By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — He was larger than life – a man truly dedicated to his family, to his church, to his profession, to all whom he could help, and to his countrymen in Armenia, Artsakh and America. And he generously gave to all with complete love, devotion, humility and always with a smiling face, even when he himself was suffering.
He was Dr. Raffy A. Hovanessian, (1938- 2020).
On Saturday, September 10, more than 400 family, friends and admirers who had come from across this country and throughout the world, packed St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral for a solemn yet celebratory service extolling Hovanessian’s exemplary life.
When the more than a dozen clergy, including Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Pontifical Legate of the Armenian Church in Western Europe, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Armenian Church, and Bishop Daniel Findikyan entered the cathedral, the huge crowd stood quietly in reverence.
During the sacred Armenian Requiem Service, legendary Armenian singer Onnik Dinkjian came before, faced the altar, and sang the soulful Der Voghormia (Lord Have Mercy) by Komitas with heartfelt emotion. He was accompanied on the organ by his son, Ara Dinkjian, who also accompanied the combined choir, from St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and St. Armenian Illuminator Cathedral, conducted by choir director Khoren Mekanejian. Soloists were Anoush Barclay, Hasmik Mekanejian and Anahit Zakaryan.