It was a moving and emotional service at St. Vartan Armenian Church on Sunday, January 12th. The day’s celebrant and homilist, the Rev. Fr. Hovel Ohanyan, celebrated his last Divine Liturgy as the Pastor of the Oakland Parish. At the end of this month, Fr. Hovel will relocate to Armenia where under the auspices of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the young priest will continue his pastoral ministry in the Motherland.
The Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian paid a pastoral visit to the Armenian community and presided over the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. His Eminence reflected on the exceptional pastoral service of Fr. Hovel throughout the years, commending the priest’s unrelenting dedication and wholeheartedness in leading the flock of Christ on the path to righteousness. “Priesthood is the journey of life lived in the resemblance of Christ, our Lord. The life of a priest is the journey towards God, a journey of servitude into the life of the world. Imitate Christ – this is the call a priest receives from God,” stated Archbishop Derderian. “Dear Fr. Hovel, you have answered your calling to the priesthood with tremendous courage, outstanding zeal and remarkable preparedness. Your pastoral ministry has been graced with humility and respect,” he continued.
At the conclusion of the service, the Primate and Fr. Hovel Ohanyan performed the traditional Blessing of the Water service symbolizing our Lord Jesus Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. In accordance to the Armenian Church tradition, the blessed water was then distributed to the parishioners.
More than 350 guests attended the farewell banquet following the Divine Liturgy, organized by the Parish Council and the Ladies Society of St. Vartan Armenian Church. Words of appreciation and gratitude for his decade-long pastoral service were expressed by the Diocesan clergy of the Bay Area, members of the Parish Council, and Ladies Society.
In his remarks, Fr. Hovel reflected on the parish community’s collective accomplishments in the last decade, expressing his wholehearted gratitude to all for their prayers, encouragement, and support. He vowed to serve the Armenian Church in the Motherland with renewed dedication and zeal.
The Primate’s benediction was filled with reflections on Fr. Hovel’s pastoral service. Archbishop Derderian recalled his many pastoral visits to St. Vartan Armenian Church where the Christian spirit was ever-present and the preservation of the Armenian Christian identity was realized through religious, cultural and educational missions.
At the conclusion of the banquet, parishioners expressed their heartfelt wishes to their pastor Fr. Hovel Ohanyan in his new ministerial mission in the Motherland.
The banquet concluded with a closing prayer.