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 Saints Vartanantz Church in Lowell, Mass., exactly 100 years to the date of the Church’s consecration. Many in attendance were the children and grandchildren of the founding members of the Ladies Aid Society and the Church’s Building Committee, while others grew up in the Lowell parish, where they were baptized, attended the church schools, and were married.
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 currently the spiritual home for the Iglesia Pentecostal Congregation. Alan Manoian began the evening with an informative architectural tour of the outside of the church. This was followed by an evening hour prayer service 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 this church as their spiritual home after our parishioners moved to the current Chelmsford site. Father Khachatur began the evening’s 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 this church to our community for this very special centennial event. Furthermore, I am truly inspired to learn the incredible story about how a 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 and build 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 which he recorded over 20 years ago. A reception, sponsored by the Women’s Guild and elegantly hosted by Sue Kludjian and Lisa Sarkisian, brought this remarkable evening to a close.
According to Sandra Boroyan, 100th Anniversary Committee Chair, “I was delighted to see so many of our parishioners and friends, many of whom had traveled a great distance to be here for this evening’s gathering. It was truly an uplifting and remarkable remembrance for our entire community. We came to reflect and honor the memory of those faithful individuals who, 100 years ago to the day, gathered on this very site to witness the consecration of our original Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church. It truly is a most appropriate setting to officially kickoff the events of our centennial year celebration.”
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West