ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend held in Chicago
Published: Friday June 15, 2012
Chicago - Young Armenian-Americans from across the Eastern Diocese gathered in Chicago for the 66th annual ACYOA General Assembly, where they held elections for the ACYOA Central Council, and brainstormed ways to intensify the activity at the annual gathering of youth leaders.
The two-day meeting was held May 24-25 at the Hotel Sax in the Windy City. The General Assembly was followed by the annual Sports Weekend activities, May 25-28.
Eighty delegates and observers from 23 parishes, including 13 clergy, participated in this year's General Assembly. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided.
Sam Mrofcza from the host community in Chicago chaired the meeting; Karen Tonoyan of St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, N.J., served as vice-chair.
Archbishop Barsamian addressed the delegates about the mission of the ACYOA and asked them to look inward to "gain a fresh perspective" on why they have chosen to the serve the church through the youth organization.
"We've chosen to be part of the ACYOA of our own free will," said the Primate. "What led us to make this free choice? I think everyone will have a personal story of inspiration or motivation."
The Primate expressed the importance of "coming back to Christ" through forgiveness and prayer and following in his footsteps. Citing the Bible verse John 3:16, Archbishop Barsamian reminded the delegates that Christ came to liberate the world from sin and restore God's image in the life of mankind.
The Primate added that even though all men and women sin willingly and unwillingly in thought, word, and deed, the self-recognition of mistakes will bring people closer to God.
"We need to recognize our mistakes and sins, ask for forgiveness, and take the first steps in the journey back home, back to God," said Archbishop Barsamian. "Christ showed us how to come back to God. He showed us how to restore God's image in us."
The Primate said the values of humility, outreach without discrimination, sacrifice, and forgiveness are keys to following in Christ's footsteps and to realizing the mission of the ACYOA. Archbishop Barsamian challenged the delegates and observers to be role models to their peers and to younger generations.
During the meeting, delegates discussed in small groups ways to enhance Christian participation during the annual Sports Weekend, with various ideas presented to the assembly after the discussion.
Delegates also elected two members to the ACYOA Central Council: Ani Grigorian of St. Mesrob Church of Racine, Wis., and Jonathan Pelaez of St. Mary Church of Livingston, N.J. Delegates re-elected a third member: Armen Terjimanian of St. Mary Church of Washington, D.C.
The new Central Council was installed and blessed by the Primate following the Divine Liturgy held at the Hotel Sax on Sunday, May 27.
The ACYOA Central Council for the coming year will include chair Danny Mantis (St. Mesrob Church, Racine, Wis.), vice chair Karen Dardarian (St. John Church, Southfield, Mich.), public relations coordinator Armen Terjimanian, programming coordinator Olivia Derderian (St. Gregory Church, White Plains, N.Y.), special projects coordinator Adrienne Ashbahian (St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church, Wynnewood, Pa.), treasurer Jonathan Pelaez, and secretary Ani Grigorian.
James Kalustian, a member of the Diocesan Council and President of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, gave a presentation on Boston's newly dedicated Armenian Heritage Park. The park, which was opened on May 22, commemorates the victims of the Armenian Genocide while celebrating the contributions of Armenian-Americans and other immigrant groups to the city and state.
Mr. Kalustian spoke about the dedication ceremony and gave an overview of the park's history. Armenian Heritage Park is a project of the non-profit Armenian Heritage Foundation, involving 38 Armenian parishes and organizations in Massachusetts.
During the annual Primate's Luncheon on Friday, May 25, the Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, pastor of Holy Translators Church of Framingham, Mass., was presented with the "Fr. Haigazoun Melkonian Award," in honor of his leadership and dedication to the youth of the Armenian Church. Fr. Sabounjian served as the first full-time youth director at St. James Church in Watertown, Mass., in the 1980s.
Additional awards were presented on the floor of the General Assembly. Mike Givelekian of St. Gregory Church of White Plains, N.Y., received the "Gregory Arpajian Award" for his leadership and service to the Armenian Church and community.
Ani Grigorian received the "Sam Nersessian Award," given to individuals who display the Christian values of love, patience, humility and understanding.
"The Chapter A Award," given to the chapter that best fulfills the requirements of an ACYOA chapter, went to the St. Mesrob Church of Racine, Wis.
The "Fr. Haroutiun and Yn. Patricia Dagley Award," given to a layperson for continued devotion to the youth of the church, was awarded to Dr. Sam Mikaelian, the Diocese's development coordinator.
The General Assembly and Sports Weekend were hosted by the ACYOA Seniors Chapter from St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Chicago, with assistance from the ACYOA chapters of St. James Church in Evanston, Ill., and Sts. Joachim and Anne Church of Palos Heights, Ill. Sam Mrofcza and Shant Paklaian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church led the Sports Weekend committee as co-chairs.
In addition to Fr. Sabounjian and Mr. Kalustian, Diocesan Council members the Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian, Fr. Vasken Kouzouian, Fr. Arakel Aljalian, Lisa Esayian, Paul Mardoian, and Oscar Tatosian attended the assembly proceedings.
Next year's General Assembly and Sports Weekend will be hosted by the ACYOA of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church of Providence, R.I.