TERRACE ON THE PARK, NY—Hundreds of admirers of the new Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, were in attendance at a long-awaited, sold out gala. Guests came from Massachusetts, Chicago, Detroit, Canada, Paris and Lebanon to celebrate Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian.
The beloved Prelate, elevated from Bishop to Archbishop in an encyclical by Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, had celebrated the Holy Badarak at the St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York that morning to an overflowing assemblage.
At the banquet hall following a sumptuous reception, the attendees filed into an elegant ballroom decorated with white and lilac flowers gracing the tables, the colors symbolizing the clerical rank of the Prelate.
Archbishop Tanielian voiced the invocation, after which Susan Chitjian Erickson, Secretary of the Executive Council and Chairperson of the Banquet Committee warmly welcomed the guests and led a celebratory toast to the honoree.
Mistress of Ceremonies Karen Jehanian, Vice Chairperson of the Executive Committee, introduced the honorary guests and recognized the members of the Prelacy staff.
WITH THE PEOPLE
What was especially impressive about this event was that there was no head table. The more than a dozen priests present each sat at separate tables with the people, a directive of the Prelate, symbolizing his closeness to the faithful.
The Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan representing the Eastern Diocesan Primate and the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan read the Primate’s inspiring message.
Calling Srpazan “a fellow churchman and longtime friend,” the Diocesan Primate expressed his respect and admiration for the many honors and achievements of the Prelate. “Your devotion to the Christian mission of the Armenian Church is plainly evident in the personal integrity and humility which are the abiding characteristics of your ministry.”
Recounting the recent elections of both the Eastern Primate and Eastern Prelate, Fr. Daniel Findikyan said he “sensed the hand of God” behind these simultaneous developments.
HEAL THE BODY OF OUR CHURCH
“I pray that it signals that the Divine Physician is ready to heal the body of our church, restore its ability to breathe freely with both lungs, beckoning us forward with the promise of a new sunrise, heralding a new day, so that our entire people may be revived by the unifying grace of the Holy Spirit,” the Primate said. This prophetic message garnered a huge ovation.
Dr. Ara Chalian, speaking on behalf of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Hamazkayin, Homenetmen and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) recounted the endearing and inspiring qualities of “young Anoushavan, the people’s hoviv” who like Nersess Shnorhali “went on a journey of introspection.” “Where are we today? And where will we go?” he asked.
“Our church, our organizations and our families will not survive on their own. It is our responsibility,” he said with special emphasis.
GIRD UP YOUR LOINS
In a message replete with symbolic images, the 30-year Chairman of the Religious Council Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian stated that Srpazan Tanielian, “our fifth Prelate will follow the suit of our four previous Prelates in successfully keeping our churches and communities afloat.”
Having known Srpazan for more than half a century, Der Nerses stated with confidence that there is only one direction for the honoree, and that is forward. “No difficulty can slow him down, no obstruction can hamper his course. He is always focused and determined to carry on. So fasten your seat belts. This driver is not your average driver.”
“And for this Prelate, there is only one timeline – NOW,” Der Nerses continued. “Whether it is midnight or early dawn, the good ideas should be incarnated right away. And as the prince of the church, he always presents himself like the ideal servant portrayed in the Gospels who ‘girded up his loins’ and was ready to go. So gird up your loins if you want to keep pace with him,” he instructed the audience. “Diligence and devotion are his brothers, and humility is his sister,” said Der Nerses to thunderous applause.
Chairman of the Executive Council Jack Mardoian, Esq., paid tribute to the “new spirit” in the Prelacy even though the work is the same. “I see a joy that cannot be replicated, a love that Srpazan shows for all Prelacy communities, a spirituality and a mission for all of us to go forward together.”
In a passionately recited poem which she created for this occasion, Seta Balmanoukian extolled the many attributes of Srpazan to a loud ovation.
And to the delight of the audience, New York City’s well-known soloists Vagharshak Ohanyan and Anahit Zakaryan sang several songs, with Archbishop Yeghise Tourian’s “Yete Zis Danis” being a special favorite. Also sharing her musical talent was violinist Svetlana Mkrtchyan.
Artsakh Representative Robert Avedissian, stated that “in this crucial period for the Armenian people, we are blessed to have someone like Srpazan who spares no effort to make Armenia, Artsakh, our community and our church strong and proud.”
“The room was full of love and respect for the Srpazan,” said long-time community activist Hagop Kouyoumdjian. “His new position as Prelate is an important event for our community.”
And Karen Bedrosian Richardson called the recent elections of “two mild-mannered” religious leaders an “historic opportunity for potential cooperation and unification.”
FIRE OF LOVE
In an emotionally delivered spontaneous message, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian spoke of his focus on “love in action.” “Wherever there is love,” he said “there is paradise discovered. We are not starting anything new. What is new is our approach, our understanding.”
“I will approach my mission with a new dynamism of the successful work of my predecessors with faith and prayers,” declared the Prelate with emphasis.
“I want to bring the fire of love into our daily life, and especially focus on the youth, work for our people’s sustenance of a healthy mind and body and rediscover our identity as Americans, Armenians and Christians.” The singing of Giligia by all present ended the joyous and celebratory occasion.