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Friday, May 13, 2022

2022-April_27- St.Vartan Catheral-NY _Kavookjian Auditorium-Speeches and Messages in Honor of an Armenian Educator


Speeches and Messages in Honor of an Armenian Educator

Last week’s reception at the Diocesan Center for Zarmine Boghosian was an occasion for thoughtful speeches reflecting on the honoree herself, and the cause of Armenian education she has championed throughout her life.
At the links below, find Armenian and English texts of remarks delivered on the occasion, as well as a comprehensive article and photo gallery.
As reported here last week, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel presided at the April 27 reception honoring Mrs. Boghosian on the occasion of her newly published book, From Azez to America.
Click the following links to:




·                                  May 4, 2022


It was a special evening of paying tribute to a dedicated individual, Zarminé  Boghosian, the former principal and teacher at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School for decades, and a lifelong champion of teaching and transmitting the language, culture, and history of the Armenian people throughout her life.

More than 150 family, friends, students, and admirers gathered in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of the St. Vartan Cathedral Complex and Diocesan Center, where the warmth that flowed throughout the evening made it feel like a family affair. The event was a continuation of the revival of events at the Diocesan Center following a two-year absence due to the pandemic.

On April 27, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan presided at the reception honoring Mrs. Boghosian on the occasion of her newly published book, From Azez to America. The book compiles the events of her life through notes, speeches, addresses, articles and commentaries, and details the difficulties of surviving as an Armenian.

The book has been published in Armenia, with all proceeds devoted to the “Armenian Teachers Fund,” a project Mrs. Boghosian founded and champions.

Prominent among the attendees were Diocesan Legate in Washington D.C., Archbishop Vicken Aykazian; Diocesan Vicar Fr. Simeon Odabashian; Diocesan Director of Ministries Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan; St. Vartan Cathedral Vicar Fr. Davit Karamyan; Holy Martyrs Armenian Church pastor Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan; musicologist and concert pianist Sahan Arzruni, and several officials of the Tekeyan Cultural Association including Hagop Vartivarian, and the Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey’s Vartan Abdo.

Following an opening prayer by Archbishop Aykazian, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center director Dr. Jesse Arlen welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and introduced the two main speakers, Fr. Untzag Nalbandian and Hovannes Khosdeghian.

Two Powerful Perspectives

Fr. Untzag, pastor of Holy Ascension Church in Trumbull, CT, and teacher of Western Armenian and Armenian Literature at St. Nersess Seminary for six years, spoke eloquently in both Armenian and English. He paid tribute to the honoree’s dedication as an educator and principal of the Holy Martyrs Day School, her devotion to the Armenian Church, and her role as a writer to Armenian-American newspapers and the Armenian Radio Hour of NJ.

In what he called a revealing episode in Azez, Fr. Untzag related that Zarmine wrote that on Dyarnuntarach, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple, she had to make sure she could take the light to their homes “without extinguishing it.” Fr. Nalbantian then said: “She has not only brought that light, but she has radiated it wherever she went, including into the minds and hearts of her students,” many of whom were present.

The book, he continued, spans the writer’s life in Syria and America, her childhood and education in the Syrian Armenian community and church, her Jerusalem odyssey with her brother, the late Fr. Vertanes Kalyajian, the Armenian language teachers’ training in Armenia, her poetic inspirations on important cultural, historical and church anniversaries, and the many individuals who encouraged her to write, including her husband, Missak, her lifelong pillar and supporter for 55 years.

In 2014, Zarminé Boghosian was a deserving recipient of the “Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Medal” by His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians. Fr. Untzag warmly concluded with the inspiring words of the great poet Vahan Tekeyan who wrote, “In the final accounting, what did I get out of life? Amazingly, only what I gave to others.”

Hovhannes Khosdeghian, principal of the St. Vartan Cathedral Armenian School, trained by the eminent Mekhitarist Fathers of Venice, and former Assistant Pastor at St. Ann’s Armenian Catholic Cathedral, expounded a passionate address in scholarly Armenian.

Starting with the descriptive words of the great St. Gregory of Narek, he called Mrs. Boghosian’s memoir “a feasting table of delicacies,” and said it reflected “the strength and resolve that animated Zarminé’s dedication to her calling as an educator.”

He stated with tearful emotion that the book demonstrated “the love of the Armenian language, the foundation our identity built through the contributions of countless individuals speaking, singing, praying and mourning.” He also paid powerful tribute to “the superhuman struggle of saving from total oblivion and utter demise every letter of our alphabet created by the genius of St. Mesrob Mashdots, every bit of our cultural treasures torn into pieces and falling off another kind of feasting table by so-called civilized nations during World War I.”

Khosdeghian emphasized the importance of devoting and strengthening “a mature Armenian identity, nurtured day after day in the sacred protection and the warmth of the Armenian school, the carrier of our ancient culture to the next generation.”

He passionately expressed the hope that “we must preserve our marvelous identity rescued from total annihilation and rebuilt through the immense courage of our grandparents and parents, so that it does not fall victim to cutting us off from our language and heritage.”

“I wish we will not become orphans in search of an identity,” he stated with emphasis, to extended applause.

An artistic program was presented by longtime Armenian actor (and Zarminé’s husband) Missak Boghosian who sang acapella the well known “Anusgispin” in a deeply heartfelt tribute to his beloved wife. Janet Marcarian, a longtime teacher at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, played with great feeling two piano selections, “Sicilienne” by Bach, and the soul-searing “Elegie” by Babadjanian.

In Her Own Words

Honoree Zarminé Boghosian, on her 50th anniversary as an educator, speaking from the heart without notes, paid tribute to Nubar Kupelian, distinguished educator and longtime stalwart at the Diocesan Center, for his help in her decision to become a teacher in the United States, and to all the teachers who worked with her—most of whom were present at the reception. “You were our foundation,” she stated, flashing her well known smile.

She emphasized “how important our language and the Armenian schools are in order to defend and fortify our church.”

Turning to the Primate, she stressed the necessity of preparing Armenian School teachers. “A program should be set up at the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary for the purpose of teaching Armenian. This is my passionate goal. On this 50th anniversary of my teaching, I created the ‘Armenian Teachers’ Fund.’ The proceeds from the purchase of my book in Armenia will be dedicated for this purpose.”

Reciting a poem from the legendary Daniel Varoujan, she quietly and slowly voiced with heartfelt passion: “Our language is the eternity of our people.” She emphasized each word, and received a standing ovation.

During her moving remarks, my personal thoughts turned to the supreme dedication of Armenian school teachers. In my life I remembered how my mother, who taught Armenian for 50 years as a volunteer and principal, used to prepare the meals each Friday for my sister and me as children, so she could spend her Saturdays performing her Armenian teaching obligation, a duty she looked forward to and loved deeply.

The Primate, before sharing the closing prayer, stated, “Beyond all you have accomplished, most of all you are a teacher, the spirit of who we are. The highest honor is to be a teacher, and to transmit the spirit of who we are as Armenians and as Christians. And this is what you have achieved,” he stated, looking directly at the honoree.

“Continue to teach and transmit our Armenian spirit to our youth and to the world,” the Primate said before presenting her with the gift of a beautiful grapevine plaque from the Michael Aram collection.

Among the many students of Zarminé Boghosian who have gone on to promising careers was Arthur Ipek, a former volunteer at the Zohrab Information Center, and now a 24-year-old graduate student pursuing a career in nuclear science. He commented that “some of my most memorable and happy days were as a student at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School with the smiling face, encouragement and leadership of Zarmine Boghosian.”

Click here to view a gallery of photos by Diran Jebejian.

By Florence Avakian

Above: The Diocesan Center in New York held a tribute in honor of Zarmine Boghosian on April 27, 2022. Pictured (l-r): honoree Zarminé Boghosian, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan, speaker Hovhannes Khosdeghian, Diocesan Legate Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Missak Boghosian. (Photo by Diran Jebejian)


2022-Wed_April 27 _Rev. Fr. Untzag Nalbandian's Presentation - AZEZEN Ameriga Book- by Zarmine Boghosian



·                                  May 4, 2022





At the tribute for Zarminé  Boghosian on April 27, 2022, Fr. Untzag Nalbandian delivered the following remarks on her memoir,

From Azez to America.

* * *

Three days after the 107th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, we gather here under the dome of St. Vartan Cathedral and auspices of our Primate, Bishop Daniel. Once again, this testifies we not only survived but we continue to thrive. And we are a creative people, in this case, also in literary endeavors.

Mrs. Zarminé Boghosian’s newly published 434 page memoir, From Azez to America is beautifully written in Western Armenian. Although not strictly autobiographical, she has organized the book under different categories, such as: People Who Influenced My Life, Unforgettable Meetings, Meeting with literary figures, and writers, from our community life, to mention the few. The book was published in Armenia and I understand that almost all copies are gone. After reading this book, you learn that Zarminé is a keen observer, fine commentator and good storyteller.

We are gathered here to honor the author for her literary work; however I feel she honors us and future generations by sharing her stories and honest thoughts in writing. As she told me, “I wrote this book so that my writings will not be lost.” And of course and also, to educate the new generation.

Our people and especially intellectuals have always appreciated its writers. They knew well the “recited words fly by and it is the writing that stays «խօսքը կը թռչի, գիրը՝ կը մնայ» as we say in Armenian.

Zarminé  Boghosian is familiar to us–as an educator and school principal of Holy Martyrs Day School, contributor to Armenian newspapers, and now memoirist. Anyone can read her book with great pleasure or as we say in Armenian, Համով հոտով։ She has taught Armenian language and culture in this very St. Vartan Cathedral for 10 or more years.

Zarminé is also a member of the Armenian Church, to which she refers many times in her book. As she describes, “In Azez, on the day of the Feast of Dyarnuntarach (the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple), we had to make sure we could take the light to our homes without extinguishing it.’’

For sure, all these years she has not only brought that light, Zarminé has radiated it wherever she went, including into the minds and hearts of all her students.

The author’s life spans two countries, Syria and the United States. Instead of writing solely her own autobiography, she wrote about her meetings with important and well-known intellectuals, writers, musicians, inventors, educators and those who are concerned with Armenian life and issues. In this book you also will find essays on different events and anniversaries.

Why are stories so vital? Because through our stories, we can educate the new generation about our faith and Christ-centered culture! Yes, by telling her stories, she educates the reader. She expresses her thoughts freely, without hesitation. She knows well as an educator, she must say the things that others may not say, not to criticize, but to correct, to teach, to make readers aware and think about those things that need to change.

The first part of her book is about Azez and Aleppo. She describes her family and friends, childhood Armenian school years, very much connected to the Syrian Armenian community. She speaks about the local Soorp Takavor Armenian Church in Azez. She also mentions her Jerusalem Odyssey with her brother, Fr. Vrtanes and how they somehow had to leave under not pleasant circumstances.

She mentions important and well-known individuals, to name the few, Silva Gaboudikian, Antranig Poladian, Raymond Damadian, Aris Sevag, Lousine Zakarian, Sahan Arzruni, Sero Khanzadian, Maro Markarian, Arshille Gorky, Dr. Hrand Markarian, Zareh Melkonian and many more.

She also writes about events she has attended and reflected upon, such as the 100 year old Armenian Students Association, AGBU, A century old life of Armenians in America, or the 100 year old Grtasirats Armenian school in Aleppo and her first job as a teacher in that school after her graduation from Najarian-Gulbenkian High School.

Her book is also didactic. She at times tries to educate her readers or at least make them stop and reflect. For example, while describing Dr. Pergrouhi Najarian Svajian’s hospitalization, she writes that one of the nurses spoke highly of Dr. Svajian saying, “What an extraordinary woman she is.” When Zarmine told Dr. Svajian, who was on a stretcher going to surgery, Dr. Svajian responded, “Even though she just met me, she knew me better than some who worked with me for years.” I think there is a lesson for us to learn from Dr. Svajian’s short message. First, we must appreciate what we have.

Unfortunately, often others, foreigners and strangers admire what we Armenians have more than we do.

She also relates the story of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day school sign. She, as the principal of the daily school was given permission to order and place the sign in front of the school. Disappointment came when the church leadership told her hold on, we must still discuss this in our PC meeting.  We must agree on the color and the size of the sign and the exact location where it should be placed. The lesson? Sometimes, we waste our time on secondary matters instead of focusing on more important issues. Maybe this story caught my attention because I am a parish priest.

She describes how she and others from abroad attended an Armenian language teachers’ training conference in Armenia. She and other participants noticed it was not well organized. But they agreed not to criticize. They decided to speak and write positively about it. This too – refraining from being overly critical — is an important virtue, sometimes lacking in our people, including our community leaders.

Zarminé also mentions the advice Diramayr Siranoush Baljian the mother of the late Vazken Catholicos, gave to Armenian mothers: “I want each of you to be an educator in your home. I too have lived on foreign soil, however I was dedicated to my son’s education. Dear Armenian mothers, love and teach your children to love the Armenian Church, Armenia and the Armenian language. We have so much literary wealth, do not deprive your children from that wealth.”

What a simple, but powerful and timeless message and another brief sermon from Diramyr.

At the end of the book the author has Բանաստեղծական ներշնչումներ a “Poetic Inspirations” section. Here, she has included many of her Armenian poems on anniversaries such as the 1600th  anniversary of the invention of the Armenian alphabet, the 50th  anniversary of her brother, Fr. Vrtanes’s ordination, or the 70th  anniversary of Arshile Gorky’s death and others.

In her last two pages titled Յաւէտ երախտապարտ “Forever grateful,” she mentions the names of her elementary and high school teachers who encouraged her to write, as did her brother Fr. Vertanes. He placed the books of well-known Armenian writers in her hands saying, “Read them and write, I know you can!” What short, but very effective advice. This book is the result of the advice of those teachers and her brother. May God bless their souls.

Zarminé acknowledges this book is not even 10% of her thoughts and feelings of her 70 years of life. She praises Missak, her husband of 55 years, who has been the pillar and the true supporter of her life.

In conclusion, I note in 2014, Zarminé received the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob medal, given by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.

Today, we too can only congratulate and appreciate Zarminé, not just for publishing her memoirs, but also for serving the Armenian community as an educator for the past 50 years. God bless you, your husband Missak and all your loved ones!

You can proudly repeat the words of the great Armenian poet, Vahan Tekeyan who some 90 years ago wrote, (which you also included in your book):

«Յաշուեյարդար ի՞նչ մնաց, կեանքէն ինծի ի՞նչ մնաց,
ինչ որ տուի ուրիշին, տարօրինակ, ա՛յն միայն»։

“In the final accounting what did I get out of life?
Amazingly, only what I gave to others.”

By Fr. Untzag Nalbandian

* * *

Pictured: Fr. Untzag Nalbandian at the Diocesan Center in New York, during the tribute in honor of Zarminé Boghosian on April 27, 2022. (Photo by Diran Jebejian)


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