WATERTOWN — The Society of Istanbul Armenians of Boston honored Fr. Arakel Aljalian, pastor of St. James Armenian Church of Watertown, as “Father of the Year” at the Society’s annual dinner on Saturday, June 17 at St. James’ Armene and Veronica Tarvezian Hall.
Dr. Aida Yavshayan served as the master of ceremonies, and the president of the Society of Istanbul Armenians of Boston, Krikor Shaboyan, welcomed the guests. Initially some slides were shown without narration of various sites familiar to Istanbul Armenians.
The Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble, featuring local Armenian children and artistic director and founder Hasmik Konjoyan, sang several Armenian songs for the audience. Its presence enlivened the audience. Konjoyan spoke a few words about the importance of fathers, as well as that of spiritual fathers (i.e. clergymen) in the lives of our families.
Fr. Krikor Maksoudian gave a benediction prior to the meal. A second clergyman, Fr. Aved Terzian, pastor of the Armenian Church of Our Savior in Worcester, was also in the audience.
Yavshayan then introduced several Armenians to speak about Fr. Alajalian. First came George Haroutiounian, who was a good friend and classmate of Fr. Aljalian in high school over thirty years ago in Jerusalem. Their friendship endured and grew stronger years later in Watertown. He said that Fr. Aljalian’s calling to be a priest came early to him as a teenager. Haroutiounian praised Fr. Aljalian’s leadership abilities, and exclaimed, “Your humble, balanced approach to life is inspiring.”
Alex Kalaydjian spoke next. A native of Jerusalem, Kalaydjian has known Aljalian for about 40 years, from when he came from Turkey to study at the Dadourian Saner School, and later at the Armenian seminary. In the mid-1980s, Aljalian came to the US, and two years later so did Kalaydjian. In 1998, they met once more, and now practically see each other every day. Kalaydjian concluded with the words that fatherhood is like the morning dew in a field, both pure and sweet. He wished Aljalian a long life, and strength, health and patience, both as a father and as a leader of the Armenian community. He gave a copy of Matthew Karanian’s book on Western Armenia, Historic Armenia after 100 Years, as a present to Aljalian.