One proposed rendering of a plan for development of the St. Vartan Cathedral Plaza of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, New York (from "Facts on the Diocesan Development Plan Proposal: Architectural Renderings and Elevations," Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern))

Like People Find Each Other


To the Editor:

The recent letters to the editor in the Mirror-Spectator by two members of the St. Nersess Seminary Board of Directors, Kevork Toroyan (August 25, 2018) and Moushegh Michael Haratunian (September 20, 2018 online), advocating for the sale of the land of the Diocesan Center in New York, remind me of the famous classical Armenian saying “Like people find each other.” In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Toroyan and Mr. Haratunian should have revealed in their letters to the editor that beginning in 2012 they were part of the triumvirate, along with the current Diocesan Council chairman, Mr. James Kalustian, who failed to complete an agreement with a developer to build a 30-plus-story building directly on the plaza of St. Vartan Cathedral.

It is troubling that those with no historical attachment to St. Vartan Cathedral like Mr. Haratunian feel the most compelled to publicly comment. Yet, according to Mr. Haratunian, those as far away as 3,000 miles, who do have a direct connection, should not comment, as they “have no stake in the matter in the first place.”

Those with deep familial or regional ties to St. Vartan Cathedral and the Diocesan Center are mistakenly considered “emotional” according to Mr. Toroyan and Mr. Kalustian. As they have repeatedly failed in gaining the support of the community due to their uninspiring ideas and a lack of confidence in their negotiating skills, they cast the first stone by insulting those who truly believe that St. Vartan Cathedral is the birthplace of their soul.

It is common knowledge that Mr. Kalustian exhorts the Diocesan Council to think like a corporate “Board of Directors” and make “hard decisions” even if the shareholders disagree. In the “Statement from the Diocesan Council” on August 11, 2018, it reveals “Out of the approximately $100 million currently managed by ACEF, just under $42 million is in the name of the Diocese, much of which is restricted for specific purposes.” Instead of being transparent, the Diocesan Council conveniently neglected to reveal the exact percentage of the $42 million that is not restricted and could be used to renovate the Diocesan Center.

Mr. Haratunian correctly advocates for a detailed discussion at the upcoming Diocesan Assembly in May 2019 in Massachusetts. The entire rollout by Mr. Kalustian at the last Diocesan Assembly has become a public relations disaster for the Diocesan Council from coast to coast and now even reaching Armenia. Mr. Kalustian and a few of his ideologues on the Diocesan Council, who comfortably sit in the tahlij of the Diocesan Center, in the same seats of the legendary giants who sacrificed for decades before them, greatly underestimated the will of those who deeply care about St. Vartan Cathedral and the Diocesan Center. Frankly, they should move their Diocesan Council meetings to the Diocesan Bookstore for a dry run, the same location Mr. Kalustian so eloquently recommended for the re-location of the Diocesan staff last May.

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Mr. Kalustian should leave his game of “Three Card Monte” for others to play in St. Vartan Park.


Rebecca Bakalian Hachikian

Los Angeles


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