On the feast of Saint Gregory the Theologian, while celebrating the Holy Mass to thank the Almighty Lord for His bounties unconditionally showering upon us, we also offer our farewell prayers for our spiritual brother, Archpriest Reverend Vazken Bekiarian, who entered peacefully into rest in Christ on July 27, 2021. While receiving Final Anointing, which is a privilege reserved for all those who serve in the Holy Priesthood, our deceased brother first was faced toward the East, and gave his last greetings to the Holy Church, to the Holy Altar, and to the rank of his fellow priests, saying that he was now set on the journey toward his Creator. Then, having been turned to the West, he greeted all the children of the Holy Church, brothers and sisters in Christ, telling them that he was now set on the journey toward Christ, our Hope. Then, having been turned to the South, he announced that he departs from all of us upon the calling of Christ God, who renews us. Then, having been turned to the North, he asked all of us to pray for him and to remain unshakeable in our faith.
The Biblical verse which best characterizes Archpriest Der Vazken, who served the Lord faithfully and humbly for 43 years, is found in the First Psalm. It reads, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…he is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not whither…” (Ps 1:1-3).
- Archpriest Vazken was a blessed husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, who enjoyed his God-granted life for 92 years. For 66 years, he shared the love and support of Yeretsgin Anahid, his life-mate and soulmate from Nicosia, Cyprus, to United States. He was blessed with a Church-oriented family: five children, 13 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and all of their relatives. Der Vazken always enjoyed being surrounded by them, frequently hosting them at his home until the eve of his departure from this world. Without challenging the infallibility of the Psalmist who describes the lifespan of humans as 70 years, or at the most 80 years, the Merciful Lord has been generous toward His servant, granting him an extra healthy decade to enjoy and praise the Giver of all good things.
- Der Vazken was blessed as a child of Genocide survivors, who served on the Altar starting at his age of seven as an acolyte. He had full consciousness of Calling when he was ordained into the Priesthood on 24 September 1978, on the feast of the Holy Cross of Varak. Since then, he served as the Pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Worcester, MA, reorganizing and renewing the historic community. After 22 years of pastoral duty, a new mission was entrusted to him to serve the Lord as one of the Outreach clergy of the Prelacy. Der Hayr verified both sayings, of being “Young at Heart”, and “You are What You think”. During his new mission, God only knows how many miles he put on his cars by driving across the eastern United States, travelling from Worcester, his hometown, to most of the Prelacy communities from East to West and North to South. He faithfully visited Armenians living as far away as Atlanta, Ga., Granite City, Ill., Detroit, MI., and Fort Lauderdale, FL. All of this travelling he did willingly, joyfully, and courageously. And the beauty in all of these travels, without exception, was that he was blessed to have sitting next to him his lifetime bride, Yeretsgin Anahid. He was famous for his commitment: “I will offer the Badarak until I can no longer hold the chalice.” Indeed, he celebrated the Eucharist prior to the Covid-19, at Saint Illuminator’s Cathedral in NYC, and the rest is history.
- Archpriest Bekiarian was blessed as clergy not only by praising the Lord in preaching and celebrating the Mass and other Sacraments, but also as a former textile merchant. The Good Lord, who had poured His wisdom and understanding on Bezalel to work in the construction of the sanctuary (Ex 36:1), likewise had bestowed upon this humble servant of His the talent of sewing priestly garments. Der Vazken, out of his zeal toward the embellishment of the Church, prepared with his Yeretsgin the sacramental vestments for most of the Prelacy and Diocesan clergy. They put their love into their work, always believing that the Altar should reflect the magnificent glory of the heavenly splendor.
- Der Vazken Avak Kahana Bekiarian was blessed even in his departure from the turbulence of this world. As Saint Nerses Shnorhali in the 20th stanza of his prayer “In Faith I Confess” had besought “Beneficent Lord, commit me to the good Angel, so that I may in gentleness give up my soul”, likewise Der Hayr having hosted most of his immediate beloved ones at his residence on the preceding Sunday, by midnight of Monday, July 26, or early morning of Tuesday, July 27, committed his soul to the good Angel without any pain or suffering.
His sudden death of course shocked his entire family, the so called “Dynasty,” the Prelacy and the Community. Nevertheless, his genuine love toward his own will be cherished always, and his exemplary service to the Almighty Lord will forever inspire the ranks of our clergy.
We pray that the Holy Spirit of the Lord be the comforting “rod and staff” (Ps 23:4) for Yeretsgin and all the beloved ones. May the Good Lord make Archpriest Vazken worthy to hear His Divine Voice, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21).