The members of the clergy in Wisconsin commemorating Martyrs’ Day

Southeast Wisconsin Armenians Commemorate Martyrs’ Day

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MILWAUKEE — For many decades, the four Armenian churches of Southeast Wisconsin jointly observed Martyrs Day on April 24 with requiem services (prior to 2015) and other commemorations. This year, the four churches marked Martyrs Day by celebrating Sunday liturgy together on April 23 at St. John the Baptist Armenian Church, Milwaukee. Priests, deacons, sub deacons, choir members and the faithful from all four communities filled the St. John sanctuary.

April 23 is Green Sunday on the Armenian Church calendar with green as the color of life and promise, the color of springtime symbolizing the Resurrection. As Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian (St. Hagop Armenian Church, Racine) emphasized in his homily, resurrection has been a perennial theme in Armenian history. From the Battle of Avarayr through the shifting borders of empire and the shifting fortunes of foreign occupation, culminating in the Armenian Genocide but continuing today with the Azeri blockade of Artsakh, Armenians have been tested and forced to defend heritage and faith. Armenians have maintained independence as a people even during periods when there was no independent Armenian state. The Armenian Church, he stressed, has been the pillar of strength throughout this long history.

Like the Phoenix, Armenia has risen from the ashes many times. Fr. Stepanian added that Martyrs Day is not only a time to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who perished during the Genocide but also calls us to continue the campaign for justice and to build strong communities in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.

At the conclusion of the joint liturgy, Fr. Stepanian, Rev. Fr Guregh Hambardzumyan (St. John the Baptist, Milwaukee), Rev. Fr. Avedis Kalayjian (St. Mesrob Armenian Church, Racine) and Rev. Fr. Sahag Kashian (Holy Resurrection Armenian Church, South Milwaukee) performed the Prayers of Intercession for the martyrs of the Genocide. A memorial wreath was laid at the khachkar in the Martyrs of Armenian Genocide Memorial Courtyard outside St. John. Afterward, members of the four Armenian communities of Southeast Wisconsin gathered in St. John’s Culture Hall for a madagh dinner in memory of Martyrs Day.

 

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