Monday, March 23, 2015

Historic Ecumenical Service to Be Held May 7 at Washington National Cathedral

“I am a proud person. I am the grandchild of a saint,” said Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, in a conversation at the Prelacy headquarters. “After April 23, I will pray to them, not for them.”
Prelate Oshagan Choloyan
Prelate Oshagan Choloyan
He was referring to the anointing of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide as saints on April 23 in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, by the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I. Both Catholicoi will then travel to Washington, D.C. and preside at the historic Ecumenical Service at the National Cathedral on May 7, at 7 p.m. Also expected to attend will be the President of the Republic of Armenia Serge Sarkisian.
Archbishop Choloyan’s grandfather, Rev. Fr. Arshavir Choloyan, was nailed to the door of the St. Sarkis Armenian church in Baghin, Palu, during the genocide. “The martyrs of the genocide died for their faith,” he related with great emotion. “We lost our brave people and our ancestral land, which is not only a geographic entity, but the place where all our vision is established.”
Remembrance is not enough, he stated. We have to have a cause to pursue. “As Armenians, and children of survivors, we must take care of Armenia, and nurture our youth with this cause,” he declared with emphasis.
“It is significant that we are commemorating our genocide together in Washington, D. C., the capital of the United States, the most important place in the world,” Archbishop Choloyan noted. “We are going there as united Armenians to raise awareness among religious and political leaders. Many know what happened to the Armenians. Some are courageous and stand with us.”

A world-famous shrine
The world famous National Cathedral in Washington, closely modeled on the English Gothic style, is the sixth largest cathedral in the world, and the second largest in the United States. This famed Episcopal edifice was erected under a U.S. Congress charter on Jan. 6, 1893, with construction commencing in 1907. The foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt; the cathedral was finally completed in 1990. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and ranked third on the “List of America’s Favorite Architecture” by the American Institute of Architects.
The Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral
The National Cathedral has been a religious landmark designated by the U.S. Congress as the “National House of Prayer,” and the structure has hosted both religious and secular major events, including state funerals for Presidents Dwight Eisenhower (1969), Ronald Reagan (2004), and Gerald Ford (2007). Memorial services have been held there for Presidents Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, and for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and South African President Nelson Mandela, as well as for the casualties of the Vietnam War and the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
President Woodrow Wilson, who was so instrumental in politically fighting for the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, is the only American president buried in the National Cathedral, and joins the ashes of such luminaries as author and advocate for the blind Helen Keller, and Philip Frohman, cathedral architect.

Commemoration and celebration
“We will commemorate the genocide and also celebrate our survival, and our important contributions to society as a large,” related Eastern Prelacy Vicar General Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, a member of the Ecumenical Service Planning Committee.
“The service will entail traditional sharagans [church hymns], as well as Armenian prayers dedicated to our sainted martyrs authored and composed by the late Archbishop Zareh Aznavorian, who was a member of the Holy See of Cilicia,” he related.
“We are expecting a large number of ecumenical guests from different churches, ensuring their participation in the service,” he said. Also invited to attend are dignitaries of the diplomatic world and members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the U.S. government.
Currently, due to high demand, there is a waiting list for seats at the National Cathedral. To join the waiting list, e-mail, sending the name and address of each person wishing to attend. Because of high security at the National Cathedral, entrance will be by ticket only, accompanied by presentation of photo ID. Tickets will not be available at the door.

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