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Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America Supreme Spiritual Council Meeting

The first Supreme Spiritual Council meeting of 2016, presided by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, was held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from February 16-18. His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, along with His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) and His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America served as the co-Chairmen of the meeting. 
A number of issues including ecclesiastical, religious, canonical, social issues were on the agenda. The convention of the national ecclesiastical assembly was also discussed during the meeting. The national ecclesiastical assembly is the body which elects the Catholicos of All Armenians. At the initiative of the 132nd Catholicos of All Armenians, the representative body will convene in 2017 to address the issues and challenges facing the Armenian Apostolic Church.
An extensive report of the Genocide’s Centennial Commemorative events was presented by His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan. The Papal Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis I to Armenia as well as construction projects taking place at the Mother See were also discussed. The Mother See’s financial report was presented on the last day of the meeting.
City of Glendale, Library, Arts, and Culture Department and Armenian American Museum Partner to Present Armenia: An Open Wound Exhibit in April 2016
The City of Glendale, Library, Arts and Culture Department and the Armenian American Museum announce their partnership in presenting “Armenia: An Open Wound” an exhibit curated by the Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia in Mexico City. The exhibit will open to the public on April 9, 2016, at the Brand Library and Art Center, 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, California, 91201.
“Armenia: An Open Wound” debuted in Mexico City at the Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia in April 2015 in honor of the Armenian Genocide centenary. The exhibition demonstrates the intricate history of the Armenian people and creates an interactive experience by illustrating early Armenian culture, shares the story of Armenian livelihoods on their ancestral lands, and prepares viewers to gain a deeper insight on the events which lead to the 1915 Armenian Genocide. 
“The partnership between the Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia and the Armenian American Museum seeks to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide by inspiring reflection, respect for ethnic and cultural diversity, and upholding human dignity” stated Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia temporary exhibitions director Linda Atach Zaga. “The Armenian Cause is rooted in the universal theme of preserving memory as the first step in mobilizing toward global human rights and this exhibition is uniquely designed to encourage critical reasoning among diverse audiences as they relate the Armenian context to broader social justice themes.”
The mission of the Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia is to preserve, teach, and promote within Mexican society, the history and meaning of genocides and crimes against humanity, as well as the importance of diversity and tolerance.
Designed on the basis of a detailed, didactic route, “Armenia: An Open Wound,” sheds light on both the historical and current ramifications of the 1915 Armenian Genocide through survivor testimony, modern-day pursuits for justice, the importance of the right to self-determination, and aims to empower visitors to take responsibility on behalf of all those who have been, and continue to be affected by genocide. In addition to honoring the victims and commemorating the Armenian Genocide, this exhibition presents the unique contributions of Armenian Genocide survivors who settled in Mexico during the early 20th century, and the international Armenian diaspora community who have collectively grown to embody the concept of global citizenship. 
“It is our honor to announce our partnership with the Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia and we equally commend the City of Glendale, Library, Arts, & Culture Department for their continuous willingness to engage in diverse collaborative opportunities” stated Armenian American Museum executive development committee chairman Berdj Karapetian. “Armenia: An Open Wound tells the story of Armenians through a multicultural approach, and exemplifies the eclectic programs and exhibitions the Armenian American Museum aspires to bring to the City of Glendale and the broader Los Angeles community.” 
The mission of the Armenian American Museum is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience.
“Armenia: An Open Wound” will be on view from April 9, 2016, – June 11, 2016. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the Armenian American Museum will work with local and regional community partners to provide complimentary programming ranging from lectures, discussion panels, to musical performances geared to further compliment the educational experiences of visitors. All events at Brand Library & Art Center are open to the public free of charge.
The mission of the Brand Library Art Galleries is to offer visitors a professional gallery experience by showcasing a variety of styles and media of established and emerging artists that educate, enlighten, challenge, and enrich people’s lives. 
For more information please visit www.ArmenianAmericanMuseum.org or call (844) 586-4626.
Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee Holds Appreciation Dinner – Sinan Sinanian Honored
The Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee, (PAGMC) hosted an appreciation evening honoring its construction team leader Sinan Sinanian on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

The event was also aimed at supporting the Memorial’s endowment, ongoing maintenance and final obligations. The Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz. Yardemian represented the Diocesan Primate at the celebratory dinner and conveyed the genuine wishes to the organizers and the honoree.

44TH Annual Debutante Ball Huge Success
There is nothing more exhilarating or rewarding than when family and friends come together to celebrate their youth.  Approximately 300 guests, family and friends did come together for the 44th Annual Debutante Ball sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

At this memorable event, eleven beautiful and accomplished young ladies of Armenian descent were presented by their fathers to Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.  The Primate entered the ballroom with the eleven escorts and blessed  the crosses which were presented to each of the debutantes by their fathers.  The six  young cross bearers were:  Alina Lucine Barsa,m and Ariana Barsam, daughters of Raffi and Hasmig Barsam; Sarine Sophie Fuentes and Sevana Isabella Fuentes, daughters of William and Tina Fuentes; Lauren Ashley Missakian, daughter of John and Renee Missakian; and Ramsey Claire Sarkisian, daughter of Keith and Kirsten Sarkisian.

With an exquisite bouquet of flowers in her gloved hand, each young lady enters the stage and stands before a flowered gazebo; the radiant debutante then makes her traditional bow to society in her white gown as she is formally introduced by the Master of Ceremonies.  Father and daughters dance the first dance of the evening, followed by Armenian music to which debutantes and escorts perform traditional dances as a veneration to their homeland.

The evening began with a reception  at 5:00 p.m., followed by the presentation of the debutantes at 6:00 p.m,  Cynthia Dickranian Norian, Chair of the Ladies Auxiliary, in her welcoming remarks, congratulated the families of the debutantes and escorts and thanked them for their participation and support.  The Invocation was delivered by His Eminence Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, whose inspiration it was to establish the Debutante Balls as a tradition here in Los Angeles.
Following are the Debutantes and Escorts of the 44th Annual Debutante Ball:
Gabriella Anahid Abaci, daughter of Mr. and Mrs Peter Abaci of Monte Serono, CA; granddaughter of Mary and the late Zeki Abaci and Jean and Sooren Manougian; escorted by Benjamin Avedis Nikssarian, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Nikssarian.

Melanie Belle Besnilian, daughter of George Besmilian, Esq., and Dr. Annette Besnilian of Porter Ranch, CA; granddaughter of Solak and Silva Avedissian and Ardo Besnilian; escorted by Stephen Matthew Matoesian, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mathew Matoesian.

Claire Jean Bogosian, daughter of Dr. Jeff Bogosian and Joan Yazejian Bogosian of  Rolling Hills, CA; granddaughter of Aram and Lucille Bogosian and the late Edward and Jeanette Yazejian; escorted by Cameron Richard Ring, son of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Ring.

Eliana Silvia Goncuian, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Varjuan Goncuian of Calabasas, CA. granddaughter of Nubar and Silvia Ohanian and Sarkis and Vartuhi Goncuian; escorted by Nicholas Tigran Norian, son of Mr. Thomas Norian and Ms. Cristy Norian.

Kathleen Grace Kedeshian, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Kedeshian of Pacific Palisades, CA; granddaughter of Katherine and Edward Dagermangy and Sarkis and the late Grace Kedeshian; escorted by Jack Hagop Tashdjian, son of Mr. and Mrs. Armen Tashdjian.

Alana Kupke, daughter of Mr. Michael Kupke and Mrs. Christine Abrahamian Kupke of Diamond Ball, CA; granddaughter of Sally Abrahamian and Rita Kupke; escorted by Hayk Arthur Israelyan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Israelyan.

Brooke Lilian MacArthur, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark MacArthur of Santa Clarita, CA; granddaughter of Dwane and Lily Johnson and John and Patricia MacArthur and the great granddaughter of Dr. Vahe and Emilia Churukian; escorted by Nicholas Arthur Kupke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kupke.

Kasandra Jean Norian, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Norian of Ojai, CA; granddaughter of Ken and Cindy Norian and Bill and Karen Ghormley; escorted by Matthew James Simonian, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clark Simonian.

Samantha Sarah Surmeian daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Surmeian of Chatsworth, CA; granddaughter of Asien and the late Stephen Surmeian and Barry and Mary Ann Jordan; escorted by Peter Rafy Julius, son of Mr. and Mrs. Rafy Julius.

Gigi B. Woodall, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Woodall of Newport Beach, CA; granddaughter of Betty and Roger Shatafian and Bill Woodall; escorted by Mark Gettas, son of Mrs. Araxie Yetenkian Gettas.

Olivia Zorayan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Zorayan of Irvine, CA; granddaughter of Avedis and Zvart Guluzyan and Antranik and Virginia Zorayan;escorted by Franklin Manas Chelebian, son of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Chelebian.

Debutantes and escorts, families and friends enjoyed a gala evening, dancing to the music of Park Avenue West, Murray Middleman and DJ Kozzmo, Melcon Skenderian.

Heartfelt thanks  were expressed by His Enminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian to  Cindy Norian, Chair and the members of the Ladies Auxiliary for their continued dedication and magnificent efforts in again planning and preparing another successful debutante ball.  The Primate stated: “ This dedicated group of distinguished ladies pursues a noble purpose in reaching out to the community and cultivating within the hearts of the faithful the essence of the Christian spirit.  Your stellar work ethic exemplifies your love for Christ and the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church.”

A special commemorative booklet was provided to each guest to treasure and remember a beautiful  evening. 

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Reflections on Prayer
“…Something is going on in us, the landscape is being changed. Prayer, more and more, is not something we do, but what we are letting God do in us.”

                                                                                             Archbishop Rowan Williams

When we speak of prayer surely it is not something we “do” or something we build or create. It is certainly a spiritual state which starts with words addressed to God and “letting God do in us.” God enters into our spiritual being and as we progress in our dialogue with God we then gradually feel the change in the depth of our hearts, souls, and minds. Then the change turns into transformation, when we feel the presence of God as we start walking with Christ and promising a life similar to Christ, imitating Christ.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
21 February 2016

The four words that St. Paul uses for prayer are supplication, commitment, intercession, and thanksgiving.

These are certainly key words each time we pray to God. We put our trust in God with a request to accept us. This is the moment when we surrender our lives into the hands of the Almighty. We then make a commitment to rediscover our true self through the intercession of the saints. Above all, in each prayer we praise God and thank Him for the gift of life and the ability to see the beauty of the creation. It is exactly at this moment that the praying person reawakens in the self the most fascinating characteristics of our Christian identity, that we all are privileged children of God.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
21 February 2016

“Prayer heals relations”
Gregory of Nyssa

Prayer is about reconciliation, justice, and how it changes your attitude to other people and the world. Prayer is not a narrowly private activity; it is about your belonging in the body of Christ, and in the family of humanity. If you understand what is going on when you pray, then the world changes.”

                                                                                               Archbishop Rowan Williams

The words of the Most Rev. Rowan Williams do not speak about philosophy but rather about a state of spiritual life. In these words one can grasp the level of depth of the Archbishop’s spirituality.

“Prayer is all about reconciliation justice and how it changes your attitude to other people and the world.” The human being needs to pray constantly (unceasingly) and tirelessly with a joyful heart. For as the human being is weak in nature, thus unceasing and tireless prayer is a must condition to secure our close relationship with God and mankind.

People who pray allow Christ to enter into our own being and then it is Christ who prays in us and uses us to change the world. In this kind act of commitment, prayer becomes a purpose-driven dialogue with the Creator and the world wherein we live. Therefore, prayer guides us towards God and empowers us to be a friend to God.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
21 February 2016

“You pray because Christ is in you.”

                                                                                             Archbishop Rowan Williams

When you pray, it is Christ who speaks to us and through us to the people of the world. When we deprive ourselves from prayer we then are alienated from God. Those who pray are the ones who seek God and fulfill the will of God.

“You pray because Christ is in you.” The words of the Archbishop are truly inspiring as he shares with us his spiritual experience. The ability to converse with God is an inborn spiritual state. Words are the fuel in the engine. Once we recite the words of the prayer, our Lord has taught to us, we then set off a journey towards God.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
21 February 2016

“The heart of Christian prayer is getting over the idea  that God is somewhere a very, very long way off.”

                                                                                             Archbishop Rowan Williams

“God has decided to be an intimate friend and He has decided to make us part of His family, and we always pray on that basis.”

                                                                                             Archbishop Rowan Williams

God dwells in us. The human spiritual texture possesses God and the divine nature. We often lose God. As we begin the journey through a prayerful life, we then see God in the layers of our spirituality. And as we walk with God, we then realize that every step that we make reflects the will of God.

The ultimate level of spiritual life is the very moment when we feel that we have become an intimate friend of God and part of His family.

As I write these reflections, I feel a change of heart within me. I am no longer alone but only in solitude. I have found a time to rediscover my inner peace and there I stand in the presence of God in whom I put my trust.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
21 February 2016

Western Diocese to Host The Honorable Richard M. Mills, Jr., US Ambassador to Armenia in a Townhall Meeting on March 8th
All are Welcome to Attend
On Friday, February 19, 2016, the Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian met with the Honorable Richard Mills, Jr., the US Ambassador to Armenia. The meeting took place in Armenia’s capital Yerevan and the details of the Ambassador’s upcoming townhall meeting with the Armenian American community were discussed.
US Ambassador to Armenia
Richard M. Mills, Jr.
City Officials Propose Locating Armenian American Museum in Glendales Arts and Entertainment District
GLENDALE – On Thursday, February, 25, Glendale City Councilman Zareh Sinanyan and City Manager Scott Ochoa formally presented to the Armenian American Museum’s Governing Board the option of building the Museum in Glendale’s Arts and Entertainment District across from the Central Library.
The Armenian American Museum’s Governing Board agreed to consider the option of placing the Museum on the proposed 1.4 acres property on Colorado St. and consult with Armenian American community organizations and representatives regarding the new site.
The Armenian American Museum is conducting environmental and economic studies to determine the feasibility of building the Museum on City owned property across from Glendale Community College.  In April 2015, the City and the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (AGCC) of Western USA executed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement to develop the terms of a ground lease of the site proposed for an Armenian American Museum. 
The AGCC in August 2015 delegated the authority and responsibility for building the proposed museum to 9 Armenian community organizations and institutions.  The Governing Board of the Armenian American Museum was established and the work on developing a concept plan and concept design continued. 
By December of last year, the Governing Board unveiled a concept design at the City Council meeting and expanded community outreach efforts to inform the public and solicit feedback on the proposal.
“We are very pleased by the outpouring of support for the Museum and look forward to engaging the City’s Armenian as well as non-Armenian stakeholders in the process of building a world class Museum,” remarked Armenian American Museum Governing Board Co-Chair His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
“The feedback indicates that there is greater support for locating the Museum in downtown Glendale. Residents who support the Museum have urged the City Council to identify property in the central part of the City where most of the arts and entertainment facilities are located,” added Governing Board Co-Chair His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
“The City owned property in downtown Glendale was not an available option in 2014,” remarked Karapetian who has been spearheading the Museum Project since its inception 2 years ago.
Karapetian added that AGCC considered building the Museum in the central part of the City or its Arts and Entertainment District but could not identify an appropriate location in 2014 when it initiated the discussion for a ground lease with City officials. 
The Armenian American Museum is a developing project in Glendale, CA, with a mission to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience. When completed, it will serve as a cultural campus that enriches the community, educates the public on the Armenian American story, and empowers individuals to embrace cultural diversity and speak out against prejudice.
The governing board of the Armenian American Museum consists of representatives from the following nine regional Armenian American institutions and organizations: Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Armenian General Benevolent Union – Western District, Armenian Relief Society – Western USA, Nor Or Charitable Foundation, Nor Serount Cultural Association, Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, and Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
A Heartfelt Thank You from SARF
Thank you to all of our donors, supporters, sponsors, and volunteers for standing with our Armenian brothers and sisters in Syria and supporting the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund SARF “Save a Life” Telethon. Over $1.2 million was successfully raised during the SARF Telethon for Armenian families and children who are in urgent need of emergency aid in war torn Syria. These much needed funds will now help support our Syrian Armenian community’s essential needs including water, food, shelter, health, and education.

Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) is a collaboration between leading community and religious organizations with the united mission of providing financial assistance to Syrian Armenians who are victims of the ravaging Syrian civil war.

Upcoming Events
Primate’s March 2016 Schedule

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