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St. Thomas Parishioners Honored For Lifetime Of Exemplary Service

By Madlen E. Setian
On Palm Sunday April 13, the St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, N.J., celebrated the 49th anniversary of its consecration. The parish was once again honored by the presence of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), who participated in the Divine Liturgy, delivered the homily and presided over the celebratory dinner.


PRESS OFFICE
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Chris Zakian 
Tel: (212) 686-0710 or (973) 943-8697  
E-mail: chrisz@armeniandiocese.org
Website: www.armenianchurch-ed.net
April 28, 2014
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St. Thomas Parishioners Honored For Lifetime Of Exemplary Service
By Madlen E. Setian
On Palm Sunday April 13, the St. Thomas Church of Tenafly, N.J., celebrated the 49th anniversary of its consecration. The parish was once again honored by the presence of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), who participated in the Divine Liturgy, delivered the homily and presided over the celebratory dinner.
This year, the Palm Sunday church services at St. Thomas had a special significance. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Mr. and Mrs. Gregory and Mary Ann Saraydarian and Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Martha Saraydarian received the “St. Nersess Shnorhali” Medal, bestowed on them by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, for their 40 years of devotion and dedicated service to the Armenian Church.
St. Thomas pastor the Very Rev. Fr. Papken Anoushian solemnly read the encyclical from Holy Etchmiadzin that recognized the honorees. It was followed by the medals presentation ceremony, conducted by Archbishop Barsamian.
It would be hard to describe the level of dedication and extent of contributions from this remarkable family over the past 40 years. From leadership work on the Parish Council, and as Diocesan delegate, to serving on the Kirikian Armenian School Executive Committee; from chairing and serving in church organizations, to generous financial donations; from creating events and activities to benefit the church, to offering help on any level-including cooking picnic barbecues, helping in the kitchen, and otherwise making themselves available to the service of their fellow parishioners.
The Saraydarian family’s dedication extends to Armenia as well. Their numerous benevolent activities in the motherland have included opening the Saraydarian family home to many children who sustained injuries in the catastrophic 1988 earthquake in Armenia.
A Palm Sunday celebratory banquet followed the services. The proceedings began with an invocation by the Primate, followed by a short requiem prayer offered by Fr. Anoushian for the soul of Ankine Akelian, in whose memory, Jack and Sylva Torosian had donated the banquet expenses.
Mistress of Ceremonies Mary Cruickshank invited Dr. Levon Capan of the St. Thomas parish council to offer the welcoming toast.  Dr. Capan thanked the Torosian family for their hard work and generous sponsorship of the dinner, and thanked chef Andy Ouzoonian and his team as well as the ACYOA.  He also congratulated this year’s worthy “St. Thomas Award” recipients, Douglas and Andrew Martaian, and the “St. Nersess” Medal recipients.
The entertainment portion of the program featured a short concert by the children’s orchestra ensemble. Musicians Shant and Garo Amerkanian, Victoria and Matthew Bourghol, and Shahe Jebejian performed beautifully under the capable direction of Diana Bourghol. Matthew Bourghol performed a solo piece on the violin, and Cindy Mutafoglu played classical guitar.
A very sweet moment occurred when Aline Arslanian expressed words of love and gratitude to her grandparents Gregory and Mary Ann Saraydarian and her great uncle and aunt Richard and Martha Saraydarian.
As Palm Sunday is designated as ACYOA Day in the Eastern Diocese, Arianna Cruickshank and Elsa Kadajyan of the St. Thomas ACYOA chapter presented a grateful Fr. Anoushian with a $1,000 donation to the parish.
The presentation of the annual “St. Thomas Award” was another high point of the banquet. Fr. Anoushian fondly described the work of recipients Douglas and Andrew Martaian, praising Douglas for his dedication to the Sunday School, and Andrew for serving on the altar as sub-deacon.
The pastor also enthusiastically mentioned that both brothers have served as St. Thomas basketball coaches for more than 30 years, and announced with great pride that under their guidance this year all three St. Thomas basketball teams—senior boys, junior boys, and girls—won the ACSA championships.

Fr. Anoushian remembered the devotion of Doug and Andrew’s parents, Celia and the late Ara Martaian, who faithfully sang in the choir each week. He said that the sons have followed in their parents footsteps.
Douglas and Andrew expressed appreciation for the award and thanked the pastor the parish council. Douglas paid tribute to his mother’s love and the example of his grandparents, who survived the genocide, read the Bible, and attended church every Sunday. With emotion Douglas remembered his father Ara: “My involvement at St. Thomas would not have been what it is today without the gentle push from my father,” he said, “and I accept this honor in his memory.”
Andrew commended his brother Douglas as his role model, and said the parish youth are blessed to have Fr. Papken as their pastor. He noted that Hayr Sourp attends the basketball games and cheers on the teams with enthusiasm. Andrew also paid tribute to his mother and remembered his father, who he said “is looking down on us and is humbly very proud.” The brothers’ touching remarks received a standing ovation from the audience.

Fr. Anoushian expressed appreciation to Jack and Sylva Torosian; to Arman and Lisa Torosian; to everyone involved in the successful Palm Sunday cake sale; to program M.C. Mary Cruickshank; to chefs Andy Ouzoonian, Milt Palakian, Shahe Jebejian; and to all the volunteers. He also thanked Nazik Sesetyan, a teacher of the parish’s Kirikian Armenian School, for giving Aline Arslanian help in preparing her tribute to her grandparents.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian said he was happy to join the St. Thomas parish on its 49th anniversary, and remarked about all the youth at St. Thomas—a sure sign that the parish parents and grandparents are bringing up a wonderful new Armenian generation. He conveyed blessings on all the award recipients, noting that each one is a humble, dedicated, exemplary member of the Armenian Church who follows in the footsteps of Christ. He concluded the day with a prayer that the Tenafly parish and its people would be blessed by God.
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Photos attached.
Photo 1: Mr. and Mrs. Gregory and Mary Ann Saraydarian and Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Martha Saraydarian received the “St. Nersess Shnorhali” Medal.
Photo 2: “St. Thomas Award” recipients, brothers Douglas and Andrew Martaian with Fr. Anoushian.
Photo 3: Arianna Cruickshank and Elsa Kadajyan of the St. Thomas ACYOA chapter present Fr. Anoushian with a $1,000 donation to the parish.
PublicRelations [publicrelations@armeniandiocese.org]

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