Divine Liturgy and Awards Ceremony on the Feast of St. Ghevond the Priest
On February 09, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church celebrated the Feast of St. Ghevond the Priest. On this occasion, 230 clergymen gathered in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, including 13 Diocesan Primates, 29 members of the Brotherhood of the Mother See: bishops, archimandrites and celibate priests; as well as 188 priests from the dioceses of Armenia and Artsakh. On the occasion of the feast, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Holy Mother of God Church of Vagharshapat. The celebrant was Rev. Fr. Khoren Maruqyan, spiritual pastor of the Holy Martyrs Church of Davitashen, Yerevan. ''Being in united and general prayer during the Divine Liturgy, we experience special and unique feelings, because we have the opportunity to renew priestly covenant of our spiritual service, to appreciate more the deep feelings and virtues of living with the meaning of "for the sake of faith'' and ''for the sake of the homeland" coming from the depths of the centuries’’- emphasized Fr. Khoren in his sermon, expressing his gratitude to His Holiness for the opportunity to be again under the hospitable warmth of Holy Etchmiadzin. Reflecting on the sacrament of the day, Rev. Fr. particularly mentioned: “There are dates in history for nations, the commemoration and celebration of which ignite fires in the hearts of the people. Such is the heroic battle of Ghevondyants and Vardanants in 451 in the history of our people. …the commemoration of the heroic battle of Ghevondyants and Vardanants is the story of our high consciousness of national dignity, patriotism, love toward God, martyrdom and existence. Today is the best day for every Armenian to renew his covenant to maintain the homeland, the Church, the language and rich culture. ''…The heroic battle of Ghevondyants and Vardanants is not just an epical episode, but a force that lives, inspires, organizes for centuries, a spirit, a pillar of fire always burning in the Armenian sky, which has guided our people troughout its history. That is why we exist today.” Reflecting on the heroic battle of our days, the Rev. Fr. Emphasized: “We had martyrs in the last war and we bow down before the spirit of their martyrdom. All of them were martyred with the heroic spirit of Ghondiants and Vardanants due to the conscious death toward homeland. No matter how bitter the outcome of the war was for us, we have no right to despair. Just as the price of the blood shed by the martyrs of Gondyants և Vardanants was the perpetuation of our existence, so the price of the sacrifice of the victims of the Artsakh war the guarantee of not committing genocide for the second time. On the occasion of the feast, Rev. Fr. brought his congratulations those present, granting “May God grant us all wisdom, strength and ability to guide our people according to the commandments of the Gospel by renewing the priestly covenant of spiritual service through our zealous, dedicated service and special warmth, to get rid of the hatred of disunity, intolerance, opposition and hatred, the traits that do not appreciate and do not value the role and significance of the Church, the phenomena that live in obsession and perversion, the penitent who does not seek care for salvation among us. The heroic spirit of Ghevondyants and Vardanats let be a weapon for us, so that we can restore and establish historical justice and the dreams of the martyrs of the homeland.” Following the Divine Liturgy, at the Events Auditorium of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary an awards ceremony was held for the priests serving in the Dioceses and Armenian Church institutions. His Eminence Archbishop Mikael Ajapahyan; Primate of the Diocese of Shirak, welcomed the clergy in commemorating the Feast of St. Ghevond the Priest. Following opening remarks, the awards ceremony was held. In appreciation of their long-term devoted and productive pastoral service to the Armenian Church, a number of clergymen were awarded the honor of Archpriest, as well as the right to wear the flowered copea and Pectoral Cross. Rev. Fr. Khoren Kirakosyan; Rev. Fr. Paruyr Avetisyan; Rev. Fr. Vahram Melikyan; Rev. Fr. Adam Makaryan (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin) and Rev. Fr. Tirayr Glchyan from the Armenian Diocese of France were elevated to the rank of Archpriest, for their long-term and dedicated pastoral service to the Armenian Church. Rev. Fr. Babken Hayrapetyan; Rev. Fr. Grigor Grigoryan; Rev. Fr. Tovma Andreasyan; Rev. Fr. Shmavon Ghevondyan; Rev. Fr. Zgon Abrahamyan; Rev. Fr. Vahan Araqelyan and Rev. Fr. Ararat Ordoyan from the Araratian Pontifical Diocese; Rev. Fr. Simeon Araqelyan and Rev. Fr. Torgom Margaryan from the Diocese of Tavoush; Rev. Fr. Haykaz Masoyan from the Diocese of Kotayk; Rev. Fr. Nshan Sargsyan from the Diocese of Gegharkunik; Rev. Fr. Sepouh Harutyunayan from the Diocese of Vayots Dzor; Rev. Fr. Tiratur Sardaryan from the Armenian Diocese in Germany; Rev. Fr. Psak Mkrtchyan; Rev. Fr. Hakob Grigoryan and Rev. Fr. Galust Sahakyan from the RA Army Chaplaincy were granted the honor to wear the ornamented cope. Rev. Fr. Varazdat Najaryan and Rev. Fr. Gyut Galstyan from the RA Army Chaplaincy; Rev. Fr. Makar Galamdaryan and Rev. Fr. Narek Antonyan from the Diocese of Shirak; Rev. Fr. Hamazasp Hageyan from the Diocese of Kotayk; Rev. Fr. Simeon Hovhannisyan from the Diocese of Gegharkunik; Rev. Fr. Levon Davtyan and Rev. Fr. Vagharsh Hakobyan from the Diocese of Gougark; Rev. Fr. Gevorg Abyan and Rev. Fr. Artashes Hakobyan from the Diocese of Masyatsotn; Rev. Fr. Beniamin Tsaturyan from the Diocese of Artsakh; Rev. Fr. Ashot Abrahamyan from the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Mother Cathedral of Yerevan; were granted the right to bear pectoral crosses. At the end of the Award Ceremony, the Catholicos of All Armenians conveyed His Blessings and Pontifical message to the clergy. Warmly congratulating the clergy on the occasion of the feast, the Armenian Pontiff wished them to continue their mission with the spirit of St. Ghevond and to deserve to be called the descendant of our holy fathers; as well as, be appreciated and honored by the generations for their service toward the nation and the Homeland. His Holiness also expressed His congratulations to the clergymen awarded, emphasizing that He is proud of the clergy who complete their service with commitment and devotion. His Holiness emphasized, that according to the established tradition, the clergymen unite in the Mother See not only to enjoy the feast, to celebrate and ask for the intercession of St. Ghevond, but also to refer to the mission to which they are called; to compare their activities with the service and spirit of the St. Ghevond the Priest; to see if they are faithfully following the same course. According to the Catholicos of All Armenians; in the historical reality, Ghevond the Priest has turned into a symbol from the clergy withstanding the Persian King Hazkerti in the Battle of Avarayr. Thus, saying “Ghevond” we mean the clergymen acted and served throughout the centuries, as well as the clergy serving today, who, with dignity, with the consciousness of their role, with deep faith, with the love of Christ and the Homeland, serve our people; our Holy Church and Fatherland. The Armenian Pontiff stressed that at all times, both in the periods of the rise of national life and in the moments of difficult trials of our people, our spiritual fathers have been at a height worthy of the clergy. On this occasion, the Catholicos of All Armenians reflected on the current difficult situation; conveying His prayer and Blessings to the brave sons, who gave their lives to the sacred deed of defending our homeland, expressing His respect to all courageous soldiers and commanders. His Holiness also highly appreciated the spirit and zeal of the Armenian clergy during the days of the war, both on the frontline and in the country. In the current difficult conditions, the Armenian Pontiff emphasized the importance of the mission of the clergy to strengthen the people with courage; so that our people can overcome the pain and sorrow of the loss, and fill with hope, faith and optimism for the future; such as our nation has rejected the fear and despair with the faith of Christ throughout the history. “Today, I want to convey my exhortation and message to all of you, to continue your service with the same consciousness and responsibility, with the same courageous spirit and commitment. We live in difficult times; our people are facing many trials. And in this time, our Church and our clergy have an important role. We must be able to overcome this difficult situation, if we implement our mission as a Church and as a clergy with courage and bravery. We must be able to convey right messages to our people, to provide them right leadership. We must be able to extinguish the wrong courageously, the bad, the evil, the illegal; and encourage, stimulate, appreciate and honor which is good, righteous, honest, true, patriotic, a nation-building and God-blessed. Only in this way will we be able to bring our people and our country out of this difficult situation”, -stated in part the Pontiff of All Armenians; noting the importance of the Armenian clergyman not to be taken away by the winds of the time, but should always look to the course of eternity. At the conclusion, His Holiness asked the Lord to strengthen our clergy with His graces, so that they will continue their useful and honorable service toward our nation and Fatherland; as well as, with their service they will glorify the name and reputation of the Armenian Church in those times. The Pontiff of All Armenians wished that God keep our country and its people at peace under His all-protecting Right Hand and blessings; to overcome those difficult period with victory, hope and strong faith.