17 February 2005

First ever Armenian Holy Mass in Manama, Bahrain

AZAD-HYE (17 February 2005): The spiritual leader of the Armenian community in Kuwait and the GCC countries Archbishop Dr. Gorun Babian visited Bahrain on 9th December 2004 and officiated, for the first time in the Kingdom of Bahrain, an Armenian Holy Mass on 10th December 2004, at the Awali Chapel at 7.30pm. This was followed by a dinner at the “Majestic Hotel” in Juffair. His Grace was accompanied by the priest of the parish in Sharjah, Father Aram Deyirmendjian.

Some 50 Armenians arrived from nearby Saudi Arabia (Khobar and Damam cities) to join the small Armenian community in Bahrain, which numbers around 30 people. Armenians of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia hold passports of various countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cyprus, USA, Canada, etc.

Archbishop Babian said in his speech address to the Armenians of Bahrain and the neighbouring areas: “Wherever you are located, whether in a large Armenian community or in a remote desert, that place could be altered to a flourishing oasis, a kind of tiny spiritual fatherland, with the blessing of the Armenian Church”.

Until recently, only in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the Armenians enjoyed organized community life. Recent changes, especially in the attitude of Qatar and Bahrain towards their foreign communities, encouraged Armenians to get organized in both countries.

The Diocese’s higher body based in Kuwait authorized therefore Archbishop Babian to contact the Armenians in those countries and assist them in organizing their community life. In April 2003 His Grace visited Doha, where some 200 Armenians are settled and officiated Holy Mass service. The Council of Qatar Armenians was formed which started to conduct regular meetings, dealing with community affairs.

Mrs. Adrine Khatchadourian, one of the main figures of the Armenian community of Bahrain managed to find a suitable location for the first time ever Armenian Holy Mass in Manama. She also managed to contact almost all the Armenians of Bahrain and those who are living in nearby Saudi Arabia, where no Christian clergy is allowed to enter. She coordinated her efforts with Setrak Dakesian and Hayrabed Hayrabedian, both residents of Saudi Arabia. The Holy Mass was followed by a prayer dedicated to the souls of beloved ones.

Following the ceremony, Armenians had a social gathering at the "Majestic Hotel", where Archbishop Babian express his joy for the unity of the Armenians and appreciation for the efforts of those who made his trip possible. Armenian naitonal and popular songs followed, creating an atmosphere of cheerfulness and pleasure in the hearts of those who have been living in isolation from large Armenian gatherings.

Before living the Kingdom, Archbishop Babian visited the Lebanese Ambassador and discussed with him details of his trip, providing meanwhile information about the Armenians of GCC countries.

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