WATERTOWN — The Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) Juniors gathered over Memorial Day weekend at St. James Armenian Church for the 40th annual Hye M’rtsoom program. The parish hosted a record-breaking 282 participants from 16 parishes across the Diocese for a weekend of worship, sports and fellowship.
Rev. Arakel Aljalian, pastor of St. James Church, Yn. Natasha Aljalian and St. James youth minister Maria Derderian worked alongside community members to ensure the success of the weekend. Events were held at the St. James Church’s Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center, and participants were housed with local families.
Lorie Odabashian, the Diocese’s coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, was present throughout the weekend. Maria Derderian delivered the “Insights” message at the conclusion of the morning service on Saturday.
A special program throughout the weekend invited participants to have their photos taken and placed under the names of historic Armenian cities and towns, which were mounted on the gym wall. In this way, the young adults created a large collage through which they learned about each other’s family histories.
The group also made more than 200 sandwiches for Pine Street Inn, a Boston shelter that serves the area’s homeless population.
On Sunday, May 24, Fr. Aljalian celebrated the Divine Liturgy. His sermon focused on the weekend’s theme, “This is Our Hye Time,” and emphasized the importance of honoring the past while working to build a bright future. On Sunday evening, participants gathered at St. James Church for dinner and an awards ceremony. They enjoyed dancing on a moonlight cruise aboard The Odyssey.