• On Saturday, May 21 a Deacons' Training Seminar was held for the Central Valley Armenian Churches altar servers. This was the second seminar which was held in St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler. There were lectures, presentation and practices about church services.
    Lectures titled "The Life of Jesus Christ as depicted in the Divine Liturgy," "Liturgical Calendar" and "St. Mesrop Mashdots as a Linguist and Hymnologist" were presented by Archpriest Fr. Yeghia Hairabedian, Dn. Steve Adams and the Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan, respectively.
    After lunch, there were practices and inquiries about the role of the deacon in the Armenian Church.

  • The commencement exercises of Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School’s elementary and middle school students was held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at the church sanctuary of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Pasadena.
    The Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Berjekian attended the ceremony and delivered his pastoral message to the students. A number of awards were presented to graduating students at the ceremony. 
    Graduation Ball followed the commencement ceremony in Geragos Hall.
    Last year the Hovsepian School marked its 30th anniversary with a gala with hundreds of friends, supporters, parents, and teachers in attendance. With 220 students, supportive parents, highly-qualified faculty and administration, the progressive school consistently breaks new grounds. Located in the heart of Pasadena, the school aims to provide its students the opportunities to explore, engage and enlighten.

  • We are pleased to announce to the Diocesan faithful that on May 25, 2016, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America has appointed Mrs. Gail Chelebian as the Chairlady of the Christian Education Council. Archbishop Derderian congratulated Mrs. Chelebian on her appointment extending to the Chairlady his blessings and genuine wishes. His Eminence offered his pastoral support and guidance to the members of the CEC in their quest to furthering their God-pleasing mission. 
    Archbishop Derderian expressed his wholehearted gratitude to Mrs. Debbie Derderian for her selfless dedication, input and leadership role in the CEC throughout the years.
    Founded in 2010, The Christian Educational Council aims to develop, implement and oversee the religious educational programs of the Western Diocese. In doing so, it strengthens and develops the Christian Faith as expressed in the Armenian Apostolic Church for the glory of God. The CEC is also the source for recommended curriculum, textbooks and valuable resource materials. 
    For six years, the CEC has implemented inter-generational workshops that established a vital link between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and our Armenian cultural traditions which make us unique.

    The CEC also holds annual Lenten Workshops which includes activities consisting of skits, cooking, arts & crafts and games that covered the Scriptural themes of each Sunday of Lent from Poon Paregentan to Advent Sunday. 
    The teachers and superintendents participate in an annual summer workshop organized by CEC. Led by the professionals, participants get necessary practical and updated tools and instructions on how to effectively teach and pass on the teachings of the Church to the students and equip them with virtuous life skills.
    Christian Education Council members are 
    Gail Chelebian, Chailrady
    Dr. Scott Asmar
    Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian
    Fr. Krikor Zakarian
    Dn. Stephen Arakelian
    Dn. Artak Khachikyan
    Suzy Grigorians
    Izzie Toumanian
    Rosie Toumanian
    Karen Mener
    David Ojakian
    Anto Gizmetian
    Arlet Bicakci
    Audrey Matoesian
    Vahe Sargsyan

  • Representatives of the Armenian American Museum met with California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D- Paramount) and Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) on Friday, May 27, 2016  to thank them for including a $5 million earmark for the Armenian American Museum in the Assembly proposed version of the 2016 – 2017 State Budget and urge them to persuade the Conference Committee to include the funding in the compromise budget that will be considered by the State Legislature before June 15, 2016.
    The Conference Committee consisting of 3 members from the State Assembly and 3 members from the State Senate will start negotiations this week on resolving the differences between the Assembly and Senate proposed versions of the 2016 – 2017 State Budget.  Since the earmark for the Armenian American Museum was only included in the Assembly proposal, the Conference Committee will decide on including or removing it from the budget to be considered by both houses of the Legislature.
    If the $5 million earmark is included in the budget approved by the Legislature, it will require the approval of the Governor by July 1.  The Governor has the authority to retain the earmark or remove it by veto.
    “We are very grateful to Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian, Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting, and the Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for including the $5 million earmark in the budget,” stated the Co-Chair of the Armenian American Museum Governing Board Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
    The Co-Chair of the Governing Board Archbishop Hovnan Derderian added that they are working closely with the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, the Armenian Rights Council, the Armenian Council of America, and the Southern California Armenian Democrats to include the funding in the budget and gain the Governor’s approval.
    The museum is patterned after Los Angeles County museums that combine the lessons and experiences of a specific group of residents with the vision of preventing discrimination and improving collaboration between all citizens of the County.

  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) hosted a private reception and program at the John Stauffer Conference Room on June 1, 2016 in honor of the hospital’s Armenian Ambassadors. The program commenced with the welcoming remarks by Miss Rita Terterian, Assistant Vice-President of Development. Miss Terterian highlighted the recent accomplishments as a result of the collaboration between the two institutions since the partnership was established two years ago. She expressed her gratitude to the Western Diocese  and the Agape Circle for the commitment demonstrated to the hospital, patients and families noting the hospital’s deep appreciation for the Western Diocese's significant contributions to the Armenian Ambassadors of CHLA, with Mrs. Chakrian serving on the Leadership Council and Archbishop Derderian as an Honorary Member of the Council.

    Among the dignitaries in attendance was Armenian-American businesswoman and model Kim Kardashian. 

    Paul Viviano, President and CEO of CHLA, thanked the guests in attendance, sharing with the friends and supporters of the hospital the history and mission of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

    In their heartfelt remarks, Ara Balkian, MD, MRA, Chief Medical Director of Inpatient Operations and Associate Chair of Inpatient Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Thomas Lee, MD, Director of CHLA’s Vision Center noted the research breakthroughs in the field of pediatrics and ophthalmology as a result of the generosity of donors.

    The Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian who initiated the collaboration between the institutions expressed his gratitude to Mr. Viviano, Miss Terterian, Dr. Balkian and Dr. Lee for their visionary leadership and compassionate care rendered to the children of the community. His Eminence thanked the Agape Circle under the leadership of Mrs. Alice Chakrian for their continued engagement in furthering the noble mission of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. During the reception, Archbishop Derderian also announced an additional pledge of $25,000 to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on behalf of the Western Diocese. A similar pledge of $25,000 was made by Diocesan benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Greg and Seta Tcherkoyan.  

    “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles can be considered God’s greatest blessing in the life of the Los Angeles community. I say this with all sincerity, with a heart full of gratitude as I, too, along with the millions of others have witnessed the incredible compassionate care, enduring love and utmost professionalism which has been extended to the children of God,” said Archbishop Derderian. “The mission being accomplished in Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is equal to thousands of miracles. This is the place when we feel the transformation of our souls,” he added. Calling for the Diocese's support Archbishop Derderian stated “, our duty as Armenian Ambassadors and representatives of the first Christian nation to not only support but to become pillars of the God-pleasing noble mission being realized at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.”

    CHLA and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America have formed an impactful partnership. The collaboration has helped to create the Agape Circle of the Western Diocese, led by Mrs. Alice Chakrian. Through the Agape Circle’s hard work and tireless efforts, $45,000 has been raised in two years in support of CHLA’s Vision Center, the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit and the Literally Healing Program – far exceeding the initial pledge of $25,000.        

  • On May 28, 2016, the Primate presided over the Central California Regional Meeting at St. Paul Armenian Church in Fresno. Among the topics on the agenda included the strengthening of the Parish-Diocese relationship, the expansion of parish missions and projects and the active involvement of the youth in the life of the Church.

    Archbishop Derderian emphasized the importance of organization and strategy as it pertains to the parish life. His Eminence encouraged the priests and the lay people alike to envision their parish in the next five, ten and twenty-five years and to seek ways to ensure the prosperous future of each respective parish. 

  • The 52nd ACYO Sports Weekend was held in Clovis, California over Memorial Day Weekend 2016. With Buchanan High School acting as host, the weekend allowed for Diocesan youth on the West Coast to compete in team sports while enjoying each other’s camaraderie.
    On Friday, May 27, following individual and team registration, the youth participated in the opening ceremonies which was preceded by a moment of silence in honor of the fallen soldiers who perished as a result of the Azeri military aggression against Arstakh between April 1-4, 2016. The Primate delivered his message to the participants calling upon them to not only strengthen their physical bodies but to also renew their covenant with God. "The ACYO is a journey anchored in the Church. The Church is the anchor in the journey of our lives. We aim to guide our youth live lives with God and to be exemplary Christians. The sports weekend is the time for us to grow in the spirit of camaraderie but above all a time to share with one another the love and wisdom that God has graced upon us.”
    For two days, ACYO chapters across the Western Diocese competed for top-prize honors in various sports including basketball, soccer, volleyball, dodge ball, table tennis, backgammon and tug-of-war.

    At the close of the competition on Saturday, the youth took part in the “Boomers Youth” social evening, catching up with old friends and making new ones.
    Divine Liturgy
    On Sunday, May 29, the youth participated in the episcopal celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Paul by the Diocesan Primate. Archbishop Derderian was assisted at the Holy Altar by the Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros, Pastor of the host parish and the Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian, former Diocesan Youth Director.
    During the service, Archbishop Derderian commended the ACYO Central Council for their selfless dedication and enduring affection for the Armenian Apostolic Church.
    In his address to the youth Archbishop Derderian stated “Remember that you are the children of the Mother See of Holy Echtmiadzin and you ought to live your lives with the vision of Ecthcmiadzin. This journey has been the vision of our forefathers and your Christian way of life ought to be the journey of your children. It is natural for teams to strive for victory in competitive games; however, the greatest victory in our spiritual lives is the moment when we are led by the greatest victor of all, the Almighty God.”
     At the evening banquet, the teams and individual players received their trophies and were applauded for their dedication and sportsmanship.

    Championship Games and Banquet
    The championship games were held on Sunday, following the Divine Liturgy. The ACYO Sports Weekend competition results will be published in our upcoming communiqué.
    The exciting weekend concluded with an Awards banquet at the Berberian Hall of St. Paul Armenian Church of Fresno.    
    Addressing the youth of the Western Diocese, the Primate called upon them to strengthen their relationship with God stating "...make the Word of God the journey of your lives." His Eminence reflected on the success of this year's ACYO games, fondly recalling the vision of the founder of the ACYO, the late Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan. "Archbishop Nersoyan's vision is realized in your commitment," said the Primate.
    Archbishop Derderian expressed his gratitude to the pastors for the enduring support they had demonstrated for the youth of their respective parishes. He thanked the Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros and the Parish Council of St. Paul Armenian Church of Fresno for their warm hospitality in hosting this year's festivities and extended his blessings to the members of the ACYO Central Council for their superb leadership in making the weekend a historic one.
    The Primate also thanked his fellow brothers in Christ and Mr. Derik Ghookasian, Treasurer of the Diocesan Council for their cordial presence at the important function for the Armenian-American youth.

  • On June 2, 2016, His Eminence Bishop Mouhsegh Babayan, assisted by Father Hovel Ohanyan from St. Vartan Armenian Church of Oakland, and Der Margos Mangasaryan, Director of Youth Services of the Mother See, baptized seven girls and confirmed an eighth from the Nakashian Children’s Support Center where the Mer Hooys program operates.  Mer Hooys Board president Hon. Adrienne Krikorian and vice president Barlow Der Mugrdechian were in Armenia to witness this blessed event.  Each of the girls were blessed to be the godchild of prominent members of the Yerevan community.  The godfathers and their wives, who were present at the ceremony, have committed to be an active part of their godchild’s spiritual life.  Three sets of sisters who live at Mer Hooys have the same godfather, allowing them to remain a unified family unit with their mother and godparents.

    After the children were anointed with the Muron (Holy Oil), Father Hovel Ohanyan read a message from His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.  The girls each received a cross from Hovnan Sprazan, which was presented to them by their respective Godfather.  The baptismal ceremony took place in the baptismal chapel at Etchmiadzin with the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.  After the ceremony, all of the Mer Hooys residents, staff, godparents, and mothers of those baptized attended a celebratory luncheon, hosted by Lucine Krikorian, mother of Mer Hooys president Adrienne Krikorian.  
    God bless our girls at Mer Hooys - their new lives as baptized Christians have started with a bright future before them!

  • His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; sent a letter of appreciation to Mr. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag; and expressed his appreciation and gratitude on the occasion of the adoption of a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, on June 2 by the Bundestag.
    In his letter, praising the good will expressed by German political and public figures and the people in the restoration of historical justice; His Holiness particularly stressed: “This resolution towards the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide is not only an important step for once again proving the historical reality of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people in the 20th century, but also in preventing the recurrence of such crimes from history. The decision taken is a great witness and an invitation to the world, to resist and reject the denialist policy regarding the crimes perpetrated against humanity in different corners of the world.
    We extend our blessings and appreciation to the members of the German Bundestag and all the benevolent people, wishing them unending will and zeal in the divine mission of human universal values and rights protection’.

    Ամենայն Հայոց Կաթողիկոսը
    շնորհակալական նամակ է յղել Գերմանիայի Բունդեսթագի նախագահին
    Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. Գարեգին Բ Ծայրագոյն Պատրիարք եւ Ամենայն Հայոց Կաթողիկոսը նամակ է յղել Գերմանիայի Դաշնային Հանրապետութեան Բունդեսթագի նախագահ Նորբերտ Լամերտին եւ իր գնահատանքն ու երախտագիտութիւնը յայտնել յունիսի 2-ին Բունդեսթագի կողմից Հայոց ցեղասպանութիւնը ճանաչող բանաձեւի ընդունման կապակցութեամբ:

    Իր նամակում Նորին Սրբութիւնը, բարձրօրէն արժեւորելով պատմական արդարութեան վերականգնմանն ի նպաստ Գերմանիայի քաղաքական ու հասարակական գործիչների եւ ողջ ժողովրդի արտայայտած բարի կամքը, մասնաւորապէս ընդգծել է. «Հայոց Ցեղասպանութեան ճանաչմանն ու դատապարտմանն ուղղուած այս բանաձեւը կարեւոր քայլ է ոչ միայն հայ ժողովրդի նկատմամբ 20-րդ դարասկզբին գործուած եղեռնագործութեան պատմական իրողութիւնը վերստին փաստելու, այլեւ կանխարգելելու այդօրինակ ոճիրների կրկնութիւնը պատմութեան մէջ: Կայացուած որոշումը մեծ վկայութիւն է եւ հրաւէր համայն աշխարհին` ընդվզելու եւ մերժելու երկրագնդի տարբեր անկիւններում մարդկութեան դէմ գործուած յանցանքների առնչութեամբ դրսեւորուող ժխտողական քաղաքականութիւնը:

    Ի դէմս Ձեզ, Մեր օրհնութիւնն ու գնահատանքն ենք յղում Գերմանիայի Բունդեսթագի անդամներին եւ բարեսէր ողջ ժողովրդին` մաղթելով անկոտրում կամք եւ նախանձախնդրութիւն մարդկային համընդհանուր արժէքների եւ իրաւունքների պաշտպանութեան աստուածահաճոյ առաքելութեան մէջ»:

  • On May 26, the Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Berjekian represented the Primate at an art exhibition held at the Consulate of the Republic of Armenia. The exhibition showcased the artwork of Henrik Vardinektsi, master abstract artist. The exhibition was opened with the welcoming remarks by the Deputy Consul General the Honorable Valeri Mkrtumyan, who read the congratulatory message of Armenia’s Minister of the Diaspora Her Excellency Hranush Hakobyan addressed to the artist.
    After the opening remarks, Deputy Consul General invited the Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad to deliver his remarks. Father Pakrad read the Message of Blessing and Commendation of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Diocesan Primate. After congratulating the artist, Fr. Pakrad presented him the document. The viewing public was treated to a light reception following the exhibition.