EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 17, 2012

Priest from Syria finds things for which to be thankful

Rev. Bedourian to preach at interfaith service

NORTH ANDOVER — In the midst of death, despair and destruction in his native Syria, the Rev. Karekin Bedourian still finds things to be thankful for.

“We’re thankful to have life, our family, the church and our community,” said Bedourian, pastor of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church.

Today, Bedourian, will preach at the Thanksgiving interfaith service at Trinitarian Congregational Church.

“Being thankful is the core of the holiday and it’s a good occasion to evaluate what we have and what we’re thankful for,” he said.

Bedourian’s parents, two brothers and two sisters still live in Syria, as well as his in-laws.

Growing up, he recalls Syria as a peaceful country with freedom for Christians to worship and attend Christian schools.

“People are killing each other and we condemn that. We don’t know when it’s going to end,” he said.

Bedourian said it is hard to read newspapers and watch the news. One of the most disturbing days came Nov. 12 when the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church was heavily damaged as a result of shelling. In the lower level of the building, the remains of Armenian Genocide victims are kept in a museum and memorial.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Bedourian, pastor at St. Gregory for two and a half years. The majority of its membership are fourth and fifth generation Armenian Americans.

Bedourian, 29, was born and raised in Kessab, Syria. He attended seminary of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Bikfaya, Lebanon. After graduating, he served as a deacon to Greece to work with the Armenian community. Bedourian was ordained to the priesthood in 2009.

Traditionally, the newest pastor in town is chosen to give the sermon at the Thanksgiving service, said the Rev. Rich Knight, pastor of Trinitarian Church.

“We’re all looking forward to hearing his message, so Karekin’s words on thankfulness will not be taken lightly,” Knight said.

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