By Florence Avakian
Under a huge tent on the St. Vartan Cathedral plaza, decorated with palm plants, a special luncheon was held on Saturday afternoon, May 3, honoring 91-year-old Diana Burggraf for her lifelong, dedicated service to the Women’s Guild, her parish of the Holy Cross Armenian Church in Union City, N.J., and the Diocese of the Armenian Church. The occasion marked the 5th annual “Woman of Wonder” event organized by the Diocesan Women’s Guild Central Council (WGCC).
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
May 14, 2014
WOMEN’S GUILD PRESENTS “WOMAN OF WONDER” AWARD
By Florence Avakian
Under a huge tent on the St. Vartan Cathedral plaza, decorated with palm plants, a special luncheon was held on Saturday afternoon, May 3, honoring 91-year-old Diana Burggraf for her lifelong, dedicated service to the Women’s Guild, her parish of the Holy Cross Armenian Church in Union City, N.J., and the Diocese of the Armenian Church.
The occasion marked the 5th annual “Woman of Wonder” event organized by the Diocesan Women’s Guild Central Council (WGCC).
Following an opening prayer by the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, and a warm welcome by WGCC chair Charlotte Sevazlian, the Very Rev. Fr. Vasken Karayan, pastor of the Holy Cross Church, poetically noted that “decades ago, with deep faith and humility, women with oil lamps lit the Armenian Church which kept the church functioning. Those who have departed now celebrate with us, and are present in spirit.”
He went on to express the gratitude of the church’s parish council and membership for selecting “our pioneer Diana” for this honor. “Her contributions are beyond words.”
Mrs. Burggraf’s son Gary spoke of his mother’s passion for her church and family. Sister Julliet Borgersen related that the church “was always the backbone of our family. The church was most important in Diana’s life. The church has given her life,” she said and revealed that under Diana’s leadership, the Holy Cross church raised $500,000 through flea markets, luncheons, bazaars, and many other events.
Thirteen-year-old granddaughter Samantha Burggraf noted that her grandmother has “always taught by example. From the earth to the sky, nothing matches the love of a grandmother. You’ve been the ‘woman of wonder’ every day and year for us,” she recounted with obvious emotion, and added that her grandmother is also “an amazing cook.”
Church and Family Come First
In her message of appreciation, Diana Burggraf emphasized that her family and church always come first. “I am still driving without glasses,” she said to sustained applause. “I never believed I would get this award, or that anyone knew me. No one expects to be honored for what they do. They do it because they want to do it.”
“I have not accomplished things alone. We have done them together,” she said to a standing ovation.
In presenting the gift of a beautifully framed painting from Armenia of the Last Supper to the honoree, Nancy Kassabian paid tribute to her humility and dedicated work for her church, family, community, and as a charter member of the WGCC “who continues to work relentlessly.”
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian expressed gratitude to the WGCC for choosing the Mrs. Bruggraf for this honor. “Diana asked, Who knows her? Well, I know her. My parents knew her. We know that the church has been your life. You truly represent ‘Living Gospel of Christ,’ and you are a role model for the young generation,” he declared addressing the honoree directly.
“You are young in spirit and mind. Your family and your devotion to our church are the good fruits of your life, and set a wonderful example for others to follow. God grant you and your family many years,” the Primate said.
Diana Burggraf’s service to the Armenian Church and community has spanned many decades, including 33 years as an executive board member in many capacities of her parish Women’s Guild. She is currently its chairperson. In her earlier years, she sang in the church choir, was a parish council member serving as its chair for several years, as well as a charter member of the ACYOA.
In 1995, she was honored as the “Woman of the Year” by the Holy Cross Church of Union City, N.J. In addition to her church service, she has also been involved in the AGAU Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, and was honored in 2003 as their “Woman of the Year.” She truly represents a “Woman of Wonder” in the community.
Photo 1: Diana Burggraf (at right) was honored for her lifelong dedicated service to the Women’s Guild and the Armenian Church.
Photo 2: Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Diana Burggraf at the May 3 luncheon.