Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Karine Abalyan
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

February 1, 2010


Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church
of America (Eastern), visited Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Cheltenham,
Pa., on Sunday, January 17, where some 300 people gathered to officially
welcome the parish's new pastor, the Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan.

Fr. Gevorgyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and Archbishop Barsamian
delivered the day's sermon, speaking at length about the importance of
discovering God's call and sharing the story of his personal journey to the
priesthood. "Serving our church as a clergyman is what I love doing: what I
want to do," the Primate said. "That feeling of joy and love is what God
calls each of us to discover, in our own lives."

"I am overjoyed to help you welcome Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan and Yeretzgin Anna
to your parish," he said. "I can say that, having watched this young priest
in his training over the past year, he too is motivated by the conviction
that pastorship is what he wants to do with his life."

A graduate of the Vaskenian and Gevorkyan theological seminaries in Armenia,
Fr. Gevorgyan came to the Eastern Diocese in February 2008, and completed a
pastoral internship at St. Gregory the Enlightener Church in White Plains,
NY, under the guidance of its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, who
also attended the welcoming event in Cheltenham.

Fr. Gevorgyan began serving as the full-time pastor of Holy Trinity Church
on January 2, 2010. Prior to assuming this position, he spent a year serving
as the parish's visiting pastor, an experience that helped him build a close
relationship with the local Armenian community.

"From my first day in this parish, I have been surrounded by the love and
welcoming attitude expressed by everyone I met," Fr. Gevorgyan said. "Even
though I was just a visiting priest and still new to the U.S., I never felt
alone or insecure, because this community was always ready and willing to

Following services on January 17, a welcome luncheon was held featuring
musical performances and a keynote address by Fr. Karekin Kasparian. Fr.
Kasparian spoke of the warm relationship he shared with Fr. Gevorgyan while
mentoring him at St. Gregory the Enlightener Church.

"We worked as brothers, and he was excellent in all the work we undertook
together," Fr. Kasparian said. He highlighted Fr. Gevorgyan's patience and
humility; his dedication to completing the Clinical Pastoral Education
program at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY; and his commitment to
other projects at St. Gregory the Enlightener Church.

"It has been said that great congregations make great ministers," Fr.
Kasparian said, "and the opposite is also true: that great pastors make
great congregations."

He added that Fr. Gevorgyan now faces the challenge of re-energizing the
Cheltenham parish, which has been without a permanent pastor for more than
two years. Fr. Kasparian said he would continue to mentor the young priest
as he takes up this leadership role.

Already parishioners said they feel a new sense of optimism. "Everybody said
it was a wonderful event," said parish council chair Merle Santerian, who
helped organize the luncheon. "They hadn't been to one like that in a long
time at our church."

Mrs. Santerian said Fr. Gevorgyan and his young family are a great fit for a
parish with many young people, and a number of newcomers from Armenia. "We
are looking forward to many years with him at the helm," she said.

Another parish council member, Antranig Garibian, and his father, Dr. Garo
Garibian, surprised Fr. Gevorgyan with a video message from his mother in
Armenia. The video was prepared for the occasion when the Garibian family
visited Armenia ahead of last month's celebration.

The parish also presented Fr. Gevorgyan with a new desk for his work, and a
Phillie Phanatic (the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies Major League
Baseball team) stuffed doll for his son, Narek.

Other clergy attending the day's program include Archbishop Vicken Aykazian,
Diocesan Legate; the Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Najarian, Diocesan Vicar; the
Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian, pastor of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian
Church of Wynnewood, Pa.; and other Philadelphia-area clergy. Archbishop
Aykazian delivered the opening prayer; Fr. Najarian gave the benediction.

"I know I have a big responsibility, and it is an honor to be a priest in
this parish," Fr. Gevorgyan told the Cheltenham community. "I hope that with
God's mercy and with your support and love, we can all flourish and enrich
each other and this parish."


Photos attached.

Photo 1: Archbishop Khajag Barsamian blesses the Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan.,
the new pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Cheltenham, Pa.

Photo 2: Clergy and altar servers pose for a group photo following the
celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of
Cheltenham, Pa., on Sunday, January 17.