Saint Gregory Church Celebrates 48th Anniversary of Consecration, 10th Anniversary of Pastor's Ordination
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan visited Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church on Sunday, January 28, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon. His visit was on the occasion of our parish's annual celebration of the church's consecration, which took place 48 years ago on January 29, 1970, by then Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Hrant Khachadurian of blessed memory.
Our community also had additional cause to celebrate as this year marks the tenth anniversary of the ordination of our pastor, Fr. Stephan Baljian. Following the Divine Liturgy and Requiem service for all deceased pastors, Godfathers, Trustees, NRA delegates and Ladies' Guild members, a celebratory banquet was held in Jaffarian Hall in honor of these two joyous occasions.
Der Stephan was ordained by Archbishop Oshagan on February 17, 2008 at St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown. A highlight video of Der Stephan's ordination was shown during the banquet. After serving for five years as pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Granite City, Der Hayr has served the Merrimack Valley community for nearly five years as well.
The faithful of Saint Gregory's, as well as Der Stephan's family members were in attendance. Acting as M.C. for the day was Mr. Krikor Afarian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Several area clergy were also in attendance at the banquet. Der Stephan's father, Der Antranig Baljian, made congratulatory remarks and presented a gift on behalf of the family. He also revealed that as a young, nineteen year old college student preparing to enter the seminary he had traveled with his family from Worcester to witness the consecration of Saint Gregory Church.
The highlight of the afternoon came when our parish presented Der Hayr with his anniversary gift -- a new set of liturgical vestments, beautifully crafted by devoted Saint Gregory's parishioner and former seamstress for the Catholicosate of Cilicia, Mrs. Seta Kantardjian Ohannessian. Der Stephan was visibly moved to tears by this meaningful gift.
In his remarks, Der Stephan thanked the entire community for the gift, its acknowledgement of this important milestone in his ministry, the support he has received during his tenure as pastor and for its dedication to the mission and work of the Armenian Apostolic Church among the Armenian community of the Merrimack Valley area. He reflected on some of the benefits and difficulties of being a priest. He thanked Yeretsgin Alice and their two sons, Nishan and Hovhaness for their love and support. He also pointed out that it is not too early to begin planning for the next milestone ahead -- our church's Golden Jubilee, which is just a couple of years away! Turning his sentiments toward Archbishop Oshagan, he thanked Srpazan Hayr for travelling to North Andover to celebrate with our community and for the support that he had offered to the community and to himself during his tenure as Prelate. Inviting Srpazan Hayr to deliver his message, he assured him that wherever his future endeavors may take him, he would always have a home at Saint Gregory in North Andover.
Oshagan Srpazan, in his remarks, congratulated Der Stephan and the community on these dual achievements. He charged Der Hayr to remain in God's service and continue in the calling he had received at the Holy Altar ten years ago. He encouraged the parish to keep up the work of supporting the priest and the spiritual mission of the church. He expressed satisfaction at having seen the church grow with several new families and continue to thrive. He once again expressed confidence in our parish's ability, as it prepares to host the upcoming National Representative Assembly in May. At the banquet's conclusion, all joined in a moving rendition of "Giligia"