St. Paul Armenian Church of Fresno marked its diamond (75th) anniversary on Sunday, November 22nd. The festive celebration commenced with the episcopal celebration of the Divine Liturgy by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. His Eminence was assisted at the Holy Altar by the Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros and the deacons of the Fresno Parish.
During the service, Archbishop Derderian presided over the Blessing of the Water Service with the newly blessed Holy Chrism, after which the blessed water was distributed to the parishioners. The Godfather of the Cross was a long-time servant of the Armenian Apostolic Church Deacon Allan Yeghia Jendian.
Prior to his homily, the Primate called to the nave the Sunday School students of the parish. He reminded the youth of the importance of maintaining a close relationship with God, leading prayerful lives, and adhering to Christian values and morals. He commended the parents for valuing the significance of a Christian education and upbringing.
Archbishop Derderian also congratulated the Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros on the auspicious occasion of the priest’s tenth anniversary of ordination and consecration into the priesthood.
In his homily the Primate reflected on the parable of the rich fool in the Gospel according to St. Luke (12:13-21). “The parable of Christ, our Lord cultivates within the life of each Christian the divine message of God. The ultimate reward is a life led in adherence to the Word of God and not by the acquisition of material possessions,” said His Eminence in part. “Such was the vision of the founders of St. Paul Armenian Church, who collectively engaged in the noble endeavor of building the House of God,” he continued.
A special prayer was also offered for the victims and the families affected by the attacks on the City of Paris.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a celebratory banquet containing an exciting cultural program was held at the Berberian Hall of the parish. Welcoming remarks were delivered by Dn. Dr. Varouj Altebarmakian, the Master of Ceremonies and were followed by the Primate’s offering of the invocation. A proclamation recognizing the 75th anniversary of the establishment of St. Paul Armenian Church of Fresno was issued and presented by the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno Mr. Berj Apkarian.
The artistic portion of the program featured pianist Dr. Astghik Gevorkyan.
Guests also viewed a video presentation depicting the rich history of St. Paul Armenian Church. The historical and archival information related to the Armenian community of Fresno and the St. Paul Parish had been compiled by Dn. Allan Yeghia Jendian.
Remarks were delivered by Parish Council Chairman Ben Krikorian. As a token of their gratitude and on the 10th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood, the Parish Council presented liturgical vestments to their Pastor the Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros.
Father Yessai expressed his wholehearted gratitude to the Parish Council for the warm gesture and to the parishioners of St. Paul Armenian Church vowing to serve the flock of Christ with a renewed sense of dedication and zeal.
In his closing remarks, the Primate spoke about the significance of the Church and service in the life of a Christian. “The Church embodies in itself an intense mystery. The Church leads humanity to the doorway of the knowledge of God. It is in the Church that the faithful lives the very presence of God,” said Archbishop Derderian. Speaking about service, the Primate said “Service in the context of our worship life is truly the expression of our faith and the revelation of truth. Faith must be applied in all of our actions wherever we lead our ministry.”
The luncheon concluded with the Primate’s closing prayer.
Guests received a 130-page commemorative book as a keepsake printed especially for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the St. Paul parish.