• On 11th July, the 2013-2014 academic year closing ceremony of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary was held in the Events Auditorium, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

    Also present at the ceremony were members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, Mr. Haig Didizian, benefactor of the Mother See, faculty, staff, and seminarians.

    Following the Lord's Prayer and the Gevorkian Theological Seminary hymn, His Grace Bishop Gevorg Saroyan, Head of the Educational Institutions of the Mother See and Dean of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, summed up the 2013-2014 academic year, noting the important achievements that have taken place in the educational institutions of the Mother See.

    Bishop Gevorg was particularly gratified that numerous guest lectures have been presented at the Gevorkian Theological Seminary by various well-known experts, and introductory and cultural visits have been organized. In his remarks, Bishop Gevorg noted that several groups have recently been formed at the seminary, the participation of seminary students in Church social programs, and the works that have been published as part of the «Sermatsan» series through the efforts of the students. The Dean also noted the fruitful cooperation that has taken place between the seminary and other educational and spiritual institutions in Armenia and abroad.

    Following the opening remarks, the students and choir of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary gave a performance of patriotic poems and songs, under the direction of Ruben Asatryan, celebrated member of the arts of the Republic of Armenia.

    The seminary's academic year closing ceremony was concluded with a blessing and a message from the Catholicos of All Armenians. His Holiness expressed his satisfaction with the successes that have been achieved and the progress that has been made within the educational establishments of the Mother See, expressing his appreciation for the efforts that have been made and the work that has been carried out by the administrative and academic staff. The Catholicos reaffirmed that the activities of the seminary must have as their aim the education of worthy priests, not only providing the students with knowledge, but cultivating within them the will and the vision to make their entry into the ecclesiastical world, so that they might be ready to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, continue the church fathers' bright and dedicated mission, and add new and glorious pages to the history of the Armenian church.

    Addressing this year's 32 graduates of the seminary and 10 graduates of the Priests preparation course, His Holiness advised: “Each of you should be well aware of his own unique way of making the Church stronger and more glorious, of carrying out the Lord's saving mission in the life of ourpeople, strengthening their spiritual life and leading them to salvation. The path to salvation is a difficult path, full of satanic temptations. We will accomplish all this if we have a vision, and the will to implement this vision. Otherwise, no-one coming out of the institution of the seminary will be able to achieve good results either for himself or for our holy Church. Every student who sits at a seminary desk must build his dream, his vision of his future activities as a priest. Thus our Church will become stronger, the mission of our Church will be successful, and the glory of the Holy Apostolic Church of Armenia will shine and radiate light on the life of our nation.”

    The Catholicos of All Armenians urged those students who are continuing their education at the seminary to remain faithful to the message of the seminary hymn, to be the children of a great vision, brave soldiers who will fight for and preserve our national values, and, making the best use of their time spent studying in this spiritual institution, to arm themselves with knowledge, strengthen themselves with dreams and visions, and, as worthy sons of our nation and worthy servants of our holy Church, justify all the hopes and expectations of our people. 

    The ceremony was closed with the “Protector” prayer and Pontifical blessings.

  • We are happy to announce that high-ranking clergymen H.G. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Ecumenical Director of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin; H.G. Bishop Hovnan Hakobyan, Grand Sacristan of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in France are presently visiting the Western Diocese.

    On July 20, Bishop Manukyan will be the guest celebrant and homilist at St. John Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood. On July 27, His Grace will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral. On August 3, Bishop Manukyan will be the celebrant at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Pasadena.

  • On July 18, 2014, Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon paid his first official visit to the Western Diocese. Dr. Gordon met with the Primate and Diocese’s Executive Director Harout Markarian. The history of cordial partnership between the Western Diocese and the City of Burbank and avenues to further enhance and strengthen the bond were discussed at length.

  • The Zorayan Museum Committee held its regular meeting on Thursday, July 17 at the Diocesan Headquarters in Burbank. Among the topics of discussion included the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Four major events are planned in commemoration of the Genocide’s Centennial.

    The Committee is planning to organize a joint exhibition with the Armenian Genocide Museum of Yerevan. In its initial planning stages, Mr. Hayk Demoyan, the Director of the Genocide Museum, will provide historical artifacts which in turn will be displayed in the Zorayan Museum as well as in numerous churches of the Western Diocese.

    Diocese’s TV and Media Director Vahe Sargsyan has been appointed as the liaison between the Diocese and Armenia’s Genocide Museum.

    The second event will be an exhibition to showcase the Genocide archival work of Mr. Ruben Adalyan from Washington D.C. Mr. Sepon Stepanian, a member of the Museum Committee will serve as the liaison. 

    A joint effort between Fr. Vazken Movsesian and Mr. Greg Beylerian is in the works to display Armenian Genocide-related materials at the Zorayan Museum in Spring of 2015. The liaison is the Ladies Society Central Council Chairlady Mrs. Lena Simonian.

    Lastly, the Committee will organize an exhibition of literary publications dedicated to Armenian Genocide. The exhibition will be solely for the Zorayan Museum. Its scheduled date will be determined during the next meeting which will take place on August 7, 2014.

  • The Ladies Society Central Council held its first official meeting on July 17, 2014 at the Western Diocese. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian opened the meeting with a prayer after which chairlady Lena Simonian quoted the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Mrs. Simonian said this will be the motto of this year’s activities.

    This year’s theme will be focused on the youth. Ladies Society members will invite newlywed couples to their respective churches and organize small receptions in their honor.

    Visitations of LSCC will focus mainly on the new parishes such as Victorville, Palmdale and Ventura County. This year is notable for the Ladies Society of St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem as on September 28th it will mark its 100th anniversary of establishment. In January of 2015, the LSCC will participate in Armenian Women Coalition-LA committee composed of 13 different women’s organizations to commemorate 100th anniversary of Genocide.

    The traditional women’s prayer day and Ladies Societies members’ fellowship luncheon will also take place in February with a unique religious and artistic program.

    Regular updates about the activities of the Ladies Society Central Council will be made available via the Diocesan website. 

  • Close to 65 friends and supporters of the Diocesan Etchmiadzin Children’s Fund (ECF) attended the fundraising mixer at Archbishop Hovnan Derderian’s residence in Burbank on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. The main purpose of this event was to attract new supporters and stir more excitement and enthusiasm before the Annual Gala, which is scheduled to take place on September 6, 2014. The Executive Committee, headed by Mr. Sayat Oruncakciel, this time targeted the younger generation inviting their peers and friends from school to participate. Among the guests were Bishop Hovnan Hakobyan from Etchmiadzin and Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, the pastor of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral.

    After Diran Avagyan’s brief introduction, Mr. Sayat Oruncakciel was invited to address the guests. In his welcoming remarks, the Chair thanked the attendees for their kind presence and stressed the importance of this noble mission. He called upon the guests to become spokespersons of this organization by promoting its events and getting actively involved in them, especially in the upcoming Gala in September, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year.

    The ECF was founded in 1990, after the devastating earthquake, to support the orphaned and disadvantaged children in Armenia. Since then, the Western Diocese annually allocates a significant amount of funds supporting hundreds of children. This year alone, the Diocese has transferred $36,000 thus far.

    While enjoying the gourmet dishes prepared by the wonderful ladies of the ECF Executive Committee, the guests indulged themselves in the beguiling tunes of saxophonist David Petrosyan.

    The Diocesan Primate, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian delivered the message of the day. Quoting attorney Albert Pike, the Primate said, ‘What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.’ Furthermore, the Archbishop noted, ‘And indeed, we have to become the embracing arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to extend help to our needy children, because they are the leaders of tomorrow.’

    In a cozy and amicable ambiance, the guests mingled together and posed for pictures.

  • On July 14, 2014, the Primate paid a visit to “Abp. Vatche Hovsepian Summer Camp” where he met with campers and counselors. Along with Diocesan clergy Archpriest Fr. Nareg Matarian and Rev. Fr. Asoghig Jamgotchian and with the participation of the young campers, His Eminence led a prayer service and delivered a motivational sermon emphasizing the role of the Church in the life of the youth.

    His Eminence also took part in recreational activities with the campers as he played table tennis and basketball with the youth. 

  • Under the auspices of His Eminence Abp. Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, a special 2-day Deacons’ training seminar was organized by the Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Pastor of St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles.

    The first session was held on Friday, July 11 at the Diocesan Headquarters in Burbank. The Primate delivered the welcoming remarks to the twenty-four acolytes, sub-deacons and deacons who participated in the training seminar. He encouraged the altar servers to remain resolute in their ancestral Christian Faith and loyal to the sacred teachings and traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church. His Eminence commended the initiative of Fr. Tachejian to continuously hold such seminars. In his remarks the Primate said “Beloved altar servers, your commitment to serving our Lord and Savior should resemble the saying of St. Paul the Apostle – To me, Christ is life. Your lives should become more meaningful through Christ, our Lord.”  

    Also taking part in the event was the Rev. Fr. Zacharia Saribekyan, Pastor of St. Apkar Armenian Church in Arizona and Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Pastor of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral.

    Following the Primate’s welcoming remarks, Rev. Fr.  Avedis Abovian, Pastor of the Armenian Church of Crescenta Valley, lectured on the topic of “The Deacon and his role in the Church.” Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian and Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan educated the altar servers about the history and the proper execution of the Blessing of the Four Corners of the World (Antastdan.)

    The symbolic meaning of church vestments was the topic of Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan, Pastor of St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem. Synaxis, edification and proclamation of the Nicene Creed was the topics of Archpriest Fr. Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian, the last lecturer of the evening.

    Following the seminar, the altar servers and the clergy gathered at the Primate’s residence where they enjoyed a pizza dinner.

    Saturday, July 12

    On the following day, the altar servers gathered at St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles for another informative session. The day’s first lecturer was the Diocese’s Librarian and Interreligious and Ecumenical Officer Mr. Hayk Madoyan whose topic of discussion was the significance and history of Divine Liturgy and the importance of scripture in the life of the Church.

    In a training session conducted by Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, the altar servers learned the liturgical chant “Etchmiadzin I Horeh.” The Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Pastor of the host parish, trained them the proper singing of the Gospel chant.

    The purpose and significance of Church Vessels (chalice, fans, candleholders, processional cross, censor, dove, paten, etc.) was introduced to the altar servers by Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian. 

    The Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist was the lecture topic of Rev. Fr. Vazken Movsesian, Pastor of St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale.

    Along with Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian and Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros the altar servers learned to prepare unleavened bread (nushkhar). Other training sessions included Bringing-Up the Chalice (Veraperoom) and Nicene Creed (Havadamk) and censing (poorvar) by Fr. Vartan, Fr. Haroutioun and Dn. Vatche Takarlekian.

    Click here to view more photos.

  • The Western Diocese presents an exciting addition to the weekly E-newsletter. Beginning July 18th, St. Leon Armenian Cathedral’s Sunday Bulletin will be available for viewing and download.

    Sunday Bulletin - July 6, 2014


  • July 14-15 – “Abp. Vatche Hovsepian” Summer Camp – Week 1


    July 16 – ECF fellowship event


    July 17 – Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders Meeting


    July 21-22 – “Abp. Vatche Hovsepian” Summer Camp – Week 2


    July 27 – St. Leon Armenian Cathedral – Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

    Presentation of Pontifical Encyclicals


    July 28-29 – “Abp. Vatche Hovsepian” Summer Camp – Week 3


    July 30 – Meeting with Adventist Hospital Board of Trustees