• The dedication of the sculpture of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the fourth in a series of church sculptures was held on Wednesday, June 17. The Primate presided over the ceremony with the participation of the members of the Hartoonian family, Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Deacon Artak Khachikyan and sculptor Gaspar Gharibian.

    In his message to the Hartoonian family, the Primate emphasized the importance of The Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the life of the Armenian Apostolic Church from its construction in the 10th century and later as the Catholicosate of Akhtamar from 1113 to 1895.

    Present at the ceremony were Mrs. Lida Hartoonian, the widow of Mr. Sookias Hartoonian, who also prayed alongside the clergy for the soul of her late husband.

    The Primate commended the Hartoonian family for their continuous support of Diocesan missions and projects.

    The miniature scale sculpture is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Sookias (+)  and Lida Hartoonian. 

  • Newly elected body of the Ladies Society Central Council convened first meeting under the auspices of Archbishop Primate Hovnan Derderian on June 18, 2015.

    LSCC members look forward to serve and strengthen the Western Diocese, established Ladies Society chapters as well as upcoming mission church chapters,  and to spread the word of God throughout all communities.  2015-2016 officers are:

    Chairlady:   Lena Simonian

    Vice Chairlady:  Melene Ouzounian

    Treasurer:  Aida Sethian

    Recording Secretary:  Aida Askejian

    Corresponding Secretary:  Lillian Bezdikian


    Arpi Barsam

    Araxie Boyamian

    Arpi Hovsepian

    Ramella Seropian 

  • In 2007, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian was appointed by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians to lead the formation an international ACYO. Since then, tremendous strides have been made to bring the Armenian youth closer to God by creating an unbreakable bond with Holy Etchmiadzin, the spiritual center of the Armenian people.

    In the words of Archbishop Derderian, "the purpose of the Pan-ACYO is to lead Armenian young people to God, to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, to the homeland and to a life
    filled with faith and Christian morals. The mission of the Pan-ACYO is to help the youth establish their life in dialogue with God and on paths leading to our Savior.

    The result of our efforts will be the creation and prosperity of the Armenian family. The path will be to transform our homeland and Holy Etchmiadzin into the starting point of our life and the Armenian family into the anchor of our existence."

    The inaugural Assembly of the Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization convened in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in July 2008 under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. More than 130 young men and women, representing 35 dioceses and pastorates of the worldwide Armenian Church, participated in the first assembly.

    One hundred fifty young delegates from around the world participated in the second Pan-ACYO Assembly which has held in July 2011 in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia.

    Earlier this year, the Primate traveled to Europe where he presided over regional conferences in Romania, Germany and Italy.

    Among the topics of discussion included the final draft of the ACYO By-Laws and the ACYO budget, inter-Diocesan relations between the Dioceses of Armenia and the Diaspora, the establishment of ACYO Sister-Diocese and the preservation of the Armenian identity in Europe, which at the directive of Archbishop Derderian would allow ACYO representatives from the Dioceses across Europe to develop a program by autumn 2016 aimed at strengthening the Armenian identity.

    Preparations are under way for the Third Pan-ACYO Assembly which will be held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from July 1-5, 2015 under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.  

  • July 1-5 - Third Pan-ACYO Delegates' Assembly


    July 8-9 - Pastoral Visit to Mexico City


    July 13 - August 9 - 2015 Summer Camp Sessions


    July 16 - Stewardship Reception


    July 19 - Pastoral Visit to St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem

  • A requiem service was held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin on June 24 in memory of national benefactor Mr. Kirk Kerkorian. Presided by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the service was attended by Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Galust Sahakyan, President of the National Assembly of Armenia, Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, ministers, members of parliament and hundreds of faithful.

    Prior to the Requiem Service, the dignitaries gathered at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library to take part in a session devoted to the great Armenian philanthropist.

    In his speech, the President reflected on Mr. Kerkorian's legacy. Since the devastating earthquake in 1988, Kerkorian lent a helping hand to Armenia, thus supporting his sisters and brothers. He was so modest that he never allowed anything in Armenia and another place to be named after him. Such proposals were made everywhere where he sponsored charitable projects, but Kirk Kerkorian remained firm in his position.

    We will not forget our hero, Kirk Kerkorian. We will remember that thanks to him, numerous roads, infrastructures and cultural centers of Armenia were built and renovated, thereby giving fresh impetus to Armenia’s economy. We are grateful to our great Armenian-American compatriot for his major contribution to Armenia’s life, and we will never forget it. Kirk Kerkorian’s memory will live forever in his mother country of Armenia" Prezident Sargsyan added.

  • For the Armenian people, this year is historic, indeed. 2015 marks the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide and millions of Armenians around the world will pay homage to our 1.5 million martyred ancestors. In the life of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the year also coincides with the sacred ceremonial rite of the Blessing of the Holy Chrism - Myuronorhnek, as it is commonly known. On the auspicious occasion, the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America happily announces a pilgrimage to Armenia (September 17 - October 1) to witness this one-of-a-kind ceremony in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the spiritual center of the Armenian people. Myuronorhnek, officiated by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, will take place on Sunday, September 27, 2015.

    During the 15 day trip, the pilgrims will also visit historic religious monasteries and churches in Armenia and in Artsakh, will tour scenic sites and will take part in memorable excursions in the regions of Armenia. 

    Pricing, accommodations and a detailed itinerary 

    Myuronorhnek occurs once every 7 years! Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to create a lifetime of memories! The price of the historic pilgrimage is $3400 per person based on double occupancy. 

    About the Blessing of the Holy Chrism (Courtesy of the Eastern Diocese)

    From the time of the first Catholicos of All Armenians, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the right to bless the Holy Chrism (or Muron) has been reserved solely for the consecrated head of the Church, the Catholicos of All Armenians.

    From the sacred bema of the holy site of the Descent of the Only Begotten, the Armenian Pontiff appeals for the actions of God on the Chrism which is being blessed, so that the Holy Spirit will bring to life the sweet scented oil, and transform it to the fountain from where the graces are granted from God. And beneath the joyful ringing of bells symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit, the old Chrism is combined with the new, as is the tradition of the continuous apostolic chain and foundation of our Church.

    Click here to learn more about the sacred ceremonial rite.

  • It's that time of the year again for campers to leave their cell phones, televisions and computers at home as they step away from city life and embrace the natural setting of God’s creation. 

    Since 1987, the Summer Camp Program of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America (a.k.a. Archbishop "Vatche Hovsepian" Summer Camp) has provided a serene retreat-like atmosphere where its community can enjoy their heritage, culture and faith. Located in the Sierra Mountains, roughly 35 miles east of Fresno, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian Summer Camp is a 160 acre property which includes a number of housing and recreational facilities for over 100 weekly participants stemming from various regions and ages within the Armenian community.

    The Camp offers a unique setting for the teachings of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Chapel sessions are conducted by clergy throughout the Diocese to ensure a continued cultivation of the Armenian Christian Faith. Classes in Armenian history, religion, culture as well as social issues are also part of the daily schedule. Taught by clergy, staff members, educators and community leaders, the classes are conducted in a workshop-like atmosphere cultivating active participation from the campers. Armenian dancing and cooking classes are also part of the curriculum. Campers leave camp with a renewed sense of pride in their heritage, faith and culture. They make friendships that last a lifetime.

    Don't miss your opportunity to enjoy summer to the fullest by engaging in sports activities, making new friends while learning about the Orthodox Faith in a friendly Christian atmosphere.

    Visit to learn more. 

    Camp 2015 Dates

    Week 1: July 12 - July 18 

    Week 2: July 19 - July 25 

    Week 3: July 26 - August 1 

    Week 4: August 2 - August 8

    Directors and Chaplains

    Week 1: Director Kevin Kalfayan;  Chaplain Fr. Sarkis Petoyan

    Week 2: Director Tamara Karakashian; Chaplain Fr. Yeghishe Ksachikyan

    Week 3: Director Mark Pryor; Chaplain Fr. Sarkis Petoyan

    Week 4: Director Vicken Kalamkarian; Chaplain TBA 

  • The series of church sculptures are the newest addition to the Diocesan complex. Sculpted from tufa stone, Armenian churches from various centuries vividly come to life. Located at the southeast entrance wall of the Western Diocese Turpanjian Diocesan Building, the sculptures add a scenic touch to the already decorated building which lies adjacent to St. Leon Armenian Cathedral, the spiritual center of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.

    On Tuesday, June 16, the Primate presided over the dedication of Garmravor Church, the third church in the series of church sculptures. Garmravor Church is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Lori Muncherian.

    Assisting the Primate during the ceremony were Archpriest Fr. Manoug Markarian and the Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan.

    The Primate expressed his gratitude to the Muncherian family for their support and dedication to the Western Diocese. 

  • As the number of students enrolled at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral's Little Angels Saturday School reaches 200, one this is definitely certain. The community values its culture and heritage. For centuries, the Armenian Church has been the center of the Armenian identity. In the Diaspora, the youth, in search of its roots, is learning the ancestral Armenian language.  

    For over five years, the "Little Angels Saturday School" of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral has been molding the essence of the Armenian identity. Operating under the auspices of the Western Diocese, Little Angels Saturday School employs a professional teaching staff who teach using the official textbooks prepared by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia.

    The school's year-end ceremony was held at the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall on Saturday, June 13. The school's principal Dn. Hovhannes Gumruyan delivered the welcoming remarks and spoke briefly about the history, mission and accomplishments of Little Angels Saturday School.

    In his pastoral message, the Primate commended the parents for their vital role in preserving the Armenian identity in the lives of their children. His Eminence encouraged the children and the youth to excel in their studies. "We are the heirs of an ancient language handed down to us by the Holy Translators. You have been entrusted to carry on their rich legacy. Learn it well as you are the future of the Armenian Apostolic Church."

    Archbishop Derderian expressed his wholehearted gratitude to Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, the Pastor of the Cathedral for his pastoral guidance, to the School's Principal Deacon Hovhannes Gumruyan for his leadership and to Dr. Ellie Antreassian, the Superintendent of the Saturday Schools of the Western Diocese for her professionalism and expertise.

    To the delight of the audience, the students sang traditional Armenian songs and recited poems by famous Armenian poets.   

    Due to overwhelming demand, the School a sixth grade will be open for students in the upcoming school year.

    Little Angels Saturday School Receives Top Prize

    Earlier this year, the Ministry of the Diaspora, in collaboration with the World Armenian Congress and the Union of Armenians in Russia held an annual contest in Armenia's capital Yerevan. The contest honors those institutions in the Diaspora with notable achievements in the preservation of the Armenian identity.

    The purpose of the competition is to encourage the noble yet arduous mission of preserving and strengthening the Armenian identity abroad. This challenging goal includes the proper education of the Armenian language amongst other key factors which help

    Contestants underwent a selective process. Institutions were judged based on their performances in four various categories. Fifteen countries including (Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Lebanon, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, German, Spain, Argentina and the United States of America) were represented in the competition. Of the ninety-five institutions or organizations that had applied from the aforementioned countries, the Little Angels Saturday School of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral was honored with the top prize as Guardians of the Armenian Language (organization).

    The Cathedral's Saturday School was awarded a Certificate of Excellence, a souvenir trophy as well as a monetary prize.

    The Very Rev. Fr. Ruben Zargaryan, a member of the Brotherhood of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin had accepted the top honor on behalf of the school.

    Such distinguished honor and recognition is truly humbling and spiritually uplifting. It allows the administrative staff to fulfill its responsibilities with a renewed sense of dedication.

    It is noteworthy that the school's administrative staff wishes to add to the monetary prize and donate the sum to a remote region in Armenia for the purpose of educational advancement.

  • It came at a time of fellowship, during a Bible Study, as believers had gathered to hear the Word of God in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The senseless massacre in Charleston, South Carolina which claimed the lives of 9 innocent people is the ultimate proof of the existence of evil. Moreover, it is also the proof of the absence of God in the lives of those whose hearts and souls are in a state of despair, torment and anguish. In his captivating prayer, St. Francis of Assisi wrote "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

    In his Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul the Apostle wrote "...there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it..." (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). As a family in pain, we join our fellow brothers and sisters in South Carolina in prayer and remembrance.

    As we mourn the loss of the nine innocent lives, let us kneel before the Almighty in fervent prayer. Let us beseech God to comfort the families of the victims with the divine graces of the Holy Spirit.

    May God's love and peace reign on Earth.

    Archbishop Hovnan Derderian