In 1940, the Congregation for Oriental Churches under the direction of His Eminence Cardinal Gregory Agagianian, sent Father Sahag Gokian as minister to the Armenian Catholic Community in Boston. Initially, he resided at St. Patrick’s, a local seminary. A few months after his arrival in Boston, he rented an apartment in the Watertown area, which he proceeded to convert to a small chapel, which he dedicated to the Holy Cross. Thus began Father Gokian’s pastoral life with the Armenian Catholics in Boston. In response to his talents and his engaging sermons, he attracted a large number of the faithful. As a result, Father Sahag was obliged to find a large place to accommodate his audience. Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church was the most convenient location to officiate the dominical liturgy.
In 1951, Father Sahag Gokian was elected as Patriarchal Vicar and moved to Beirut, Lebanon. Father Mikael Akian replaced him as the new Pastor to the Armenian Catholics of Boston, and Father Ghougas Arakelian followed him. Both Father Akian and Father Arakelian were members of the Mekhitarist Fathers Congregation of Vienna.
In 1951, His Eminence Cardinal Gregory Peter XV, Catholicos Patriarch of all Armenian catholics of Cilicia, visited Cardinal Richard Cushing the Archbishop of Boston, at his request. During the joyful days of Cardinal Agagianian’s visit to Boston, the need for a new church for the
Armenian Catholics was mentioned. Cardinal Cushing, who loved the Armenians and their inspiring history, offered his financial support and, with Father Ghougas Arakelian, bought, in 1954, a new building in Harvard Square, in Cambridge, for the Armenian Catholics. The building needed renovation. Renowned artist Ariel Ajemian decorated the church with his huge and inspiring paintings, one representing the Virgin Mary, the second the fourteen stations of the Holy Cross. These paintings became a source of spiritual devotion for the Armenian Catholic parishioners. In 1956, Cardinal Cushing consecrated the new church.
The mission of the Armenian Catholic church in Boston was and is today to teach the Armenian language, Armenian liturgy and culture to Americans of Armenian descent.
In1962, Father Ghougas Arakelian bought, again with the help and direction of Cardinal Cushing, a parcel of land on the seashore of Cape Cod, where he built dormitories, classrooms, swimming pools and other accommodations to develop a summer school and campground for children between the ages of 6 and 13. Priests, teachers and other instructors helped the children to pursue an Armenian education. The summer camp was in operation for the next twenty-six years.
This youth center was used not only by children who resided in and around Boston but also by young Armenians from Canada, France, Italy and other European countries all of whom enjoyed the benefits of this summer camp and learning center.
In 1989, the summer camp was closed because of the declining health of Father Ghougas, known fondly as Father Luke. Father Luke died in 1990 with the stomach crisis caused by the sacrifices he made during his entire life. Father Luke with all these success he used to live and sleep in a dark closed without bed.
In 1990, following the death of Father Ghougas Arakelian, Father Boghos Kojanian came to Boston to serve as Pastor to the local Armenian Catholics. Father Boghos worked to organize the church and established a parish Council and Ladies’ Guild to continue pastoral work in the community. Father Kojanian, aware of the inconvenient parking and constant noises of the surrounding area, planned for a new location with improved facilities to better conduct church activities. While he was developing plans for a new parish church, he was elected, in 1993, as Abbot General to the Mekhitarist Fathers of Vienna. Father Raphael Andonian, from the Mekhitarist Fathers of Venice succeeded Father Kojanian as the new pastor.
Father Raphael Andonian continued the project of his predecessor searching for a new locale
to build the parish church. After many consultations with Cardinal Bernard Law, another high-ranking Cardinal who loved the Armenians in Boston, and with his financial support, Father Andonian secured ownership of the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic church in Harvard Square, Cambridge.
Father Andonian along with the Parish Council and Ladies’ Guild exhibited superb financial acumen and sold the church for $ 1.7 million. With a portion of the proceeds, in 1995, they bought a large property on Lexington Street in the city of Belmont, Massachusetts, where construction of a new Holy Cross church began. The new church was designed with Armenian style and architecture. The architect was Yervant Nahighian, whom the Ardzivian Congregation of Bzommar selected to design a new church in Los Angeles. Because of several complicated factors the project of a new church in Los Angeles remained in suspense for long years. Mr. Nahighian used his plans with certain modifications to construct the new church in Boston. The Palanjian Brother’s Company executed the project. Mr. and Mrs. Atinisian became the sponsors of this Church with a donation of $ 200.000.
On July 30, 1995, the Armenian Catholic Community putted the cornerstone of the new Church.
On September 14, 1997, His Beatitude John Peter XVIII Kasparian, Catholicos Patriarch of all
Armenian catholics of Cilicia, consecrated the new Holy Cross Armenian Catholic church in Boston.
On September 16, 2007, the Armenian Community celebrated with enthusiasm and joy the ten year anniversary of Holy Cross Church. At that happy occasion, they inaugurated the installation of a bronze statue of Mekhitar Sepastatsy by the renowned artist Arto Tchakmakian, in the courtyard of the church. His Excellency Bishop Manuel Batakian, Bishop of the U.S. and Canada, held the installation ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. Garbis Barsoumian were the benefactors of the statue.
Father Raphael Andonian assisted by his active Parish Council, Ladies’ Guild and youth group, continues to work with dedication for the benefit of the church and the Armenian Catholics community in the Boston area. In 1994, Holy Cross issued the inaugural issue of a periodic journal called” Endanik” Family and it has been published continuously for the last 14 years.