Activities on Assumption Day Focus on Children at St. Vartan Cathedral


Children gather to witness the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony on the plaza of St. Vartan Cathedral.

Children gather to witness the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony on the plaza of St. Vartan Cathedral.

NEW YORK — A special Children’s Day was held at New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral on the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother-of-God, Sunday, August 16.

More than 40 young participants, ages 5 to 12, gathered to learn about St. Mary, the mother of Jesus; the Feast of the Assumption and the tradition of grape blessing through a range of activities. Children also attended the Divine Liturgy.

Later, on the cathedral plaza, they took part in the traditional Blessing of Grapes ceremony, which is observed in conjunction with the Feast of the Assumption.

“As the pastor of the New York City community, it was a joy for me to spend time with the children of this city,” said St. Vartan Cathedral dean, the Rev. Mardiros Chevian, who led the cathedral committee that organized the day’s program. “The day was filled with learning — spiritual, cultural, liturgical — and the children were really receptive.”

Introducing the Children’s Day, Chevian led a prayer and read the gospel story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Chevian emphasized Mary’s courage in accepting God’s call to bear His son.

“This is a story of a young lady who said yes to God,” Chevian said.
Zarmi Megherian went on to describe Mary’s life, and how after her death she was taken up into Heaven — “assumed,” in the language of theology, by Jesus.

During a lively Arts and Crafts session — led by Araks Yeramyan Andrew, Shirley Chein, Regina Dionisio and Tamara Grigoryan — children learned about Armenian illuminations and drew grapes, the Armenian cross and other elements of Armenian iconography.

Later, they entered St. Vartan Cathedral, kneeling before the altar to prepare for Holy Communion. On the cathedral plaza, the children gathered as Chevian and the day’s celebrant, the Rev. Gomidas Zohrabian of Hartford’s St. George Armenian Church, performed the Blessing of Grapes ceremony.

Children enjoyed a pizza lunch on the plaza, picnicking under tents on a sunny Manhattan afternoon. At the conclusion of the program, they were invited to learn Armenian dancing with sub-deacon Armen Bandikian.

“It’s very significant to have an Armenian church in such a diverse city,” said Ara Boghosian, who was visiting the cathedral from Washington, DC, with his three children. “It’s important for our children to recognize the cathedral.”

Sunday’s program was the first of what will be a periodic Children’s Days at St. Vartan Cathedral. The next one is scheduled for spring 2010.