Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan (Harout Barsoumian photo)

Bishop Parsamyan Celebrates First Divine Liturgy after Elevation

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NEW YORK — On Saturday, October 14, newly-ordained Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan returned to St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral to celebrate his first episcopal Divine Liturgy as bishop of the Eastern Diocese.

The Primate, who had been consecrated as a bishop at the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin a week earlier by Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians, presided over the special badarak before a large gathering of clergy and lay people from near and far.

In a time of heartrending events and hardship thrust upon Armenians around the world, embodied in the tragedies in Artsakh and Armenia, Bishop Mesrop’s message of unwavering faith and optimism for the future of the Armenian Church and its faithful instilled feelings of hope and perseverance in all who heard his message.

As the heavenly strains of Khorhoort Khoreen (O Mystery Deep) began the service, Parsamyan, accompanied by a procession of clergy and altar servers, entered the sanctuary and bestowed his blessings among the faithful. A gold processional cross, followed by colorful processional banners featuring images of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, were held by the procession of clergy as they made their way through the cathedral. As they reached the altar, angelic strains of the choir reached a crescendo, further adding to the sacred atmosphere of the event about to unfold.

Blessings on the Faithful

From the altar, with arms outstretched, Bishop Mesrop faced the congregation and chanted the centuries-old Armenian prayers. Multiple cameras placed throughout the sanctuary provided those participating in the service at home with immersive views, including an intimate, front-facing view of Bishop Mesrop praying on the holy altar. Among the clergy and altar servers assisting him throughout the liturgy were Cathedral Vicar Fr. Davit Karamyan, and Diocesan pastors Fr. Armash Bagdasarian (Wynnewood, PA), Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan (Cheltenham, PA), Fr. Martiros Hakobyan (Houston, TX), and Fr. Avedis Kalaydjian (Racine, WI), along with a retinue of deacons from the cathedral and outlying parishes, as well as St. Nersess seminarians and other altar servers.

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Members of the St. Vartan Cathedral Choir, who play such an essential role in aural aspect of the Divine Liturgy every Sunday, were conducted by Khoren Mekanejian. On this occasion, the ensemble was further complemented by choristers from local parishes around the country, as well as by organist Deacon Ari Terjanian from St. Gregory of Narek Church in Cleveland, OH.

Among the dignitaries seated in the chancel at the foot of the altar, and in the front of the congregation, were Archbishop Vicken Aykazian and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, as well as representatives of various sister churches and the diplomatic corps, clergy from throughout the Eastern Diocese, leaders of Armenian organizations, and members of the Diocesan Council.

Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan gets ready for his first episcopal Divine Liturgy. (Harout Barsoumian photo)

A Homily from the Heart

Following the blessing and distribution of the Holy Eucharist, Bishop Mesrop delivered a heartfelt and uplifting homily. “Today, I am overcome with a spirit of thanks to the Lord, who took my life in His hands, shaped my soul, inspired my heart, rescued me from the shadow of death and guided me step by step to this ministry in His service,” he said.

Bishop Mesrop continued by acknowledging the pivotal role his family, friends and colleagues have collectively played in nourishing his spiritual development throughout his life’s journey. “Thank you to my clergy brothers and all our faithful who placed their trust in me, honored me, stood by me in my time of injury and triumph, and shared your strength and love with me,” he said.

He expressed special gratitude to Catholicos Karekin II, who the Primate said has encouraged and guided him throughout his ministry. And he thanked Berge Setrakian, the distinguished longtime president of AGBU, who stood as his godfather during his ordination.

Parsamyan then directed attention to the tragic situation that befell Artsakh, likening his role to that of a father entrusted with consoling his family experiencing unfathomable loss. “While suffering can sow the seeds of bitterness and resentment, that is not how a Christian should respond to it,” he explained. “God understands our pain and suffering, for He experienced it Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. We must trust that God is always with us, right beside us,” he said, adding, “God will see His justice done.”

Bishop Mesrop then looked toward the future and the challenging work ahead, imploring the faithful to assist our brethren fleeing Artsakh and to work together to strengthen our Diocese. Securing a bright future for the Armenian Church will enable future generations to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Primate then delineated his vision of three tasks, or “gifts,” that would be his focus for our Diocese: Evangelization (being a witness to the truth of the Holy Gospel); Spirituality (translating the invisible inner reality of the Spirit into the visible); and Love (our relationship with one another and the Heavenly Father). “When I stepped up to the altar today, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love,” he revealed. “I will rely on your prayers, my beautiful and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The viewing audience for the special Divine Liturgy included thousands of people from across the Diocese and around the world, sharing in the service as it was broadcast over the Internet. The small, dedicated production team included Yervant Keshishian, who directed the program, Artur Petrosyan on the mobile floor camera, and narrator Christopher Zakian.

Following the splendid badarak, worshippers adjourned to a bounteous reception in the Diocesan Center’s Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium, lovingly sponsored by Berge and Vera Setrakian. The occasion was a welcome opportunity for the large crowd of faithful to congratulate their new bishop, receive his blessing, and wish him well in his leadership of the Eastern Diocese.

 

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