Under the presidency of His Eminence, and organised by the Holy Resurrection Parish Council, on Friday 22 January 2021, a farewell dinner was held in the Edgarian Hall, for guest of honour, Chancellor Mr Nishan Basmajian. Due to compliance with the Covid restrictions, the wider church community was unable to attend and pay homage and thanks to this talented, humble and impeccable servant who served the Australian Armenian community and particularly to the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Before the evening’s formalities commenced, the MC Parish Councillor Mr Zaven Yaghljian invited the guests to stand, joining in a minute’s silence to honour the memory of the Artsakh martyrs and the recently deceased, Diramayr Makrouhi Najarian. In his opening remarks, Mr Yaghljian gave a brief insight into the guest of honour’s biography and dedicated his recitation of Hovhannes Shiraz’s ‘Markaride ou Perpoure’ (‘The Pearl and the Foam’) to Mr Basmajian.

In his address, the Holy Resurrection Parish Council Chairman, Mr Bedros Zorlu praised the Deacon’s character and humble service. Diocesan Council Chairman Mr Sarkis Der Bedrossian emphasised Nishan Basmajian’s character, his enthusiasm, conscientiousness, diligence, work ethic, and his patriotism, his love of Armenians, of church and love of the Armenian language. He also wished success to Sarkis Manoukian who will offer his wealth of Armenian knowledge to the Diocese in his new position.

The Vice-chairman of the Diocesan Council Mr Stepan Kerkyasharian, in turn, rose to convey his message. “In his eight years residing in Australia, I have clearly witnessed that Mr Nishan’s heart beats for the good of his nation, the Armenian people and the Homeland. And as a professional chancellor, he has been able to put aside his personal views and move forward with the task at hand, a quality few possess” stated Mr Kerkyasharian.

Archpriest Reverend Father Norayr Patanian stated that he would be losing an intimate friend, humorous, always positive, and a friend who always found a solution. Thankfully, he would remain in contact with the Diocese and will continue his presence remotely.

Parish Priest Reverend Father Avetis Hambardzumyan reflected on the friendly and intimate working relationship between the honoree and himself, and his efforts to benefit the Holy Resurrection Church and his success in advancing initiatives within the Diocese.

The Armenian Church Radio Program Presenter Mrs Marina Avagyan-Tchaprazian shared her experiences, “over the eight years, with his modest demeanour, Mr Nishan has commanded great respect. Due to his foresight, he was attentive to everyone.” Mrs Marina dedicated the Hovhannes Shiraz composition ‘Im Sourp Hayrenik’ (‘My Holy Homeland”). Psychiatrist Dr Harutyun Jebejian gave a brief summation of the qualities of the Holy Bible’s Anointed and the duty to spread Light. Dr Jebejian equated Nishan Basmajian’s stance andwork to follow in the footsteps of the Anointed, in all situations, and in all spheres.

After the delectable meal service prepared by Mr and Mrs George and Nora Khouloumian, the MC Mr Zaven Yaghljian invited the guest of honour to share his thoughts and later Archbishop Najarian to share his sentiments and close with his benediction. Nishan Basmajian read his emotional message, thanking all who had a positive impact on his eight years of service, naming each of them, commencing from the Galstaun College, the Diocese and various circles within the community. He did not omit the Ecumenical community, which has worked for the benefit of the Armenian Church and the Armenian community. He expressed his appreciation to the Diocesan sponsors and friends, for exhibiting trust in him, their understanding of the role of the Diocese and for their moral and financial support. For the role entrusted to him, assigned by the Primate and the Diocesan Council, as Diocesan liaison, he vowed to enrich the content of Paros monthly with the activities of New Zealand’s Armenian community. Wishing his colleague and friend, Sarkis Manoukian success, he expressed, “…Dear Sarkis, you knew the Archbishop well before me, as a student, vartabed and so forth. However, don’t be offended when I say, that I know him more closely, as I have worked with him every day, continually, for six years. It is effortless to travel miles with this incomparably good willed spiritual father. I have done so, in vehicles and especially in life. Know his worth; and, the members of the Diocese who are incomparable also. Know their worth and you will travel miles with them also. This is what I will for you as a dear and sincere friend.” The honouree closed with the words “It is goodbye and only a goodbye”.

In his closing address the Archbishop declared “Nishan Basmajian is a Kessabtzi, however not every Kessabtzi is a Nishan”. He is a Palandjian College graduate but not every Neshan Palanjian College graduate is a Nishan. He was immersed in his birthplace, and college as a patriot, was able to serve his church, his people, his homeland and his birthplace. He completed his term as the Principal of Galstaun College at the end of 2014 and was planning to return to Kessab. I worked with him while he was the Principal and church deacon. The Diocese had no plan to employ a chancellor. During one of the Diocesan Council meetings, the suggestion was made to offer the leaving principal a position as chancellor. He accepted the offer. We were aware of his ARF party principles. He proved that his main party interest was his nation; he proved that he belonged to his nation, as a deacon and as a member of the party. Over the years I realised that this man knew how to solve matters over the telephone, in writing and various other means, without making excuses or any complaints. We benefitted greatly from his presence, not only as a church but as a community. And we will continue to benefit although remotely from some distance away. We all attempted to keep him here, with permanent residence, but unfortunately, we were unable to. We were forced to accept this situation, as he too needed to contemplate his future.

Nishan Basmajian stood by and supported each individual, whether it is an Armenian or non-Armenian. Whoever knocked on his door, he helped them, discretely, anonymously, and gained from this; I am certain that if it were not for the pandemic, a hall with a capacity to 500 seats would not be sufficient to meet the numbers wishing to pay their respects and bid farewell. It is difficult to bid a friend such as this farewell. However, I have no doubt that in New Zealand he will be of great assistance to the Armenian and non-Armenian communities”. He concluded his remarks with the Armenian motto, paraphrased, “A polished stone does not remain inactive on the ground”, likening the honoree to a sharpened, polished and vigilant stone.

The emotional gathering was closed with Archbishop’s benediction.