Eastern Diocese Bids Fond Farewell to Vicar General


By Taleel Babayan
Mirror-Spectator Staff

NEW YORK — More than 150 guests — among them former parishioners, fellow clergy and friends — gathered in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America on Tuesday, May 18, to bid a fond farewell to the Diocesan vicar general, the Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian.

Najarian will travel to Europe next month to assume the office of Pontifical Legate of Central Europe and Sweden. Based in Vienna, Austria, he will tend to the spiritual needs of the Armenian communities in more than a dozen countries.

Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, had proposed the move earlier this year.

During the May 18 reception, friends and colleagues shared memories of their time with Najarian in a relaxed atmosphere, and wished him luck in his new position.

Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, former Primate of the United Kingdom, said he had the opportunity to get to know Najarian when he visited the Diocese on major feast days. He said Najarian has been a dedicated priest in the Eastern Diocese and will continue to serve the Armenian Church in Europe.

Garen Nazarian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, also expressed his congratulations.

Executive director of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), Garnik Nanagoulian, shared his sentiments about Najarian, noting that “he creates a special bond with everyone” and said it was a privilege to know him.

Najarian was one of the first volunteers to help distribute food and medicine to victims of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, in a humanitarian initiative that would later grow into FAR.

Nanagoulian said Najarian has continued to work with FAR over the years and “has been instrumental in fulfilling many other FAR programs.” Diocesan Communications Director Chris Zakian recalled being one of the first people to meet Najarian on the latter’s arrival in the United States in 1986, and how their friendship grew in the ensuing years.

“One can hardly calculate what an asset he has been to this Diocese,” said Zakian, “how beloved

he’s been in the parishes he’s served; how respected he is among our priests and people, and in the ecumenical and academic arenas.”

He also touched on Najarian’s devotion to teaching, which has included a tenure as the youngest dean in the annals of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at Holy Echmiadzin.

Nubar Kupelian spoke in a light-hearted manner about Najarian and the impressions he has left on the Diocese and the Diocesan staff.  Working in adjacent offices, Kupelian and Najarian forged a close bond starting some 20 years ago, during Najarian’s early years at the Diocesan Center.

Diocesan Council Chair Oscar Tatosian applauded Najarian’s work with the Diocesan Council.

“I know you’ll be effective in this large responsibility you have ahead of you,” Tatosian said.

After cutting his celebratory cake, Najarian said he came to the Diocese in 1986 unaware of what was ahead of him. He said he did what he could to put forward God’s work. He stressed that the most important part of life is being part of a family, which is what he has felt as a priest in the Eastern Diocese.

“It’s difficult to forget all of you,” said Najarian. “That love and richness you gave me is part of my life, and I take that with me. Those memories will stay with me forever.”

In his benediction, Barsamian congratulated Najarian on his new appointment. He noted Najarian’s contributions to the Eastern Diocese, as a pastor in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas, and most recently as vicar general at the Diocesan Center. “Our doors and our hearts are always open to

Father Haigazoun,” he said.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian offered the opening prayer. Dr. Raffi Hovanessian, a member of the Diocesan Council, served as master of ceremonies. The Mamigonian Lodge and Anahit Otyag of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan prepared the dinner under the leadership of Hirant Gulian.