New York City’s famous St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral is reopening, one year after it closed its doors to undergo a major renovation. Made possible by financial support from friends, parishioners, and other bodies of the church, and overseen by Father Mesrob Lakissian and the Church Reconstruction Committee, the reopening of St. Illuminator’s represents a step forward for New York City’s Armenian community.
The Mayr Yegeghetzi has always been known as the “Ellis Island” to New York’s Armenian immigrants because of the very important role it played in welcoming them to Manhattan from all over the world. Located at 221 East 27th Street, St. Illuminator’s was the first Armenian cathedral in New York City. Named in honor of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Church, it opened its doors in 1916. Due to the events of World War I, however, it was not formally consecrated until April 1921. Since then, the cathedral has continuously served new Armenian Americans. From providing emergency housing to dislocated Armenian families who escaped the genocide, to supplying food and clothing to Armenians who escaped the turmoil in the Middle East in the 1960’s, St. Illuminator’s has been a spiritual home to its congregation and a beacon of hope to the countless members of the Armenian Diaspora.
Today, St. Illuminator’s is a beloved place where Armenians from all ages come to pray, participate in its beautiful liturgy, and receive the holy sacraments. During the year-long renovation process, the Divine Liturgy was offered every Sunday at the Armenian Center in Woodside, Queens, under the auspices of Father Lakissian.
On Sat., Sept. 19 at 7 p.m., His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States, will lead a special service re-consecrating the cathedral’s altar. On Sun., Sept. 20 at 10:30 a.m., he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon inaugurating a new era for the cathedral.
Over the next few months, work will continue at the cathedral’s lower level and the Board of Trustees and delegates of St. Illuminator’s will continue to raise funds to support the renovation effort.
For more information or to make a donation to the St. Illuminator’s reconstruction fund, call the cathedral’s office at (212) 689-5880 or visit http://stilluminators.org.