In appreciation of Fr. Zareh Zargarian’s long-standing service to the Armenian Apostolic Church in Canada and the 20th Anniversary of his ordination to priesthood, the Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto’s Parish Council and Anniversary Committee organized three-day festivities over the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend.
The opening ceremony of the Armenian Artists’ Exhibition took place on Friday, October 5. A beautiful collection of 30 paintings from the works of well-known artists like Shmavon Shmavonian, Tengiz Mikoyants, Zuleika Bazhbeuk-Melikova and Serge Deherian were exhibited in the “Maral Ishkanian” hall for three days. After welcoming remarks, Mr. Antranig Tchilingirian, chair of the Exhibition Committee, congratulated Fr. Zargarian on his anniversary and extended his best wishes.
On Saturday, October 6, the Anniversary Banquet took place in “Magaros Artinian” Hall. Over 370 guests started arriving at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails and enjoyed a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The programme started at 8 p.m. with the church’s “Yeraz” Children’s Choir singing the national anthems of Canada and the Republic of Armenia. The Mistress of Ceremonies for the night, Ms. Tenny Nigoghossian, welcomed the following honorable guests at the head table:
The Honouree, Rev. Archpriest Zareh Zargarian and Yeretsgin Naira Zargarian
After Ms. Nigoghossian’s welcoming remarks and introduction, Fr. Damian Mac Pherson from the Catholic Archdiocese blessed the meal.
A video message from Fr. Zareh’s parents, Mr.& Mrs. Yeznig and Shoghig Zargarian from California, and from Mr. Berge Sevazlian, Godfather of the 20th Anniversary celebration, who could not attend, was displayed on screen. Fr. Zareh’s parents extended their appreciation to the community for organizing the 20th anniversary of their son’s ordination, and for the kind care and attention their youngest son receives from the community. Mr. Sevazlian congratulated Fr. Zareh and his family and conveyed his best wishes to him.
During dinner, Mrs. Meline Afyan performed beautiful Armenian melodies on piano.
On behalf of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church parishioners, Mr. Stephan Ekmekdjian congratulated Fr. Zargarian and his family. He invited members of the Parish Council to join him in presenting their gifts to Fr. Zareh and Yeretsgin Naira.
The Hon. Mr. John McKay delivered his heartfelt message next. In his speech, Mr. MacKay stressed on the pleasant working relationship he has enjoyed with Fr. Zargarian over the years. One of the highlights of the evening was the surprise presentation of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Mr. MacKay on behalf of the Governor General of Canada to Fr. Zargarian, for his long years of committed service and his devotion in the betterment of life in the community and the city of Toronto.
Mr. Ara Boyajian, Chairman of Diocesan Council, congratulated Fr. Zargarian and his family and emphasized the vision and passion Father Zareh has for the ministry. On behalf of the Diocesan Council and accompanied by Mrs. Apet Alpay, Treasurer of the Diocesan Council, he presented Fr. Zargarian with a gold medallion created in commemoration of the 1700th anniversary of the establishment of Christianity as state religion in Armenia. His Holiness Karekin II had commissioned the British Royal Mint to create this commemorative medallion back in 2001.
Mr. Berge Papazian, President of AGBU Armen Ontario, delivered a sincere and warm congratulatory message that reflected the important responsibilities Fr. Zargarian carries and the wonderful care that he provides to his parish.
On behalf of AGBU Toronto, Mr. Papazian, Ms. Knar Basmajian and Mrs. Salpi Ghazarian presented Der Zareh with a book of exquisite photographs of Armenia.
Fr. Zargarian’s oldest son, Nareg, surprised his father by delivering a sincere and touching speech on this special occasion. Nareg’s congratulatory words showed his deep compassion and unconditional love towards his father.
Although the three brothers often find themselves compromising the much needed time with their father, Nareg stated he was happy that whenever they have uninterrupted quality time with their father, he always makes the best of it for his sons.
Aren & Araz joined Nareg in congratulating their father – a beautiful moment indeed.
On behalf of the clergy of the Armenian Church Canadian Diocese, Father Vasken Boyajian delivered his congratulatory speech. He spoke of the many qualities and the work ethic that have made Fr. Zareh so popular and successful in his ministry.
Fr. Vasken added that even though 16 years have passed since Fr. Zareh left St. Gregory Armenian Church of Montreal, from time to time they receive calls from parishioners who ask for him. People have not forgotten their caring and devoted Priest after all these years.
On behalf of his brothers in Christ, Fr. Vasken presented Der Zareh with a beautiful golden cross on the 20thanniversary of his ordination. The MC thanked Fr. Vasken who by the request of the organizing committee arranged and delivered the handmade ornaments for the guests specifically designed for this occasion by Armenian schoolchildren.
In her spiritual message, Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of Canadian Council of Churches, thanked Fr. Zargarian for his valuable contributions as a long-standing board member and encouraged him to continue in his journey of serving the Lord.
In his congratulatory speech, His Excellency, Mr. Armen Yeganian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, acknowledged that among all those present that night, probably he knows Fr. Zargarian the least.
Yet even within the last year it has become obvious to him that Fr. Zargarian has the drive and vision of a great Armenian clergyman – someone who has dedicated his life to creating and maintaining a mini-Motherland, so to speak, so that Armenians of this City can feel at home.
For his devoted and tireless service to Armenia and the Armenian nation, Mr. Yeganian presented Fr. Zareh with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia Award.
The cultural part of the evening continued with the performance of the talented soprano Lynn Isnar, who sang Armenian folk and religious songs accompanied by Michael Berkovsky on the piano.
Mr. Vahe Satourian, Chairman of the Armenian Association of Toronto, read part of a poem by Hovhannes Toumanian that reflected on the work ethics of a dedicated person.
Mr. Satourian indicated, “No words can better describe how we see you, Der Zareh, and appreciate you.” He then presented Fr. Zargarian with a plaque with the poem carved on it.
Mr. Sarkis Sahagian presented Fr. Zargarian with a statue of Antranig Zoravar after reciting a piece by poet Barouyr Sevag.
Holy Trinity Armenian Church’s Sassoun Dance Ensemble performed three dances. As always, the vibrant group added cheer to the festive evening. What makes this even more special is the fact that Sassoun Dance Ensemble is one of the many committees and auxiliary bodies that Fr. Zargarian created during the last 16 years of his ministry at Holy Trinity Armenian Church.
The 20th Anniversary organizing committee’s Chair, Mrs. Apet Alpay, congratulated Der Zareh and Yeretsgin Naira. In appreciation of Fr. Zargarian’s significant role in the creation and success of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church Endowment Fund, Mrs. Apet Alpay, as chair and on behalf of the Anniversary Organizing Committee, announced the creation of The Rev. Archpriest Zareh Zargarian Fund. The proceeds will provide further assistance to support the church programmes. She invited Fr. Zargarian to receive the special plaque and Yeretsgin Naira received a beautiful bouquet in appreciation of her 20 years of dedication and unconditional support to our pastor and the parish.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, former pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church and Primate of the Canadian Diocese, had flown in from California to participate in the 20th anniversary celebration.
Being a former teacher back in the Kevorkian seminary at Holy Etchmiadzin, he had officiated Fr. Zargarian & Yeretsgin Naira’s wedding ceremony, ordained him as priest back in 1992 in Montreal, baptised his three children, and been a mentor for over 30 years.
Archbishop Derderian, being the spiritual father of Fr. Zargarian, delivered his heartfelt and emotional message and spoke of Fr. Zareh’s many strong and unique qualities and his call to serve the Armenian church. His Eminence Derderian presented Fr. Zareh with a beautiful cross.
The honoree, overwhelmed with the kindness and praise he had witnessed, started his speech by thanking the Lord for the blessings in his life, for the opportunity to serve his church and his people. Fr. Zareh expressed his love and gratitude to His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians and invited parishioners to pray for his health.
Fr. Zargarian acknowledged the presence of the Ambassador of the republic of Armenian in Canada, H. E. Mr. Armen Yeganian and his wife, Mrs. Maria Yeganian and on behalf of the parishioners extended their unconditional love and support to the motherland and the Embassy of Armenia.
He spoke of his parents who had sent their congratulatory message by video. He thanked the evening’s Godfather, Mr. Berge Sevazlian, for the support and care. Fr. Zareh spoke of His Holiness Vazken I, who made a deep impact on the formation of his spiritual life and journey of serving the ministry and his Motherland.
Fr. Zareh expressed his immense gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Derderian, his spiritual father and mentor for the love and care that he and his family received throughout long years of friendship. He thanked Mr. & Mrs. Garbis & Hasmig Aposhian for their continued support and care from the family’s arrival to Canada.
Fr. Zargarian thanked the 20th Anniversary organizing committee members for their months of hard work to make the weekend long celebration so special. He took a moment to specifically thank those who are present at church on Sundays, assisting him during the Divine Liturgy, the pastor’s assistant, Rev. Datev Menengichian, the deacons, sub-deacons and the wonderful church choir.
Fr. Zargarian stated that the work he does would have no meaning if it were not for the support of the parishioners. What makes his work meaningful and worthy is quite deep and simple at the same time: the people’s pain is his pain, their happiness is his happiness, and their success is his success. The Church would be only a structure if it were not for the parishioners. The ministry would not accomplish its Christian mission if it were not for the devoted services of over 300 volunteers working under the umbrella of Holy Trinity Armenian Church.
Fr. Zareh appreciated his fellow clergymen who despite their slight differences have always had a great relationship working together and serving their Lord. Amongst the clergy guests were:
Very Rev. Fr. Elie Kirejian, St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church
Very Rev. Fr. Meghrig Parikian, St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church
The Rev. Canon Philip Hobson – Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada
Rev. Vasken Boyajian – St. Gregory Armenian Church of Montreal
Rev. Fr. Peter Avgeropoulos – Greek Orthodox Church
Rev. Samuel Albarian – Armenian Evangelical Church
Fr. Datev Menengichian – HTAC Pastor’s Assistant.
Rev. Myron Sarkisian of St. Vartan Church, Mississauga
He thanked the audience and parishioners for giving him the opportunity to serve them, and stated that their kindness, support, good wishes, and praises encourage him to continue to serve his beloved church and people with renewed commitment.
Fr. Zareh was emotional talking about family, his beloved wife Yeretsgin Naira and their three sons. He thanked them for their many compromises, devotion, and support from the very beginning of this journey. Being away from his own parents, Fr. Zareh appreciated the love and care that Mrs. Khachatryan, Yeretsgin’s mother, has provided the family since the children were quite young.
Fr. Zargarian expressed his words of gratitude to the Primate of the Armenian Church, Canadian Diocese, His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, congratulating him on his recent graduation and wished him health and success in leading the Armenian Church of Canada for years to come.
Fr. Zareh then invited Bishop Galstanian for the evening’s final address and benediction.
After congratulating Fr. Zareh on the 20th anniversary of his ordination to priesthood, Bishop Galstanian praised him for his skillful and efficient leadership that has transformed the Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto into a vibrant centre, where serving the community’s spiritual needs, promotion of Christianity and preservation of Armenian culture and heritage are priorities.
Bishop Galstanian presented Fr. Zargarian with the Holy Cross of The Armenian Church Canadian Diocese and conveyed his best wishes to the honoree and his family as well as to the community.
On Sunday, October 7th, Fr. Zargarian celebrated and delivered the sermon on a special Thanksgiving Divine Liturgy and reflected on his 20th anniversary of ordination by expressing appreciation of the Lord and the blessings he has received over the years. Present during the liturgy were His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, His Excellency Mr. Armen Yeganian and Mrs. Maria Yeganian, Mr. & Mrs. Ara Boyajian, Mr. Jack Stepanian and Mr. & Mrs. Garbis & Hasmig Aposhian.
Following Divine Liturgy, everyone gathered outside the church for the annual group photo of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church volunteers.
Under the auspices of Bishop Galstanian, the official opening ceremony of Holy Trinity Armenian Church Community Services premises located adjacent to the church took place. Rev. Archpriest Zareh Zargarian was accompanied by the Primate, Mr. Armen Yeganian, Mr. Berge Papazian, Mr. Ara Boyajian and the newly-appointed Chairman of the Board of Armenian Community Services, Mr. Jack Stepanian.
The honourable guests made very positive comments on the importance of Fr. Zargarian’s initiative on promoting the humanitarian, cultural, educational and social activities of Holy Trinity Armenian Church at the new premises. This will create a new opportunity for the community, especially the Armenian youth, to come together and be involved in a wide range of activities and events to socialize and learn. Both Mr. Stepanian and Mr. Papazian reinforced the noble idea of our youth to merge their activities and work together within the new premises and the existing AGBU facilities to best utilize the community resources. The new space will promote and serve as a safe and nourishing environment for families to gather and keep the Armenian identity. The auxiliary bodies and committees of HTAC, already active and vibrant will continue their work and where they will have proper space and direction by the help of the Board members.
In his remarks, Bishop Galstanian encouraged the community to take part and support the Church volunteer organizations as well as AGBU activities and programs, to ensure success and enthusiasm within the larger community for the sake of our youth and for safeguarding our traditions in a vibrant community.
A generous reception was hosted jointly by the church Parish Council and the AGBU Board on this happy occasion. The event ended with many of the guests touring the new premises and enjoying their time with friends and family.
Following the reception, the unveiling of the Rev. Archpriest Zareh Zargarian Fund Leaf on the Endowment Fund Tree and prayer took place at Holy Trinity Armenian Church.
Mr. & Mrs. Garo Zakarian, close friends with Fr. Zargarian, presented their gift on the occasion of the 20thanniversary of ordination to Fr. Zareh, a beautiful cross made by skillful hands of Mr. Zakarian.
The Holy Trinity Armenian Church Parish Council and faithful congratulate their beloved Pastor, on the 20thAnniversary of his ordination and pray to God Almighty for the health and prosperity of the Zargarian family.