January 8, 2024
Dear Parishioners and Friends of the Eastern Prelacy,
We thank the Almighty and Merciful God that under His Providence we completed the year 2023. Even though it brought terrible pain, it also saw equally comforting achievements. Along with the misfortunes suffered by humanity, the Armenian people relived the evil experience of the Genocide with the forcible displacement of the Armenian population from their ancestral lands of Artsakh. Nevertheless, next to this devastating experience, it was comforting to see that our people, gathered around the firm leadership of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, with complete devotion and undaunted willpower continued to live as Christian Armenians in accordance with the principle of our Lord Jesus Christ defeating evil with good.
On this occasion, we briefly outline the activities carried out during the year by the Eastern Prelacy. It is a tangible demonstration of the hard work of the Armenian faithful.
1. Religious Development
– On the first Monday of every month, the Pastors of the Parishes under the Prelacy’s jurisdiction led prayers for Artsakh and held meetings, during which they shared their experiences of pastoral life and promoted new projects.
– The Christian Education Department (AREC) organized the Lenten lectures series devoted to the 850th anniversary of the death of Catholicos St. Nerses Shnorhali at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, hosted by the Ladies’ Guild.
– Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, the AREC Director, offered online Bible Studies.
– The Religious Council organized a Deacons’ Seminar at Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey.
2. Executive Council and Board of Trustees
The Executive Council, under the motto of “Strong Faith, Strong Communities and Nation,” in Catholicos Aram’s proclamation of 2023 as Year of the Diaspora (II), promoted a closer cooperation between the Prelacy and the Parishes, holding online meetings regularly.
3. Youth Development
The Prelacy put to work its ample resources to attract the youth and train them to become future leaders, with the Siamanto Academy, the Datev Summer Institute, the Salt and Light youth initiative, and the newly created Summer Internship Program.
4. Training for Teachers
– A one-year Armenian studies course organized by ANEC complemented the three-year training program for Armenian teachers which acquainted them with modern teaching methods, co-sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Armenian Communities Department.
– A continuous teacher’s training program for Sunday School instructors was organized by AREC.
5. Celebrations of a Remarkable Milestone
The Prelacy’s Saint Nerses the Great Charity Organization, operating in Yerevan, celebrated its 30th anniversary from June 26 to July 2. Prizes for the literary and artistic competitions held on the occasion were distributed on June 26 and 27. The main celebration, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, was held at the Theater Hagop Baronian on June 28. The series of events came to a close with a memorial service for the late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian of blessed memory, founder of the Nerses the Great Organization, at the St. Gevorg Church of Mughni. One of the central projects of the organization has been the care of over 3800 orphans of Artsakh war martyrs until the age of 18 -as well as those continuing university studies-thanks to the generous contribution of many sponsors.
6. With and for the Artsakh Armenians
– In September, during the most severe blockade of Artsakh, the Prelacy organized the “Daily Bread for Artsakh” mission reaching out to our brethren through security channels.
– Following the displacement of Artsakh Armenians to the Motherland, upon the appeal of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, the U.S. Eastern and Western Prelacies each pledged $50,000 to reach out to our displaced brothers and sisters of Artsakh. A committee commissioned by His Holiness met with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, pledging $50,000 for the refugees. Afterwards, the committee met with our displaced brethren, comforting and encouraging them, as well as distributing $50,000 to them.
– The Prelacy is diligently continuing the outreach program for Artsakh Armenians. In conjunction with the “Hope and Light” Charity Organization operating in Yerevan, each month essential goods are provided to different groups comprised of 30-35 families.
– The Prelacy Churches are passionately geared toward contributing to the well-being of Artsakh Armenians. As a highlight of this mission we are pleased to note that St. Sarkis Church of New York and St. Sarkis Church of Dearborn (Michigan) have sponsored the purchase and distribution of 500 coats and 500 pairs of boots respectively, manufactured in Yerevan.
7. Pontifical Visit
The Eastern Prelacy was honored to welcome the pontifical visit of Catholicos Aram I, which created enthusiasm in the Prelacy, particularly in the communities of Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
In addition to the spiritual and social revitalization of the communities, the highlights of the visit was the opening prayer led by His Holiness at the House of Representatives of the United States as well as the lectures he gave at the George Washington University Law School and St. Vladimir Theological Seminary. The Catholicos also blessed the land for the construction of a new church, held forums with the youth, presided over an ecumenical service, met with church and political leaders, and presided over the Prelacy Thanksgiving banquet in his honor.
Our Prelacy considers itself fortunate to be honored in 2024 with a second Pontifical visit to the communities of New England and the Midwest.
On behalf of the Religious and Executive Councils we express our warmest gratitude to all who cooperate with us, the Pastors, the members of the Boards of Trustees, adjunct bodies, and sister organizations, and generally the daughters and sons of our people, who believing in our mission and service, provide material and moral support for the success of all our initiatives.
On the auspicious celebrations of the New Year and Christmas, we wish you a healthy life, success, and happiness for the prosperity of the Armenian Church and the glory of God.
With fatherly warm greetings,