By David Luhrssen
A reunion of the Kaishians, one of the founding families of metro Milwaukee’s St. John the Baptist Armenian Church, resulted in a crowded bema on Sunday, July 24. Joining parish pastor Rev. Fr. Nareg Keutelian was a son of the community, Rev. Fr. Sahag Kashian, and a Kaishian by marriage, Rev. Fr. Vazken Movsesian of St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale, California. Father Vazken’s three sons were also on the altar as deacons.
In his sermon, Father Vazken focused on the morning’s gospel reading from Matthew, the story of the Pharisees asking Jesus for a sign. “Jesus tolerated everything but hypocrisy,” he said, explaining Christ’s terse response to their request: there will be no sign but the resurrection. Father Vazken added that God has already given us the ultimate miracle, life, along with general instructions on how to lead it. The rest is up to us.
Addressing the long list of names from the morning’s requiem service, Father Vazken was reminded of how those individuals accepted the challenges of life and how the Armenian people overcame the ultimate threat to existence: genocide. He referred to a Turkish official who boasted that one day there will be only one Armenian in the world and he will be in a museum. The survival of the Armenian faithful is a miracle, a sign. “The families that the mothers and fathers of the Genocide created in the New World—isn’t this a miracle?”
He concluded: “We don’t take the time to see the miracle of life all around us” in an age burdened by too many distractions. And he issued a challenge: “Our one guaranty is death. Did our life mean anything?”
In keeping with the meaning of family at St. John, everyone present for liturgy was invited to join the Kaishians in Madagh (memorial) luncheon hosted in memory of their deceased family members.