Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

Thousands Attend Ecumenical Service; Chorale Concert Set for June 19

Culture.AM Detroit-Genocide-Chorale

In an amazing display of unity, clergy and lay people gathered in the thousands in suburban Detroit on April 24 for an Ecumenical Service honoring and remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Some 3,000 people crowded the interior and exterior of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Basilica in Livonia for the service, which also celebrated the canonization of the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs of the genocide. In attendance was Ramela Carman, 101, a genocide survivor. As Armenianweekly.com reports, Fr. Garabed Kochakian and Fr. Hrant Kevorkian lead the procession into St. Mary’s carrying relics of the saints, which were placed at a special altar table.
The service was produced by the Armenian Churches of Greater Detroit Genocide Centennial Committee, an assemblage of the four Armenian churches in southeast Michigan: St. John Armenian Apostolic Church, led by Fr. Garabed Kochakian; St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, led by Fr. Hrant Kevorkian; Armenian Congregational Church, led by Rev. Shant Barsoumian; and St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church, led by Very Rev. Fr. Mikael Bassale. Committee co-chairs were Deacon Manouk Derovakimian of St. Sarkis and Deacon Richard Norsigian of St. John. The service began with a procession into the Basilica led by Fr. Kochakian and Fr. Kevorkian. Both carried relics of the saints into the sanctuary that were placed on a special altar table. Other participating clergy included the Most Reverend Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit; Archbishop Nathanial Popp, Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church of America; Fr. Abraham Ohanesian, Visiting Priest of Mission Parishes, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; the Rev. Fr. Diran Papazian, Pastor Emeritus, St. John Armenian Church; and host pastor, the Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub, Pastor of St. Mary Basilica. In addition to the participating clergy, 43 clergymen representing various Christian denominations filled the pews for worship. During the ceremony, 12 Armenian youth—representing each of the 4 churches, and including members of the local Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble, dressed in authentic Armenian costumes—lighted candles at the altar table. Each of the 12 candles represented the regions in Turkish-occupied Armenia where lives were lost. Bilingual prayers were offered by the leaders of Detroit’s four Armenian churches, and the homily was delivered by Archbishop Vigneron. He noted how the Christian community was “appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people,” who were brought to the “brink of annihilation.”The Most Reverend Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit was the principal homilist at the service.

As the committee’s events continue, next month brings a musical and narrative commemoration of the genocide featuring the Detroit Armenian Chorale and Orchestra. Entitled “A 100-Year Journey of Remembrance and Song,” the event will tell the story of the near-annihilation of the Armenian people through special vocal arrangements and oral presentations. There will also be a guest appearance by the Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble.

The front of the Basilica and the bell tower were bathed in lights from a special digital art display commemorating each of the 1.5 million genocide victims.

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