On Sunday, August 14, 2011, the parish of St. Gregory the Illuminator of St. Catharines, Ontario, celebrated the day of the Assumption of the Holy Theotokos, Mother of God, with a spiritual and festive day and community picnic following the Divine Liturgy.

The day commenced with the offering of the chants, hymns and prayers of the Morning Service. Following the service, the Divine Liturgy was offered by the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Canada, His Eminence, Bishop Bagrat Galstanian. He was assisted by a number of deacons from St. Catharines, Hamilton, Mississauga, Toronto, Laval and Montreal. Similarly, the choir for the day was composed of singers from the said communities who came participate in the Holy Liturgy.

Also, present among the parishioners, was Very Rev. Fr. Kegham Zakarian, a former pastor of St. Gregory, who was visiting from California. The Rev. Fr. Datev Melengitchian, the assistant priest at Holy Trinity of Toronto, Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian, pastor of St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church of Mississauga and other mission parishes, as well as the pastor of St. Gregory, the Rev. Fr. Serop Azarian.

During the sermon, His Eminence Bishop Bagrat gave a rejuvenating sermon of hope and faithfulness. He remembered how the early Armenian pioneers came to Canada and worked hard to establish this house of faith and shelter against foreign faiths and ideas. He congratulated all the name bearers related to the name of Mary, Mother of God and he wished them all well. Following the Liturgy the annual blessing of grapes took place and all the children present at the church came and participated into the actual ceremony of the blessing itself.

On this day, we had the honour to host His Excellency Mr. Armen Yeganian, the newly appointed Ambassador of Armenia to Canada and his family. During the Divine Liturgy, Mr. Yeganian had a chance to convey his words of hope and encouragement to the Armenians of Southern Ontario. He expressed his high regard for the decades of faithful following to our Armenian faith and heritage. The community was very pleased and encouraged to hear the words and have the opportunity to greet our Armenian Ambassador, as an honorary and beloved guests.

There were more than 200 people gathered at the picnic immediately following the conclusion of the Liturgy. The participants enjoyed delicious traditional Armenian dishes and desserts. The air was filled with dance and music, the children playing games and the adults pleasantly sharing the day. The day ended with a blessing for all that the love of God fills the hearts of all his followers into peace and harmony. The blessing day of the Assumption of the Holy Theotokos, Mother of God is a great high holy day in the Armenian Church and thus it was celebrated and enjoyed in St. Catharines by the descendants of the people who built that church with that same faith, hope and love.

May the Lord bless the Armenian Church and constantly keep all the lives of its followers imitators of Christ and the Holy Apostles.