CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Over the weekend of October 15-16, the Sts. Vartanantz Parish celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of the consecration of the original Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church in Lowell. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided over the weekend celebration.
On Saturday evening, approximately 200 people gathered at the Kazanjian Memorial Ballroom for a Gala Banquet and Program. The emotionally charged evening focused on the theme of the church’s centennial milestone “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Securing the Future.” Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Richard Juknavorian, Jr.
Following a cocktail reception where an exquisite ice sculpture of the current Sts. Vartanantz Church in Chelmsford was on display, a celebratory toast was offered by centennial committee member and long time parishioner, John Amboian. The program continued with messages by Bruce Kayajanian, Parish Council chairman; Sandra Boroyan, chairwoman of the 100th anniversary Committee; George Dixon, Chairman of the Chelmsford Board of Selectman; and James Kalustian, chairman of the Diocesan Council. Deacon Dr. Ara Jeknavorian offered a pictorial reflection on the pastors who served the Sts. Vartanantz parish over the past century. A number of highly talented local musicians provided an entertaining cultural performance, which included a duet by Priscilla Der Ananian, violin, and Armene Karapetian, piano; Alisa Nakashian-Holsberg played a rare glass harmonica; and pianist Arpine Arakelian offered several selections. Two Sunday School students, Maria Kesablyan and Sara Nakashian-Holsberg, recited Vahan Tekeyan’s masterpiece, the Armenian Church, in English and Armenian. Maria Kesablyan also performed a selection on the piano.
Rev. Khachatur Kesablyan, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz, congratulated the parish on this remarkable anniversary, and encouraged parishioners to prepare for the years ahead, “Let us all pray that we can inspire the coming generations to be filled with even greater love and devotion to the Armenian Church, so that Sts. Vartanantz will forever be able to carry out fruitful works in His vineyard.”
Barsamian expressed his joy and happiness that the legacy of the founding members, especially the 1910 Ladies Aid Society, has been successfully passed from generation to generation, “We thank God for those early pioneers who carried the torch of our faith to America, and for their descendants who tended the flame with love and dignity.”
On Sunday morning, the archbishop was the celebrant for the Divine Liturgy. A new, state-of-the art organ, donated by John Amboian, Jr. in honor of his parents, John and Pat Amboian, was blessed. Then, parishioners went outside to the main doors of the church to bury a 100-year time capsule prepared by Jeknavorian. The capsule contained incense, votive candles, messages by many parishioners, the 100th Anniversary Booklet, and numerous brochures and reports about parish life over the past 100 years.
Members of the Sts. Vartanantz Centennial Committee include: Rev. Khachatur Kesablyan, pastor; Sandra Boroyan, chairperson; Bruce Kayajanian, vice-chairperson; Milka Jeknavorian, recording Secretary; Alisa Nakashian-Holsberg, treasurer; John Amboian, advisor, and Rose Amboian, Peter Bogosian, Carolyn Howard, Ara Jeknavorian, Patty Kayajanian, Gary Koltookian, Alan Manoian, George Simonian, Kevork Tevekelian and Bonnie Chayes Yousefian.
Earlier in the year, a number of events were held to mark the church’s historic centennial milestone. Parishioners enjoyed an Evening of Remembrance held 100 years to the date of the consecration at the original Sts. Vartanantz-Lowell, a story-filled Nostalgia Evening, a yearlong photo exhibit in the church library, and a Choir Recognition Day that paid tribute to all the parishioners who passionately shared their talents to express our beautiful chants and sharagans.
Reflecting on the weekend activities, Sandra Boroyan was deeply touched and humbled to have the opportunity to chair the Sts. Vartanantz Centennial Committee. Looking to the future, Sandra reflected, “the responsibility for Securing the Future is now in our hands. We must continue to encourage and inspire our young families and be the role models to them as our parents and grandparents were to us. I am most optimistic that the parishioners of Sts. Vartanantz will be blessed to celebrate another milestone event 100 years from now.”