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Memorable Retreat at the Armenian Church Summer Camp

Yettem Parish Welcomes “Disciples’ Mission” Pilgrims. On June 7, 2013, close to 50 pilgrims from various Diocesan parishes set off to a memorable pilgrimage organized by the Disciples’ Mission. The group, led by Hayk Madoyan, Librarian of the Western Diocese and Vahe Sargsyan, Director of the Diocesan TV/Media Department, made the first stop at the scenic Armenian Church Summer Camp in Dunlap, California.

 On the following day, the pilgrims participated in a Morning Prayer Service led by Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian, Pastor of the Armenian Church in Crescenta Valley. Father Avedis stressed the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian.
Enjoying the natural setting of God’s wondrous creation, the pilgrims took part in a series of lectures designed to strengthen their spirituality and further their understanding of the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As the first lecturer, Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian expanded on the topics of faith and virtue. In an interactive lecture, he noted that faith and virtue go hand in hand and in order to lead a virtuous life, a Christian must be renewed within. In the question and answer forum which followed, the clergyman took the time to explain in great detail how we as Christians should live according to the Word of God.  
Lecturing on the topics of knowledge and self-control, Hayk Madoyan emphasized the importance of getting to know God. Faith, combined with knowledge, allows the faithful to better comprehend, appreciate and apply the teachings of Christ, our Lord, in everyday life. Self-control is the crucial virtue which allows the faithful to be better disciplined in spiritual and daily life.
Perseverance and godliness were the lecture topics of Diocesan TV/Media Director Vahe Sargsyan. He noted the importance of trusting God and persevering in difficult times. Sargsyan referred to verses from the Holy Bible which offer comfort at times of hardships and trials. Lecturing on godliness, Sargsyan stressed that true godliness is deepened through Orthodox worship and is strengthened through our unceasing relationship with God. This is the basis leading to brotherly kindness and love.
Lastly, Mashdots Jobanian, Christian Education Director of the Western Diocese introduced the topics of brotherly kindness and love. Jobanian noted that the covenant of God’s love for humanity, also known as “Agape,” is divine, unconditional, and self-sacrificing. We, in turn, must recognize Christ’s immense love and share it in our communities.
The culmination of the pilgrimage took place on Sunday as the pilgrims headed to St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem to take part in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The day’s celebrant and Pastor of the Parish Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan, was assisted at the holy altar by Dn. Allan Yeghia Jendian. Following the solemn celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the pilgrims were treated to a reception in the church hall.
In his remarks, Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan welcomed the pilgrims and stated that their presence has revived the parish and has instilled a spiritual reawakening in the hearts of the congregants. He gave a brief introduction on the history of the Yettem Parish noting the invaluable contributions to the church by the early Armenian settlers. Parish Council Chair Beatrice Soxman thanked the pilgrims for their cordial visit stating that their doors are always open.
In turn, the pilgrims offered their gratitude to Fr. Zaven and the Parish Council for their warm hospitality. Prior to departure, a memorable group photo was taken at the entrance of St. Mary Armenian Church.
“We commend the vision of Hayk Madoyan, the Librarian and Ecumenical Officer of the Western Diocese and the organizers of the spiritually enriching pilgrimage. Pilgrimages are essential tools to strengthen one’s relationship with the Almighty and we encourage the faithful to take an active part in the pilgrimages led by the Disciples’ Mission of the Western Diocese,” said Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.       

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