Vondnluvah and Good Friday 2018


Thursday, March 29th was a very busy evening at St. Mary. The young children and some men of our parish were all prepared and ready to get their feet washed by Der Moushegh. They had put on shabigs, taken off their shoes, and bared their right foot. In a reenactment of the event at the Last Supper where Jesus humbled Himself by washing the feet of His disciples, (John 13:2-17), so too, our priest washed and blessed the feet of the old and young. The participants, after getting “clean”, kissed Der Hayr’s ring, and the Holy Bible. It was a wonderful sight to see.

But the evening wasn’t over, yet. After the Washing of the Feet service, we gathered in Fesjian Hall for our traditional Khavaroom Vosp, (Lentil Porridge). Made expertly by the Ladies Society, we were all happy to have some sustenance for the long vigil ahead. At 8:30p.m., the service started. This vigil commemorates Christ’s Betrayal and Passion of our Lord. Gospels are read, hymns are sung, and 12 candles, (one of them black to disgrace Judas’ memory), are lit one by one. Throughout the service they are then extinguished two by two, until the entire church is plunged into total darkness! When the lights are finally turned on, and the service is ended, you feel you have participated in a very special event.


On Friday, March 30th, St. Mary celebrated Good Friday, the day we commemorate the burial of Christ. A special tomb is set up on a table with flowers, candles, and of course, a large cross. This years’ service was extra special, though. On a recent trip to California, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, presented Der Moushegh with a piece of the excavated stone (about 2 inches long), from the Holy Sepulcher, the Actual Tomb of Jesus Christ, where according to the Gospels and tradition, Jesus Christ was laid to rest, and where He rose on the third day with His Glorious and Miraculous Resurrection!

The faithful who attend this service bring flowers that they place on the tomb themselves. Der Moushegh with his deacons, conducts the service, and blesses the tomb and all the flowers with the incense of the poorvar. When the service is over, the parishioners kiss the Holy Bible and cross, and then select one or many of the blessed flowers to take home with them. Some of the faithful crawl under the “tomb”, as another way of showing their faith. By the way, the Holy Relic encased in the radiance will now be permanently placed on the Holy Altar of St. Mary Church.

2018 Easter Holy Week

Palm Sunday 2018 Pictures


Holy Week (Avak Shapat) – What’s It All About?

The Armenian Church calls the final week of Christ’s life on earth Great Week or Holy Week (Avak Shapat). With Palm Sunday, and Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, we have just begun a memorable journey, the greatest spiritual journey imaginable! During Holy Week, we will be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during His last days. We will be with Him when he is betrayed, imprisoned, falsely tried, crucified, buried and, most importantly, when He conquers death. Let’s take this journey together…
Holy Monday – dedicated to the creation of Heaven and Earth, the foundation for Christ’s Second Creation. Christ condemns the fig tree that did not bear fruit (as Israel failed to bring forth the fruits of repentance) and teaches that faith can have the strength to move mountains, overcoming despair and even death. (Matthew 12:18-22).
Holy Tuesday – the focus is on the parable of the Wise and Foolish Maidens (Matthew 25:1-13). Ten maidens waited for their bridegroom. (In the custom of that time and place, the bridegroom would fetch the bride from her parents’ home to bring her to his own.) Five of the women foolishly took their lamps with no extra oil and when the bridegroom was delayed, could not go out and meet him. The wise maidens went prepared and joined him in the marriage feast. Similarly, we must pray and wait, in a state of perpetual preparation to receive Christ.
Holy Wednesday – In the reading for Holy Wednesday (Matthew 26:6-13), a fallen woman anoints Christ with costly oil and kisses his feet. The apostles chastise her for wasting oil that could have been sold to help the poor, but Christ defends her action, perceiving her deed as one of devotion, and knowing that this anointing anticipates His upcoming death and burial.
Holy Thursday – (Morning Service-10:00 AM) The morning liturgy service marks the institution of the New Covenant: Holy Communion, which Christ established at the Last Supper. During a Passover meal, Christ broke and distributed unleavened bread and shared the wine with His apostles, identifying these as elements His Body and Blood, (Confession & Communion- 11:30 AM). Through this sacrament, mankind participates in the Kingdom of God. “Service of the Washing of the Feet”- (6:30 PM), Another episode at the Last Supper is recalled during the evening service on Holy Thursday, in a ceremony that commemorates how Christ washed the feet of His apostles, setting an example of humility and love. (John 13:1-17). The priest in turn washes the feet of twelve church members, usually young men. “Service of Betrayal and Passion of our Lord, Khavaroom (darkness)- (8:30 PM). On Holy Thursday, an all-night vigil is kept in memory of the last sleepless night of our Lord on earth. Before He was arrested, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and endured in solitude the agony of His impending death. Six sets of laments are chanted, each followed by a Gospel reading depicting Christ’s betrayal, imprisonment, torture, trial, sentence, and crucifixion. Twelve lit candles, 11 white and 1 black (representing Judas) are extinguished in pairs.

Good Friday – Service of the Burial of Our Lord- (7:00 PM). This is the most solemn and sad day of the Christian calendar. The “Crucifixion Service,” recalls the suffering, execution and death of our Lord, memorialized amid readings from the psalms. A white tomb is placed in the chancel of the church for the “Entombment or Burial Service.” The tomb is adorned with flowers and during the service is taken in procession around the church. As the faithful leave the church they approach the tomb, kiss the Gospel book, and take a flower in remembrance.
Holy Saturday or Easter Eve – Also known as the Easter Vigil, is when the mystery of salvation in the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated. “Evening Service and Reading of the Scriptures” – (6:00 PM), The church is dark, and its lights are dim. Then the great verses from Isaiah 60 are read: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”- at which point the lights are suddenly turned on. The dramatic, joyful candle-lighting ceremony is called Jurakalouyts.

Easter Sunday –10:00 AM, The Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ! “Antasdan Service” (Blessing of the Four Corners of the Earth) – (12:30 PM). A ceremony devoted to the blessing of the four corners of the “world”, (symbolized by the round central part of the church). In ancient times Antasdan was conducted outside the church, to bring fruitfulness and fertility to the fields/gardens. During the ceremony the Priest first blesses the East (which represents Armenia) with the Holy Cross and the Gospel, in the name of Holy Trinity and the singing of “Amen Alleluia”. Then he turns towards the West which represents all the Christian kingdoms and nations. Next, he faces the South and blesses the countries, fields and harvest of the South, and finally tuning to the North he blesses the northern side of the earth, its churches, fields, cities, villages and their population. White Dove Release- Immediately following services

2018 Easter Yughakin Schedule

Yughakin brochure

Turun-Patsek – Opening of the Doors

This is the doorway to Holy Week. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. Turunpatsek points us to the true door and brings to life the words of Christ, “I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved”. Christ is a welcoming Lord. He’s waiting for us to knock at the door, but He assures us, “Knock and the door will be opened”.
In the service of the Opening of the Doors, (now usually done right after the Palm Sunday liturgy), the priest and the people pray for entry once again into God’s glorious Kingdom and wait for the church to symbolically open her doors just as Christ, through the raising of Lazarus, opened the doors for the resurrection of humanity. There was a time when the faithful would actually gather outside and ritually enter. Today, the clergy and the congregation kneel before the closed altar curtain and beseech God to “Open the gates of virtues”, (Psalm 119). Come, and join us as we knock on the door together!

2018 Palm Sunday

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St. Mary Sunday School Teachers get honored at Western Diocese

Sunday School Teachers Honored by Hovnan Srpazan

The year 2018 has been proclaimed as the year of “Christian Education within the Family” by our beloved Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. Two of St. Mary’s Sunday School teachers, Maral Pigeon and Mrs. Tanya Hovanesian were honored for their dedication, hard work, and for their many, many years of devoted service to the religious instruction of the children of St. Mary’s. As Sunday School educators, entrusted with sacred service by God, they help mold the characters of our children and grandchildren.

Under the Auspices of His Eminence, at the St. Leon Cathedral, the Ladies Society Central Council organized the Annual Women’s Prayer Day. This is a beautiful tradition held during Great Lent. On February 14, 2018, Ladies Society members from around various parishes of the Western Diocese, as well as faithful parishioners convened to pray and have fellowship on this day.

This year, the Women’s Prayer Day began with a short morning Badarak, followed by Srpazan honoring the teachers, then by a Lenten lunch hosted with love by Ladies Society Central Council, and a short musical program. It was so wonderful to witness Archbishop Hovnan Derderian presenting Mrs. Maral Pigeon and Mrs. Tanya Hovanesian with a special certificate of recognition.

St. Mary thanks you both for your instrumental role in the spiritual upbringing of our parish’s children!

Sunday School Soup Kitchen 2018

Souper Bowl Soup Kitchen Fundraiser

This year, as we do every year, on Super Bowl Sunday, our Sunday School holds a Souper Bowl Soup Kitchen Fundraiser. This fundraiser is just one of those “good works” lessons we teach our students about. We do it every year, (for more than 15 years now), because it is needed to help support the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), Soup Kitchen Project in Armenia. There are four soup kitchens we are helping, they are in Yerevan, Byureghavan, Nor Hajn and Berd.
With the help and support of the entire St. Mary parish we send the needed funds to make a difference in the lives of our brothers & sisters in Armenia. Each year the goal is to raise $1400., because that is the amount needed to support 200 plus patrons in all the Soup Kitchens in FAR’s program for 2 days. We found out that children, along with tatiks & babiks, are befitting from this program.
Here’s what we did this year…Our parent volunteers make the soups, salads, desserts, etc. so all the money raised can be sent to FAR. To add to the final tally, the Sunday School also sold Pot Holders, (made in Armenia), and the students sold fresh lemons they picked from the trees in the Alyankian family’s backyard. It was truly a team effort, and because of this team effort of parents, students and parishioners, this year we sent a check to FAR, for $2800! Many thanks to all who participated, this is more money than we have ever been able to raise in the past!



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