Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian Honored

Pauline Getzoyan

Special for the Armenian Weekly

On Oct. 2, Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Providence, R.I., just as he has for the last 17 years, filled with the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and feeling the overwhelming love of his devoted flock. In his sermon, Der Gomidas stressed the ways in which we should examine ourselves in our Christian faith, all of which he has been a model example of throughout his 26 years as a Der Hayr.

A scene from the Badarak

Following Badarak, a retirement banquet was held in the Garden Pavilion at the Crowne Plaza at the Crossings in Warwick, R.I., where over 600 people paid a moving and heartfelt tribute, under the auspices of His Eminence, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, to the many faithful years Der Gomidas served as Pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, and before that, St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley.

Der Gomidas entering the church for Badarak

Beginning with the warm welcome of master of ceremonies, Harry Kushigian, and the invocation by His Eminence, Archbishop Choloyan, two young women of the Sts. Vartanantz Church community, Carrie Minassian and Alysha Phillips, sang moving renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and Mer Hairenik, respectively. Ramon Zorabedian, co-chair of the banquet committee, thanked all for attending to show gratitude to Der Gomidas and Yeretzgeen Joanna. He then presented Der Gomidas and Yeretzgeen Joanna with a special gift of a print of the “Battle of Avarayr” with a message of gratitude from the committee.

Der Gomidas and the alter servers

Prior to the beginning of dinner, Jason Simonian, Board of Trustees member of Sts. Vartanantz Church, delivered a heartfelt message focusing on the many special qualities of Der Gomidas and his service to his church, his flock, his community, and his nation. Throughout the evening, many speakers delivered messages expressing how those gathered in his honor have felt over the years, often utilizing the words “humble” and “humility” in regards to Der Gomidas. In fact, these words epitomize his service and one of his favorite passages in the Holy Bible, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1Peter 5:6

Der Gomidas with attending clergy

Musical selections were dedicated to Der Gomidas by his dear friends, John Berberian on oud and Ken Kalajian on guitar. To conclude the segment, Dalita Getzoyan, another young woman of the Sts. Vartanantz Church community, was accompanied by John and Ken as she sang and played the flute for “Bless the Shepherd,” a song with lyrics written by Barbara Berberian especially for Der Gomidas.

Der Gomidas with the church choir

Some of the speakers during the program included Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley; Mayor Scott Avedisian of the City of Warwick; Jack Mardoian, Esq., Chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council; Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sts. Vartanantz Church; and several members of the Rhode Island clergy. The Providence Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Kristapor Gomideh, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Arax and Ani chapters, Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Junior and Senior chapters, Homenetmen, and Hamazkayin, all presented gifts to Der Gomidas and Yeretzgeen Joanna, as did Rev. Fr. Marcos Girgis of the R.I. Orthodox Clergy Fellowship. One of Der Gomidas’ biggest young fans, Master Ryder Norigian, enthusiastically expressed his love for Der Hayr while presenting him with a special photo of the two of them.

Der Hayr, Yeretzgeen, and family

Margaret Stepanian, co-chair of the banquet committee, offered a fitting tribute to Der Gomidas through her thoughtful expressions of his life history. Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian expressed his heartfelt gratitude to both Der Hayr and Yeretzgeen for their continuous love and support of both he and Yeretzgeen Debra as they begin their new roles at Sts. Vartanantz Church. Der Kapriel then introduced His Grace, Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, who played a special role as teacher for Der Gomidas, and offered a personal message in that regard.

Ryder Norigian presenting his gift

To conclude the afternoon’s program, Yeretzgeen Joanna expressed her thoughts regarding their service over the years, emphasizing the importance of supporting the youth as they are the future. By way of illustrating this point, she then introduced Nayiri Bekiarian and Vana Baghsarian, two of the four beloved grandchildren of Der Gomidas and Yeretzgeen Joanna. Nayiri, who played guitar and sang, and Vana, who sang, performed beautifully in honor of their beloved grandparents as those in attendance were visibly moved. Following their performance, Der Hayr and Yeretzgeen’s daughter, Athena Kanarian, and son, Armen Baghsarian, offered exceptional messages testifying to the love and devotion of their parents, both to family and church.

Nayiri Bekiarian and Vana Baghsarian

And then Der Gomidas spoke…of his love for God, church, community, and nation, along with all the people who have touched his and Yeretzgeen Joanna’s lives over the years. With his customary humor and humility, Der Hayr left all in attendance in honor of his retirement with the assurance that his work and spirit will be continued in the community by Der Kapriel and Yeretzgeen Debbie Nazarian.

A scene from the banquet

In a fitting conclusion to the evening, following His Eminence Archbishop Choloyan’s message of praise and faith, young Vana’s angelic voice began the singing of “Giligia” for the first verse and then all those gathered joined in for its moving conclusion.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian Honored

Your generosity empowers our advocacy, inspires our work, and sustains our momentum.