At the General Chapter of the Armenian Catholic Ardzivian Patriarchal Congregation in 1989, Father Raphael Minassian was appointed as the first Ardzivian congregational priest to the mission in Los Angeles California. In addition to promoting spiritual activities, the goal of his mission in California was to establish a second parish from our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Los Angeles.
Father Raphael, conscious of both the purpose and extreme need for this directive to expand the mission in greater Los Angeles, took the initiative to plan a new church project in Glendale, California. He was assisted by well known personalities from the local Armenian Catholic community and many benefactors, both large and small. In 1997, the Armenian Catholic Community bought a Lutheran church located on Mountain Street in Glendale. Renovations of the structure began with the adoption to the Armenian Church architecture. Parish offices and residential facilities were similarly planned and renovated.
In 1998, the Armenian Catholic Community of Los Angeles held the official inauguration of the new church which was dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator. The primary project assumed by Father Raphael was to build a new church with a complex for an adjunct bishop of the Armenian Catholic in California.
In 1998 Father Krikor Chahinian was called from Sweden to assist with the spiritual activities in the parish. On August 15, 1999, the cornerstone of St. Gregory Church was set and construction began to rebuild it in traditional Armenian style.
On March 18, 2001, His Excellency Bishop Manuel Batakian Exarch of Armenian Catholics in United States and Canada officiated at the consecration of St. Gregory Church. On March 17, 2002 the opening of the parish hall was marked with a significant celebration. The parish hall today is named after Mr. and Mrs. Raymond & Annie Kouyoumdjian, in recognition of their substantial donation to the renovation project. The carved stones of the windows and the holy Stations of the Cross, as well as completion of the carved names on the remembrance wall are part of the final stage.
St Gregory Armenian Catholic Church began to emerge as a spiritual and educational center for the Armenian community. Various cultural activities served as a source of introduction for the new generation to their Armenian heritage. That was the main purpose of St. Gregory Church in Glendale, California. Moreover, Father Raphael Minassian, continued to publish the 16-page weekly newsletter “Avedaper,” which evolved into a forty-eight page bi-monthly publication covering spiritual, cultural and social aspects of Armenian Life.
At the same time, the Armenian Catholic Youth Organization (ACYO) at St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, along with St. Gregory’s Parish Council, Ladies’ Guild, and choir with various choral presentations, established an active presence in the Armenian community of Glendale. Father Raphael bore the burden and responsibility of multiple engagements and duties. In October 2003, his Excellency Bishop Batakian with the intention of providing assistance to Fr. Raphael Minassian, sent Father Andon Noradounkian, pastor of St. Ann’s church in New York to Glendale as Assistant Pastor.
Father Andon Noradounkian remained alone to run the Armenian Catholic Church in Glendale, in September 2005 Father Noradounkian returned back to New York to resume his same position as Pastor of St. Ann Church.
In May 2005, Father Andon Saroyan was appointed by bishop Batakian as Pastor to St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church in Glendale. Father Saroyan worked with the existing committees in their apostolate. He continued with the remaining unfinished construction, including the carvings of benefactors’ names on the monumental wall of the 1700 anniversary of Armenian Christendom, the Stations of the Holy Cross, and the carved Holy Fathers stones on the church windows. He initiated the completion of the underground space to be used as a hall (Msgr. Hovsep Chadarevian Hall) for youth activities, as well as a conference room for the other parish committees, as well as publication of a monthly parish bulletin to keep the parishioners informed of parish news. He organized the Parish Council, Financial Committee, Ladies Guild and Youth Group. He established English Armenian Mass on Sundays (9:30 a.m.), adding two “Khatchkars” in the courtyard. He replaced the pews and installed a decorative iron door at the main entrance of the church. On March 19, 2006, the church celebrated the fifth anniversary of its consecration.
In 2008 the church received as a gift a Baptismal Font and the church entrance windows were decorated by iron work of St. Thaddeux, St. Bartholomew, along with St. Peter and St. Paul’s status. In December of the same year the Tabernacle for the main Altar was consecrated. Father Andon Saroyan accomplished the renewal of the old church pews.
On July 15, 2010, His Excellency Bishop Batakian appointed the pastor of the Armenian Catholic Community in Sweden, Father Krikor Chahinian as the new Pastor for the Glendale Church, he also appointed Father Armenag Bedrossian as Assistant Pastor. The installation of Father Krikor and Father Armenag occurred on July 25th, 2010 during the high mass celebrated by Bishop Batakian, who presented the two young priests to the parishioners.
The new shepherds of the Armenian Catholic Church of Glendale had a clear agenda to begin their apostolate: It immediately started in September with the establishments of the Saturday Armenian and Christian Courses intended for Young Armenians (4-14 years of age) for the purpose of teaching the Armenian language, Catechism, History and Culture.
Considering that 2011 is the tenth anniversary of the consecration of our church, it was decided to have multiple commemorative events throughout the whole year in celebration of this event. It already started with Sacred Concert performed by members of the church choir on December 19, 2010 following the Sunday Mass under the direction of Greg Saroyan. The blessing of the new pews was also done on the same day.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart that is celebrated at 7 PM on the first Friday of the month was initiated. The Pastor and his Assistant started new important initiatives to improve and stimulate the life of the church and the community, these included Church advisory groups, Parish Council, Ladies Auxiliary, and Youth Committees (ACYO and ACYAO) and Financial Committee.
A key event of the tenth Anniversary celebration year is the Dinner function on March 20th, the proceeds of which will be used to reduce the debt obligations of the Church.
The building efforts of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church of Glendale were achieved through the labor and resolve of all the members belonging to different denominations in the Armenian Community, with the profound belief that they all are the children of the father of our faith Saint Gregory the Illuminator. This way the Armenian Catholic church has proven to be the best symbol and embodiment of the Church unity.
Let us then, as believers in God, as children of one motherland and members of the Armenian community, become ardent supporters of this church and come to help its two young shepherds so that in a short time we could eliminate our debt, for the glory of God and the flourishment of the Armenian Nation.