Thousands Attend Ecumenical Service; Chorale Concert Set for June 19
DETROIT, Mich.—In an amazing display of unity, clergy and lay people gathered in the thousands in suburban Detroit on April 24 for an Ecumenical Service honoring and remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Some 3,000 people crowded the interior and exterior of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Basilica in Livonia for the service, which also celebrated the canonization of the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs of the genocide. In attendance was Ramela Carman, 101, a genocide survivor.
The service was produced by the Armenian Churches of Greater Detroit Genocide Centennial Committee, an assemblage of the four Armenian churches in southeast Michigan: St. John Armenian Apostolic Church, led by Fr. Garabed Kochakian; St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, led by Fr. Hrant Kevorkian; Armenian Congregational Church, led by Rev. Shant Barsoumian; and St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church, led by Very Rev. Fr. Mikael Bassale. Committee co-chairs were Deacon Manouk Derovakimian of St. Sarkis and Deacon Richard Norsigian of St. John.
The service began with a procession into the Basilica led by Fr. Kochakian and Fr. Kevorkian. Both carried relics of the saints into the sanctuary that were placed on a special altar table.
Other participating clergy included the Most Reverend Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit; Archbishop Nathanial Popp, Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church of America; Fr. Abraham Ohanesian, Visiting Priest of Mission Parishes, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; the Rev. Fr. Diran Papazian, Pastor Emeritus, St. John Armenian Church; and host pastor, the Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub, Pastor of St. Mary Basilica. In addition to the participating clergy, 43 clergymen representing various Christian denominations filled the pews for worship.
During the ceremony, 12 Armenian youth—representing each of the 4 churches, and including members of the local Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble, dressed in authentic Armenian costumes—lighted candles at the altar table. Each of the 12 candles represented the regions in Turkish-occupied Armenia where lives were lost.
Bilingual prayers were offered by the leaders of Detroit’s four Armenian churches, and the homily was delivered by Archbishop Vigneron. He noted how the Christian community was “appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people,” who were brought to the “brink of annihilation.”
Attendees were also mesmerized by an outdoor digital light display on the facade of the Basilica’s main building and bell tower. Projections of iconic Armenian churches and religious symbols telling the story of the genocide and the Armenian nation’s rich religious influence were presented by well-known Detroit-area photojournalist Michelle Andonian and visual artist Gabriel Hall of New D Media Arts.
During a special remembrance celebration that followed at St. Mary’s Cultural Center, the triptych mural, “100 Years of Endurance: The Story of a People’s Struggle for Survival and the Desire for Truth and Reconciliation,” was unveiled. The work was commissioned for this event and painted by Andrea Kalajian, a Detroit-area artist. Her work depicts the Armenian Genocide using archived images of the atrocity transitioning into images of restoration of our historic homeland.
As the committee’s events continue, next month brings a musical and narrative commemoration of the genocide featuring the Detroit Armenian Chorale and Orchestra. Entitled “A 100-Year Journey of Remembrance and Song,” the event will tell the story of the near-annihilation of the Armenian people through special vocal arrangements and oral presentations. There will also be a guest appearance by the Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble.
The curtain rises on the program at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 19, at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Max M. Fisher Music Center, located at 3711 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Tickets are $10 for adults; free for children under the age of 7. Free bus transportation will be provided from the parking lots at St. John, St. Sarkis, and the Armenian Congregational Church, but reservations are required.
Tickets for the concert, which is underwritten in honor of the Vanerian-Darrejian families, can be obtained by calling (248) 206-5527; by contacting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra box office at (313) 576-5111 or www.dso.org; or e-mailing email@example.com.