Ara Babayan receives his award from Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

Presentation of St. Nerses Shnorhali Medals in Burbank


BURBANK, Calif. — On Sunday, January 21, the eve of the Fast of the Catechumens, Very Rev. Fr. Yeremia Abgaryan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at St. Leon (Ghevontiants) Armenian Cathedral. With the Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian presiding over the service, the spiritual center of the Western Diocese was filled with hundreds of faithful who participated in the service. Among the Diocesan clergy participating in the service were the Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz. V. Yardemian, Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, the Rev. Fr. Mikayel Kyureghyan, and the Rev. Fr. Nzhdeh Keshishyan. During the service, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian called forth to the nave Aida Askejian and her spouse Markar Askejian, Aida Sethian and her spouse Dr. Nubar Sethian, and Ara Babayan and her spouse Sonia Sumbulian Babayan.

The Primate introduced the honorees to the parishioners, informing the congregants about the selfless and unwavering service of the distinguished individuals rendered to the Armenian Apostolic Church. In recognition of their Christian zeal, unrelenting dedication, and steadfast support of the mission of the Armenian Church, Aida Askejian, Aida Sethian, and Ara Babayan were honored with the Pontifical Encyclical of Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and were presented with the prestigious St. Nerses Shnorhali (the Graceful) medals.

In his remarks, the Diocesan Primate commended the honorees’ loyalty and commitment to serving Christ, our Lord, upholding the sacred traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church and staunch belief and support of the Stewardship Program of the Western Diocese which pursues the God-pleasing mission of educating and preparing the future wave of Diocesan clergy through to shepherd the flock of Christ.

The service was followed by a Stewardship luncheon in the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall in honor of the medal recipients. It was attended by Diocesan Council Chairman Vartan Nazerian and his wife, Chairman of the Stewardship Committee Derik Ghookasian, and his spouse Adrineh, Stewardship Committee members, supporters, and friends.

Ara Babayan

Ara Babayan hails from a family dedicated to the Armenian Church, education, and service to the community. His grandfather was the archpriest of the Armenian Church in Aleppo, Syria, and a founding member of Aleppo’s famous old age home, which still continues to serve the elderly needing shelter, help and support.

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Ara’s father, Yervant Babayan, a lifelong educator, a legendary school principal of the Vahan Tekeyan School of Beirut and community leader, has inspired generations of Armenian youth. He was a founding member of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) AYA Youth Association in Aleppo. In Lebanon, he served as the chairman of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA). During the Lebanese Civil War, he chaired the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party District Committee.

Ara’s mother, Rosine Babayan, was an active committee member of AGBU as well as the Tekeyan Cultural Association, in Beirut. For more than 25 years she served as the recording and corresponding secretary of the Echmiadzin Ladies Society of Lebanon.

Ara Babayan, following his family’s tradition of community service, started very early in life. In Beirut he joined the AGBU Scouts movement. He also joined the Saint Kevork Armenian Church Choir. He became a founding member of the TCA youth organization. He also joined the AGBU Vahram Papazian theater group as technical support/consultant. Ara was an active contributor to the sports section of the ADL newspaper Zartonk daily, as well as the French magazine L’orient-Le Jour.

In 1980, Ara moved to New York with his family, where he joined the AGBU Ardavazt Theater Group, first as a member and later became its chair. He also served as the chair of the Tekeyan Cultural Association chapter there.

In 1985 he moved to California with his family and continued his involvement with the community. He chaired the San Fernando Valley Tekeyan Cultural Association Chapter. He also served as secretary of the ADL District Committee, a member of the AGBU Western District Committee, chair of the committee, secretary of the ADL Committee, and a member of the AGBU District Committee.

Ara is a founding member of the AGBU Scouts movement in Los Angeles. Currently, he is a member of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church Zvartnotz Cultural Committee. He is also the vice chair of the Parish Counsel of St. Garabed Church of the Desert in Rancho Mirage.

Ara has always enjoyed the full and unwavering support, advice, and collaboration of his wife of 47 years, Sonia. They are blessed with two sons and five grandchildren.

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