An Evening of Remembrance and Rejoicing for the Sts. Vartanantz Parish
On Saturday, April 16, some 120 parishioners and friends of the Armenian Community of Greater Lowell experienced a most inspirational and emotionally charged evening at the original Sts. Vartanantz Church in Lowell, MA, exactly 100 years to the date of the church’s consecration, April 16, 1916. Many in attendance were the children and grandchildren of the founding members of the Ladies Aid Society and the church’s building committee, or grew up in the Lowell parish, whereby they were baptized, attended the church schools, and were married at Sts. Vartanantz, Lowell. Also in attendance were many who were too young to remember the original Sts. Vartanantz but came to learn about the origins of the great legacy responsible for the sustainability of the parish.
This historic evening was made possible through the kind and generous hospitality of the current pastor, Rev. Antonia Luna and her son, Joshua, who opened their doors and hearts to our community. The church is current the spiritual home for the Iglesia Pentecostal Congregation. Alan Manoian began the evening with an informative architectural tour of the outside of the church. An evening hour prayer service followed led by Father Khachatur Kesablyan, the church deacons, and two guest clergy, Rev. Fr. Daniel Crahen, OMI, and Rev. Fr. Terrence O’Connell, OMI, who had served as pastors of another congregation that used Sts. Vartanantz as their spiritual home after the Armenian church community of Lowell moved to the current Chelmsford site. Father Khachatur began the evening program by welcoming everyone, and presenting a gift of appreciation to Pastor Luna for her assistance, “We have been most fortunate that Pastor Luna so graciously opened the church to our community for this very special centennial event. Furthermore, I am truly inspired me to learn the incredible story about how the handful of faithful ladies and gentlemen, having very limited means and resources, many of whom miraculously survived the horrors of the genocide, came together and built this beautiful sanctuary where the Lord dwells for past 100 years. They did this because of their love and faith in God."
Deacon Ara Jeknavorian provided a narrated slide presentation on the formation of the Lowell Armenian Community, the role of the Ladies Aid Society, the challenges to organize a church community, and consecration day, April 16, 1916. Alan Manoian followed with a summary of some 20 oral histories of the early members of the Lowell Armenian community he recorded over 20 years ago. A reception, sponsored by the Women’s Guild and hosted by Sue Kludjian and Lisa Sarkisian, brought this remarkable evening to a close.
According to Sandra Boroyan, 100th Anniversary Committee Chair, “I was overwhelmed and delighted to see so many of our parishioners and friends here. This evening's gathering was truly an uplifting and remarkable remembrance for our entire community. After all, this is where it all started! 100 years ago today, our ancestors stood right here and witnessed the consecration of our original Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church.
Parishioners tour the exterior of the original Sts. Vartanantz Church in Lowell
Father Khachatur and Sandra Boroyan, Chair of the Centennial Committee
Father Khachatur leads a Prayer Service in the church sanctuary
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