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Magnolia Park Masons Remember Armenian Genocide

As people around the world commemorated Armenian genocide Remembrance Day on Monday, the Burbank-based Magnolia Park Lodge No. 618 Masons of California hosted a candlelight vigil to pay their respects to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who perished in what is widely viewed as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Held at the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial, the vigil was also a moment to present a $10,000 donation to the Center for Assault Treatment Services, known as CATS, which was the recipient of the funds raised through the charity poker tournament hosted by the Masonic lodge a few days prior to the vigil.

“CATS was chosen as the honoree for the donation because its victims face similar abuses and human rights violations as the victims of the Armenian genocide faced,” said Sevak Petrosyan, Worshipful Master at the masonic lodge. “They are the first line of defense for those facing abuse here in Burbank and throughout the region.”

The organization provides critical support and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Burbank.

The Magnolia Park Masonic Lodge raised $10,000 in funds for the Center for Assault Treatment Services. The check was awarded at a vigil honoring the Armenian genocide Monday.

“Both the Armenian genocide and human trafficking, abuse, sexual exploitation are grave violations of human rights and dignity, and by supporting CATS, participants of the event aimed to contribute to the fight against such atrocities,” Petrosyan told the Leader.

“Through their generosity and passion, they are helping to support an organization that provides essential services to victims of crimes against humanity, who are often among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. By supporting CATS and raising awareness of the plight of Armenians, they are taking concrete steps to promote greater compassion, understanding, and solidarity in the face of adversity,” he added.

Those attending the vigil included Magnolia Park Lodge No. 618 members, friends, family and supporters of the Armenian community, all of whom expressed a somber yet positive attitude.

“While the purpose of the vigil was to remember the victims of the genocide and pay tribute to their memory, participants also felt a sense of hope and positivity in coming together to raise awareness about the event and support a worthy cause,” Petrosyan said.

Event speakers included Petrosyan and Theresa Keshishian, a young Armenian American Entrepreneur; Catherine Menard, the architect of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial and Gina D’Aquilla, program manager at CATS.

Menard designed the memorial that served as the location of the event. A young architect, Menard’s concept was one of 17 submissions the Art Center College of Design received when considering designs for the memorial which was dedicated in honor of the centennial of the Armenian genocide in 2015.

“It is my honor to begin working with Sevak, the Masons of Southern California and the Center for Assault Treatment Services to pursue our common aspiration for a future that is truly grounded in the values of justice, tolerance and compassion,” Menard told the Leader.

At the event, attendees came together in a circle around the monument, candles in hand, to remember the Armenian genocide.

The genocide was a systematic extermination of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey, during World War I, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1.5 million Armenians and the torture of millions of others.

“Honoring the victims of the genocide is important to ensure that their memory is preserved and to raise awareness about this historical event, which is often overlooked or denied,” Petrosyan said.

First published in the April 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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