Two Bay Area Parishes Organized Historic Joint Pilgrimage

Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 22, 2017

In commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the consecrations of both St. Vartan Oakland and St. John San Francisco a first-of-its-kind joint pilgrimage was organized by Fr. Hovel Ohanyan and Fr. Mesrop Ash. This group consisted of 54 faithful from the area and throughout the Western Diocese, who signed up to reconnect with their ancestral homeland and commit themselves to spiritual renewal.

The two-week pilgrimage took the group throughout Armenia and Artsakh, and there were many special highlights. A few days into the journey the pilgrims visited Mer Hooys, a mission of the Western Diocese, that serves young girls who are at-risk in Armenia's orphanage system. They were joined by His Eminence Abp. Hovnan Derderian, and several high-ranking representatives of the Western Diocese. They celebrated Mer Hooys anniversary and were treated to tours of the facility, and enjoyed the inspiring interaction with the young ladies. The Bay Area Pilgrims were honored to present a donation during their visit to help improve the center's educational facilities. On the first Sunday, coinciding with the pilgrims trip to Holy Etchmiadzin, they were received by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. This special audience which was also attended by pilgrims from the Eastern Diocese and Australia. His Holiness welcomed the faithful to their homeland and candidly answered their various questions. The last week of the pilgrimage was occupied by an extensive and spiritually moving trek through the south of Armenia and Artsakh. The group was received His Eminence Barkev Martirosyan, Primate of the Diocese of Artsakh, at the Diocesan Headquarters in Stepanagert. He spoke at length about the future of the fight to maintain the freedom and liberty of Armenia and Artsakh, and answered the pilgrims' questions. The pilgrims were honored to present His Eminence with a donation for families who had casualties during last year's April War.

Both St. Vartan and St. John parishes have served the Armenian community of the Bay Area for several generations, and strive to continue to connect the children of the Armenian nation in their care with faith of the forefathers. Fr. Hovel and Fr. Mesrop offer their sincere gratitude for the support of their parishioners and the participation of the pilgrims.