Categories: Diosecan news, News
  • The Ordinary of Armenian Catholic Church and Apostolic Nuncio consecrate a newly built church in Armenia

    Glory be to the Lord!



    Arpeni (formerly, until 1978, Palutli or Palutlu) is a village in the Shirak Province of Armenia, which was founded in 1852 by Armenian Catholics emigrated from the village Iritsu of Alashkert district of Western Armenia. “St. John the Baptist” Armenian Catholic Church, which was one of the biggest churches of Ashotsk region, was built in 1910. The inhabitants of village noted that the church was built by their ancestors in the likeness of their ancient church in Iritsu. On the walls of the ancient church in Arpeni can still be seen the holes of bullets left by Turkish soldiers in 1920. This is a historical witnessing of massacres that the Turkish soldiers have perpetrated in this area. During the years of Soviet regime the church served as storage. In 1988, the church was gravely damaged following the earthquake, and then, as it has neither been used nor reconstructed, over the years, the roof was destroyed and ruined, only the walls remained.

    There was a need of money in order to reconstruct the old church, and it was enough difficult to find the necessary amount. Another problem that has emerged over time was the foundation of the new village located approximately one kilometre far from the old village, and the villagers removed there.


    Taking into consideration all these factors, the Armenian Catholic clergy decided to build a new and smaller church on the new village territory.

    During the past 10 years, the Holy Mass and other religious ceremonies were served in the building of municipality, as one of its rooms was transformed into a chapel.


    Construction of the new church


    In 2016 the former parish priest of Arpeni, Fr. Rafał Krawczyk, went to Poland with a decision to find the necessary amount for the construction of the new church. He worked in different Polish communities preaching, raising money and collecting donations from benefactors and simple faithful, for a long time. Finally, when he could raise the necessary amount, the construction works began in July 2017. The construction works lasted just over a year.


    The current parish priest of Arpeni Fr. Elia Derdzakian also had a significant contribution to the construction of the church. Due to his organizational works on the ground, the church bell, the gift of the Patriarchal Congregation of Bzommar, was installed, the fence was built, the gates were installed, the yard was cleaned up, and the entrance door and the Holy Altar with the image of Virgin Mary were also installed. Fr. Elia is living in Arpeni since the beginning of this year and shares with villager their hard conditions. He is always near the faithful with his pastoral work.


    On 29 July, 2018, during the construction, the new-built church’s cross was consecrated by Fr. Elia Derdzakian and Fr. Rafał Krawczyk and installed. The construction works of the church were completed by the end of October 2018. Fr. Elia proposed to assign the name “St. John the Baptist” to the church, to continue the mission of the old ruined church.




    On 25 October, 2018, during the Holy Mass, the new-built “St. John the Baptist” Armenian Catholic Church of Arpeni was consecrated by H.E. Raphael Archbishop Minassian, the Ordinary of the Armenian Catholics in Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Eastern Europe and with the participation of H. E. Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt, the Apostolic Nuncio for Armenia and Georgia and Mgr. Gabriel Mouradian, the Patriarchal Vicar of Beirut Armenian Catholic Diocese and the Superior of the Convent of Bzommar. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Armenia Paweł Cieplak, the deputy mayor of Gyumri, the head of Arpeni village, other high-ranking officials, Archbishop Nshan Karakeheyan and other Armenian Catholic priests, the Armenian Catholic Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, the Director of “Tiramayr Narek” Ashotsk Hospital and representative of “St. Camillus” Charitable Foundation of the Order of Camillians, and many faithful also attended the Holy Mass and Consecration ceremony. First of all, the ritual accessories and the main entrance door were consecrated, then, the procedure of rinsing the Holy Altar with water and wine was performed. The altar-table, the four walls of the church and the entrance door were consecrated in turn.


    In his homily, during Mass at the new-built “St. John the Baptist” Church, H.E. Raphael Archbishop Minassian said:

    “Dear faithful,

    Today, it is with immense joy and emotion that I consecrate a new church on our Motherland. Therefore, it is a great joy to all of us. Another home is built for the worship of our Lord and as a consolation of spiritual experiences of our faithful. The Church, as we all know, is the place where we can encounter each other, in order to form the holy family of Christ. The Church is the home of Christ, where He is living physically and where everyone can come to encounter and have a free dialogue with Him. Here we can convey to God our sincere gratitude and receive the divine grace. Here we receive the first seal of our Christian life through the baptism, then we get blessings through marriage and we leave this world on the doorstep of the same Church. Thus, this is the short definition of the word “Church”. I hope, that the current and future priests of this area will serve and accompany you in this path to come to the Church, in order to live the spiritual values of this life. I hope they will be able to carry the heavy burden of your souls, as this is their first obligation and commitment”.


    At the end of his homily, H. E. Raphael Archbishop Minassian donated holy crosses to Rev. Fr. Rafał Krawczyk and Rev. Fr. Elia Derdzakian, as a sign of gratitude and appreciation.


    After the Holy Mass, the parish priest Fr. Elia Derdzakian also addressed to the present guests, expressing his deepest gratitude for the construction and consecration of the new-built church in Arpeni. He said that was an unprecedented occasion that we have all observed with enthusiasm and which has strenghtened our faith and enlightened us with the Holy Spirit nourishing with the eternal life’s word: Jesus Christ. He also invited the faithful to bring their children for Baptism and come to perform the Sacrament of Matrimony in the newly built church.

    After the Holy Mass and Consecration ceremony a cultural event was organized by villagers in the Village Hall of Arpeni. Poems, songs and national dances deeply impressed the guests. Traditional Matagh was served at the end of the event.



    Translation from Armenian-by Hranush Sargsian