Holy Virgin Mary & Shoghagat Armenian Church  
“We remember and demand.”
Մենք հիշում ենք եւ պահանջում.

Parish History

From Beginning To Beginning --- Consecration Of
The New Holy Shoghagat Armenian Church

Commencing during the early 1950’s, an organization of Armenian-Americans, the Independent Club by name, embarked on a journey with one destination in mind --- that of providing an Armenian Church for the local, faithful inhabitants.  On December 28, 1956, the sojourn reached its pinnacle with the consecration of Holy Shoghagat Armenian Church. His Eminence, Archbishop Mampre Calfayan, Primate of the Armenian Church of North America, officiated at the Consecration Ceremonies and also appointed the initial Parish Council.  Mr. Levon Bagdasaroff was godfather for Holy Shoghagat in 1956.

First, there was but the little white church located at 13th and Summit Avenue in East St. Louis, IL.  Later, a parish house was purchased next door to the church.  Following this, an adjacent parcel of land was secured.

Certainly, pleasure, toil, success, leadership, and fulfillment abounded throughout the years.  So many labored so hard to assure the continuance of Holy Shoghagat, and their efforts were indeed rewarded.  Fellowship and worship existed for all who partook.

Numerous memories obviously exist, covering several differing planes.  The parishioners laughed together and, on occasion, cried together.  The church provided a religious home and a cultural domicile.  It was, in essence, the heart of the faithful.

After fifteen years at 13th and Summit, demographic circumstances necessitated a change.  The church and the adjoining property were, thus, subsequently sold, and a way of life came to an abrupt halt.

For six long years, a nomadic religious life ensued as worship was conducted at differing, local, generous churches.  At the same time, the search for a new home was undertaken and pursued.

Again, determination and devotion succeeded, and, property was purchased on 400 Huntwood Lane in Belleville, IL.  Hard work and toil on the part of many ensued, and, again, the efforts of many led to the Consecration of the new Holy Shoghagat Armenian Church in Belleville, IL.

Regarding the Consecration, on June 16, 1978, the Holy Shoghagat Consecration Committee consisting of sixteen individuals met officially for the first time.  The purpose of the committee was to plan for the upcoming Consecration of the new Holy Shoghagat Armenian Church.  The format for the Consecration entailed arranging a reception immediately following the Blessing on November 25, 1978, a private reception for dignitaries shortly after Divine Liturgy on November 26, 1978, a banquet with appropriate program following church on November 26, 1978, and a Consecration Booklet.

The hard working Consecration Committee included the following individuals:

Virginia Bohigian, Consecration Co-Chairperson
Toni Vartanian – Program Booklet Chairperson
Lisa Mooradian – Publicity Director
Bea Norsigian Leap – Secretary
Paylag Boghosian - Adviser

and members:
Dr. George Bohigian
Manuel Kurkjian
Ron Leap
Charles Merzian
Amie Marifian Nersesian
Henry Nersesian
Rose Nersesian
Hrant Norsigian
Diana Norsigian Petrosian
Mary Petrosian

With many meetings and much work, the Committee achieved all the goals placed before it.  In actuality, the entire church community seemed to become one household preparing for the single most important event in its life.

Financially, the event was exceedingly successful.  Following is the breakdown of the financial picture:

Consecration Booklet Donations $6,745.00
Godfathers’ Donations = $22,000.00
Previous Consecration Donation = $5,000.00
Consecration Day Donations = $3,130.00
= $36,875.00

All events were well attended, beginning with the reception on Saturday evening followed by Divine Liturgy and the banquet on Sunday.  His Eminence Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Primate Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, officiated throughout the weekend.  Mr. Richard Norsigian of Detroit, Michigan, and formerly of Belleville, IL, acted as Master of Ceremonies.  Guest speaker for the day was Dr. James Etmekjian, Professor at Boston University.  Musical selections were provided by Christine Mooradian, Helen Norsigian, and Susan Norsigian as well as the Holy Shoghagat Sunday School Pupils directed by Toni Vartanian.

In the end, the impossible dream was no more --- in fact, it had become reality.  Holy Shoghagat once again stood with brick and mortar visible to all.  More important, however, was the internal substance --- the parishioners and friends, who, with God’s guidance and help, reached the glorious pinnacle of Consecration of the new Holy Shoghagat and, at the same time, displayed the truth of the maxim “Armenians and their church are inseparable.”

*content provided by Zabelle N. Vartanian, Consecration Committee Co-Chairperson




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