• Memorial Day is not a vacation day. Memorial Day is truly a gift in our spiritual life when we remember in our prayers the courageous members of the military who sacrificed their lives for this freedom-loving country and valued their God-given lives in a most dignified way in the service of God. Let us all pause for a minute and reflect on their vision of love and compassion for the blessed country of the United States of America. They died leaving behind a rich legacy of dedicated service. The peace and the prosperity that we all cherish today is the fruit of their labor and sacrifice.

    I convey my message to the elders of the community and all parents to teach their children and the younger generations to revere the memory of the guardians of the USA, for in doing so, we cultivate their souls to become noble individuals and exemplary citizens.

    May the Almighty God rest the souls of the brave soldiers of the military in peace.

    Archbishop Hovnan Derderian


  • St. Peter Armenian Church of Van Nuys celebrated its annual Dream Gala at the George Deukmejian Grand Ballroom of Ararat Home on Saturday, May 16, 2015. More than 400 friends and supporters of the St. Peter Van Nuys parish gathered at the beautifully decorated venue in celebration of the recently acquired church property.

    The gala commenced with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. which was followed by dinner and program at 7.

    Co Chairs of the 2015 Gala Committee Derik Ghookasian and Audrey Matoesian welcomed the guests. The Pastor of the host parish Archpriest Fr. Shnork Demirjian served as the Master of Ceremonies. In his remarks, Father Demirjian thanked the invaluable support of the parishioners in realizing the acquisition and contributing to growth of the heart of the Armenian-American faithful community of the San Fernando Valley. "We are modern day pioneers as we are called to build the future of St. Peter Armenian Church," said Father Shnork. "I pray that all of us will seize this opportunity and claim the destiny in our hands as we embark on a divine goal to reach and enrich our community with the love and peace that emanates from the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," he continued.

    The Invocation was delivered by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian.

    Remarks were also made by the Honorable Adrienne Krikorian, Parish Council Chairman of St. Peter Armenian Church who emphasized the importance of the new property as a means of reaching out to the 100,000 Armenian-Americans in the San Fernando Valley. "It is time to rejuvenate our community, to motivate our youth to attend and serve their church with love, and to better serve our elderly. We must give our community a strong reason to join and be active members of our congregation," said Judge Krikorian. 

    Architect Camille Mugrdechian-Armen and Kevork Zoryan, Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee shared their insight about the expansion project.

    In his closing remarks the Primate reflected on the visionary founders of St. Peter Armenian Church. "This day is certainly a milestone in the life of St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church as you launch a new dimension in your spiritual life with the purchase of the new property. For every step we take, we remember the founders, who had the vision and courage to give birth to this church." His Eminence also commended the dedicated service of Archpriest Fr. Shnork Demirjian, the Parish Council, the Ladies Society and all auxiliary bodies of the parish for their loyalty and humility. "I extend my warmest gratitude and sincere appreciation to your beloved pastor Archpriest Fr. Shnork whose leadership is exceptional and most uplifting. I thank him and his beloved Yeretzgin for their dedication and love. I also extend my special thanks to all the members of the parish council and auxiliary bodies for their continuous support. Above all, my thanks to you all for your active engagement in the life of the church. This new project will bring much blessings to you all."

    Guests were entertained by the talented singer Mark Verabian whose band took the audience on a musical journey covering all styles of music, including jazz, r&b, rock, latin and classical. 

    In October 2014, St. Peter Armenian Church realized the long-term dream of acquiring the neighboring St. Mark's property. The expansion master plan will provide a modern and elegant backdrop of the church community's continued growth.

    Planning has begun to evaluate the possible ideas including a cultural center/banquet hall, a sports complex, meeting rooms/offices and a redesigned arrival entry and parking area.

  • The Feast of the Holy Ascension (Hampartzoum) was observed by the Armenian Apostolic Church on May 14, 2015. The feast marks the ascent of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven on the 40th day after His glorious Resurrection. 

    At St. John Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood, the day's celebrant was the Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, the Pastor of St. James Armenian Apostolic Church, Los Angeles. With Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz Yardemian and clergy of the greater Los Angeles area participating, the service was presided by the Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

    The Divine Liturgy was followed by the 11th Annual Hampartzum Celebration at the Taglyan Cultural Center. More than 300 people attended the luncheon organized by the Hampartzum Committee of the Western Diocese and co-chaired by Mrs. Arpi Barsam and Mrs. Araxie Boyamian.

    The event’s program commenced with the welcoming remarks by Mrs. Boyamian in English and Mrs. Barsam in Armenian and was followed by the delivery of the invocation by Archpriest Fr. Manoug Markarian, Pastor of St. John Garabed Armenian Church. Mrs. Hermine Janoyan served as the Master of Ceremonies.

    During the luncheon, guests enjoyed a video presentation of upbeat Armenian folkloric songs.

    In his remarks, the Primate reflected on the significance of the Feast of the Ascension. “Through the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we, as faithful are called upon to renew our covenant with God,” said the Primate, in part.  The Primate expressed his gratitude to Drs. Petros and Karine Taglyan for graciously hosting the luncheon throughout the years, congratulated Mrs. Armine Taglyan, an exemplary faithful member of St. John Garabed Church for her years of dedication and benevolence to the Armenian Apostolic Church, and presented her a beautifully hand crafted porcelain plate from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. 

    The Primate commended the tireless efforts of the committee for another successful celebration of Hampartzum. His Eminence noted the selfless service of Arpi Barsam and Araxie Boyamian, Co-Chairs; and committee members: Hermine Janoyan Vice Chair, Arlet Bijackji, Recording Secretary, Silva Kendirjian Treasurer, Nazik Baktiarian, Alice Chakrian, Belet Shahbazian, and Leann Stepanian. 

    Musical selections from the "Anoush" Opera were wonderfully performed by young promising pupils of Mrs. Elize Tashjian, Maral Kurdian and Mishell Rood accompanied by Jenny Khatchadourian, and solo dancer Ani Amirkhanian from “Nairie Dance Studio.” 

    Aleen Amarayan, singer and talented guitarist, performed popular Armenian songs.

    Guests enjoyed reading the messages of the traditional “vijag”, and shopped from the many exquisite boutiques.

    The event concluded with Archpriest Fr. Manoug Markarian’s benediction.

  • June 1 – Visit to Bible Study Group – St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale


    June 2 – First Meeting of the 2015-2016 Clergy Executive Committee


    Evening: Sepetjian Book Presentation


    June 3 - Visit to Bible Study Group – St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys

    Evening: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Event


    June 4-6 – Pastoral Visit to St. Kevork Armenian Church in Portland, Oregon

    Cross-stone consecration dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide


    June 5 – Northern Regional Clergy Meeting – Portland, Oregon


    June 7Evening: Armenian Society of Los Angeles Event


    June 13 – Little Angels Saturday School Graduation Ceremony

    AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School Graduation Ceremony

    AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian School Graduation Ceremony

    Evening: Cathedral Annual Gala Banquet


    June 14 – Atanian Exhibition – Zorayan Museum


    June 18 – Little Angels Academy Graduation Ceremony

    Evening: ECF Fundraiser


    June 20 – 27 – Camp Counselors Training Program Week

  • 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. 

    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. Click here for pricing, accommodations and a detailed itinerary. 

    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.

  • On May 17, 2015, the Los Angeles Chapter of Vasbouragan Society marked the 100th anniversary of the Resistance at Van (April 19 - May 4, 1915) with a grandiose celebration consisting of a rich cultural program at the Hoover High School Auditorium in Glendale.

    The program included remarks from Mr. Michael Sosikian, President of the Defense Council of Western Armenia, musical and dance performances, as well as recitations. The Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz. V. Yardemian and Archpriest Fr. Hovsep Hagopian attended the event and represented the Primate.

    The Resistance at Van was an insurgency against the Ottoman Empire's attempts to eliminate the Armenian population in the province of Van. Based mostly in the city of Van, it was one of the few instances during the Armenian Genocide when Armenians, in an act of self-defense, fought against the Ottoman Empire's armed forces. The fighting lasted from April 19, 1915 until May 4 of that year, when the Ottoman army retreated as Russian forces approached the city.

  • The 51st ACYO Sports Weekend is almost here. Starting Friday, May 22, teams from ACYO chapters across the Western Diocese will compete for top-prize honors in various sports including basketball, volleyball, dodge ball, table tennis, backgammon and tug-of-war.

    Buchanan High School (1560 N. Minnewawa Ave., Clovis, CA 93619) will be host to this year's ACYO games. 

    Check out the ACYO-WD Facebook page for more info.

  • On April 24 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and other dignitaries commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by unveiling the Colorado State Capitol Khachkar, an intricate monument crafted in Armenia dedicated in honor of the victims of all crimes against humanity.

    Attended by more than 500 Armenian Americans and their supporters, the commemoration began at 12:30 with the bells of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Basilica tolling 100 times. Dr. Derek Everett, professor of Colorado history and state capitol historian, opened the event with archival quotes of Colorado’s heroic response to the Armenian Genocide.


    Program Included a Christian Prayer, Native Blessing, and Gratitude

    Rev. Fr. Arshag Khachadourian led a joint prayer, followed by a Ute Indian blessing of the day by Ernest House, Jr., Executive Director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Committee chair Anahid Katchian shared the story of her father’s survival and introduced Dr. Pru Marshal, granddaughter of Near East Relief hero Jacob Kunzler who saved thousands of Armenian orphans. AOC board president Sona Hedeshian thanked the leadership of Colorado, as well as the Armenian community for their continuous support.

    Colorado Dignitaries Unveiled Khachkar

    At the unveiling of the khachkar, Governor Hickenlooper was joined by long-time supporters of the Armenian community – former statehouse Speaker Andrew Romanoff, former state senator Lois Tochtrop, and state senator Lina Newell, as well as Executive Director of Youth Foundation of Armenia Alexander Ter-Hovakimyan, and local Armenian American leaders Sona Hedeshian, Anahid Katchian, and Simon Maghakyan.

    Alexander Ter-Hovakimyan, who donated the khachkar, gave remarks in English and Armenian. Simon Maghakyan, chair of the Khachkar Committee, closed the event with a message of hope and resilience. 

    Earlier that day, the Colorado State Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed and cosponsored Senate Joint Resolution 27, which commemorates the Armenian Genocide, in the presence of dozens of community members.

    Watch the videos of the House and Senate votes.

    Joint Celebration of the Divine Liturgy

    On Sunday April 26, Rev. Fr. Arshag Khachadourian participated in a joint celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the First Baptist Church of Denver, where the Armenian community was welcomed by Pastor Brian Henderson. At the reception after the Liturgy, Pastor Brian displayed newly-framed early 20th photographs of First Baptist Church parish members, who had participated in the local Near East Relief effort of raising funds for Armenian genocide orphans. First Baptist Church was also the official host of the 1919 Colorado State Convention for the Near East Relief, as part of a nationwide movement that ultimately saved over 100,000 Armenian orphans. 

    Background Information

    Armenians of Colorado, Inc. (AOC) was established in June 1980 as a 501(c)3 non-profit cultural organization. Its purpose is to create a cohesive Armenian community and to further the understanding of Armenian history, culture, language, customs, and heritage. AOC actively supports issues and concerns of the Armenian American community in Colorado as well as those identified within the Armenian Diaspora throughout the world.

    Colorado State Capitol’s khachkar is the first monument of its kind on statehouse grounds in the United States. The khachkar was crafted in Armenia by famous master Varazdat Hambardzumyan also known as Varpet Varo. The design was based on a 1980s photograph by Argam Ayvazyan of a Djulfa (Jugha) khachkar destroyed in 2005.

    The khachkar was installed by Denver-based Erickson Monuments and added to the newly-renovated Armenian Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Colorado State Capitol. The Colorado State Capitol khachkar was authorized by Governor John Hickenlooper and the entire Colorado General Assembly through Senate Joint Resolution 23 in 2013.

  • On May 17, (Second Palm Sunday) the Primate presided over the service at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral. The day's celebrant was the Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Pastor of the Cathedral Parish.

    Archbishop Derderian delivered the day's sermon wherein he emphasized the significance of the Feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost. "The feasts are essential in the life of the Church and in the spiritual life of the individuals. On the day of the Ascension, Christ charged His disciples with the commandment to go into the world and preach the Word of God while Pentecost is the day where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and graced upon them the divine gifts to be shared with the people of God.

    Therefore, both of these feasts Ascension and Pentecost are closely related to the mission of the Church and the faith. Through the celebration of Ascension and Pentecost, we reawaken within our spirituality our Christian calling to do the work God has entrusted to us.

    The Primate also called upon to renew their covenant with God and to actively partake in the life of the Church stating "This journey is a time to reconnect with God. It is a time to be engaged in the Church, for the Church helps as we walk in the presence of God."

  • On Friday, May 12, the Primate and Diocesan Council Chair Joseph Kanimian, Esq. welcomed AGBU President Mr. Berge Setrakian and AGBU Vice-President Mr. Sinan Sinanian to the Western Diocese.

    Archbishop Derderian reflected on the overall success of the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide not only on the West Coast but globally, overall. His Eminence recalled the historic March for Justice on April 24th which was the second largest march in the history of the State of California. The leaders also discussed the success of the recent commemorative events in Washington, D.C. including the historic ecumenical service at the National Cathedral, the memorable concert at the Strathmore, the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the subsequent banquet at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

    The Primate also spoke to Mr. Setrakian and Mr. Sinanian about the Diocese’s involvement in the life of AGBU schools whether it is through regular pastoral visits, scholarship allocation, distribution of Holy Communion to students, annual welcoming reception of the graduating classes and the participation of the AGBU schools in the yearly Diocesan Christmas Pageants. 

    Mr. Setrakian and Mr. Sinanian thanked the Primate and the Diocesan Council Chair Joseph Kanimian, Esq. for the warm welcome and looked forward to continuing the collaboration between the AGBU and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America for many years to come. 

    Having been an active member of AGBU structures since his early youth, Mr. Setrakian has served as President of the AGBU since 2002.