The sanctuary was echoing with a beautiful new voice as the next chapter began for St. Gregory the Illuminator Church on Sunday, April 3rd. His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, Eastern Prelacy, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and officially introduced Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian to the St. Gregory the Illuminator community.
In his sermon, Srpazan Hayr spoke about St. Gregory the Illuminator, whose feast day was celebrated this past weekend. He talked about the message of St. Gregory, which is that we must never give up our faith in God and Jesus Christ. Despite life’s difficulties which are to be expected, he encouraged us to celebrate this feast in our daily lives, every moment, so that serenity, peace and joy will be created in us – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Srpazan Hayr said how honored and blessed he was to celebrate the Holy Badarak with us on this special occasion. He expressed his gratitude to Der Nerses for postponing his retirement and for sharing his wisdom, experience and vision with Der Torkom.
In his closing, he offered encouraging words to Der Torkom to develop a new kind of leadership to the church and its organizations. This, he said, is how it will continue to be the church of illumination, illuminating the minds, souls and hearts of each and every member.
Following the Badarak, approximately 150 parishioners gathered in Founder’s Hall for a welcome reception for Der Torkom, Yeretzgin Shogher and their daughters, Gareen and Karny. The Hall was decorated with fresh flowers and the color green to symbolize growth, prosperity, and a new beginning.
Mike Injaian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, began the program with thanking Der Nerses for his commitment to St. Gregory the Illuminator Church for over 30 years and for agreeing to stay on as Der Torkom transitions from Assistant Pastor to Pastor. He welcomed Der Torkom and his family saying that this was a time for new beginnings and opportunities at the church.
Der Nerses welcomed his “junior brother, sister and family” too. He spoke about how the character of our parish is categorized with three L’s – Light, Love and Longevity. Light because of the positive attitude all parishioners bring to this church; love which permeates this community and is very real through how we all love and support each other; longevity – when you work with positive parishioners who love their pastor, church, community and all of its organizations, you cannot help but acquire that longevity.
Srpazan Hayr spoke about being friends with Der Nerses for over 50 years. He also told us that his birth name is Torkom and he was reluctant to have it changed when he became a priest because he always liked it. He is very happy that our new Der Hayr is also named Torkom.
For the first time in Founder’s Hall, Der Torkom addressed everyone and thanked us for being here. He gave glory and praise to God who made it possible to come to Philadelphia to serve St. Gregory’s Church and community. He extended his gratitude to Srpazan Hayr for appointing him as Pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church and for his guidance and inspiration. He thanked Der Nerses for instructing him about our church history, community, and the day to day responsibilities of being a pastor. He also thanked all those who welcomed him and his family so warmly and generously. They were thrilled and speechless with the love and hospitality shown from the community.
Der Torkom continued to say that he sees himself as someone whose calling is to serve and share everything God has given to him and asked for our prayers in his new ministry. He said that a successful parish and community is a place where everyone in the community participates as one body of Christ – all of us together, with each other, for each other, for the glory of God. Der Torkom is very excited for this beginning and hopes that renewal becomes the theme of his service together with us.
St. Gregory’s community is also very excited about this beginning and so happy to have Der Torkom as our new pastor. We look forward to many years of his ministry as we begin our new journey together.
Tania Selverian and Lydia Arakelian
Welcoming Committee – Co-Chairs