From left, Stefanos Alexopoulos, Dr. Robin Darling Young, ArchbishopAykazian, Rev. Mark Morozowich and Fr. Karapetyan

St. Mary Armenian Church Marks 89th Anniversary and Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Ordination of Archbishop Aykazian

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WASHINGTON On Sunday, December 12, the Parish Council of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church organized and hosted an event dedicated to the church’s 89th anniversary as well as the 50th year of the ordination of Archbishop Vicken Aykazian.

The program started with greetings from MC Avedis Seferian, welcoming remarks by Parish Council Chairwoman Shoghig Sahakian and an invocation by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian.

Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the US Lilit Makunts spoke next, expressing her gratitude to Archbishop Aykazian for his decades of service to his people in Armenia and the Diaspora.

Chairwoman Shoghig Sahakian hands the golden cross to Archbishop Aykazian.

The keynote speaker was the president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, James Winkler, who highlighted Aykazian’s many contributions to Christian ecumenism, his knowledge of many languages, and familiarity with the many important personalities and religious places in Jerusalem. Winkler said Archbishop Aykazian has served the Armenian nation more than any political person by introducing its history, atrocities committed against it and the needs of the people living in Armenia and Karabakh through his work with many religious organizations in the US.

Many representatives from different religious communities spoke about him, including pastor of St. Mary Church Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan and several faculty members from the Catholic University of America, including dean and associate professor of Liturgical Studies/Sacramental Theology Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, Associate Professor of Church Dr. Robin Darling Young and Associate Professor of Liturgical Studies and Rev. Stefanos Alexopoulos.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian

Archbishop Aykazian is the ecumenical director of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), in which capacity he has served since 2000.

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Born in Turkey, he moved to Jerusalem as a young man to study at the Armenian Patriarchate. He was ordained a deacon in 1968 and celibate priest in 1971. He attended the Armenian Seminaries in Istanbul and Jerusalem and then studied pastoral theology at St. Augustine’s College in Canterbury before he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from King’s College in London. Aykazian receive his PhD from the Armenian Academy of Sciences’ Department of History and completed his doctoral course requirements at Fribourg Catholic University in Switzerland.

He has served the Armenian Church in diverse roles including tenures as Primate of the Diocese of Switzerland and as director of the Fund for Armenian Relief’s office in Armenia.

In 1992 Catholicos of All Armenians Vazken I consecrated him a bishop at Holy Echmiadzin.

In 2007 he was elected president of the National council of Churches of Christ in the US and served his term from 2008 through 2009. He was the first Oriental Orthodox clergyman to serve as president of America’s leading ecumenical organization. He currently sits on the Executive Board of National council of Churches as well as on the board of the World Council of Churches, where his involvement has been extensive and continuous since 1985.

From left, Bryan Ardouny, Mariam Khaloyan, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, and Dr. Rouben Adalian

The program included a heartwarming performance and recitation in Armenian by the St. Mary Shnorhali Sunday School students, ages 5 to 12, under the direction of its newly appointed Director Nunik Nahapetyan Nishanian. They presented a Biblical story, recited the poem “Armenian Church” by Vahan Tekeyan and sang the hymn of the Catholicos of All Armenians with Tagouhi Gomtsyan as soloist.

Executive Director of Armenian Assembly of America Bryan Ardouny spoke next, saying his organization recognizes Archbishop Aykazian’s decades long dedication to the Armenian nation and work with the world’s major interfaith and Christian ecumenical groups. The Armenian Assembly has provided Aykazian with an office in its headquarters in Washington, DC for many years.

Rev. Karapetyan spoke eloquently of Archbishop Aykazian’s humility, leadership in the Armenian Church worldwide and his constant advice to Catholicos of All Armenians and Primate of Eastern US.

On this occasion, Parish Council Chairwoman Shoghig Sahakian, on behalf of Board members and the church, presented him a special gift of golden Armenian Cross made in Armenia.

Head table, L-R Shoghig Sahakian, James Winkler, Abp Aykazian, Lilit Makunts, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan

The Karas Armenian wine for the reception was sponsored by the Armenian Embassy, the barbeque was donated by Ghazarian family of Bark BBQ, the anniversary cake donated by the Movssesian family of Classic Bakery, with the lunch sponsors Margie Satian and Koumkoumian families. The audio visual presentation was by Haykaram Nahapetyan. The program was put together by numerous volunteers who worked under the direction of Raffi Sahakian, including the ACYOA  youngsters as servers.

— Kevork Marashlian

 

 

 

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