Parishioners of Soorp Khatch Church in Bethesda, MD, had one more thing to celebrate on Palm Sunday as His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, presented the Prince of Cilicia medal to Dr. Dertad Manguikian bestowed on him by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I.
The faithful had flocked to the church for the first presential celebration of Palm Sunday since the pandemic began in 2020. Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Anoushavan. Prior to the Lord’s prayer, His Eminence granted the stole to Deacon Onnik Mutafian, following which he blessed the olive branches that were given to the public at the end of the liturgy, and delivered a sermon on the theme of peace.
The presentation of the catholicosal medal to Dr. Manguikian took place at the church’s Keshishian Hall following Divine Liturgy. In his welcoming remarks, Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Pastor, illustrated the humility of Dr. Manguikian with anecdotes and brief stories from the honoree’s life. Thereafter Aram Hamparian, Armenian National Committee’s Executive Director, highlighted Dr. Manguikian’s contributions to Armenian life. He also read a heartfelt message from Tina Manguikian, the honoree’s daughter, who was in California. The encyclical by which His Holiness conferred the honor to the distinguished ophthalmologist and parish member was read by the former Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, His Eminence, Archbishop Oshagan, who was visiting the United States.
On behalf of the Catholicos, Arcbhishop Anoushavan then presented the medal to Dr. Manguikian, saying that the unpunished genocidal state, with the complicity of the western Allies, also emptied Cilicia of its “devoted and blessed owners.” Yet, His Eminence, noted, “the nation of executioners was able to occupy Cilicia, but it did not manage to wrench away the Armenian spirit from Cilician Armenians wherever they were.”
The Prelate added that “the princely Armenian spirit has remained alive across the Diaspora.” Quoting from the Catholicos’ encyclical, he said, “the Prince of Cilicia honor is ‘service with absolute devotion.’”
Even though we have been deprived of our ancestral lands and statehood, the Prelate said, “thanks to our compatriots who were driven by a princely spirit, in the past century our churches, schools, cultural, charity, and athletic organizations flourished, keeping the Armenian Christian spirit alive.”
Archbishop Anoushavan recalled how he had the opportunity to familiarize himself with the Soorp Khatch parish in 1984 at the request of the Prelate at the time, Archbishop Mesrob, of blessed memory. At the end of Soorp Khatch’s annual party at the time, he remembers how the Board of Trustees’ chairperson and his wife cleaned up the hall and mopped the floors, took out the trash and left the hall ready for an event scheduled for the following morning. Indeed, the board chairperson I am talking about was Dr. Manguikian.
“It is with the same selfless spirit that Dr. Manguikian has served the Prelacy and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia as well as Armenian organizations across the board, deserving today the honor of Princely Service,” the Prelate said.
The honoree expressed his humble gratitude to His Holiness for the distinction, saying he had inherited the spirit of service to the nation from his parents and had tried to pass it on to his family members and be an example to his circle.
After a luncheon prepared and served by the Ladies Guild, everybody joined in singing “Giligia,” wrapping up the event in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Blessing of olive and palm branches
Acolyte Antranig Garabed opens the curtain during the Opening of the Gates ceremony
Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian
Archbishop Oshagan reads the encyclical of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I
Dr. Dertad Manguikian
Archbishop Anoushavan, Archbishop Oshagan, Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, and Dr. Dertad Manguikian and his family
Dinner after the presentation