An Armenian Celebration

The Reverend Father Hratch Sargsyan’s 10th Anniversary of conducting Armenian worship with a celebration that took place at St. Gregory of Narek in Richmond Heights, Ohio beginning with a sumptuous feast on November 4th in the Church Hall. I was once again honored to capture all the festivities, which included a formal presentation of vestments and crown. The parishioners are a fun loving group of people, so it naturally followed that the toasts were quite entertaining. During one speech it was pointed out that Hratch often begins his thoughtful insights with an infectious laugh, which frustrates the listener who wonders want’s to know the amusing anecdote he or she is about to behold. If they are patient enough, they are rewarded with his wisdom.

Armenian worship ceremony with toast of Armenian priest: Father Hratch Sargsyan

The people of St. Greg also know how to put on a party. I loved middle eastern food before I worked with them but when I sampled their home cooked cuisine, I became a raving fan. Not only does the food look fantastic, it’s got just the right amount of spice to give it that special kick to make good food taste great (my personal favorite is the grape leaf wraps, which typically take up ninety percent of my plate).

Sunday’s Armenian worship service

Although I’m not versed in Armenian worship, I am fascinated by the ornate artwork on display throughout the sanctuary, and also the music. With only one talented organist and a chorus that fills just one pew, somehow the church is filled with song. The ceremony literally fills all of your senses, including the powerful aroma of sweet incense, which permeates the air.

There was another poignant moment following the ceremony: three members of the parish were blessed as deacons. Friends and loved ones took turns greeting them with kisses and hugs as the three newest members of the clergy beamed proudly at the altar.

Father Hratch broke the solemnity by once again treating the assembly to his infectious laughter.