Armenian Church Youth Center Officially Opened in Ashtarak

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – September 2016

On 14 September, the opening ceremony of the Youth Center in Ashtarak was held under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. With the opening of the new center, it becomes the eighth Youth Center now operating under the auspices of the Mother See. The center was fully renovated through the benefaction of the Harold and Josephine Gulamerian Foundation of New York, USA.

Attending the ceremony with His Holiness was His Grace Bishop Artak Tigranyan, Director of the Monasteries of the Armenian Church; His Grace Bishop Mushegh Babayan, Director of Administration of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin; and His Grace Bishop Hovnan Hakobyan; Grand Sacristan of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

His Grace Bishop Mkrtich Proshyan, Primate of the Diocese of Aragatsotn; Rev. Fr. Komitas Hovnanyan, Spiritual Dean and Administrator of the Armenian Church Youth Centers; spiritual servants of the Diocese; philanthropists of the Mother See, and students of the Youth Center greeted the Armenian Pontiff and his delegation as he arrived in Ashtarak.

Under the singing of the Hrashapar hymn, Mr. Michael Haratunian, Director of the Gulamerian Foundation and his wife Marie Haratunian cut a red ribbon at the entrance of the facility, declaring the official opening.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a blessing service was offered by the clergy, after which the Catholicos of All Armenians and the guests toured the Youth Center. They visited the different programs operating in the facility, and were introduced to the craftwork of the students.

A program was held on this joyous occasion, in the auditorium of the Youth Center and was opened with remarks by Father Komitas. He expressed his happiness for the opening of the Youth Center after two years of hard work. Father Komitas also expressed his gratitude to His Holiness and the Gulamerian Foundation and its President, for creating conditions to facilitate the proper education of the children in Ashatark.

Mr. Armen Antonyan, Mayor of Ashtarak; welcomed the attendees, stressing the importance of the opening of the Youth Center to the Ashtarak community. He expressed his gratitude to His Holiness for granting Ashtarak such a valuable facility. Mayor Antonyan also expressed confidance that the center would become an important part of the city’s cultural identity; and contribute to the enhancement of the level of general educational in similar institutions of the region.

Mr. Haratunian addressed the audience stating that he was honored to attend the opening ceremony, commenting on what he saw as remarkable progress on the renovations that had taken place within two years. He placed great importance on the Youth Center’s mission in the education and upbringing of Armenian children. Recalling the visit of the patriotic Gulamerian family to Armenia, who at that time met with the Armenian Pontiff, Mr. Haratunian disclosed that since the Gulamerians were themselves without children, they decided to allocate funds to various programs that would benefit children in Armenia.

The ceremony closed with the blessings and remarks of His Holiness. He expressed his conviction that within the completely renovated and transformed facility, the teachers would carry out their work with new enthusiasm.

His Holiness prayerfully recalled the Gulamerian family, who put their abilities to the service of their Homeland and people. His Holiness conveyed his blessings to the President of the Gulamerian Foundation, Mr. Michael Haratunyan, noting that he had remained faithful to the vision and wishes of Harold and Josephine Gulamerian; and had directed the aim of the Foundation towards the blessed and gratifying mission of helping children.

The Catholicos of All Armenians conveyed his blessing and expressed gratitude to the philanthropists of the Mother See in attendance, mentioning among them – sisters Silva and Irma Ter-Stepanian; and Mr. Geragos Guyumjian; for their efforts and resources invested in building the national life. His Holiness also welcomed the presence of Mr. Garnik Nanagoulian, Director of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) of the Eastern Diocese of North America.

In his remarks, His Holiness expressed appreciation to the Mayor of Ashtarak for continually assisting in solving the problems of the Youth Centers renovations; and also conveyed his blessings to Mrs. Karine Gevorkian and the Youth Center staff, for implementing their educational mission with love, devotion and zeal.

In conclusion, the Catholicos of All Armenians blessed all the individuals who contributed to the establishment of the Youth Center.