The first clergy conference of 2014 was held at the Headquarters of the Western Diocese on Tuesday, February 25, the Feast of St. Ghevont the Priest and His Companions (Ghevontiantz). The day commenced with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at 9:30 a.m. by Rev. Fr. Mesrop Ash, Pastor of St. John Armenian Church in San Francisco. The day’s homily was delivered by Rev. Fr. Nerses Hayrapetyan, Pastor of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Santa Clarita.
Following the morning service, the clergymen gathered at the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall for lunch served by the Cathedral’s Ladies Society.
Twenty-eight clergymen, among whom was Rev. Fr. Krikor Zakaryan, participated in the clergy conference presided by Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. They prayed for the departed soul of their Brother in Christ, Archpriest Fr. Hovhannes Maroukian who entered his eternal rest on January 1.
The conference commenced with the Primate’s welcoming remarks and the presentation of the agenda. Archbishop Derderian invited Diocesan Council Chairlady the Honorable Judge Adrienne Krikorian to present a report on the current progress of the clergy retirement fund. Judge Krikorian noted that it is priority for the Diocesan Council to establish the aforementioned fund in order to cover cost of living expenses for retired Diocesan clergymen. The Diocesan Council Chairlady also spoke about the construction of the Camp Chapel (dedicated in honor of the Patriarch of Jerusalem H.B. Abp. Torkom Manoogian), stressing the camp’s importance in the life of the Western Diocese and its instrumental role in the preservation of the Armenian identity.
Reports were also presented by the heads of various departments of the Western Diocese including Mr. Mashdots Jobanian (Religious Department), Dn. Mktich Ksachikyan (Youth Department), Mr. Hayk Madoyan (Library and Ecumenical Department), Mr. Vahe Sargsyan (Television and Media Department), Mr. Sergey Arustamyan (Communications Department) and Diran Avagyan (Mission Parishes Department).
Following presentation of the staff reports, words of gratitude were expressed by Archpriest Fr. Arshen Aivazian, Pastor of St. Paul Armenian Church, who will be retiring from the pastorate in May 2014. Father Arshen thanked his Brothers in Christ for their encouragement and support throughout the years.
Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Pastor of St. James Armenian Church of Los Angeles presented a report on the progress of Deacons’ training programs. The clergyman spoke about the steps being implemented to ensure a uniform structure for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy throughout all parishes of the Western Diocese.
Father Nerses Hayrapetyan, Pastor of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Santa Clarita, informed the clergymen about the upcoming day-long retreat at the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California. Organized by the Religious Department and the Retreat Committee, the uplifting spiritual journey will take place during the Great Lenten period on April 8-9. Father Nerses strongly urged the priests to raise awareness about the retreat in their parishes.
The Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz. V. Yardemian presented sacramental and religious guidelines to be implemented at the Western Diocese. Father Dajad also informed the clergy about an upcoming publication titled “Feasts, Traditions and Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.” The book, authored by Father Dajad, himself, will be printed this year.
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian informed the clergymen about the current and future construction projects at the Western Diocese. He noted the construction of the Armenian Pre-School in Las Vegas, which is nearly in its completion stage. The building will be the venue for this year’s Diocesan Assembly scheduled to be held on May 1-3.
His Eminence also spoke about other construction projects including the rebuilding of the Armenian Church of Crescenta Valley and St. John Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood in the Armenian architectural style. These rebuilding projects will commence place after Easter. St. Apkar Armenian Church will begin an expansion project as plans for a 12-unit retirement home have been presented and approved.
The Primate thanked his fellow Brothers in Christ for their presence and participation. His Eminence encouraged the clergy to remain steadfast in their mission of sharing the Lord’s divine love in their respective communities.
The conference concluded with an Evening Prayer Service