bartholomew was very fond of the Holy Mother, the apostle John
gave him an image of her (which she had given to John). Bartholomew took
this image with him to Armenia to Darbnots Kar in the province of Antsev,
Vaspourakan (Western Armenia) where a convent of nuns, Hagyatz Vank
(Monastery for the Spirits) was built and where the icon was kept. Most
images of Bartholomew show him holding this icon.
The concept of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is an old one as seen in
sacred prose and poetry dedicated to the Holy Mother. However, it did not
become a basic doctrine of the church until the ninth century and it was in
the twelfth century that the feast was called "The Assumption."
In the Armenian Church the Blessing of the Grapes takes place on this
holy day, although there is no direct connection. Similar to other holidays,
it coincides with a pagan era festival, which the Church Fathers
incorporated into the church calendar. The hymn Park Sourp Khatachesi (Glory
to Your Sacred Cross) is sung; Biblical passages are recited, followed by a
prayer composed by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali specifically for this
occasion. After the prayer, the grapes are blessed three times with
Orhnestsee Bahbanestsee and then the blessed grapes are distributed to the
faithful, many of whom refrain from eating grapes until this blessing takes
Certainly we can say that the Blessing of the Grapes commemoration is a
celebration of the fruitfulness of the earth. Grapes are one of the oldest
cultivated plants in the world, and according to biblical history, Noah
planted a vineyard immediately after disembarking from the Ark (Genesis,
chapter 9) in Nakhichevan. And, of course, the wine of the Divine Liturgy
comes from grapes.

We leave you this week with a portion of the prayer written by Catholicos
Nerses Shnorhali for the
Blessing of the Grapes.
"Bless, O Lord, the grape plants and vineyards from which these grapes are
taken and presented to the holy church, and make them bountiful and
fruitful; let them be like good and fertile land, protect the vineyards from
all kinds of misfortunes and destruction which come from above because of
our sins, from hail, from cold, from hot winds, and from destructive
insects, so that we may enjoy that which You have created in this world for
our enjoyment and for Your glory, and grant that we may be worthy to eat and
drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of
Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the
nor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son and the most
Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power and honor, now and forever. Amen."


August 17-St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, picnic and
blessing of the grapes, officiated by Archbishop Oshagan and New England
area clergy. On church grounds, beginning at 12 noon. For information:
508-234-3677 or

August 17-St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, Feast of the Assumption of the Holy
Mother of God and Blessing of the Grapes, and picnic, at the Armenian
Center, Woodside, NY. For information 212-689-5880.

September 7-Annual picnic Festival of St. Gregory Church, North Andover,
Massachusetts, at American Legion Grounds, Haverhill, Massachusetts,
beginning at 12 noon.

August 3-Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Blessing of the
Grapes picnic. Camp Haiastan, Franklin, Massachusetts, noon to 6 pm, rain or

August 10-Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. Annual
picnic on church grounds. Free admission; free parking.

August 17-Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, annual church
picnic and blessing of the grapes at Dunkerhook Park, Pavilion D, Paramus,
NJ. For information 201-943-2950.

September 7-St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain-Hartford, Connecticut,
annual picnic, 1 pm to dusk at Quartette Club Grounds, 225 Wooster Street,
New Britain. Rain or shine. Free admission.

September 14-Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Celebration of
the Holy Cross and Madagh. For information 201-943-2950.

September 19-Sts. Vartanantz Church Ladies Guild, Providence, Rhode Island,
present "Remembering the Good Old Days. 8 pm, Aramian Auditorium. For
tickets and information 401-434-4467.

September 21-Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, annual
church banquet. Details to follow.

September 22-13th annual St. Stephen’s School/ACEC Golf Tournament,
Framingham Country Club, Framingham, MA. For information, Astor Guzelian,

September 25-Sixth annual golf outing hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church,
Ridgefield, New Jersey, at River Vale Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey.
For information contact Richard Krikorian 201-784-2236 or church office

September 26-28-National Youth Conference at Holy Virgin Mary Spiritual
Vineyard, Charlton, Massachusetts.

September 29-30-Clergy conference at the Holy Virgin Mary Spiritual
Vineyard, Charlton, Massachusetts.

October 17-18-Annual Fall Fair of St. Gregory Church, North Andover,
Massachusetts, Jaffarian Hall.

October 19-St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain-Hartford, first Connecticut
performance of "Hello Ellis Island," at Silas Deane Middle School, 551 Silas
Deane Highway, Wethersfield, Connecticut. Program starts at 3 pm; reception
follows. Advance reservation desired. Adults $25; Students $10; Children
under 12 $5. Tickets at door $30. For information: 860-229-8322.

October 31, November 1 and 2-Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey,
Annual Bazaar and Food Festival. For information 201-943-2950.

November 2-St. Stephen’s Church of New Britain-Hartford, Connecticut, 83rd
anniversary banquet at Indian Hill Country Club, 111 Golf Street, Newington,
Connecticut. Reception 1 pm, dinner at 2 pm. For information: 860-229-8322.

November 8 & 9-Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, largest
Armenian Fest in New England. Saturday 12 noon to 10 pm; Sunday 12 noon to 8
pm. Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet, Broad Street, Cranston, Rhode Island. Kebobs and
kufta dinners. Live Armenian music. For information: 401-434-4467.

November 9-38th anniversary of St. Gregory Church, North Andover,
Massachusetts, and 50th anniversary of the Prelacy under the Holy See of
Cilicia, presided over by His Grace Bishop Anoushavan at Jaffarian Hall
following Divine Liturgy.

October 25-Gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Prelacy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church of America under the jurisdiction of the Great
House of Cilicia and the 110th anniversary of the establishment of the
Armenian Church of America. Marriott at Glenpointe, Teaneck, New Jersey.
Details to follow.

November 21 and 22-Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Worcester, Massachusetts,
Fall Food Festival.

November 23-William Saroyan Centennial Celebration, co-sponsored by the
Anthropology/Armenian Museum at Queens College and the AGBU, 3 pm at Lefrak
Concert Hall, Queens College, Flushing, New York. Archbishop Oshagan will
participate. The program includes readings and a play by Saroyan. Also
special performance by the Aaron Copeland School of Music students of the
music of composer Arno Babadjanian. For information: 718-428-5650.


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