Parishioners & Youth Honored by Prelate
Photos courtesy of the Armenian Prelacy.
The National Representative Assembly’s Banquet and conferring of awards took place on Friday, May 11, at the charming and picturesque Harris’ Pelham Inn in Pelham, New Hampshire, under the auspices of the Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan. The National Anthems were sung by Knarik Nerkararyan and the opening prayer was offered by the Prelate. Jack Mardoian, chairman of the Executive Council offered opening remarks prior to the serving of dinner which was a delicious and traditional “Thanksgiving Dinner,” with all the trimmings.
Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of the host parish, St. Gregory Church in North Andover, Massachusetts, welcomed everyone noting, “It has been our honor to be your hosts; we are grateful for the opportunity to gather us all together in fellowship this week.” After dinner, Der Stephan guided the program forward with the presentation of various awards.
The first honorees were the winners of the Prelacy Youth Award. This year's recipients were Anna Shahtanian, daughter of Richard and Karen Shahtanian, and Meline Almasian, daughter of Joe and Kim Almasian. These two well-deserving young ladies have been active in all aspects of community life from a young age and have been passionate about serving their church and community.
Next, Der Stephan introduced James and Ann Apovian, referring to them tongue-in-cheek as the "power couple" (to use a relatively new phrase) of Saint Gregory Church. Der Hayr highlighted some of the ways that this power couple has served Saint Gregory Church since its inception: Ladies' Guild, Men's Club, Board of Trustees, working the kitchen at events, cooking and baking for bazaars and a host of others, always working together for the betterment of their church and community. The family also generously donated the new baptismal font during the renovations of the church sanctuary in 2012.
The next honoree was none other than Ms. Sharke' Der Apkarian, who has served our church on the local and national levels in many capacities. She has served as a member of the Board of Trustees, a National Representative (at present) and as an executive member of the Ladies' Guild. She also served several terms on the Executive of the Prelacy's National Association of Ladies' Guilds. Her dedication to those in our community who are in need -- particularly the elderly -- is unsurpassed, and she has been invaluable in helping Der Hayr identify those who are in need of visitation or other pastoral care. Her dedication to the Armenian Church and local community is evident to all who come in contact with her.
The last honoree announced was Mr. Armen Kourkounian. Armen has been an immense resource to Saint Gregory Church since his arrival in our community some 20 years ago. His faith, his generosity, his innovative ideas and rational approach to tackling challenges have all proven very valuable in his involvement with the Board of Trustees, the Men's Club and other endeavors. He has even served a term on the Prelacy's Executive Council, employing his unique skill set for the betterment of that body.
Yet, there was a surprise... at least to the recipient of the next award! The members of the committee felt that along with recognizing Armen Kourkounian, they simply could not neglect to recognize his dear wife, Christine Kourkounian, for all her years of service as well. With just as much devotion and vigor, she has served her beloved Saint Gregory Church, her church since childhood. For many years, Christine served faithfully and skillfully as chair lady of our Board of Trustees. She also agreed to chair our 2018 National Representative Assembly steering committee, a task that she executed masterfully. We are all thankful for her leadership and her role in making the 2018 N.R.A. in North Andover a resounding success.
And with one final surprise, Archbishop Oshagan called to his side three of our dedicated Prelacy clergymen: Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Khosrovian and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian. Since it was to be his last NRA banquet as Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, he decided it would be a good time to bestow upon these three the honor of wearing the pectoral cross, which is customarily given by decree of the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia after five years of service as a priest. Der Torkom, Der Mikael and Der Kapriel all expressed their gratitude to Archbishop Oshagan. The program ended with a benediction and the singing of "Giligia."
Der Stephan introduced Sharke Der Apkarian as one of the first parishioners he met when he assumed pastorship of St. Gregory Church. Archbishop Oshagan presented her with a Certificate of Merit in recognition of her varied services to the church as a member of the Board, a delegate to the NRA, executive on the National Association of Ladies Guilds, and Outreach Committee.
Before closing the awards ceremony, His Eminence announced another surprise—actually three surprises—when he called upon Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of Sourp Asdvatzadzin of Whitinsville, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz of Providence, and Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, pastor of St. Gregory of Granite City, to come forward and accept the presentation of the Pectoral Cross ( Lanchakhach ) to wear on official occasions that is an honor bestowed on deserving clergymen.