The annual Church family dinner was held on Friday 17 July 2015 to co-incide with the 25th ordination anniversary of Reverend Father Bartev Karakashian. The evening was presided by His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian and attended by the clergy, diaconate, Diocesan Council, choirs and members from all the church and welfare bodies who tirelessly contribute in devoted service to the Church of Holy Resurrection. The annual gathering, hosted by the Church Council aims to acknowledge the efforts of all and grant an occasion to share in each others’ company in the fellowship of an extended family.
The evening commenced with a warm-hearted welcome from the Master of Ceremony, Marina Avagyan inviting Church Councillor Zaven Yaghldjian to make the opening remarks. He welcomed the church servants addressing all the groups that were represented and expressed the Council’s delight that this year’s reunion was very special since it recognised the milestone, quarter-century servant-hood of Father Bartev as a priest of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Ordained on 15 July 1990 by the late Archbishop Aghan Baliozian of blessed memory, his vocation as a priest was a natural transition from his love and devotion to the Church that was instilled in him from a very young age. He served on the altars of Armenian Churches in Istanbul and throughout the provinces of Turkey and on arrival in Australia in 1985 was immediately drawn to the altar of the Church of Holy Resurrection where he served as a deacon for five years before his ordination into the priesthood in 1990.
Tributes were made by Marina Avagyan reflecting on the story of the young boy, Agop who would develop a deep connection and attachment to his Church nurtured by his grandmother, also reciting Vahan Tekeyan’s poem, The Armenian Church (Yegeghetsin Haygagan); Church Council Chairman, Bedros Zorlu pondered on his years of friendship and close association with Fr Bartev divulging personal anecdotes; his fraternal brother, Father Norayr Patanian who also celebrates his 30th ordination anniversary this year, expressed the unique bond that connects them both as spiritual sons of the late Archbishop Baliozian who ordained them five years apart; Father Avetis Hambardzumyan as the youngster of the three priests acclaimed his senior brothers by whose example he is gratefully mentored; and finally Bishop Najarian conveyed heartfelt, genuine sentiments reflecting on Father Bartev’s passion for the Church, his sharp knowledge and meticulous character in the preparation and delivery of church services as he half-jokingly addressed was the reason for his volatile nature.
The good cheer of everyone and the joyous atmosphere was accentuated by the impromptu entertainment throughout the night as Marina Avagyan presented interesting Armenian yarns and riddles, Vartan Sevazlian and Varouj Vartan-Boghossian took to song with vibrant traditional and melodious Armenian tunes that led into sing-a-longs. Father Bartev, emotional and deeply moved by the outpouring marks of respect thanked the Church Council and the church family for the memorable celebration offering his renewed commitment to his beloved Church.
The final tribute of the evening was made by Deacon Vartan Elmasian who shared fond memories of his childhood as a candle boy in Istanbul and the antics he and his fellow altar servers could not get away with under the watchful and stern eye of Deacon Agop Karakashian. His stories were charming and told of a history they shared, connected by their deep love and commitment to the Armenian Church.