Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), visited St. James Church of Evanston, Ill., last weekend where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and ordained altar servers. On Saturday, July 6, the Primate ordained Jesse Arlen, Antranik Balian, Haig Hagopian, Malkoon Malkoonian, Vartkes Minatiskan, and Andrew Rejebian to the rank of acolyte. The Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, parish pastor, and the Rev. Fr. Paren Galstyan, pastor of St. George Church of Waukegan, Ill. and Holy Resurrection Church of South Milwaukee, Wis., took part in the ordination service.
The teenagers and young men worked with Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan and church deacons to prepare for their new responsibilities. Many of them took part in a summer camp for acolyte training, and gained experience by serving regularly at the church.
During a reception following the ordination service, the community gathered to congratulate the newly ordained altar servers. The acolytes’ family members had an opportunity to speak with Archbishop Barsamian and to receive his blessings.
“Love towards the church begins in the family,” Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan said. “We are grateful to the parents of these young altar servers for planting the seeds of service in their children.”
On Sunday, July 7, the Feast of the Transfiguration, Archbishop Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan assisting. During the service, Aras Korogluyan and Arie Zakarian were ordained to the diaconate. The newly ordained deacons then served on the altar for the remainder of the badarak.
Both men are active in the local ACYOA. Aras chairs the ACYOA Juniors group while Arie, who recently moved to the Evanston area, leads the ACYOA Seniors.
“It is great to see two young men step forward to answer their call in serving our church and community,” Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan said. “It is this new generation that will carry forward our ancient traditions here in America.”
“After growing up all these years in the Armenian Church, it was such an honor and privilege to be ordained as a deacon by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,” Arie Zakarian said. “I was so grateful to have my parents, my friends, and my new St. James ‘family’ attending and sharing in this special, meaningful ceremony.”
“Without such an active, devout youth, who keep our various Diocesan programs thriving, and an older, wiser generation to support us, I don’t think I would have been able to acquire the tools needed to be ordained,” added Aras Korogluyan.
More than 100 people took part in the service on Sunday. In his sermon, Archbishop Barsamian spoke about the significance of Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and how it relates to our lives today.
“We are like the disciples in the story of the Transfiguration. Christ has called us to walk with him. Why did he choose us? Where is he taking us? We cannot say for certain. All we know is that he is leading us upward,” Archbishop Barsamian said. “With his hand on our shoulder, and his voice in our ear saying ‘Be not afraid,’ Christ has come to lead us out of the darkness.”
“The young altar servers ordained over the past two days are walking with Christ, and with Him they will reach new heights,” he went on. “May God continue to guide them as they embark on this journey in their lives as Armenian Christians.”
During a banquet following services, a video was screened highlighting the many activities if St. James Church. Loucine Emrikian gave a musical performance.
On this occasion, the parish also marked the third anniversary of Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan’s ordination to the holy priesthood. A celebratory cake was presented to Fr. Khoja-Eynatyan and the newly ordained altar servers.
Archbishop Barsamian expressed his appreciation to the parishioners of St. James for their dedication to the Armenian Church. He noted that the parish has produced a number of lay leaders who have served the Diocese in many capacities.
“As Armenian Christians, we must always be aware of our roots. We have a very special identity, and it is our duty to preserve and enrich that identity for future generations,” Archbishop Barsamian said.