Left to right: Bishop Richard Henning (Catholic Diocese of Providence); Rhode Island State Senator David P. Tikoian; Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate; Hon. K. Joseph Shekarchi, Speaker of Rhode Island House of Representatives; Hon. Katherine Kazarian, Majority Whip of Rhode Island House of Representatives, and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, Pastor, Sts. Vartanantz Church (Providence, Rhode Island)
On Friday, May 19, at the end of the second day of deliberations of the National Representative Assembly, the Eastern Prelacy hosted the annual banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, RI. After the singing of the anthems of the United States, Armenia, and Artsakh, the invocation by Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, and the dinner, the master of ceremonies, Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian, Chairman of the Executive Council, offered opening remarks. He announced the guests of honor of the evening, the Honorable K. Joseph Shekarchi, Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and the Honorable David P. Tikoian, Rhode Island State Senator.
Mr. Khatchadourian also thanked the host, Sts. Vartanantz Church (Providence, Rhode Island), its pastor, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, the Parish Council, Ladies Guild, Men’s Club, organizing committee, and Executive Council members for their efforts to seamlessly organize the Assembly. He noted that His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s letter to the National Representative Assembly stemmed from “the profound conviction that a strong Diaspora means a strong Homeland and, conversely, a strong Homeland is the precondition for a strong Diaspora.”
Therefore, the follow-up actions plan taken by the Executive Council on the basis of last year’s resolution by the Assembly, “and the panel discussions during this assembly, which included strategic planning, bylaws amendments, strengthening our financial framework, and engaging the young adults, shall again strengthen our commitment to serve in Faith, Hope and Love, and above all, strengthen our diasporan Armenian identity.”
Musical selections for the evening were offered by Raffi Rachdouni (piano), Bethany Sousa Rachdouni (violin), Taleen Donoyan, and Rosdom Mkrtschjan (soloists).
Welcome speeches were given by Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian and Levon Attarian, chairman of Sts. Vartanantz Church Board of Trustees. Mr. Attarian spoke about the need to go from words into actions “to rebuild our little Armenia,” in reference to the Eastern Prelacy in the post-Covid era. “We already have the infrastructure in place – the goal is to retain it and make it better than it was. We must follow these three steps: innovation, inspiration, and engagement.”
In the following section of the program, Prelacy awards were given to four youth from the Providence community in recognition of their exemplary participation in the life of the Armenian Church and serving as role models for the youth of the community. With praiseful and inspiring words, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian introduced the youth awards to Arpi Donoyan and Michael Simonian and the young adult awards to Nerses Donoyan and Sarkis Menissian.
Hon. Katherine Kazarian, Majority Whip of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, introduced Speaker Shekarchi, highlighting his unwavering advocacy for Armenian issues, including the recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which had earned him the “Eagle of the Prelacy” Award. After Archbishop Anoushavan delivered the award to the honoree, Speaker Shekarchi thanked the Prelate and the Prelacy for this award and reaffirmed his support to Armenian causes, stating that as “long as I am speaker of the House, Armenians will have a friend there.”
Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, former Pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church (Providence, RI), introduced State Senator Tikoian, who is also a longtime parishioner of the church, as the Man of the Year of the Eastern Prelacy. In his remarks, Sen. Tikoian acknowledged “the incredibly, profound honor to be recognized with this meaningful award” and added that “I cannot accept this honor alone, because I have been incredibly blessed to be surrounded and supported by loving family, friends and spiritual leaders during my life who have guided and mentored me to always do the right thing and make good choices.”
After the final address of Archbishop Anoushavan and the singing of Giligia, the closing moment of the event was the drawing of the National Association of Ladies Guild and the Prelacy raffles.