On Tuesday, February 9, on occasion of the feast of the Holy Ghevontian (Leontine) priests, the clergy of the Eastern Prelacy held a virtual gathering over Zoom because of the existing health restrictions.
During a religious celebration at noon, the participating clergy sang the Ghevontian hymns and recited the prayers. After the liturgical part of the gathering, Virginia Davis, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral parishioner, joined from California as the speaker of the day to talk about her pilgrimage to Artsakh and her plan for the preservation of its cultural heritage. As His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has proclaimed 2021 the Year of Artsakh, the Religious Council of the Eastern Prelacy thought it would be ideal to invite Ms. Davis for a presentation about her trip to Artsakh following the sad ceasefire agreement on November 9. She went to the Church of St. Minas in the village of Hak, district of Kashatagh, the reconstruction of which she had undertaken in memory of her parents. During her trip, she also met with the local community before this piece of the homeland was handed over to Azerbaijan. Ms. Davis described her visit to the local school and her conversations with the students and residents, as well as the existing military tension. In spite of the grave situation she laid out, Ms. Davis spoke about a promising project she conceived out of the pain caused by suffering and loss: the creation of a foundation to ensure the preservation of our cultural heritage in Artsakh, which will involve international participation. In her closing remarks, she called on the Pastors to mobilize their parishes to lift their spirits and take part in practical initiatives to build a realistic and positive future.
The presentation by Ms. Davis was followed by a lively Q&A session, after which the religious program of the gathering began. His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, conveyed to the clergy the warm greetings of Catholicos Aram I and his encouraging praise for their service, especially in this time of the Covid pandemic. In turn, the Prelate expressed his gratitude to the priests, who in spite of this unprecedented health, financial, and social crisis, were able to provide spiritual and intellectual nourishment and bring the people closer to God, regardless of all the existing difficulties.
Reverend Archpriest Fr. Ghevont Pentezian offered a reflection based on the 5:12-15 verses of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. After a beautiful analysis of the Apostle’s message, Fr. Ghevont closed his remarks by saying that a priest must always be ready to do more than what is expected of him for the progress and growth of his community.
In the ensuing discussion, the Pastors shared their recent experiences, concerns and plans.
The gathering ended with the “Bahbanich” (the Lord’s protection) prayer by Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy.