Photos by Mardo Kevorkian & Gregory Afarian
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - On Sunday, October 1, on the Feast of the Holy Cross of Mt. Varak, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in North Andover, Massachusetts. During the Liturgy, His Eminence ordained Mr. Zareh Bulbulian as sub-deacon and also conducted a special prayer for Artsakh, responding to the call of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia for a worldwide “Day of Support” for Artsakh on that day.
He also read the encyclical of the Catholicos granting to the church’s pastor, Fr. Stephan Baljian, the right to wear the floral pilon, in recognition of his fifteen years of service as a priest of the Eastern Prelacy. His Eminence reflected on Der Stephan’s love for the Armenian Church and people from a young age and admonished him to continue in his service to our Lord and beloved Mother Church.
In his message of the day, Srpazan Hayr tied the cross of Jesus Christ to service and sacrifice, stating that, especially with the recent happenings in Artsakh tantamount to a twenty-first century genocide, we must remain unwavering in our faith, with the hope that emanates from the Holy Cross and which leads us to renewal and the ultimate victory in Christ’s resurrection. Solemn requiem service was offered for the souls of all who had died in the recent Artsakh tragedy, as well as for the deceased pastors, benefactors, Godfathers, National Representatives and Trustees of Saint Gregory Church.
Following the services, His Eminence presided over the parish’s 53rd Anniversary celebratory banquet and program. Joseph Almasian, Chair of the Board of Trustees, offered welcoming remarks and briefly reflected on the parish’s activities over the past year, as well as the future goals of the Board of Trustees, including the enhancement of the parish’s new Stewardship program that was unveiled earlier this year.
This year’s honoree was Mr. Paul Demoorjian, a faithful parishioner who has humbly served the Saint Gregory Church and Armenian community in countless ways over the years. Paul received this well-deserved award in the presence of his family members, to a standing ovation by the crowd.
For his ten years of service as pastor of Saint Gregory Church, Der Stephan was presented with a plaque and a gift from the community. In his remarks, Der Hayr thanked the Board of Trustees, National Delegates, choir members, altar servers, Sunday School staff, Ladies’ Guild, Men’s Club, Maintenance committee and in general all those who volunteered for or contributed to the church in any way over the past year. He reminded everyone that, while we lament the tragic loss of churches, monasteries and historical buildings in Artsakh, we have a responsibility to preserve the church that has been entrusted to our care, both the community and the property, for the present and future generations.
Contributing to the artistic portion of the program were an array of performers from many generations, beginning with Gabriel Bulbulian, who played Giligia on flute, and dancers Narineh Boloian and Milana Lombardi, who performed an Armenian traditional dance. Church choir director and soloist, Knarik Nerkararyan, offered two spiritual odes of Krikor Naregatsi, while husband Mardo Kevorkian sang a song in tribute to Artsakh. Mary Barooshian also played three solo selections of Armenian classical music on the piano.
In his closing remarks, Srpazan Hayr congratulated the church community and all sister organizations, encouraging them to continue their support of their beloved church and nation. He expressed his particular satisfaction seeing such musical and artistic talent on all levels and from many generations. “This is the beauty, joy and strength of a community’s life,” he said. The program ended with a benediction and the heartfelt singing of Giligia.