Armenian Church of Southwest Florida Hosts Religious Leaders
By Carole Meghreblian
FLArmenians Naples Contributor
The Armenian Church of Southwest Florida concluded its last service of the season on Sunday, March 11 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Naples, Florida. Over 125 parishioners were present, the largest number of parishioners to attend Holy Service (Badarak) to date. The Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian from St. Gregory Armenian Church in Chicago was the celebrant. He was assisted by Deacon Allan Tossoonian from St. Hagop’s Armenian Church in Pinellas Park. Organist Pierre Abadjian and fourteen choir members from across the United States, provided the beautiful music. Also in attendance were Hayr Soorp’s parents, Rev. Fr. Nerses and Yeretzgin Aurora Jebejian.
A light luncheon followed in the hall where parishioners enjoyed both an Armenian and American menu. The annual bake sale, featuring delicious katahs, simit, and other Armenian favorites, was completely sold out.
Anyone visiting or living in the Naples, Fort Myers, Marco Island area and wishing to participate in future events, please follow http://www.FLArmenians.com. Services are held November through April.
Carole Meghreblian is the Parish Council Chair of the Armenian Church of Southwest Florida. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This story has been updated.
FEAST OF ASSUMPTION, GRAND REOPENING OF ST. DAVID SANCTUARY & THE BLESSING OF GRAPES
Boca Raton, FL – On Sunday, August 14, 2011, St. David Armenian Church reopened the sanctuary after a six-week and a half renovation. More than hundred people gathered in the morning for the celebration of the Feast of Assumption and to see the newly remodeled Sanctuary of our St. David Armenian Church. The Service started at the Church Hall with the participation of 15 young sub-deacons of our Church. At the end of the Service, Fr. Nareg along with the young altar servers and choir led the congregation to the entrance of the Church. The Opening of Gates ceremony “Ternpatsek” followed. As the doors of the sanctuary opened, 200 people stood in awe to see the newly remodeled St. David Sanctuary. Their eyes sparkled like precious gems and their spirits were energized as they stepped into the magnificent Sanctuary following the lead of our Pastor, the Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian, altar servers and choir, singing “Voghormoutiamp ko tourn patz mez Der,” which means, “With your Mercy, open the door for us, O Lord.”
Fr. Nareg ascended on the Holy Altar with the altar servers to continue the Holy Badarak.
Prior to his sermon, Fr. Nareg said, “For the first time we are gathered in our magnificently renovated Sanctuary and Narthex on the celebration of the Feast of Assumption.
“As you are marveling at the beauty of our sanctuary, I am certain that the founding fathers of our community are rejoicing with you from heaven. This Church was built by their vision for the enrichment of our faith and culture. They successfully passed their vision to our present generation. Today, it is your responsibility to continue enriching their vision. It is the duty of every Armenian to take part in this project through his/her donation. This is your Church. This Church offers you spiritual, cultural, educational, and social programs. Without this Church, we have no identity and with no identity we are lost in the vastness of this world. There are thousands of Churches in South Florida. We are identified as an Armenian by our own Church. When we say, “I am a member of St. David Armenian Church,” we are identifying where we come from, to whom we belong, who we are and what we are.
“It is not enough to be proud of your heritage and faith. You must be active by sharing your talents and gifts. Being a visiting church attendee is not enough. We have more than 10 thousand Armenians in our county. A sense of belonging must grow among our people.
“Look at the beauty of this Church. As we entered the Church for the first time, we sang “Ourakh Ler,” hymn, which means, “Rejoice O Holy Church.” God is rejoicing today for beautifying His house. Is there anything more rewarding than this? This is the pride of the Church. The next generation will be grateful for the beautification of our sanctuary. Now, we have a clean, neat and bright Church, free of mildew and humidity odor. It is my hope that our present visionaries will be great role models for our youth who understand the Church is a place of worship and fellowship.
“I thank Sita Ohanessian who donated $42,000 towards this project in memory of her parents, Ohannes and Sirpouhi Ohanessian. I thank some of our parishioners for financially supporting this major undertaking. I am certain that we will offset all the expenses through the generosity of our parishioners.
“I am grateful to our Parish Council Chairman, Armen Melkonian, who oversaw this project on a daily basis spending days and nights and even providing food for the workers. He was instrumental in selecting these beautiful tiles, the marble and the medallions. He has great taste in modeling designs. It is a pleasure to work with Armen. We have the same vision, same dedication, same taste, same thinking, and strangely enough we share the same birthday. Armen is a wonderful leader and a great chairman.
“During his chairmanship, we have accomplished major constructions and renovations:
1. The Mardigian Chuch Hall was installed with faux marble;
2. A New Khatchkar was installed;
3. A New pavement was installed in front of the Church entrance;
4. A New Church sign was installed; and
5. The Sanctuary and the Narthex were installed with faux marble.
“All these changes happened within a few years.
“I am also grateful to Andrew Merjian, a member of the Parish Council, who is responsible for building the two beautiful candle boxes. Andrew spent countless hours in helping with this project. He is also responsible for installing the new wainscot panels in the Narthex. We are fortunate to have him in our Council.
“One candle box already has a sponsor. They are Drs. Andy and Rosemary Mencia. The other candle box is waiting for sponsorship.
“I am grateful to the members of the Women’s Guild headed by Carol Norigian and the members of Choir headed by Nina Stapan. They spent many hours cleaning the sanctuary. George Stapan and Andrew Merjian painted the wainscot panels in the Narthex.
“I thank Hagop Alikhanian who worked very hard during the renovation. He is a great man.
“There are more people who are worthy of recognition and will be mentioned during the luncheon.
“We truly have wonderful Parish Council members and parishioners who are always ready to help the Church and its mission,”
Then a sermon was delivered. Fr. Nareg spoke about the greatness of Mary in the New Testament and in Church history, in particular in the life of the Armenian people. He emphasized that Mary revolutionized the role of womanhood in the society. Following the sermon, the Blessing of Grapes ceremony followed. With a great enthusiasm, people gathered at the Mardigian Church Hall for a special luncheon to celebrate both the Feast of Assumption and the grand reopening of our Sanctuary.
Armen Melkonian, the chairman of the Parish Council, raised the cup of wine and gave a toast to the people and said, “Thank you for your support and encouragement. We truly are fortunate to have such a beautiful sanctuary. We are thankful to Fr. Nareg for his vision, guidance and leadership in our Parish. We are grateful to a Parish Council member, Andrew Merjian for making two candle boxes in the sanctuary which was designed with marble, and for installing the decorative wainscot in the Narthex of the Church.”
At the conclusion of the program, Fr. Nareg thanked the chairman of the Parish Council, Armen Melkonian, for closely overseeing and sharing his input in the project.