A Village Remembered: The Armenians of Habousi - The Compatriotic Union of Habousi

Chapter 24:

The Holy Cross Church of Lawrence

Habousetzies contributed greatly to the establishment and the well being of the Holy Cross Church of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The Lawrence Armenian community was organized in December 1, 1912. More than hundred Armenians gathered together and elected a council. Although organized, the community didn’t have a church in which to conduct services. Until 1920, services were held in the chapel at Garden Street, and then in Grace Church at Jackson Street on Sunday afternoons.

The Armenians of Lowell established St. Vartanants Church in 1916. Their pastors took on the religious care of Lawrence Armenians according to arrangements made by the Diocese of the Armenian Church.

But the community needed its own church. Finally, on November 1, 1923, the council formed a sixteen-member Construction Committee entrusted to find a church or built a new one in a good location. After a lengthy search, the Committee decided to put up a new church, and purchased a piece of land on November 27, 1927.

In 1931, thanks to the devotion and generosity of community members, the church was publicly inaugurated by Fr. Ghevont Martougesian.
On August 28, 1932, Arch. Ghevont Tourian, the Primate of the Armenian Church, anointed the cornerstone.

Even though the anointment was a major step forward, the construction came to a halt due to the 1929 stock crash and the economic crisis of 1933.

As soon as conditions were improved, community members restarted the construction and finally, on June 21, 1941, the church was anointed by Arch. Karekin Hovsepiants, Primate of the Armenian Church.

The Lawrence Armenian community celebrated yet another achievement on February 28, 1944—the last mortgage payment on the church which had cost $79,000.

The Holy Cross Church had either visiting or permanent pastors until July 17, 1955. The last permanent pastor was Deacon Oshagan Minasian who retired upon an accident. Afterwards, instructed by Arch. Mampre Kalfayan, Primate of the Armenian Church, pastors from Lowell and Haverhill visited the church for sermons every other two weeks.

The church had close to one hundred dues-paying members, but 1,500 followers regularly contributed to its well being.

A Parish Council of dedicated members, together with the Church-Loving Women’s Union and active young Armenians, took good care of the church.
Worthy of mention also are the church choir and the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America. Both contributed greatly.

Following is a list of the pastors:
Deacon Oshagan Minassian — 1953-July 1955.
Fr. Garen Gedanian (visiting pastor) — 1955-1957
Rev. Fr. Hrant Khachadourian (visiting pastor) — 1955-1957
Fr. Vartan Avakian — 1957-1973.
Rev. Fr. Vazken Keshishian — 1974-1979.
Fr. Papken Maksoudian (visiting pastor) — 1979–1981
Rev. Fr. Yeghishe Kezirian (visiting pastor)— 1979–1981
Rev. Fr. Bared Yeretsian — 1981-1985.
Fr. Zenob Nalbandian — 1985 to present.