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Congressman Gus Bilirakis Pledges to Bring Armenia Closer to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel as New Armenian Caucus Vice Chair

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) has been named Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. In addition to playing an active role in the Armenian Caucus, notably efforts to secure Turkey’s return of confiscated Christian Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian religious property and U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Bilirakis also serves as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and as Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Caucus, among others.

“I look forward to working with like-minded House colleagues in the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues to continue and grow the Caucus’ focus on issues of concern to the Armenian American community,” Congressman Bilirakis told FLArmenians.com. “I have long admired the tenacity and strong will of the Armenian people who have thrived despite enduring a history of suffering under repressive regimes. I am especially gratified to be a part of the Caucus as we come upon the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – a horrific massacre of over 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women, and children. I intend to work diligently so that the Caucus can pass a resolution that expresses a sense of Congress that is meaningful and effective.

“Finally, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I am eager to help incorporate Armenia into the broader discussion of energy and security issues with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. The Caucus has a long history of bi-partisan cooperation which I look forward to continuing as we take on new challenges in the years ahead.”

Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He was first elected to Congress on November 7, 2006, and is currently serving his fourth term in the United States House of Representatives.

As a young boy, Gus learned the importance of public service from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented Florida’s Ninth Congressional District from 1983 to 2006. The elder Bilirakis also instilled in his son a pride in the family’s Greek heritage, which Gus proudly carries into his career today.

Bilirakis sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the Vice Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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Armenian Studies Events at USF Tampa Library

USF Armenian-Studies-Fall-2013

2013 Clergy Conference & Diocesan Assembly

BOCA RATON, FL – On April 29, St. David Armenian Church warmly welcomed 47 clergy to the 2013 Clergy Conference presided by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenia Church of America, at the Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach, Florida. Situated on 26 beautiful acres of waterfront property on Little Lake Worth, it offered an ideal setting for spectacular sunrises, while the beautiful gardens of unusual natural beauty staged a contemplative and peaceful environment for meditation. The Conference began with a Dinner Cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway, and ended with dinner at St. David Church banquet hall on Wednesday, May 1st.  A faithful friend and church neighbor, Fr. Mark Leondis, Pastor of St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church, was one of the guest speakers who stressed loving God and our neighbor is not only our dream and vision, but most importantly it is Our Lord’s commandment.

On Thursday, May 2nd, through Saturday, May 4th, the 111th Annual Diocesan Assembly was held at the Boca Marriott Hotel, where various programs were presented and discussed.

At a lavish banquet on Friday, May 3rd, awards were presented to Edward and Janet Mardigian for “Armenian of the Year,” and to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as “Friend of the Armenians.”

On Saturday morning, a requiem service was held for His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the late 96th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and long-serving former Primate of the Eastern Diocese.

The Assembly opened with a reading of the message of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Fr. Nareg welcomed the representatives from various parishes of our Diocese. In his closing remarks, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian thanked the Assembly officers and expressed his appreciation to Very Reverend Fr. Nareg Berberian, and to Carol Norigian and to St. David parish for their warm hospitality in making this Assembly a splendid and memorable occasion.

ST. DAVID ARMENIAN CHURCH HONORS DEPARTING PASTOR, VERY REVEREND FR. NAREG BERBERIAN

On Saturday evening, May 4th, Fr. Nareg was enthusiastically greeted by old and new friends in the Diocese, St. David community members, as well as Delegates and Clergy who attended the 111th Diocesan Assembly to express their warm sentiments and best wishes on his imminent assignment as Locum Tenens to Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Having served eleven years as Pastor of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Florida, Fr. Nareg was honored with a very-well attended Farewell Reception at the Marriott Hotel where many successful events of the 2013 Diocesan Assembly took place.

His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate presided over the event and eloquently articulated Fr. Nareg’s many accomplishments in the service of Our Lord. Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary spoke about the academic achievements of Fr. Nareg. His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Ecumenical Director, spoke about his pastorate at St. David. The Parish Council Chair, R. Carol Norigian, who also chaired the Diocesan Assembly, spoke on behalf of St. David Church to express their appreciation for making this a vibrant community and for Hayr Soorp’s steadfast commitment and support in ensuring that our youth as well as our seasonal and year-round parishioners are engaged in the life of the church in meaningful ways. Fr. Nareg was very touched by this wonderful tribute and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the beautiful Bishop’s Panagia, which will be presented to him at his last Badarak at St. David.

FIVE WOMEN HONORED AT THE ASSEMBLY

On Thursday, May 2, at the 4th Annual Woman of Wonder (WOW) Luncheon during the 27th Annual Women’s Guild Assembly, Carol Norigian, Claudette Sarian, Nina Stapan and Rose Kazanjian of St. David Armenian Church, and Naomi Davitian of St. Mary Armenian Church, were honored by the Women’s Guild Central Council for their many years of devoted service and dedication to the Women’s Guild and the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.  His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian presented special certificates to them for their many years of faithful service, and wishing that they continue their love for Christ and His church with the same zeal and dedication.

FAREWELL COFFEE HOUR SUNDAY JUNE 2

This Sunday, June 2nd, there will be a special farewell coffee hour following the Badarak in honor of Fr. Nareg.  This is the perfect opportunity for you to express your best wishes to him before he leaves for Brazil. On behalf of St. David Armenian Church a special appreciation gift will be presented to him.