St. Vartan Cathedral in New York

Letter to the Editor: Diocesan Center Must Not Be Sold

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To the Editor:

It was with a very troubled heart that I learned in Deacon Hirant Gulian’s letter to the new Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, and Diocesan Council Chairman James Kalustian (June 2, 2018 edition of the Mirror-Spectator), that the Diocesan Council is strongly considering selling the Diocesan Center in New York City.

On April 27, 1968, I was the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America representative who gave the welcoming address in Armenian to Catholicos Vasken I at the youth rally in Kavookjian Auditorium. I was fortunate to know many of the wonderful men and women who built the Diocesan Center and St. Vartan Cathedral. They not only had deep faith, but common business sense.

I have learned that the Diocesan Delegates were blindsided by the abovementioned proposal at the Diocesan Assembly in May. For Mr. Kalustian, the chairman, to make such a faux pas and announce the proposed sale on the eve of the 50th anniversary celebration of the consecration of St. Vartan Cathedral at the Diocesan Assembly in New York was shockingly insensitive.

Possibly, the Diocesan Center would not be at the stage of being held together by a band aid as the chairman has publicly stated, if the chairman had been more focused on not letting the situation get to this point by taking action as the situation began to deteriorate. The actions of the chairman and former Supreme Spiritual Council member, who allowed the Diocesan Center to get to this point after years as a member of the Diocesan Council, are similar to the actions of owners of professional sports teams who run their stadiums into the ground so they can find a convenient excuse to relocate to a new city, benefitting the team owners more than the people they serve. Possibly, the longtime Diocesan Council member and chairman, who rules without fear of term limits, should have exhausted more time on the physical condition of the Diocesan Center.

It must be remembered that the Diocesan Center, as well as St. Vartan Cathedral, were built on the backs of genocide survivors. Deacon Hirant, I wholeheartedly concur with you that “those leaders who do not listen to the people will have to resign and go home.”

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Rebecca Bakalian Hachikian

Los Angeles

June 4, 2018

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