• Excitement filled the air on Sunday, February 22nd for the Fifth Annual Junior Godfathers Day despite the gloomy weather. Five months after the consecration of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral, the Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian officially announced that the last Sunday in February would be dedicated to the Cathedral’s Junior Godfathers.

    The day’s festivities commenced with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by the Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Pastor of the Cathedral. Tens of Junior Godfathers had participated in the service. At the conclusion of the service, Father Shahbazyan called all Junior Godfathers and Sunday School students to the nave. The priest talked about the worldly eagerness to be number one, namely in competitive events. The priest gave each child an envelope containing a number and requested that the envelopes be opened simultaneously by all children. To their surprise, every child’s envelope contained the number one. “You are all number one in the eyes of God. Fill your lives with good deeds and rest assured that God loves each of you to the extent that He gave His Only Begotten Son for you,” said Father Shahbazyan.

    Father Khajag extended the blessings of the Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian to the children and conveyed Archbishop Derderian’s genuine wishes to the children and their parents. The Cathedral’s Pastor expressed his wholehearted gratitude to the Junior Godfathers’ Committee under the leadership of Mrs. Alice Chakrian for their selfless dedication to one of the dearest programs of the Western Diocese. He also congratulated this year’s newest Junior Godfathers Lora Kotikian, Emma Kotikian, Edward Ara Avakian, Leo Royce Palikyan, David Papazian, Yana Rose Nunn, Isabella Buniatyan and Lucine Ksajikyan. “You are the guardians of the Cathedral and your participation in this noble program demonstrates your Christian spirit and your love for the Armenian Church,” said Father Shahbazyan addressing the newest Junior Godfathers.

    At the conclusion of the church service, the newest Jr. Godfathers and their parents took part in the ceremonial unveiling of their names on the Pomegranate Wall of the Cathedral. The ceremonial event was followed by a special reception organized by the Junior Godfathers Committee for the children and the parents. Delicious IN’N’OUT burgers were served to all children and parents who gathered at the Paul Brothers Galleria of the Western Diocese for fellowship.

    Click here to learn more and to apply for the Junior Godfathers Program.


    Click here for more pictures from the 5th Annual Junior Godfathers’ Day.

  • 2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Armenians all over the world will unite to commemorate this historic, tragic and unforgettable atrocity. Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and the leadership Archpriest Fr. Moushegh Tashjian, Pastor, St. Mary Armenian Church in Costa Mesa (148 22nd Street, Costa Mesa) will host a unique commemorative event as well.

    The church announced the formation of the Centennial Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee chaired by Dr. Levon Keleshian and had its first meeting on September 22, 2012. The Centennial Committee had two objectives: first to erect a monument on the church grounds; second, to organize a major event in Orange County to commemorate the genocide.

    After in-depth discussion and vetting of nearly ten designs from six artists during the past year, the Committee selected Mr. Harout Joulhaian’s Genocide/Renaissance as the monument design. Mr. Joulhaian’s design expressed our sad and tragic past very effectively with the combination of its black granite foundation and two white marble pillars supporting a cross, demonstrating our strong Christian faith and belief of a brighter future. In addition, the monument will have a water fountain with a flame at its center, residing on a black granite foundation symbolizing the life and immortality of the 1.5 million Armenian Genocide Martyrs.  

    It will be blessed and dedicated on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 12:30pm following church services by His Eminence Arch. Hovnan Derderian, Primate, with the participation of St. Mary parishioners, civic leaders and dignitaries. 

    A commemorative event will follow at the Robert B. Moore Theater on the campus of Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa at 4:00 pm. The event will be presided by the Primate of the Western Diocese Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. The program will be headlined with a keynote speaker, Armenian folk music, and poetry.   The Armenian Society of the Los Angeles Chorus with an orchestra conducted by Maestro Mikael Avetisyan will close the event. The attendance will be free and we encourage everyone to attend this significant event.

  • A regular meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council convened in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from February 24 through 26, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, with the attendance of the general members. The first session was opened with the Lord’s Prayer and remarks by His Holiness. His Holiness noted that this was the first meeting being convened during the cherished year of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and the agenda included organizational issues related to the anniversary events, and various ecclesiastical and diocesan matters. The Supreme Patriarch expressed his wish to the members for productive sessions, noting confidence that the decisions adopted during the meeting will benefit the scheduled events, support the effective offering of religious services, and help the progress of the spiritual life of the church.

    The rotating co-chairman for the meeting sessions were His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople; Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of North America; Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of North America; and His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan, Chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

    The Supreme Spiritual Council members discussed the commemorative events and the Canonization service which will be held from April 22 to 24 in Mother See. Reports were presented by His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan and His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukyan. The council discussed issues related to the April 22 Vigil, the Divine Liturgy and Canonization services on April 23, details about the preparation of icons and reliquaries, the harmonic collaboration process of the canonization hymn, as well as the participation of the Armenian Church in other commemoration events.

    At the invitation of the Mother See, over 70 representatives from 38 churches, ecumenical organizations, and religious organizations, will participate in the April 22-24 events. Among them are four leaders from the Sister churches and three from the Eastern Orthodox family, eight presidents of ecumenical organizations, general secretaries, delegations from the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Churches, and clergymen from Rwanda and Darfur. The events will be attended by representatives from all Armenian Diocese over the world.

    The Supreme Spiritual Council expressed satisfaction at the work that had been completed, and instructed the presenters to continue the proper organization of the planned events with the same zeal.

    His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukyan presented a report on the commemoration events for the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, scheduled to be held in the spiritual centers of the Sister Churches and in the Armenian communities of the Diaspora.

    The Council reviewed a draft of the general guidelines for the Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization, in a report that was presented by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. The Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization will convene its third International Assembly in the Mother See in July, 2015.

    His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan presented an annual report on the activities of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin for 2014, in which reports were made on the Pontifical visits and receptions during the last year, the intra-church and Ecumenical projects implemented, the Brotherhood of the Mother See, activities of the departments and programs of the Mother See, and the Church’s activities in the preaching, educational and social mission.

    It was noted that the Catholicosate of All Armenians has 737 clergymen - 56 Archbishops and Bishops, 43 Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, 50 monks, 446 married priests and 142 Deacons. Last year, 3 Reverend Fathers were ordained and consecrated to Bishop, and 27 married priests and 22 deacons were ordained.

    In 2014, 982 employees worked for the Mother See. There were 230 students studying in the religious- educational institutions of the Mother See - 104 in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, 74 in the Vaskenian Theological Academy at Lake Sevan, 39 in the Harichavanq Turpanjian High School, and 23 in the accelerated clergy training course. The 7 Youth Centers operating through the joint sponsorship of the Mother See and AGBU; educated more than 3,000 children and youth, and in 2014 organized over 225 various events on the occasion of church, national and state Feast days.

    Last year, the Mother See continued to implement extensive religious programs in different areas of our national life: public education, youth organizations, the RA Armed Forces, the penitentiary institutions, and as well as in the monasteries under the direct supervision of the Mother See.

    The Social Service Department of the Mother See was founded in January, 2014 under the presidency of His Holiness, and has offered assistance through all possible means to the most vulnerable population groups. In the reporting year, a large volume of support has been implemented, including cash assistance, to 25,000 people.

    In the Armenian and Diaspora dioceses, 18 new churches were consecrated in 2014, and 98 churches are under construction or renovation. 896 parishes and mission parishes operate within the dioceses, with 241 Sunday Schools.

    The Council also received the 2014 Financial Report of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. During the sessions, reports were submitted about the selection process for primates of the Armenian Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland; and the Armenian Diocese of Bulgaria, as well as issues related to Holland, Belgium and the Far East ecclesiastical communities were discussed.

    The meeting was closed with remarks by the Catholicos of All Armenians and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

  • We are happy to inform the entire faithful that the Retreat Committee of the Western Diocese is planning yet another exciting spiritual retreat for the year 2015 in the scenic Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, where you can indulge in spiritual meditation and study in a tranquil atmosphere (700 N. Sunnyside Ave., Sierra Madre, CA 91024). The retreat is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 17 at 10:00 a.m. and will continue through Wednesday, March 18, 11:00 a.m.

    The theme of the retreat is “The Beatitudes or the Beautiful Attitudes.” How ought we to live? Is it simply by a set of worldly rules or by inner transformation of attitude and outlook? The Beatitudes outline the ethical and moral principles of a Christian, and thus are contradictory to the society’s way of living by its nature. If our goal is to become like Christ, then the Beatitudes should challenge the very essence of our way of living. After all, life on earth is a preparation for the eternal life, where we will dwell in the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ.

    We will discuss the Beatitudes one by one, their societal implications, as well as explore how they can be applied in daily life. Click here for registration form.

    The newly ordained Fr. Serovbe Alanjian will be heading the retreat along with Fr. Vazken Movsesian, Fr. Avedis Abovian, Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Arch. Fr. Shnork Demirjian, Fr. Yessai Bedros, Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, Dr. Fr. Stepanos Dingilian, Fr. Nerses Hayrapetyan, Fr. Krikor Zakaryan, Arch. Fr. Vartan Kasparian, Arch. Fr. Kevork Arakelian, and Mr. Hayk Madoyan.

    The lectures will be both in English and in Armenian. Moreover, the participants will follow in the footsteps of our Lord as they walk in a devotional procession through the Stations of the Cross with candles, hymns and prayers (Khatchi Tapor).

    After a lengthy day of lectures, meditation, and prayer, there is no better finale than to have a movie night, followed by a discussion. The participants will also be granted the opportunity to have personal time in the monastic solitude of Mater Dolorosa. The priests will make themselves available for those who need counseling, confession or tete-a-tete discussion.

    We look forward to seeing you at the retreat.

  • The Christian Education Council (CEC) began their Annual Regional Lenten Workshop Journey at St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 22, 2015.   There was an enthusiastic group of children, teachers and parents to welcome the CEC travelers.

    The activities consisted of skits, cooking, arts & crafts and games that covered the Scriptural themes of each Sunday of Lent from Poon Paregentan to Advent Sunday. 

    Many thanks to Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian who graciously welcomed the travelers, to the  teaching staff and aids who were on hand to enjoy the activities with the children and most especially to Superintendent Gail Chelebian who helped organize and promote the workshop within the community.  Last but certainly not least we wish to extend a special thanks to the St. James Parent Team who provided a delicious Lenten lunch for the entire parish.   It was truly a joyous way to celebrate Lent!

    The CEC’s next stop is St. Paul Fresno on March 8th followed by St. Andrew Cupertino on March 22nd.   

  • “In the midst of the killing, horror, and violence in Syria, our children need biblical teaching to learn to do what is right and to grow up in the ways of the Lord.”

    A parent from the Armenian Orthodox Church, Damascus

    Damascus, Syria, February 2015: “When I used to go to Sunday School, we didn’t have our own children’s Bibles. The teacher used to put up some pictures on a ‘sticky’ cloth and sometimes chose one of the kids to help her. As a Sunday School teacher myself, I am so grateful for the Bible Society in the Gulf for providing each Armenian child, even in war-torn Syria, with their personal copy of a Bible that they can read and illustrate themselves.”

    This is how one of the Sunday School teachers in the Armenian Orthodox Church in Damascus described her joy and thankfulness to the BSG for the production and free distribution of Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible in Armenian.

    Also, this is how one of the parents expressed their appreciation after the distribution of the Bibles to all the children in the Church: “For me, one of the unique characteristics of this amazing book is that it engages our children’s imagination to create their own illustrated Bible, a Bible that they will keep as their own and get back to as they grow up physically and spiritually. Thank you.”

    Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible is a faithful account of more than 150 stories from the Bible. Written in simple language by Michael Landgraf and adapted to Armenian by Dr. Arda Jebejian, it is ideal for early readers. Line drawings give hints about faces, landscapes, and symbols that appear in the stories. Children are then free to use their creative skills to complete the pictures. The 160 pages include maps of the Old and New Testament times.

    “This book brings Bible stories to life for young children. This is the kind of book we need for our children. In these times of uncertainty, war, shells, and bullets, this book gives us and our children hope and comfort,” said another parent with tears in her eyes.

    “What I liked most about this book is that it covers stories from both Testaments. After all, in 2 Timothy 3:16 we read, ‘all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness’. In the midst of all the killings, horror, and violence in Syria, our children need biblical teaching to learn to do what is right and to grow up in the ways of the Lord,” said a parent who expressed his deep appreciation to the BSG for getting copies of Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible into Syria despite the raging war.

    After the successful distribution of Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible in Aleppo, more copies were distributed to the students of three Armenian schools in Damascus: the Armenian National College of the Translators, Gulbenkian Harachabah School, and Armenian United National School.

    His Eminence Bishop Armash Nalbandian, Primate of the diocese of the Armenian Church in Damascus, wrote a thank-you letter to the General Secretary Dr. Hrayr Jebejian expressing his and his diocese’s thankfulness: “Please, be assured that we highly appreciate your generous gift of the Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible in Armenian to all our school children. Not only were the children greatly elated but also the teachers. Our children and their parents are hurting right now. This Bible will make a great difference in their life. It will inspire them with hope, love, and care. May God bless you and bless the Bible Society.”

    The BSG distributed 5000 copies of Make-Your-Own Children’s Bible free of charge to all 5-10 year-old children in day schools, Saturday schools, and Sunday schools in Cyprus, Greece, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey. This was possible through the generous contribution of the German Bible Society towards this project. Our purpose is to reach out to young people in an ever-changing culture and challenging times with the message of the Bible in an attractive, compelling format. The book includes a users’ manual to help parents and teachers to engage 5-10-year-olds with the Bible.

    The Bible Society in the Gulf is committed to making the Bible available to Christian communities in the Arabian Gulf countries it serves. The Christian communities in the Gulf come from a wide variety of countries, of different ethnic and culture groups, speaking many different languages. As well as publishing, distributing the Bible in 60 languages, and organizing Bible Engagement seminars, the BSG partners with the Churches and helps people to read and understand the Bible.

  • Pope Francis has declared Armenian poet and monk, Saint Gregory of Narek (Grigor Narekatsi), a Doctor of the Universal Church.  Meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the Pope confirmed the proposal put forward by the Plenary Session of the Congregation to confer the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on the 10th century saint.

    A Doctor of the Church is a special designation that recognizes the doctrinal insights in the teachings and writings of certain saints.

    St. Gregory of Narek is widely revered as one of the greatest figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. Born in the city of Narek in about 950 A.D., St. Gregory came from a line of scholars and churchmen.

    St. Gregory received his education under the guidance of his father, Bishop Khosrov, author of the earliest commentary on the Divine Liturgy, and from Anania Vartabed, abbot of Narek Monastery. He and his two brothers entered monastic life at an early age, and St. Gregory soon began to excel in music, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, literature, and theology.

    He became a priest at the age of 25 and dedicated himself to God. He lived most of his life in the monastery of Narek, where he taught at the monastic school. St. Gregory began his writings with a commentary on the “Song of Songs,” which was commissioned by an Armenian prince. Despite his reservations that he was too young for the task, the commentary became famous for its clarity of thought and language and its excellence of theological presentation.

    He also wrote a number of famous letters, sharagans, treasures, odes, melodies, and discourses. Many of his prayers are included in the Divine Liturgy celebrated each Sunday in Armenian Churches around the world.

    St. Gregory’s masterpiece is considered to be his Book of Lamentations. Also known as Narek, it is comprised of 95 prayers, each of which is titled “Conversation with God from the depth of the heart.” A central theme is man’s separation from God, and his quest to reunite with Him. St. Gregory described the work this way: “Its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” He called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer for people all over the world. After the advent of movable type, the book was published in Marseille in 1673, and has been translated into at least 30 languages.

    The declaration brings the number of the Doctors of the Church to 36, which include Saint Augustine, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Therese of Lisieux and St. Hildegard of Bingen. 

    St. Gregory of Narek is remembered in the Armenian Church in October every year.

  • Seminarians of the Turpanjian Seminary of Harich received the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, during his pastoral visit to the seminary on February 23rd.    

    Dozens of religious and historical books as well as compact discs were donated to the Seminary’s library by Archbishop Derderian.

    “With our heartfelt donations, we rest assured that the books serve their intended purpose, namely to enrich the spirituality of each seminarian. The books are copies of recent publications by the Western Diocese. Our donations to the library of the Turpanjian Theological Seminary will be continuous and additions will be made periodically,” stated Archbishop Derderian.

    During his meeting with the seminarians, which eventually turned into a warm dialogue, the Archbishop Derderian noted with sheer confidence that the young men are committed to continuing their religious education and are steadfast in their ancestral Christian Faith. “I was deeply impressed and delighted by the level of alertness of the minds and the depth of the seminarians as it pertains to spiritual life. The sense of courage in these seminarians and their willingness to answer to God’s calling was most reassuring. We commend the God-pleasing mission which is being realized within these walls and extend our wholehearted gratitude to the supervisors and the administrative staff for their Christian spirit in instilling the divine love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the hearts of the future leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The fight against heretical cults and sects is conditioned upon a well-educated and trained clergy. Therefore, we fondly reflect on the vision of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians in establishing respected religious institutions of higher learning with the purpose of strengthening the Armenian Apostolic Church,” added His Eminence.

    In October 2014, at the initiative of Archbishop Derderian, the Library of the Turpanjian Seminary had received eight boxes of printed literature from the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America containing more than 500 books. As the Very Rev. Fr. Nshan Hmayakyan states, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian has formed a unique bond with the Seminary and continues to make it one of his priorities to visit the seminarians during each of his trips to the Motherland. The benefactors of the Turpanjian Theological Seminary are Mr. and Mrs. Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian. The donated books are religious and theological in context. Some are also written in foreign languages. They all however are valuable tools for the educational advancement of the seminarians.

    “With each visit to Armenia, Archbishop Derderian meets with the students, encouraging them with his pastoral guidance and advice. In turn, the students are overjoyed to greet and welcome the high-ranking clergyman of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The seminary’s library had a large collection of books and other resources related to the curriculum. However, the need for additional literature is great as a library can never contain too many books. The books enrich the spirituality of our seminarians. Thus, the young men can further their knowledge through the donated publications. A book is the best gift one can receive, as the ultimate goal of the religious institution is to educate the future leaders of the flock of Christ, our Lord. We highly value the donated books to our library and are tremendously grateful to the donors,” stated the Very Rev. Fr. Hmayakyan.

    Since the 2012-2013 academic year, the Turpanjian Theological Seminary has been utilizing an academic curriculum in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia. 

  • On February 24, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; received Richard Mills; the newly appointed Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Armenia.

    His Holiness conveyed his gratitude to the US Ambassador and expressed confidence that the kind relations and cooperation established between the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the US Embassy will continue during his tenure.

    Reflecting on the Armenian-American intergovernmental relations, the Catholicos of All Armenians expressed gratitude to the US people and authorities for the support provided to the Armenian nation. His Holiness also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the US within the OSCE Minsk Group for the purpose of the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

    Asking for the Lord’s blessing, His Holiness wished for the mission of the newly appointed Ambassador to promote the strengthening of the friendship between the two nations, as well as the development cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

    The US ambassador expressed his happiness on the occasion of the meeting, and presented the range of programs implemented as a result of Armenian-American cooperation.

    During the meeting Catholicos of All Armenians and the US Ambassador also discussed the important mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church in the life of the Armenian nation, the warm relations with Sister Churches, as well as to a number of challenges facing the Homeland and the Church.

    Particular reference was made to the efforts exerted by the Church for a peaceful resolution of conflicts around the world, as a result of ecumenical cooperation as well as was spoken about the organized meetings with religious leaders towards the establishment peace in the region.

    His Holiness informed Ambassador Mills about the events dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and the Canonization ceremony for the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide to be held on 23 April in Mother See.

    The meeting was attended by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian; Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenia Church of North America; His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian; Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America; and His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, Director of the Department of External Relations and Protocol for the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

  • With the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the first of three European regional meetings of the Pan-ACYO was held in Bucharest from February 19-20, 2015.

    Dozens of ACYO members from the Dioceses of Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and the Ukraine participated in the meeting. The regional meeting was presided by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America and the Spiritual Director of the Pan-ACYO and His Eminence’s delegation including ACYO-Europe spiritual advisor the Very Rev. Fr. Tovma Khachatryan and Mr. Gevorg Mkrtchyan, Chairman of the Pan-ACYO Governing Board. Also present at the meeting was His Excellency Hamlet Gasparyan, the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Romania, who delivered the welcoming remarks. The meetings were hosted by the Diocese of Romania under the auspices of its Primate His Grace Bishop Datev Hagopian.

    The second in the series of European Pan-ACYO meetings were held from February 20-21, in Germany’s capital city of Berlin in the House of Armenia. His Eminence Archbishop Karekin Bekjian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Germany graciously hosted the meetings. Armenian youth from various regions of Germany as well as the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland took part in the meetings.

    The Armenian Church of the Forty Martyrs was the last stop of the Pan-ACYO European conference. Hosted at the Armenian Center of Milan, youth from eight communities of Italy as well as Albania, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal participated in the meetings. A welcoming address to the participants was delivered by Honorary Consul Petros Kuchukyan. Prior to the start of the meeting, the youth took part in the solemn celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Following the service, the participants enjoyed the delightful performances of the Armenian Dance Ensemble of Milan.

    Topping the agenda in all three regional meeting were the following key points:

    1. Third Pan-ACYO Delegates’ Assembly which will convene in Armenia from July 1-5
    2. The final draft of the ACYO By-Laws and the ACYO budget
    3. Inter-Diocesan relations between the Dioceses of Armenia and the Diaspora and the establishment of ACYO Sister-Diocese
    4. 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.
    5. A set date for the next regional meeting which will be held in February 2016