BEVERLY HILLS — An abundance of legacy and love flowed through the fitting setting of the old-world glamour Beverly Hills Hotel in a celebration banquet honoring Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, former primate of the Western Diocese, and the First Ladies of the Auxiliary on Sunday, September 23, in an event hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Western Diocese under the auspices of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
The theme of the afternoon, “A Legacy of Love,” recalled the strong foundation built by Hovsepian during his decades-long tenure, from 1971 until 2003, and the integral role of the Ladies Auxiliary that in unison bolstered the Western Diocese during its early life, gathering financial and spiritual support while heightening its reputation.
The cocktail hour and silent auction, proceeds of which benefited the Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian Summer Camp, featured vintage photos and articles of the activities of the Western Diocese and the Ladies Auxiliary, from the first cotillion in 1972 to the Christmas reception to many other outreach activities, which cemented the presence of the Western Diocese as a leader of religious and cultural activities in the greater Los Angeles Armenian community, the traditions of which continue on to the present day.
A venerable figure in the Armenian Church hierarchy throughout his lifetime of service, Hovsepian has served Armenian communities across the globe, particularly in North America. Accessible and modest, Hovsepian commanded the respect of his flock, dedicating his life to the betterment and preservation of the Armenian Church and becoming a centerpiece to the Armenian community’s life in California for almost 50 years.
As he strengthened the Western Diocese — which consisted of a small rented office on Crenshaw Boulevard when he assumed the role of Archbishop in 1971 to the acquisition of the impressive Diocesan Headquarters in Burbank today — he worked alongside the dedicated Ladies Auxiliary (the original 12 consisting of members of various churches, including Margaret Dadourian, Hadji Haiganoush Dulgarian, Rose Ketchoyan, Sue Chortanian, Norma Sulukciyan, Mary Vartanian, Dorothy Manookian, Isabelle Davidian, Gloria Meghrigian, Hadji Perooz Frankian, Azadouhie Keotahian and Babe Simonian). Over time, the Ladies Auxiliary expanded to include many more, including a total of 40 members who continue to serve the Diocese today.
“What we are today, we can thank no one but Vatche Srpazan who took on this Diocese when it had nothing except those offices on Crenshaw Boulevard I remember going to as a kid,” said Rev. Vazken Movsesian, who developed a close relationship with Hovsepian, his “spiritual father,” from the very beginning of his pastoral journey. Accompanying him to his studies in Echmiadzin when he was a student, Hovsepian was present during many other milestones in Fr. Movsesian’s life, from ordaining him, to officiating his wedding, to baptizing his children to officiating the marriage of his children.