Thursday, April 16, 2020

Easter Liturgy at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in NYC

Ordinarily, one would not draw a connection between the ancient rituals of the Armenian Church and modern technology. But they were profoundly connected on Easter Sunday at New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, when the worldwide pandemic necessitated broadcasting Bishop Daniel Findikyan’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy live over the Internet.

Although the sanctuary was physically devoid of parishioners on April 12, 2020, thousands of faithful Armenian Christians viewed the live video stream on their computers, mobile devices, and tablets—remaining spiritually and emotionally connected to this holiest of days.

Enthusiasm for the broadcast was evident in the remarkable number of people who tuned in. In previous years, upward of 1,200 people typically attend the cathedral’s Easter service in person, with the over-capacity crowd spilling outdoors onto the plaza. This year’s live-stream enjoyed twice as many viewers during its initial broadcast, with the archived episode on the Eastern Diocese’s YouTube and Facebook platforms garnering some 25,000 views to date.

While local parishes across the Diocese held their own services throughout Holy Week—with dozens of them streaming the proceedings over the Internet—many local pastors directed their parishioners, at the Primate’s recommendation, to spend Easter morning as part of a larger “family” of worshippers, spiritually united as they watched their bishop celebrate badarak and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion on behalf of all the people and clergy of the Diocese.

St. Vartan Cathedral itself observed Holy Week (April 5-11) with a series of live-broadcast services celebrated by Cathedral Vicar Fr. Davit Karamyan. He was one of the half-dozen people in the sanctuary on Easter Sunday supporting the bishop’s celebration of this extraordinary Divine Liturgy; others included deacons Manuel Rakoubian and Aram Kaberjian, and choir members Angela Grigoryan and Hasmik Rakoubian.

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