Centennial Ecumenical Service Takes Center Stage in Washington

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By Florence Avakian

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian  with young sduents
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian with young students

WASHINGTON — With almost all events, including the May 7 Ecumenical Service, the May 8 concert, and the May 9 banquet filling up and only wait lists available, final preparations for the Washington D.C. Genocide Centennial are progressing at top speed by the Genocide Centennial Committee.

“This is a milestone,” commented Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, and a Genocide Centennial Committee member, in a phone conversation. “The momentum is with us. This monumental event in our nation’s capital is both a commemoration and a celebration of life and past commitments. These hundred years have demonstrated so forcefully that we refuse to die, and that the hearts and souls of our martyrs are with us.”

Taking a different approach to those whose aim is to raise awareness in the larger non-Armenian public, he believes that it is “wonderful to educate our people to learn the authenticity of the Armenian Genocide that we take for granted. It is more important that we pass on to future generations the knowledge so they can be educated and honor their history.”

He relates that in Mexico City, one woman, Sonia Arakelian fundraised for the Museum of Tolerance, with one room dedicated to educating the people of the Armenian Genocide. It is to be opened on April 16, and he will attend the opening “to honor her and the memory of the martyrs.”

Derderian predicted that the fight for justice and recompense will take longer than expected. “It is most encouraging that all parts of the Armenian community are coming together for this inspiring event. It gives a very strong message to our children and the world that though our nation is small, it is strong in soul and spirit.”

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Calling the Genocide, “a crime against God, a crime against humanity,” Derderian who lost members of his grandfather’s family from Kharpert in the death march, notes that though America does not publicly acknowledge this tragedy, “in the hearts of the people, it is a fact.”

The Ecumenical Service, he said, “will have an impact. It will show the solidarity of our people. They will listen, and hopefully have a spiritual transformation, with electricity going to their body. This is not a show. If it inspires only one person, the responsibility of sharing will affect many.”

“The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide should have a different expression and meaning in our lives, that of remembering our martyrs and demanding our rights,” said Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, and also a Genocide Centennial Committee member.

“For centuries, we suffered tribulations and massacres, but we kept our national identity and faith. Today, we have 10 million Armenians in the world, and we have an independent Armenia. We also celebrate our survival, and our many contributions to the world. We are heirs of a resurrected nation,” he added.

This year, he noted, it is important to thank all governments, churches and individuals who have recognized the Armenian Genocide and supported the orphans then, “some of whom became our church leaders. Out of the massacres, our nation has been resurrected.”

Mardirossian, whose relatives from Adana on his father’s side were tortured and killed in the 1895 to 1896 massacres, said, “We will live with the memory of all of our ancestors. When one part of a body suffers, the whole body suffers. We’re all one body, one family.”

The Ecumenical Service that will take place in Washington on May 7, he stated, will declare with special emphasis that “Never should any genocide ever happen again to any people, Christian or non-Christian. We must insist on justice and human rights for all.”

 

 

 

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian  with young sduents
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian with young sduents
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian  with young sduents
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian with young sduents

 

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