New York St. Illuminator’s Cathedral Marks 95th Anniversary

$90,000 raised during the celebrations

By Zaghig Callian

NEW YORK—On Sunday evening, May 22, parishioners and friends of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral gathered at the Terrace on the Park to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the cathedral. The event was under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. Among the clergies were Archpriest Moushegh Der Kaloustian, Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian, pastor of the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in New Jersey, and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in New York.

The three honorees with H.E. Archbishop Oshagan and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian

Since its earliest days, the cathedral has welcomed Armenians who came to the United States from all corners of the world. It played a vital role in their lives and they, in turn, have contributed to its growth. Also attending in large numbers were the sons and daughters of the original parishioners of the cathedral, many of whom have moved to the outer boroughs of New York, and to Connecticut and New Jersey, yet still consider the cathedral—the “27th Street Church”—their spiritual home.

The master of ceremonies for the celebration was Avedis Alashaian. In his remark Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian said, “We have called our sacred church a ‘mother’ for many reasons. In the words of Bishop Karekin Khachadurian, ‘She is the embodiment of the image of a mother, with all her attributes: She gives birth in labor, nourishes, and educates.’ These words befit so beautifully our 95-year-old church, which has truly been a mother to many churches, as she has been a true mother for thousands of Armenians setting foot in this blessed country after the genocide or World War II. It became the Ellis Island for Armenian Americans. Through the ANCHA, the church has hosted thousands of refugees arriving in New York for the perpetuation of Christian faith, Armenian language and history. She has supported the Armenian school with the thoroughness of a mother.”

Lalig Vartanian made remarks on behalf of the Board of Trustees. “From day one,” she said, “the church became a second home to thousands of Armenian refugees stepping onto this land. It gave them shelter and care until they were able to thrive.”

The main speaker was Archbishop Oshagan. “A look back will show how much loyalty, faith, sacrifice, and dedication congregated under the cathedral’s canopy,” the Srpazan said. “As the first Armenian cathedral in North America, our dreams coalesced there and became true; the faithful found peace of mind and soul there. Strengthened by its presence and service, the cathedral arose again by building and beautifying its own life and the life of its community. Every single aspect of the cathedral is witness to Armenian history—the good times as well as the troubled ones. At the same time the cathedral and its faithful held fast to their principles, their national rights, and their dreams. The cathedral is still the witness of those thousands of newcomers who first experienced the kindness of hospitable hearts there. Sharing a meal together at the cathedral solidified close family love in a warm environment. The cathedral has accomplished all this, and more, because the only purpose and goal of its existence was, and is, service for the peace and tranquility of the souls of the Armenian faithful.”

Archbishop Oshagan also presented Certificates of Merit to three parishioners for their exemplary volunteer service to the cathedral: Antranig (Joseph) Vartanian, Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, and Alex Sarafian. Guests enjoyed beautiful Armenian music by the Michael Gostanian Ensemble.

The drive to collect funds for the renovation of the cathedral and the facade is in full swing. The combined booklet and on-site donations amounted to $50,000. In addition a very generous donation of $40,000 from Arthur Bedrossian brought the evening’s total to $90,000.

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