Photos courtesy of Violet Dagdigian, Mardo Kevorkian & James Haddad
On Sunday, September 8, Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley held its Annual Picnic. Celebrated on the Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, this year's picnic day had an added bonus to it-- the visit of our Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian. Archbishop Anoushavan presided over the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon of the day. His message focused on the genealogy of Jesus Christ and his being born from the Virgin Mary. His Eminence relayed "through God's providential grace given through Christ, we are all part of God's family now. Even though we may not know our own genealogy completely, due to the circumstances of genocide and upheaval experienced by the Armenian people, we know the origins and genealogy of our Lord, going all the way back to Abraham and to Adam, the first man. Because we received adoption through him, this becomes our genealogy too. This is how as a family, we are invited 'home' to be with God in his heavenly Kingdom."
Following the Divine Liturgy & Requiem services, the Annual Picnic got rolling as the noon hour approached. New and old faces, parishioners, friends and visitors arrived in droves during those early afternoon hours. The weather cooperated and provided a pleasant time for everyone involved.
Our dedicated team of volunteers, from the set-up crew to the kitchen crew, raffle tickets, clean-up and everything in between, was on hand to make for one of our most successful Annual Picnics in recent memory. The food was delicious. The band was top notch. It was great to see so many friends come out to support us. We are grateful to all our devoted workers and to all who came and supported this year's Annual Picnic making it a resounding success.
Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon was the Great Procession of the Holy Cross, which was led by Archbishop Anoushavan himself. While this ceremony would normally be conducted one week later, on the major Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we felt it would be fitting once again to offer this beautiful service on the day of the Annual Picnic so that our parishioners and friends in attendance would be inspired and spiritually fulfilled.
Joining Srpazan Hayr and Der Stephan were several clergyman from local Armenian churches, along with their families. The deacons and acolytes of Saint Gregory Church, as well as youth and members of the Board of Trustees also participated in the procession. Many of the faithful followed the Procession of the Cross as pilgrims, remembering our Lord's words when speaking of his impending crucifixion, "If anyone would serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, let my servant be there also." (John 12:25)
Following the Procession, Srpazan Hayr personally received the pilgrims and the rest of the faithful for a blessing and handed them each a sprig of the blessed Sweet Basil that lay at the foot of the cross.
Through the traversing of the four sides of our church property, with a special prayer and blessing being given for each one, the four corners of the world were blessed through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Cross. We were all reminded of God's precious gift to us in the form of the earth and nature. We found ourselves fortunate to be the beneficiaries of his graciousness as we enjoyed this year's Annual Picnic.