Tuesday 13 October 2015 in Our Lady of Dolours Catholic Church, Chatswood, an ecumenical service was held with over 400 Armenian community members and representatives of the various community organisations as well as over 20 church leaders, including from the Melkite Church, Bishop Robert Rabbat, Newcastle Catholic Diocese Bishop Wright, NSW Ecumenical Council General Secretary, Father Shenouda Mansour, NCCA General Secretary, Sister Elizabeth Delaney.
The commemoration was organised by the Primacy of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, jointly with our Diocese. An ecumenical prayer book had been printed for the occasion, distributed among the congregation. The resident church choir, and the Church of Holy Resurrection Children’s Choir, led by Deacon Vartan Elmasian, provided choral accompaniment. The Armenian choir sang Urakh Ler, Soorp Soorp, Der Voghormia, Sioni Vortik. The Homenetmen Scouts played Badvi Ar while the procession proceeded down the aisle: the Broken Bay Diocese Bishop, the Most Reverend Peter Comensoli; Australia and New Zealand Armenian Apostolic Church Diocese Primate, His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian; Sydney Armenian Catholic; Armenian Apostolic Clergy; leaders of various Catholic parishes; and the 40 Holy Youth Children’s Choir members. The procession entered the church to the singing of Hrashapar.
In memory of the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs, a wreath was laid on the altar and a minute of silence observed before the service commenced with the greeting of Bishop Comensoli. The Bishop reflected on the 1915 to 1918 methodical massacre, which is referred to as the first massacre of the 20th century. Bishop Haigazoun Najarian delivered his sermon in English, stating the fact that “today more than 40 countries recognise the Genocide, including Germany and Austria, allies of Turkey during World War I. It is imperative that Turkey accepts it was genocide; accept the consequences of the past, as did Germany. To accept a wrong is not weakness, on the contrary, it exemplifies maturity and integrity. One hundred years after the genocide, it is not an appeal to breed hate, but an appeal for justice. We are gathered today, to express our gratitude to all the nations, who, during the dark days, extended an aiding hand to our ravaged people. Included in this list of charitable countries is Australia. Australia had, in its history, for the first time offered ancillary assistance, of great scope, beyond its geographical borders. The Australian people may today take pride in the humane and moral principles of their predecessors, for their humane stance and charitable works.”
The parish priest of the Chatswood Catholic Church Father Paul Finucane invited the congregation into the adjacent hall, where a meal was shared. This commemoration once again, testifies to the love and respect of the Catholic Church for the Armenian people.