NEW YORK—On Aug. 17, parishioners and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian of St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral visited the Armenian Home of Old Age in Flushing, N.Y. to perform the Blessing of the Grapes service.
Before he began, Rev. Lakissian explained that the tradition has been a part of Armenian religion and culture for centuries. The residents sat before the altar in the auditorium, heaped with bags of grapes that the church had donated for the occasion. “By blessing the grapes, we bless the fields and the vineyards,” said Der Mesrob.
The tradition was incorporated into Christianity in Armenia and now coincides with the Christian feast of the Assumption of St. Mary that is celebrated in August every year. Der Mesrob, Seta Balmanoukian, Tamar Lakissian, and Sossi Essajanian recited prayers dedicated to St. Mary. This year, there was an extra treat for the residents as three adorable girls, Taleen Lakissian, Anna Maria Manoogian, and Salpy Ketchelian, recited and sang for the audience.
Rev. Lakissian blessed each resident individually and then distributed the bags of grapes. He presented the Home with a donation of $500 from St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. After the scheduled program, the informal singing and dancing began. The visit ended with those present singing the “Hayr Mer” (“Lord’s Prayer”).
Rev. Mesrob Lakissian visits the Home and worships with the residents every Wednesday, making special visits to those in the hospital when necessary. Each week, Rev. Lakissian’s prayers and visits bring life to all at the Home.