• The Christian Education Council’s Advent Fair 2014 was held on Sunday, November 16, under the auspices of H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese. Sunday School students, parents and teachers from the Cathedral Parish, St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Santa Clarita, St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Pasadena, the Armenian Church of Ventura County and St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys took part in the exciting event.

    The venue of this year’s event was Ararat Home for the Elderly in Mission Hills. After taking part in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the children took part in arts and crafts and other educational activities organized by the Christian Education Council.

    The children learned to sing a number of Christmas songs and put on a Nativity play for the elderly who were delighted to witness the wonderful play.

    The memorable Advent Fair was made possible by the joint organizational efforts of the CEC and CEO of Ararat Home, Los Angeles Mr. Derik Ghookasian. 

  • Excitement filled the ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel on November 15 when organizers and guests gathered to honor Dr. Mihran Agbabian and George R. Phillips, Sr., Esq. at the AMAA-Haigazian University Celebratory Banquet co-chaired by Joyce Abdulian and Ken Kevorkian. Prayers were offered, anthems and music were sung, videos were shown, and genuine tributes were paid to these two men who are champions of the AMAA, Haigazian University, and a myriad of worthy institutions within the Armenian Community. Both honorees are former AMAA Board Members.

    The distinguished recipients were introduced, Mihran Agbabian by Savey Tufenkian and George Phillips by Joyce Philibosian Stein. Mrs. Tufenkian underscored Dr. Agbabian's efforts to help Armenia after the 1988 earthquake and charged everyone who travels to Armenia to visit the American University of Armenia. Dr. Agbabian, a distinguished graduate of the American University of Beirut, Cal Tech, and UC Berkeley, is an eminent authority in seismic engineering and the founding President and President Emeritus of AUA. He is also a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. This former Dean of Engineering at USC, and past Vice President of the AMAA, recollected working with George Phillips in support of various organizations, large and small, and said he was "grateful to God and for the challenge to serve."

    Mrs. Stein described George Phillips as a trusted friend and advisor and anticipated that his work "will continue to bear fruit."  Mr. Phillips, a graduate of UCLA and UCLA Law School, and founder of the oldest Armenian law firm in Los Angeles, is a firm believer in education. He was named the C & E Merdinian School "Man of the Year" in 2007 and was also recognized as "Man of the Year" by the AGBU for his service to the Armenian Community in So. Calif.  He praised the AMAA, founded 96 years ago, and Haigazian University for their foundations of faith and spoke of the Christian values underscored at Haigazian University, stressing that "every person can make a difference through their actions."  A Korean War veteran, Mr. Phillips, in his response, remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was 13 and indicated that Armenian history seemed to be repeating itself from 100 years ago.

    The honorees were presented with framed certificates by the co-chairs who had orchestrated a memorable event. Their supportive wives, Elizabeth Agbabian and Suzie Phillips, are founding/continuing members of the Haigazian University Women's Auxiliary LA and the AMAA Child and Orphan Care Committee.

    The recently installed Executive Director/CEO of the Armenia Missionary  Association of America, Zaven Khanjian, clearly remembered his family's arrival in the U.S. from the Middle East in 1979 as a direct result of war and unrest.  He spoke compassionately about the AMAA and its "mission of rescue."

    At the podium, West Coast AMAA Executive Director Levon Filian put it this way: "A good cause and a good committee results in complete success!"

    Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, who had traveled 7,000 miles from Beirut, paid tribute to the honorees and emphasized the importance of being positive examples to the world. He called Haigazian constructively unique and thanked Dr. Agbabian, Mr. Phillips, and everyone in the room for supporting Haigazian.

    Arriving from Armenia just minutes before being called to the microphone, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, brought regards from the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church and expressed his wholehearted congratulations to the worthy honorees and organizations.

    The event raised more than $400,000 to be divided equally by the AMAA and Haigazian University. 

  • On November 19, 2014, the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall of the Western Diocese was the venue for a unique seminar titled “STAY ALIVE – SAVE A LIFE.” The community event featured four distinguished community leaders Camoron Yadidi Brock, Esq., Psychotherapist and Coach Foojan Zeine, Alaleh Kamran, Esq. and Real Estate Broker Vahik Alkhasian.  

    The seminar highlighted the dangers associated with drinking and driving and texting while driving, far too common occurrences which lead to tragedies. The important seminar had been the vision of Cameron Yadidi Brock, Esq.

    More than 150 people, including civic and law enforcement officials attended the informative event.

    In his message, the Primate said “The unity and joint collaboration of community leaders, law enforcement officers and civic officials in this significant event is most encouraging. Tonight’s seminar will inform, educate and promote responsible driving habits while contributing to a safer, community and society at large.”

    The event’s sponsor was Mr. Vahik Alkhasian. 

  • On November 21, 2014, former California State Assemblyman and La Canada and Flintridge Mayor Anthony J. Portantino visited the Western Diocese and met with the Primate.

    Mr. Portantino, who had visited the Diocese earlier in the year, informed the Primate about his current activities.

  • His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales paid a historic visit to St. Yeghiche Armenian Apostolic Church in London for morning services on November 19.

    The visit is said to be a part of His Royal Highness’ emphasis on raising awareness of the recent persecution of Christians, including Armenians, in the Middle East, primarily Syria and Iraq. Prince Charles has already visited Syrian and Coptic Orthodox Churches as well.

    He took part at a service where prayers were said for those suffering because of their faith.

    During the service, there was a choral performance, which included a piece from the Armenian opera “Davit Bek” by Armen Tigranyan. His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland gave thanks during the services. Remarks were given by His Eminence Archbishop Avak Asadourian, Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church in Iraq and also by His Excellency Dr. Armen Sarkissian, Ambassador of Armenia to the United Kingdom. At the conclusion of the program, His Royal Highness greeted the invitation only congregation and members of the choir.

    Speaking during the service Prince Charles said: “It is literally heartbreaking to learn of the attacks on Christians and on the churches where they gather, such as the mindless, brutal destruction of the Armenian church in Deir el-Zour earlier this year.”

    He went on to praise those who’ve suffered for standing up to adversity: “I greatly admire the courage and faith of your flock who are an example to us all of faith quite literally under such grotesque and barbarous assault.”

    “It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East; an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years, and across which Islam spread in 700AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries.” He concluded.

    St. Yeghiche Armenian Church is the largest of the Armenian Apostolic Churches in Great Britain. Located in Cranley Gardens, Kensington, London, it was built in 1973.

  • On Tuesday, November 18, the Primate welcomed Fethiye Cetin, the attorney of Hrant Dink, to the Western Diocese. Mrs. Cetin was accompanied by members of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Committee. His Eminence reflected on the life of the late the prominent figure and his valuable contributions toward Genocide recognition. Archbishop commended and expressed his gratitude to Mrs. Cetin for her quest for justice in representing the family of Hrant Dink in 2010.

    Following the meeting, the guests toured St. Leon Armenian Cathedral and the Zorayan Museum of the Western Diocese.

  • 2015 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Armenians all over the world will unite to commemorate this historic, tragic and unforgettable atrocity.  Under the leadership of its beloved pastor Fr. Moushegh Tashjian and in collaboration with the Western Diocese, St. Mary Armenian Church of Costa Mesa (148  22nd Street, Costa Mesa)  will host a 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.   We felt that 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.  This beautiful monument accurately depicts the Centennial Committee’s creed and expectation toward its community.

    The positive support of the church’s organizations, committees and the community at large was very encouraging. The parishioners of St. Mary Church have supported the monument project with their outpouring donations.  The Committee has nearly reached its goal to fulfill its objectives.  The monument is 70% built and will be finished by the end of December 2014 and will be blessed and dedicated on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm. 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.

    Centennial Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee           

  • On Sunday, November 23, the Primate will pay a pastoral visit to St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Fowler. His Eminence will be the day’s celebrant and homilist. During the service, the Primate will grant four minor orders of Acolyte to Sloan Stepanian and Spencer Stepanian. The Order of stole-bearer will be conferred upon Andrew Hagopian and Mark Pryor. Archbishop Derderian will also ordain Ken Melkonian into the Diaconate. 

  • On Sunday, November 30, 2014, as we celebrate the children of our community and the beginning of a new chapter in the longstanding partnership between the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we invite all faithful to join us in prayer and in honoring Thomas C. Lee, MD, Director of The Vision Center at CHLA for his God-pleasing and tireless work in Armenia saving eyesight in premature infants.

    The partnership between these two venerable institutions was inspired by His Eminence Abp. Hovnan Derderian’s vision, dedication and devotion to our greater community and his will to recognize the philanthropic actions and selfless service of physicians at CHLA.

    Please, join us to honor Dr. Lee and learn more about Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and its important role in our community.

    Participating schools will include AGBU Manoogian – Demirdjian School, AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian School, T.C.A. Arshag Dickranian School and Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School.

    About Dr. Thomas Lee

    Dr. Thomas Lee is the Director of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and internationally renowned for his pioneering work treating pediatric retinal diseases and trauma.

    Dr. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University and received his MD from Cornell University, where he graduated with Honors in Research as a Howard Hughes Scholar.

    He completed his ophthalmology residency at Cornell and then went to Harvard Medical School as a Heed Fellow, where he studied retinal stem cells and the role they play in cancer. He completed his retina fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, before returning to Cornell where he was a Fred Gluck Scholar. 

    Service in Armenia

    Dr. Lee and The Vision Center at CHLA are devoted to preventing blindness in children around the world. In 2009 he joined the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP) on a mission to Yerevan, Armenia to help diagnose and treat an alarmingly high rate of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a complex and aggressive blinding disease that was affecting one third of Armenian premature infants. After a successful initial visit, Dr. Lee worked to set up a program that enabled him to remotely monitor exams and surgeries in Armenia from more than 7,000 miles away. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

    Dr. Lee continues to work closely with physicians, health care providers, and the Ministry of Health in Armenia. In September 2014, he returned to Yerevan to launch a training curriculum that he and CHLA staff designed for Armenian Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses to help them identify, prevent and treat ROP in premature infants.

  • On Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. a banquet was organized by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Committee in honor of Fethiye Cetin, the attorney of Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper “Agos” who was assassinated in January 2007. Dink, a prominent member of the Armenian community, was known for his criticism of Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and his advocacy of human and minority rights in Turkey. The event was held at the Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA) Headquarters in Canoga Park.

    Fr. Shnork Demirjian, Parish Priest of St. Peter Armenian Church represented Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, the Primate of the Western Diocese at the event.  Fr. Demirjian conveyed the greetings of the Archbishop to Mrs. Cetin and congratulated the attorney for her courageous efforts in pursuing the truth and justice.