The spiritual revival of Norashen began with the consecration of the church.
17 September has a great importance for the Catholic village of Norashen of Tashir region. On that day both the feast of the Church of Holy Cross and the foundation of 188-year-old village are celebrated with the Holy Mass. The inhabitants of Norashen are the descendants of immigrant population from Alashkert village of Western Armenia, who settled there from 1825 to 1828. It took 30 years to build the Church of Holy Cross. Today, this Church being in a dilapidated condition, is in the territory of the graveyard of the village. The church was not destined to exist as a church as Bolshevik authorities would not permit that.
Fr. Nerses Galstyan is convinced that in Norashen the faith has always been a priority, they have been connected with faith with all the threads of their soul, and it is due to that faith that in the ups and downs of their refugee life they could keep their own identity and continued to live and create.
’’Indeed- Fr. Nesrses adds-during the years of communism, it should be noted that for certain reasons it was difficult for them to live a full spiritual life, for as it is known, those years had been years of atheism. It was during those years that they were forced to demolish their church. But now it is certainly different: the habitant of Norashen has its own church, from which he or she were deprived for many years.’’
’’Our church was demolished nearly in 1932’’ told Aram Baghdasaryan, the head of the village of Norashen,’’ and the stones were then used for the construction of the school. Now, it is only the altar that has remained in the graveyard of the village’’.
Then he added, that after the destruction of the church the village was far from spiritual culture and but, for sure, the inhabitant of Norashen could not ever give up the idea of putting a stone on a stone again. So, after a century, the inhabitant of Norashen decided that to have a temple of faith is a vital and spiritual necessity for him. In 2014, a new church of Holy Cross was built, and that day was a feast for the Catholic community of Norashen and it is the second year that this feast is celebrated in this village. On this day, also the villagers of neighbouring villages, tending for the festive mood, come to Norashen to be present at the Holy Mass and the celebration.
The head of the village Aram Baghdasaryan gave his thanksgiving speech for that occasion:
“I must thank Fr Nerses, who is a great person and has done many great works, now in this community we have a pastor, who is not only a pastor for us, but also a great friend for the people of our community’’.
During the Holy Mass, Fr. Nerses Galstyan addressing to the inhabitants of Norashen, underscored that it is the second year that Norashen is celebrating the feast of the Holy Cross. During that period, the inhabitants of Norashen have tasted the word of God in the church with the return of baptism and faith, therefore the thanks should be given to Fr. Raphael Archbishop Minasyan and with whose initiative the church was built. Fr. Nerses also thanked the donors living abroad and being from Norashen, by the contributions of which the construction works were carried out.
Fr. Nerses Galstyan says that the church, which bears the name of the Holy Cross, is plenty of its crosses, and every time there is an opportunity to bow down before them. “There is a memorial statue dedicated to the Genocide and to the victims of the April war which are installed in the courtyard of the church. They are saints of memory that calls us for faith, in order to live for them”, says Fr. Nerses.
In Norashen-a village of 400 households-everybody certainly says that the construction of the Church of Holy Cross, was the beginning of the spiritual awakening of the village. The director of the secondary school of Norashen, Rafik Martirosyan noted, “Although in school pupils are taught the subject of Church History, it should be mentioned that it is not enough for the comprehensive understanding of the depth of the spiritual world. Therefore, I must note with satisfaction, that it is only the construction of the Holy Cross Church in our village that brought them closer to the spiritual life. Fr. Nerses often takes the children to the excursions, they visit various places and see monuments of spiritual culture of the people. In this way the history of Armenian Church becomes more visible for them, as during that excursions Fr. Nerses also gives them classes. Pupils also take part in decoration works of the area surrounding the church and now they always take care of it”.
During the festivity, the young people of “Tashir” dancing ensamble gave the audience pleasant moments with their performances.
As Fr. Nerses mentioned, for many years the inhabitant of Norashen had felt the hunger of spirituality and God trusted that they have a church. Now the church exists and therefore the spiritual nourishment is inseparable from this village.
Translated by Narine Galoyan