ARMENIAN COMMUNITY OF ETHIOPIA
Deacon Vartkes Nalbandian, President
ARMENIAN CHURCH PASTORATE OF ETHIOPIA
Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian, pastor
16th of JANUARY 2005
70th Anniversary of the
St. George Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church
Presided by the Archimandrite V. Rev. Father ASHOT MNATZAKANJAN
Locum tenancy of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church
of Egypt and all Africa,
and with the
honorary superintendence of H. H. ABUNA PAULOS
Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum
And the Echegue of the Holy See St. Teklehaimanot
On the 16th of January, 2005
at the St. George Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Addis- Ababa
Holy Mass held by the Pastor of the Armenian Church Pastorate of Ethiopia
Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian
H. H. KAREKIN II
MESSAGE OF BLESSING TO BELEIVERS OF
ST. GEORGE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN ADDIS-ABABA, ETHIOPIA
We were glad to be notified by Very Reverend Father Ashot Mnatsakanian, Locum Tenens of the Armenian Church of Egypt, that this year marks the 70th anniversary of St. George Armenian Church of Ethiopia, which is a source of great joy for its parish members. On this momentous occasion, we would like to extend our Patriarchal blessings and heartfelt congratulations from the holy shrine of our people, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, to the trustees of the Armenian community of Ethiopia, to the servants of the church and to all of the faithful.
70 years ago, under the patronage of benefactor Mihran Mouradian, the Armenian community of Ethiopia built Saint George Church with the desire and dream of preserving and promoting the noble spiritual values of Armenians. It is under those hallowed arches that prayers are raised towards God for the prosperity and strengthening of friendship between the people of Ethiopia and Armenia and for the flourishing of our holy apostolic Church. We were especially pleased during our last official visit to Ethiopia to know that Armenian life continues to thrive in the community thanks to your faithful perseverance and that you keep your love and dedication towards the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
We praise God for giving you strength during times of difficulty. With the Lord’s help you were able to conquer the trials and tribulations that befell you and the God-loving people of Ethiopia, all the while holding steadfast to your Christian faith.
It is because of your dedication to the Church that the Almighty is always by your side along with Saint George you will always be your protector. Dear believers, stay committed to the strong spirit of the saint, so that you can celebrate the 70th anniversary with renewed vitality, keeping with the traditions of past generations and fortifying your patriotism and love for the Church with God pleasing endeavors.
Here in front of the Holy Altar of the Descent, we offer our prayers unto God through the intercession of Saint George, so that he continues to bless us and watches over our Holy Church. It is within the walls of this Church that we shall continue the evangelization of His word and the illumination of our people with the true faith of the Armenian Apostolic Church. We also offer prayers for the soul of the benefactor of Saint George Church, Mr. Mihran Mouradian and also offer our praise to the surviving members of his family, all the other benefactors and those who continue to bring prosperity to the church.
May God grant you health and prosperity and may be continue to bless all of our sons and daughters of Ethiopia.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be unto you and unto all. Amen
Catholicos of All Armenians
January 12, 2005
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Republic of Armenia
Message of Archimandrite V. Rev. Fr. ASHOT Mnatzakanyan
Locum Tenens of Diocese of the Armenian Church of Egypt and all Africa
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Your Holiness, my Brothers in Christ, my dear Armenian faithful,
Reading the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II’s message of blessing, you proudly heard the following passage,
“Glory and praise to God for keeping you strong in your time of difficulty. By relying on the Lord, you were able to conquer the trials and tribulations that befell you and the God-loving people of Ethiopia, while remaining steadfast in you Christian faith.”
The Armenian community of Ethiopia, with over 100 years of history alongside the Ethiopians, knew how to make worthy its treasure and build this holy church dedicated to the brave warrior, Saint George. Offers of prayer and incense for the soul of the benefactor of the church, Mihran Mouradian and praise to all of the trustees and servants of the church including benefactors, acolytes and deacons and choir members and conductors.
70 year have gone by and with them there have been times of trouble and difficulty. But in the face of all that, man’s will to survive based on his faith in God always stays strong. The people of Ethiopia also had there share of troubles, natural disasters, wars, etc. However, with God’s strength and the power of prayer it has risen to its feet once again. Their faith has turned into a precious treasure within their hearts.
We, Armenians, have been struggling to survive for centuries and still continue to do so till today. Many wanted the end of us and started by exiling us from our fatherland and destroying our holy shrines and churches. But we, especially Diasporan Armenians, found new places and people to welcome us, where we could build a little Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin. We returned the respect given to us by our hosts, who embraced us warmly and with humanitarian spirit and turned them into our new brothers and sisters. We placed our treasures not only by building our churches but by helping our hosts in their time of need.
Glory and praise to the Lord for giving us the opportunity to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of St. George Armenian Church here in Addis Ababa. I want to stress to those present that if we send our treasures of faith to the Lord in heaven, we will surely send our treasures of love and friendship to the people of Ethiopia.
On this occasion, like in every celebration, we shall remember our martyrs and the innocent that have lost their lives during centuries of natural disaster and war, and especially during the days of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which will be remembered by its 90th Anniversary this year. Other nations have also had martyrs and victims. Today we will be unveiling the monument dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide, a monument dedicated to the memory of all martyrs of humanity and especially those who lost their lives in Asia during last months Tsunami disaster. We dedicate this monument with prayers so that natural disasters won’t occure, so that wars cease, and so peoples human rights are not violated. We dedicate this monument today to awaken the conscience of the world to recognize the great crime against the Armenian that took place in 1915 that took the lives of more than 1.5 million Armenians.
My dear Armenian people,
Having arrived in this country on the African continent because of the Armenian Genocide, you must remain steadfast to the Christian faith, to the power of prayer, to the teachings of peace and love, so that you may be worthy of God’s blessing. Keep the fraternal spirit you have towards the God-loving Ethiopian people, who we extend our brotherly blessings to.
We reverently acknowledge amongst us His Holiness Abuna Paulos, conveying the greetings of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. We also acknowledge the representatives of our sister Churches, government officials and diplomats wishing you the blessings of the Lord, love and peace.
My dear Armenian people,
In being consistent to what His Holiness the Catholicos conveyed in his message, “70 years ago, the Armenian community of Ethiopia built Saint George Church with the desire and dream of preserving and promoting the noble spiritual values of Armenians. It is under those hallowed arches that prayers are raised towards God for the prosperity and strengthening of friendship between the people of Ethiopia and Armenia and for the flourishing of our holy apostolic Church.” This is the treasure that you have been keeping for the past 70 years. This is your heart. Stay committed to the faith of your forefathers and their love for their nation. Stay true to our Lord’s commandment,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be unto you and unto all.
SPEECH OF HIS HOLINESS ABUNA PAULOS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE SAINT GEORGE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH OF ADDIS ABABA
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit One God Amen.
This is one great day that we give thanks unto God because we are here this morning with the families of our churches, which have been families for 2000 years. Each has pursued in their own countries and has faced many worldly problems and yet they have managed to reach here and so I give thanks. And, I respect my brothers who have found a cause to bring the families together this morning, so that we could refresh our memories and responsibilities towards each other. As we have been informed by the message of His Holiness Karekin II that we should remember all our difficulties that we have endured during the past 2000 years I should say.
This morning we are gathered here because of the 70th anniversary of this particular church whose foundation was laid in 1928 and was inaugurated by His Imperial Majesty in 1934.
So, my brothers and sisters who have endured great problems before and during the First World War in 1915, Ethiopia, particularly Emperor Menelik II did his part to bring our brothers and sisters closer, who have been engaged and participated and shared and did their part during the political turmoil of this country. Armenians have been imprisoned with the Ethiopians and they have suffered with no discrimination and they have been here during natural disasters alongside their Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Somebody might wonder the communality between the Armenians and the Ethiopians. Well, I should mention the families of the early ancient churches, the five sister churches, the Armenians, the Ethiopians, the Coptic Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox and the Malabar Indian Orthodox churches. These are known to be the most ancient churches. From the very beginning all the churches were together until the 5th century, the Council of Calcedon. The 1st three ecumenical councils have been gathered with the participation of all the Christians throughout the world with no east and west, but all were together in the Council of Nicea in 325 and in the Council of Constantinople in 381 and in the Council of Ephesos in 431.
Than comes the 4th ecumenical council, the council of Calcedon in 451, which these ancient churches do not accept because of the newly introduced views in the dogmas and teachings of the church. The ancient churches adhered to the teachings of the Lord and his apostles because they have not dared to join, so the church separated within itself. So, these five churches today are known as the non-Calcedonian and the western churches are known as the Calcedonian churches. So, what we have in common? All the doctrine of the church and at different times the teachings of the sacraments of the church are commonly understood by this family of churches. And if this is what we have shared, so what is the difference? As you have observed this morning the Armenians and all the members of this family of churches have their own language respectively and their own cultures. The manifestation during their service is expressed in accordance to their local culture, that is the only difference. But that is not the main issue that will make you feel you are different from the other because theses are complimentary or these are some technical matters that come naturally to the local situation even here in Ethiopia, you go to the North, you go to the South and you go East and West you find differences, but they are all Ethiopians and they are all the same Ethiopian church. So, this is the only difference we have seen. Those who have come here for the first time might have felt that, my God! It is different the way they celebrate their divine liturgy, no, it is not different, the main issue is the meaning, the understanding of the doctrine, the teaching of the church, Concept of understanding is the same so, we are the same and therefore we are here. One thing that I have to appreciate this morning most is that our brothers the Armenians, the clergy have made a special effort to bring together the sister churches after so many years, after so many ordeals that thy have been bearing throughout their lives and now they have to remind us, why can’t we get together and share our communalities if we had such things more frequently, even with the other sister churches, we could find some common ground in order to bring together and to get together. I think the Lord Jesus Christ would like to see us finding a common ground, he himself the common Lord to all of us, the teaching of him has to be commonly understood for all of us.
I know as a student of history in the past I remember what divided the church in the 4th and 5th century, it was not even the dogmatic situations, but it was because of the political situation. Politics has been playing a great role in the life of societies throughout the history of mankind. So anyone who had the supremacy or the upper hand by different circumstances did have more followers that the others, but this does not mean that they are right and the others are wrong, it all shows that you are overridden by something or there are always some kind of unfortunate situation to blame.
We cannot finish the history of 2000 years this morning. I would like to repeat that I appreciate and thank once more my brothers and sisters the Armenian Community, my spiritual children whose effort was worthy, it was something rewarding, it was something challenging and refreshing at the same time. Many people nowadays do not think that Christians are together and have a common understanding, because, today everyone speaks for himself or herself making it seem that there has always been and individualistic feeling in the whole world, but this was not the case.
Finally I would like to say the goodness and the best selection id the Christian life. Christian life is a better life as far as I am concerned, I am a Christian and I live as a Christian in this world. I have faced and been challenged by many difficulties and had I not been a Christian I would not have endured. I do not think our churches would have been able to maintain themselves for 2000 years with all the tsunamis; tsunami has been the waves, the storms of the world through the beginning of mankind’s history, so throughout those long years of turmoil, the Christians and the ancient Christians have endured and sustained everything, maintaining themselves up to this time, whether as a community or on an individual level a true Christian has always been able to stand to the challenges and maintain himself or herself within their own position. I am glad I am a part of that, I am part of the Christian body. I am glad that Christianity is such a strong spiritual philosophy that helps man or a human being challenge the history, which is full of turmoil in the world that we live in.
My brothers, as we have done something historical this morning with the Armenian Community, You can see the strength of Christianity or the strength of Christian life, which is full of common understanding, the respect towards each other, the love to each other, this is not the love the world talks about, but it is the true Christian love, regardless of any difficulties it will always remain together.
God bless you and congratulations.
The first monument commemorated of the ninetieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia
The first monument commemorated of the ninetieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia on the ground of St. George Armenian Church, with presence of Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelic Church leaders and other political guests. The opening ceremony held by the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch H. H. Abouna Paulos, Archimandrite V. Rev. Father Ashot Mnatzakanjan, Locum tenancy of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Egypt and all Africa, and the pastor of the Armenian Community of Ethiopia Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian. The monument donated by the Armenians in Ethiopia. After the ceremony H. H. Abouna Paulos explained the presence the meaning of the monument and the tragedy of the Armenians in 1915.