By Janna Mosinyan
FLArmenians Guest Contributor
Jacksonville, FL – The community here has grown to the point that, last year, our mission parish purchased a new property, which will serve as the epicenter of the Armenian-American community of Jacksonville. The new parish location will play an important role in the development of our community. It will be a place where local Armenians will be able to come together for worship, celebrations, and cultural and social events. This will enable the dream of Armenians living in northern Florida to manage their own institution, plan for bible studies, Sunday school and more, to become reality. The Jacksonville community has been working together to reform the building, as construction work takes place every Sunday with the help of dedicated community leaders. While church construction is in progress, the Armenian community of Jacksonville, Florida gathers each month for the monthly “Badarak,” or Divine Liturgy. The women’s choir is performing with the participation of Janna Mosinyan, Elen Mosinyan, Olivia Arslanian, Silva Baboyan, and male members Rafael Grigoryan, Aleksandr Shafiyev, Nicolas Yedigarov and Erik Mirzoyev are all active participants of the service as well.
This summer has been especially productive for the young members of our community. Aleksandr Shafiyev recently represented the Armenian Community of Jacksonville on his pilgrimage to the Holly Land. Shafiyev was excited to discover that out of all the Christian nations, Armenians are one of two that have a special quarter in Jerusalem to practice their religion. “Now, that I have had an up-close experience of the Armenian traditions, I am eager to go back to my roots,” said Shafiyev. Hearing an Armenian who has never been to Armenia talk about his heritage with such a great pride is a delightful feeling. On July 11, 2012, The Eastern Diocese announced the recipients of the Diocesan Academic Scholarship for 2012-13. The Armenian community of Jacksonville is proud to announce that two of our students, Rafael Gregoryan and Erik Mirzoyev, have earned the scholarship by committing tremendous time and dedication to our community. Since 2008, I have been an active member of the Armenian-American community of Jacksonville, and it is evident that our local parish has been crucial for the success and development of young Armenians here. As an Armenian who arrived to United States only four years ago, I have found a little Armenia, here in north Florida, thousands of miles away from home.
Janna Mosinyan is an active member of the Jacksonville Armenian-American community, and sings in the parish choir. She is currently studying Political Science at the University of North Florida.
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.