Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence celebrates Vartanantz Day

His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian celebrating the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence on February 11, 2024

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church joyfully celebrated its name day under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian on Sunday, February 11. A full church of faithful parishioners gathered together as Archbishop Tanielian celebrated the Divine Liturgy and ordained Matthew Burke to the rank of acolyte. The son of Jon and Paula (Markarian) Burke, Matthew is a Sunday School student and dedicated altar server. His family, including sisters Melissa and Mia, humbly watched as Burke was ordained.

Following the ordination ceremony, Archbishop Tanielian offered an inspirational message, asking parishioners to ponder on Jesus’ great sacrifice for the sins of our foreparents. His Eminence offered an analogy about the glory of God and the pricelessness of what He gives to us. Archbishop Tanielian said that if you give the choice of a toy or a diamond to a child, they will choose the toy, because they don’t know the value of the diamond. In the same way, God has provided us with the most beautiful and gracious diamond: eternal life. So, let us knowingly and consciously appreciate all that God has given to us. His Eminence closed by asking that, in celebration of Vartanantz Day, we become spiritual warriors and use our gift of free will to follow Christ’s mission.

Providence Homenetmen Scouts during the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian

The annual Vartanantz Day dinner, prepared and served by the church’s Ladies’ Guild and Men’s Club, was held in the Aramian Auditorium after the Divine Liturgy. Welcoming remarks were provided by Board of Trustees chairman Levon Attarian, who also served as emcee for the afternoon. Attarian invoked memories of attending these always sold-out events on Vartanantz Day as a child. “This is what Sundays are all about – coming together for worship and being around friends and family – this is what makes us Sts. Vartanantz Church,” he said.

His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian with new-ordained acolyte Matthew Burke

Attarian once again congratulated Burke and his family. “You are a great ambassador of our Sunday School,” he said. “Your dedication of serving the altar is an inspiration to the future of our church and brings promise that you will be a future leader of this community.”

In keeping with His Holiness Catholicos Aram I proclaiming 2024 as “The Year of Human Resource Development,” Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian and the Board of Trustees selected Raffi Rachdouni as this year’s Vartanantz Day honoree. Rachdouni has been involved in church life since early childhood. He plays a vital role at the church’s summer Bible Camp and is the music instructor for the Mourad Armenian Saturday School and for the Eastern Prelacy’s Siamanto Academy. Rachdouni is also co-creator of the Mourad Armenian School Dzapig-Tatig program for children from one-and-a-half to three years old. “He touches the lives of the youth of our community and the Prelacy, ranging from infants to high school students,” Attarian said.

Honoree Raffi Rachdouni (2nd from left) pictured with Board chairman Levon Attarian, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian

Rachdouni has held various leadership roles in the Homenetmen, Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian Revolutionary Federation. “These organizations have taught him organizational and leadership skills, instilled a sense of duty and responsibility and a love for his Armenian nation, all of which he applies through his work with the church and within the church community and make him the leader he is today,” Attarian said. Rachdouni is married to Bethany (Sousa), and they are the proud parents of Marcos, Tomas and Rafael.

Raffi Rachdouni and Matthew Burke with R.I. State Senator David Tikoian, who presented them with citations from the R.I. Senate

Rachdouni and Burke both received certificates from Archbishop Tanielian, along with his kind remarks. State Senator David Tikoian began his remarks with words of praise for Archbishop Tanielian and his bond with the Rhode Island community. The senator then addressed Rachdouni and Burke before presenting them with citations from the Rhode Island Senate, saying, “I just read somewhere recently that said if you put God first, everything else will fall into place. I can’t think of two better examples than these two individuals.” Sen. Tikoian expressed his pride in requesting the citations, saying that not only is it the right thing to do as a proud Armenian, but also that “it showcases the good things that the Armenian community is doing,” which are then reflected at the State House.

Rachdouni then took the podium and expressed his appreciation for receiving the Vartanantz Day honor. “I’m a proud servant of Sts. Vartanantz Church, working with our wonderful Armenian youth,” he said. “I’m grateful that my family and community enriched my life with music and culture. It is my humble pleasure to educate and pass on those traditions to the future generations.”

Rev. Fr. Nazarian also congratulated Burke and his family for their dedication to serving our church and praised Rachdouni as a great example for his peers. Archbishop Tanielian offered the closing remarks, blessing those in attendance. To conclude the afternoon, everyone sang “Giligia.”