Miami Parish Anniversary

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Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558

December 23, 2004


Six years ago the parishioners of St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, built a new sanctuary. They had been gathering at St. John the Baptist in Miami, but the surrounding neighborhood had deteriorated, and they decided to move to nearby Hollywood.

On Sunday, December 12, 2004, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), joined more than 100 parishioners at St. Mary to celebrate the new parish's sixth anniversary.

"It was exciting because it's just the beginning," said Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, the parish priest in Hollywood. "The sixth anniversary is not like the 60th. It is the beginning of our new parish, the beginning of coming together with new parishioners."

The day of celebration was marked by a ceremony honoring two long-time stewards and another ordaining the newest leader of the parish.


Honored during the Divine Liturgy were James and Shocky Pilafian, who are the surviving founding members of the original St. John the Baptist Church and on the building committee of St. Mary Church.

"They are truly representatives of a great generation who, throughout the Diocese, recognized that the Armenian Church is indeed important, but that the Armenian Church does not live without active parish leaders," said Archbishop Barsamian. "They are truly dedicated stewards of the church, who have shown countless others how to live solid Christian lives."

During a touching ceremony, the Primate presented the couple with a Pontifical Encyclical on behalf of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

"After almost a half century, they received this encyclical for all the devotion and time and effort and treasure they have given to the original parish and that they continue to give to this new parish," Fr. Joulfayan said of the couple, who because of advanced age are no longer active in parish leadership but who still, none the less, remain constant supporters and benefactors of the parish. "They've become stewards of the church. They are very kind, very devoted Christian people. They are examples for many others who are now following them in contributing to the life of the parish."


During the badarak marking the parish anniversary, the Primate also ordained Ryan Patino, 14, as a tbir. He had been serving the parish as an altar server for a little more than one year.

"It is very, very important and exciting for parishioners who see a young person coming forward who is willing to serve his parish and who also has the faith and the devotion to his or her church," Fr. Joulfayan said. "This young man was looking forward to this ordination. He was humbly willing to take this type of responsibility upon his shoulders."

He was not the only young parish member to take part in the anniversary celebration. Harout Esmerian, a young member of the parish, served as the master of ceremonies during an anniversary banquet. And three Sunday and Armenian School students offered musical performances to the 120 people at the banquet.

Though a small parish, with only about 60 highly active members and 120 people who attend services and events, Fr. Joulfayan said parish leaders are committed to making sure people get involved and stay involved in the church.

"Without the participation of parishioners, the church cannot survive," he said. "We would have the walls and dome and stained glass, but without the soul in it a church cannot survive."

-- 12/23/04

E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable in the News and Events section of the Eastern Diocese's website,

PHOTO CAPTION (1): Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presents a Pontifical Encyclical to James and Shocky Pilafian, founding parishioners at the St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, during a Divine Liturgy celebrating that parish's sixth anniversary on Sunday, December 12, 2004.

PHOTO CAPTION (2): The Primate ordains Ryan Patino as a tbir during an anniversary celebration at the St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, on December 12, 2004.