The St. Sarkis Church of Dallas Fort Worth hosted a sold out presentation of the “Women of 1915”, the documentary film of Bared Maronian, on Saturday April 14, 2018. The whole community was there to see the “epic journey of women survivors of the Armenian Genocide and the odyssey of the relentless human rights advocates who empowered them.”
This documentary differed from other Armenian Genocide films in that it showed the heroic measures some Armenian women had taken to survive and help others survive the heinous acts around them. These remarkable women, some of whom were highlighted in the documentary in older interviews, had spoken of their courage and perseverance and inspired their children and grandchildren to pursue excellence in their lives. Many examples were presented of these grandchildren, who had gained worldwide recognition in many fields including technology (like Steve Jobs), music, business and art.
The St. Sarkis community was familiar with “Women of 1915” and its documentary filmmaker Bared Maronian, because it had hosted the “Orphans of the Genocide” in Dallas previously. Both documentaries have helped publicize the Genocide to Armenians and non-Armenians alike, and have strengthened our resolve to achieve recognition of the Genocide worldwide.
Bared Maronian was grateful to all who had helped bring his documentaries to life, including Dr. Sarkis Kechejian, the Godfather of the St. Sarkis church. Mr. Maronian indicated that he came to realize that there were many women who had selflessly fought to save a child’s life at great peril to theirs. The plight and heroism of the Armenian women during the Genocide was matched by the courage of non-Armenian women represented in the documentary, who helped save many women and children during the Genocide. It is estimated that at least 150,000 women and children were able to come to the United States, making this country one of the most hospitable and humane countries for the Armenians. It was the hope of Mr. Maronian that highlighting the sacrifices and heroism demonstrated by many non-Armenian women will inspire their grandchildren to follow in the footsteps of their grandmothers in demanding justice for the Armenian Genocide victims.
The St. Sarkis Church Parish Council organized the screening of the "Women of 1915" with Lusine Meeks and Shevan Basmadjian leading the effort. Hamlet and Marla Sarokhanian graciously hosted Bared Maronian, and Annie Graham and Maral Aznavourian promoted ticket sales. Invitations were extended to many non-Armenian friends of the community to attend the event, eventually making it a sold-out performance.
The St. Sarkis community is no stranger to the ravages of the Genocide, but the documentary shed light on previously little known facts, including the untraditional display of heroism of many women by taking arms and fighting alongside men. These were women who had lost all their family members, and against all odds, had resolved to fight to prevent further annihilation of other families. There are inspirational examples of all their achievements detailed in the documentary.
St. Sarkis of DFW is grateful for Mr. Maronian’s vision and the dedication of the whole community to supporting all projects that inform and educate everyone about the Armenian Genocide.
Written by Mary Mukhtarian
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, the St. Sarkis Church of Dallas Fort Worth unveiled the newly created Mark Aram Kechejian Award to recognize the accomplishments of an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding dedication, devotion and generosity to the children of the church. Mark Kechejian was a young church member, who donated electronic equipment to the school and was asked by the School Board to create a playground for the children. He helped channel the community’s generosity into a spectacular playground for the children of St. Sarkis before he was tragically taken from us too soon. After many years of service, the playground had to be torn down for safety reasons, and stayed empty waiting for the right people to resurrect it.
The time was now. Maral Aznavourian explained that the community needed not only a generous donor in the form of Dr. Sarkis Kechejian, uncle of Mark, and the Godfather of St. Sarkis Church, who stepped in to fund the refurbishment of the now dilapidated playground, but also the heartfelt donations of community members who covered additional expenses. There was still a need for a special individual who had the “guts, tenacity, perseverance and the heart to take this project on.”
Andrea Titoyan was that person, the first recipient of the Mark Aram Kechejian Award for 2018. Ms. Titoyan was chosen for this honor because “she put together a team, negotiated, purchased, dug, tilled and put down sod” to complete the project in record time.
Ms. Titoyan was “overwhelmed” with this honor, and thanked the many volunteers on her team especially Shant Aghyarian who selflessly devoted their time and talent to bringing back the vision of Mark Kechejian for the children. Ms. Titoyan gave a shout out to Mark Kechejian calling him “my friend in heaven.” The thunderous applause expressed the happiness of the community with the playground and Ms. Titoyan.
In gratitude to Dr. Kechejian, the children of St. Sarkis created a unique book as a “Thank You” for his generosity and for upholding the dream of Mark.
This presentation was made during an outstanding Easter luncheon lovingly prepared and served by the St. Sarkis Women’s Guild who outdid themselves as usual. The gourmet meal was the creation of the talented women who are the backbone of the church, and enlivened the Easter celebrations.
The St. Sarkis community enjoyed another luncheon the previous week on Palm Sunday, when the ACYOA youth cooked and served a wonderful meal as a fundraiser for their activities.
During the luncheon, the ACYOA honored Mrs. Aznif Altunian as the 2018 Person of the Year. Sevag Koulian explained that the ACYOA recognized Mrs. Altunian because of her guidance to the ACYOA, her support for their activities and her help in food preparation, but mostly for her “being there for us always.” Mrs. Altunian was not only delighted with this honor, but she vowed to continue helping our youth in whatever projects they wanted to undertake.
The St. Sarkis Church has been blessed with many individuals who have improved the lives of many, and ensured that the Church will continue to enlighten the future.
Written by Mary Mukhtarian