Holy Martyrs’ Genocide Commemoration Week was full of activities for the entire community. Fr. Abraham and the Genocide Commemoration Committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. Lynn Cetin, are thankful to everyone who supported and attended the events. It was a very historical, successful and emotionally moving week for all. The Centennial Commemorative events began on Thursday morning, April 23, with a live telecast from Holy Etchmiadzin of the canonization of the martyrs of the Genocide. A crowd of over 250 people filled the auditorium for this historic event. Following the canonization, parishioners were invited to Kalustyan Hall where they were able to view special “stations” of Armenian crafts as well as the wall of “100 Famous American Armenians” prepared specially for the Centennia by the students of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School. On Thursday evening, April 23, Fr. Abraham was a guest speaker at the Kupferberg Resource Center and Archives program titled “How Do We Remember? The Armenian Genocide 100 Years Later.” Other speakers included Molly Sullivan, director and curator of the Near East Relief Historical Society, Honore Gatera, survivor of the Rwanda Genocide and Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor St. Sarkis Armenian Church. Also present were Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilman Paul Vallone. The mission of the Kupferberg Center is to use the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.
The church was standing room only, on Friday evening, April 24, as 100 students from the three schools of Holy Martyrs (Day School, Language School and Sunday School) and ACYOA Juniors presented an “Evening of Remembrance.” The students entered the sanctuary holding “candles” and wearing purple sashes with forget-me-not pins. After the presentation of proclamations by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Councilman Paul Vallone, Fr. Abraham, the choir and deacons led the congregation in solemn prayer followed by a procession to the church plaza and khatchkar. The names of the 38 newly engraved names and the previously engraved names were read by Fr. Abraham as all present prayed for their souls. A program in the church auditorium followed where each student recited the name of a martyr and placed his/her candle around a five foot forget-me-not flower. The auditorium was decorated by the Sunday School students with collages representing the words “Faith, Hope and Love.” Panels from the Anthropology Museum of the People of the City of New York, compliments of Marge Kyrkostas, were also on display during the evening. Many thanks to Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar and Rev. Fr. Monsignor Martin Geraghty from St. Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic Church for attending the evenings’ tribute.
On Saturday, April 25, Fr. Abraham celebrated Badarak and told the faithful, “today we will start to celebrate the lives of the martyrs of the Genocide. Yesterday 1.5 million martyrs were proclaimed as saints. God doesn’t want to see us weeping anymore. Today our victims are victors and we celebrate their sacrifice. God is bringing justice to the world. More and more world leaders – spiritual and secular are recognizing the Genocide.” After the liturgy the HMALS students joined the procession to the church plaza where the graduating class symbolically watered the memorial tree. A luncheon and program about the life of Gomidas Vartabed followed, prepared by the HMALS students, teachers and board members. A proclamation was presented to Fr. Abraham by Assemblyman Mark Weprin and a proclamation from Governor Cuomo declaring April 24 “Armenian Martyrs Day” was read. A beautiful Commemorative Booklet was given out at the luncheon with the names of many church family members’ ancestors who had perished in the Genocide.On Sunday, April 26, as per the directive of His Eminence Abp. Khajag Barsamian, Fr. Abraham attended Badarak at St. Vartan Cathedral with hundreds of faithful. Following the liturgy, a march to Times Square in commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide took place. It was reported that over 10,000 people attended the march and program, which highlighted many prominent politicians and speakers.
Holy Martyrs, the only parish in the Eastern Diocese named after our “holy martyrs,” is exceptionally proud of its commemorative weekend events.