Late Pastor’s Spirit Hovers over Armenian School ‘Hantes’

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.—The spirit of Rev. Vartan Kassabian proved a guiding light in an Armenian School hantes dedicated in his behalf at St. Gregory Church last month.

A scene from an Armenian School hantes at St. Gregory Church in North Andover dedicated to its late pastor, Rev. Vartan Kassabian.
A scene from an Armenian School hantes at St. Gregory Church in North Andover dedicated to its late pastor, Rev. Vartan Kassabian.

The beloved pastor died unexpectedly this spring, sending shellshocks throughout this Merrimack Valley community.

The schoolchildren more than rose to the occasion with an undaunted display of music, dance, and recitation, under the devoted leadership of superintendent and instructor Sossy Jeknavorian.

“It was a very special occasion in more ways than one for our congregation,” said the director. “The students all loved Der Vartan dearly. He was watching over this hantes the same way he did over the past five years.”

Some 50 youngsters took part in the exercise, many dressed in costumes created by Digin Sossy, who received able support from a cadre of parents.

Prior to the hantes, a Sunday School graduation took place in the sanctuary, also under Digin Sossy’s direction, where Yeretskin Pauline read “a letter from heaven.” The emotional text simulated an actual letter from Der Vartan in the heavens above.

Special notice was also paid to two winners of an essay contest on genocide, tendered by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Merrimack Valley. They are Dennis Teague Jr. and Sonya Hovsepian, members of the local AYF. Both students were applauded for their exceptional reports.

A large and enthusiastic crowd shared in the experience.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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