Candles burn outside Trinity Church in Copley Square during an April 2015 ecumenical celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Pilot file photo/Gregory L. Tracy
BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will preside at a 4:00 p.m. prayer service for the first ever Archdiocese of Boston commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, April 23.
Among those present will be Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan from the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and vicar general Msgr. Andon Atamian, who will be representing Bishop Mikael Mouradian, of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of the United States and Canada.
Nationally-acclaimed performers of the Armenian national instrument, the Duduk, will open the service, and a combined Armenian guest choir under Maestro Artur Veranian will sing, organizers said.
"With Cardinal Seán's vision and support, the archdiocese is pleased to offer this occasion of joint prayer in remembrance, witness, and in Christ's promise of resurrection with our Armenian brothers and sisters," said Bishop Arthur L. Kennedy, director for the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Last year, Pope Francis made headlines when he referred to the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as "genocide." Turkey denies the slaughter was a genocide, although a number of countries have officially recognized it as such.
The Vatican confirmed this month that Pope Francis will visit Armenia in June following invitations from Catholicos Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
"Pope Francis put the moral weight of the papacy behind this cause of human dignity -- the least we owe those who have suffered a genocide is the recognition that it happened, especially when they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and the first nation to accept Christianity in 301 AD," said Vito Nicastro, associate director for the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Nicastro said the Boston commemoration service will make the pope's message present on a local level.
"The service is not only of remembrance but also of resurrection. By standing with (the Armenian people), we share in the defeat of evil -- ultimately it is an expression of the Easter mystery," said Nicastro.