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A LOSS FOR THE EARTHLY, A FEAST FOR THE HEAVENLY

His spiritual father, the late Archbishop Zareh Aznavorian, best acquainted with the multiple talents of his spiritual son, during his consecration called him Meghrig, after Fr. Meghrig, the medieval Armenian priest renowned for his musical compositions and knowledge. In the last three decades, Fr. Meghrig, afterwards Bishop, absolutely justified all the qualities associated with his name as an expression of his essential identity. We just have to take a casual look at every ecclesiastical or popular artistic program sponsored by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and we will see how Fr. Meghrig, relatively young and later as an adult choir director, drew the admiration of both Armenian and non-Armenian musicologists and music lovers. His teacher and spiritual father always followed his talented spiritual son’s successes with deep satisfaction, encouraging his small and big progress.

In 1997, upon the invitation of the Prelate of the Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States, the late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, Fr. Meghrig arrived in New York with a multifaceted mission. In the first place, he completed his higher studies at the Mannes School of Music, graduating with honors. Alongside his studies, Fr. Meghrig organized a unified prelacy choir on occasion of the patriarchal visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. Music lovers from New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia formed part of the choir. Impressive as the choir was, with the extraordinary celebration of the Divine Liturgy by His Holiness, the loving sacrifices made by the young choirmaster are also worthy of admiration, who in the course of three months he traveled to the communities to perform rehearsals, accompanied by then Deacon Krikor Lakissian.

Along with the choir for the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy, Fr. Meghrig organized the “Gakavig” children’s choir, stirring great excitement among the younger generation. With his gentle lessons for the Siamanto Academy students, he also created an unusual love among them for Armenian music.

Thereafter, Fr. Meghrig served in Toronto, later becoming the Prelate of the Armenian Prelacy of Canada, director of “Birds’ Nest” and finally principal of the Zarehian Seminary of Bikfaya, where his teenage soul had found its inspiration and where he passed away, leaving behind unfulfilled wishes.

I am sure that everyone who knew, worked or lived with this unusual priest was attracted to his nature, sweet as his name, to the purity of his personality and character, his simplicity and transparency, sincerity and warmth, selflessness and sacrifice. With all this, he had gained the respect, love and admiration of everyone. If he ever expressed himself with anger, as it was not personal, nobody would be hurt by his arrows. I remember the naughty children of the “Gakavig” choir, when he asked them to approach him to be reprimanded, would do so with pleasure, as if it was a privilege.

According to an Armenian saying, “May you grab earth and may it turn into gold.” It is true that this phrase suits most faithfully to him. No matter how adept he was at having big dreams, he would also see to its execution. He would crown with the gold of success any project he undertook. For example, the events he organized that rivalled with Broadway on occasion of the feast of Nativity at the St. Mary Church of Toronto, the summer camps in Anjar for the children of Lebanon, the distribution of New Year’s gifts for families in need and other gatherings, which stand as the best testimonies of his entrepreneurship. What is surprising is that whoever he approached for material support, they would give it willingly, trusting his talents, his complete devotion, but most importantly the success of the undertaken project.

And on the threshold of new dreams at the seminary, the ruthless coronavirus took from us a loving, vital, strong and
virtuous member of our brotherhood and a soul brother, a spiritual father and family member.

There is no doubt that the musicologist members of our congregation who reside in the monastery will soon collect his rich musical legacy and may his melliferous voice sing forever for those of us who live in this time.

On Sunday, January 17, following the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Catholicosate of Antelias, when the body of the blessed Bishop Meghrig was committed to the ground, the loss of us, the earthly, became the feast of the heavenly ones, because he became deserving of the Lord’s call: “Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

May the memory of the just ones be blessed.

 

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