Service to Church and Community the Theme of Vartanantz Day in Providence

Altar servers and choir members surrounding Archbishop Tanielian and reverend clergy (Photo: Berge Zobian)

PROVIDENCE, RI—In a hallmark moment for the local community, the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church marked its name day on Sunday, February 23 with His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian celebrating the Divine Liturgy and presiding over the ordinations of Dr. Ari Nalbandian, Arees Khatchadourian and Shant Eghian as deacons. The day was filled with joyous songs and was well attended by the entire community, including the Sunday School, Mourad Armenian School and Homenetmen. 

Pictured during the ordination service are Dr. Ari Nalbandian, Arees Khatchadourian and Shant Eghian with Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian, Archbishop Tanielian and Rev. Fr. Nazarian behind them (Photo: Mark Phillips)

The ordination service began with the three candidates ascending the altar on their knees as Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian asked His Eminence to ordain them. By placing his hands on the deacons’ heads, the Archbishop bestowed the authority to read from the Gospel and present the Eucharistic bread and wine to the Der Hayr during the Liturgy. During the ceremony, His Eminence invoked the memory of Saint Stephen, the first deacon in the Christian Church. 

Archbishop Tanielian later presented a sermon encouraging the deacons to continue their lifelong commitment to serving their church and Armenian heritage. Srpazan stressed the virtues of being a Christian—humility and obedience in a life of conscious and joyful service to the Lord. “As the sun shines the light, you also will shine with a virtuous life,” said His Eminence, who also reminded the community of the heroic sacrifice of St. Vartan and his followers by insisting they would never deny their faith. Srpazan emphasized that we must never compromise our Christian values for the false standards of the world, no matter how tempting.

His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian offering his sermon after ordaining the deacons pictured on the right (Photo: Mark Phillips)

After church, the community gathered to enjoy a delicious lamb kebab dinner in the Aramian Auditorium, lovingly prepared and served by the Ladies’ Guild and Mens’ Club. In his opening remarks, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jason Simonian extended warm wishes to His Eminence and congratulated the newly ordained deacons, stating, “They are, each of them, the true ‘keepers of the faith,’ and we as a community are the continued benefactors of their collective devotion to the cause of the Lord.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Jason Simonian (l. to r.), Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian pictured with the honorees of the day Armand Kibarian, Joyce Yeremian and Manoog Kaprielian

In addition to the focus on serving the church during the celebration, serving the community was also noted. In accordance with His Holiness Aram I’s declaration of 2020 as “The Year of Armenians with Special Needs,” three members of the community were honored: Manoog Kaprielian for his pioneering work in the field of counseling and mental health in Armenia, Joyce Yeremian for her work with Armenian refugees fleeing the horrors of war and Armand Kibarian for his work with the homeless and needy in the local community, particularly at the Providence Rescue Mission. “Special needs take many forms – physical and emotional/spiritual,” said Fr. Nazarian. “Each of our honorees has made a difference in the lives of people who especially have experienced trauma in their lives.” 

Mourad Armenian School older students perform a song for Vartanantz Day (Photo: Berge Zobian)

Keeping with Vartanantz Day tradition, students from Mourad Armenian School, under the direction of music director Raffi Rachdouni, presented a short program of songs and poems commemorating the bravery of St. Vartan and his soldiers, including the Vartanantz day hymn “Norahrash.” Concluding the afternoon’s festivities, Fr. Kapriel offered his congratulations to the newly-ordained deacons and honored guests and extended his gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, thanking him “for always caring for our community with such love.” Srpazan commended the Providence community for its strength and resilience after its almost 80-year existence and then led the gathering in singing “Giligia.”

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan is editor of the Armenian Weekly and an active member of the Rhode Island Armenian community. A longtime member of the Providence ARF and ARS, she also is a former member of the ARS Central Executive Board. A longtime advocate for genocide education through her work with the ANC of RI, Pauline is co-chair of the RI branch of The Genocide Education Project. In addition, she has been an adjunct instructor of developmental reading and writing in the English department at the Community College of Rhode Island since 2005.

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