Tuesday 18 December 2018 will be remembered as an historic day in the life of the Sydney Armenian community particularly, but also for the Australian Armenian community in general. The initiative of benefactors, Mr and Mrs Stepan and Hilda Kerkyasharian and by the endorsement of Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and the ranks of Catholic leaders, the Armenian Khachkar has been installeded on the hallowed grounds of the St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on College Street, directly opposite Hyde Park. The Khachkar was donated to the Cathedral in gratitude for the celebration of the Holy Mass in 2015 dedicated to the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide. At that time, over 2000 community faithful were gathered in St Mary’s Cathedral for Holy Mass.
The ceremony was officiated by the Archbishop with the participation of the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Stepan Kerkyasharian. The craftsman, from Armenia, Artak Hambardzumyan, was invited from Armenia by the benefactors, to personally supervise the installation and erection of the Khachkar. As the Primate was abroad on official duties in India, Very Reverend Father Yeremia Abgaryan represented the Primate and participated in the blessing ceremony. He was accompanied by Reverend Fathers Bartev Karakashian and Avetis Hambardzumyan, Diocesan Council Chairman and members, Holy Resurrection and Holy Trinity Church Parish Councillors. Close to 200 individuals were present, including parliamentary members, heads of the Anglican, Lutheran, Uniting Churches of Australia, the Primates of the Chaldean, Melkite, Coptic Dioceses of Australia, other Vicar and Diocesan Bishops of the Catholic Church and the Armenian Catholic and Uniting Church, Armenian organisation representatives and community faithful. Mr Kerkyasharian, the Premier, the host Father Don Richardson and Archbishop Anthony Fisher delivered moving addresses. In his address, Archbishop Fisher reiterated the often quoted words of Hitler “Who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?” and the Archbishop stated “We remember and today with this Khachkar affirm that we will not forget the Armenian Genocide”.
Mr and Mrs Kerkyasharian’s vision and accomplishment has great historical significance, not only in Australia, but internationally. Firstly, St Mary’s Basilica is an Australian iconic national heritage landmark and on its grounds the Khachkar has become a permanent home. Secondly, the location of the Khackkar is visible by all passing by, on the busiest of Sydney streets travelled by tourists.