Hundreds of faithful gathered at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral on Sunday, November 15, 2015 to welcome in the Season of the Advent. At the spiritual center of the Western Diocese, the day’s celebrant and homilist was Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. At the Holy Altar His Eminence was assisted by the Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan and the Deacons of the Cathedral Parish. The chants of the Divine Liturgy were performed by the Khachadourian Choir under the conductorship of Dn. Stepan Gozumian.
His Eminence Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, the Very Rev. Fr. Ruben Zargaryan from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Archpriest Fr. Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian and Archpriest Fr. Sipan Mekhsian participated in the service.
The Primate’s homily was centered on humility, as portrayed in the Gospel according to St. Luke (9:46-48). “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ instructs His apostles to not seek praise but rather humility. The purest form and the essence of humility in the Gospel of Christ our Lord is portrayed in the Washing of the Feet as the Son of God humbled Himself before His apostles. Let us follow in the example of God and humble ourselves before the Almighty and before our fellow citizens,” said Archbishop Derderian in part.
A Requiem Service was held for the late Patriarchs of Constantinople including His Beatitude Archbishop Karekin I Khachadourian, His Beatitude Archbishop Shnork Kaloustian and His Beatitude Archbishop Karekin II Kazanjian, the 81st , 82nd and 83rd Armenian Patriarchs of Constantinople, respectively as well as for the 20 departed souls of the Khachadourian Choir.
The Primate reflected on the horrific acts of terror which had taken place in the City of Paris two days prior. A special prayer was held for the victims and their families of the heinous crime which claimed the lives of 128 innocent people and injured nearly 200. Archbishop Derderian also informed the congregants that His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians had addressed a letter of condolence to the President of France Francois Hollande.
Prior to the conclusion of the service, the Primate recognized 30 young members of the Iraqi-Armenian community who had organized a walkathon fundraiser benefitting this year’s Armenia Fund Telethon. The youth received the blessings of His Eminence as they walked from downtown Burbank to St. Leon Armenian Cathedral with a mission to reach out to their brothers and sisters in the Motherland Armenia.
Following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, a reception was held at the Hampar Family Room of the Western Diocese marking the 37th anniversary of the Khachadourian Choir. The Choir celebrated Choir member Dn. Hagop Dzerounian’s 80th birthday congratulating the long time deacon for his selfless service to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Primate commended the leadership of the Choir Director Dn. Stepan Gozumian and the unwavering service of the Choir members who perform the chants of the Divine Liturgy with the utmost dedication.
A Brief History of Khachadourian Choir
During 1977-78, a large number of Armenians from the ancient City of Constantinople moved to the greater Los Angeles area. This vibrant and active segment of the Armenian Community of Los Angeles has most positively and continuously contributed to the betterment of the spiritual, educational, and cultural aspects of the Armenian Community in the cosmopolitan city of Los Angeles.
Khacahdourian Choir is one of the most significant gifts that the vibrant Constantinopolitan Armenians have offered to the Armenian Community of Los Angeles at large. Khachadourian Choir has been the brainchild of Dn. Stepan Gozumian, Mr. Sarkis Setian and Mr. Yetvant Nizamian. Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, the former Primate of the Western Diocese, in 1978, the choir was formed and named after the first Primate of the Western Diocese, the late Archbishop Karekin Khachadourian, who later on became the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.
In 1980, the Khachadourian Choir moved to St. Sarkis Armenian Church in East Los Angeles, enriching the celebration of Divine Liturgy and other church services under the spiritual leadership of the pastors of the church, Archpriest Fr. Vartan Dulgarian and Archpriest Fr. Nareg Matarian as well as the Parish Councils of the church.
The fond memories of the Divine Liturgy celebrations during the Pontifical Visits of the late Catholicoi Vasken I and Karekin I; the venerable Patriarchs Shnork Kaloustian and Karekin Kazanjian as well as other high ranking clergy, has immensely resonated with and reinforced the choir’s enthusiasm in their God-pleasing service to the Church.
On Sunday, August 23, 1998, on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the choir, the Khachadourian Choir performed the Divine Liturgy at Holy Etchmiadzin and was favorably received and blessed by the late Catholicos Karekin I.
The Khachadourian Choir performed the liturgical chants at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral during the Pontifical Celebration of the Divine Liturgy by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on Sunday, September 12, 2010, a day after the Cathedral’s consecration.
Besides its valuable, obvious and ongoing service to the Church, Khachadourian Choir has also been actively involved and contributed to the construction of church facilities in Armenia and other causes, namely, the $40,000 contribution towards the construction of St. Sarkis Church in Vanadzor, Armenia, the $25,000 donation to the St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank, California.