WORCESTER, MASS.—“Your church. Your nation. Engage!” These words served as a backdrop and motivational tool for delegates attending the Prelacy’s New England Conference on Feb. 21.
Close to 50 guests from 8 churches turned out at Holy Trinity Church, representing trustee boards and National Representative Assembly (NRA) circles.
His Grace Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan opened the day with prayer and commended the group for making the trip, despite winter’s fury. More snow had been predicted that afternoon.
The focal point of the discussion was the Centennial observances in New York City and Washington, D.C., along with the imminent visit by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I in May.
One by one, delegates stood up to review plans inside their own church communities: concerts, rallies, theater productions, marches, flag-raising ceremonies, visits to schools, libraries, and historical societies—the list went on. It almost seemed like one community was trying to outdo the other in a compelling sort of way.
All signposts pointed to NYC on April 26 for what appears to be an eclectic observance of unified proportions, resulting in a joint memorial service and march to Times Square—rain or shine.
A serious smile broke out on Srpazan Choloyan’s face as the delegation of guests outlined their agendas.
“In order to gain any notice in the outside world, we need thousands, not hundreds, of people,” he emphasized. “The papers and TV stations will not pay attention to our cause if the crowd does not meet their expectations. It’s incumbent upon all our communities to get involved with this mission.”
Directly behind Srpazan was a large poster of exercises taking place in D.C. that grabbed everyone’s attention: “Your church. Your nation. Engage!” His Holiness referred to that idiom a number of times throughout the day.
“What stands out emphatically is the diversity of these activities in our different cities,” said Chairman Steve Hagopian. “It seems like every venue is being covered. A milestone like this will never be repeated and we must make every effort to meet its potential.”
Providence relayed plans of hosting the AYF Olympics this year and engaging the youth in a timely fashion over Labor Day weekend. The importance of recruiting the younger generation for Times Square couldn’t have been more emphatically stated.
Applause rang out at the news of 10 busses being donated by Good Samaritan Aram Garabedian of Cranston, R.I. At last report, four of them have been filled and Rhode Island has no doubt that the other six will be occupied before the date.
Many communities throughout the state will be raising the tricolor and reading proclamations to mark the occasion, including the state’s capital in Providence.
In North Andover, the church has bonded with the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Merrimack Valley in securing buses for New York City and postponing its normal observance into September with the staging of Judith Boyajian’s “Women of Ararat.”
In addition, members of the Genocide Education Committee will visit up to 15 schools and colleges to elucidate students on human rights, visit service clubs, and produce shows for community television.
Tamar Kanarian presented an in-depth report of Vehapar’s visit to Watertown and Greater Boston, outlining a rigid agenda that serves to inspire.
John Daghlian did the same for events taking place in Washington, D.C. from May 6-9, with a Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine at Immaculate Conception, a cultural bonanza and joint presence of both Catholicosi, culminating with a banquet Saturday night.
It is urged that reservations be made online and tickets to different venues be purchased in advance, due to the demand.
Hagopian brought the conference to a close, discussing the Hollywood production “Men of Granite,” which features his dad Andy and three other Armenians winning a state basketball championship in 1940 in Granite City. The film is scheduled for release in November.
A heap of gratitude goes out to the Women’s Guild for the scrumptious breakfast and lunch prepared for guests in what proved a perfect gesture of hospitality.