Holy Ascension Church Marks 80 Years

26 October 2011

By Tom Dabakian 

On Sunday, October 23, the Church of the Holy Ascension of Trumbull, CT, culminated a yearlong series of successful events marking the 80th anniversary of its consecration with an Episcopal Divine Liturgy followed by a gala banquet.

Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian celebrated the Divine Liturgy with the assistance of the  Rev. Fr. Untzag Nalbandian, the longtime pastor of Holy Ascension Church, and the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, pastor of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, N.Y.

During the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Gizirian ordained altar server Garo Kalfayan to the sub-diaconate. Mr. Kalfayan—who is the son of the late Rev. Fr. Guregh Kalfayan, a former pastor at Holy Ascension, and the late Yn. Shake— was ordained an acolyte the previous evening.

Sunday’s service was followed by a banquet at the Race Brook Country Club in Orange, CT.  Linda McGann, coordinator of the 80th anniversary events , and her committee members greeted the guests upon their arrival. Some 150 parishioners and friends in attendance.

After a delightful cocktail hour and Archbishop Gizirian’s invocation, Diocesan Delegate Dn. Thomas Dabakian offered a toast to the venerable past and the confident future of the parish, which has been serving Armenian-Americans in southern Connecticut since the 1920s.

Parish Council chair Dr. Robert Badrigian offered words of welcome, and the microphone was turned over to the master of ceremonies Ani Nalbandian, the daughter of Fr. Nalbandian. Ani is a young professional based in Washington D.C., who represents the younger generation upon which the Armenian Church will grow.

Her impressive “lay-ministry” resume includes, but is not limited to, organist, Junior Choir Leadership Program graduate, and volunteer teacher at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s Sts. Tarkmanchatz School.

The afternoon program was highlighted by a photo presentation of the church’s 80-year history. The presentation was produced and narrated by Dottie Bengoian.

Fr. Nalbandian, who will be celebrating his 28th consecutive year as the parish priest in January 2012, performed two delightful selections at the grand piano after which he presented the annual “Holy Ascension Awards” to three couples who exemplify “responding to the call” of the church through their time, talent, and treasures. The couples are: Elisa and Paul Marotollo, Adrienne and Alexander Ziemkiewicz, and Scott and Lauren Paklaian.

Linda McGann reviewed the five major religious, educational, and social events of this milestone year and thanked all her committee members. Fr. Nalbandian thanked the three members of the 80th anniversary fundraising committee: Dr. Robert Badrigian, Heather Tarpinian, and Edward Gulbenkian, who were charged with raising $80,000 in this special anniversary year. He proudly announced that the goal had been exceeded with close to $100,000 raised. Fr. Nalbandian thanked all prior and present generations for their beneficence through the years.

Gifts of appreciation were presented to 100 year old “Uncle” George Krikorian, who was present at the church’s consecration on Sunday, June 14, 1931; mortgage burning committee chair Edward Jevarjian, one of the senior members of the parish, and to the other members of the committee; Ray Bagdasarian, who has brought the community into the 21st century with his supervision of all online news and communiqués; and several other deserving members.

Archbishop Gizirian’s poignant message and benediction concluded the day. A colorful commemorative book containing 100 pages of pictures and names chronicling the rich history of Holy Ascension Church was presented to each family.