Seta Sahinyan Yavru-Sakuk was born in Istanbul, Turkey, to Arsaluys Sahinyan and the late Kegam Sahinyan on February 10, 1953. She began her studies at the Armenian Mekhitarian Varjaran, continued at the Osterreichische Schule – Austrian High School, graduating from the Science Division, and took private art lessons to enrich her natural talent for oil painting. She later received a certificate of proficiency in the French language in France, and earned a degree from Rockland Community College in Graphic and Interior Design in Suffern, NY.
Seta Sahinyan Yavru-Sakuk grew up in a tradition Armenian home. She learned and developed a deep filial love and reverence for the Armenian Apostolic Church, culture and heritage from her fatherly and motherly home. Deeply devoted to their faith, strengthening Armenian education, and philanthropic work, Kegam and Arsaluys Sahinyan instilled their strong values into their children, Seta and Ani.
Seta witnessed her parents’ devotion to the Armenian Church and pride in the Armenian identity, which infused her consciousness. She was accustomed to attending church on Sundays, observing all Armenian Apostolic rites and canons with her family, attending Armenian elementary school and thus, began her involvement with Armenian causes as a youngster. Her sister Ani Capan recalls how Seta gave up her summer vacations to help in an Armenian camp for disadvantaged children.
Following her marriage in Istanbul and a brief stay in France, Seta and her family moved to the United Sates in 1975 and settled in Fort Lee, New Jersey area. An outstanding mother, wife, daughter and sister, Seta was devoted to and tenderly loved her family, especially her two children Nadine and Alex. Just as she was raised, Seta instilled her love for the Armenian Church and Heritage into her children. She enrolled them in the Armenian School at St. Thomas and became involved in the school and church.
For over 30 years, Seta Sahinyan Yavru-Sakuk was a precious gift and beloved by everyone at St. Thomas Armenian Church. It was her second home. She demonstrated an unparalleled generosity of self and spirit at St. Thomas and the Kirikian Armenian School. An incredibly hard-working person, she modestly and wholeheartedly devoted herself to making sure that every necessary project was undertaken and completed successfully for the betterment of the Armenian Church and School.
Seta served eight years on the St. Thomas Parish Council and was Recording Secretary. She served the Kirikian Armenian School for 26 years and was its Executive Committee Chairman and a teacher. Seta was also a St. Thomas Choir member, Vice-Chairman of the Cultural Committee, NOR TAR layout Artist/Graphic Designer, and took charge of the NOR TAR fundraising and advertising. She also served on the Rental Committee, had been a Women’s Guild member, ACYOA Advisor, and chaired many New Year’s Eve and Palm Sunday dinners, the Cotillion, and numerous cultural events. She was involved in every Kef Night, Family Night, Bazaar, Picnic, mailing, renovation and every single church function or project imaginable.
Using her artistic talent, Seta designed and coordinated the construction of five beautiful stained glass windows at St. Thomas. She also designed the Kirikian Armenian School emblem, and the logo for the St. Thomas Armenian Church magazine, the NOR TAR. For her outstanding service and dedicated, Seta received the St. Thomas Award in April 2000, and the Kirikian Armenian School Award in January 1991.
Aside from St. Thomas, Seta was also involved with lending her artistic talent to the ornamentation of publications issued by the Armenian Language Lab and Resource Center (ALLARC) at the Diocese. In 1984, she designed all the graphic letters for a Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten manual entitled “Mezi Hamar”, a book, which is still used today by our Armenian elementary school students throughout all Diocesan Armenian Schools. In 2004, she also designed and compiled a wonderful arts and crafts book for children called “A Trip To My Armenian Roots,” full of hands-on activities teaching Armenian faith, cultural and historical events. Seta had also been a founding committee member of the Shushi Dance Ensemble.
Seta passed away into her heavenly rest on Tuesday, September 11, 2007, at the age of 54. Her mother, Arsaluys Sahinyan, daughter Nadine and her husband Jirair Mekjian, son Alex and his wife Laura, and sister Ani and her husband Dr. Levon Capan, survive her.
Her legacy lives on in her children, Nadine and Alex, in all the Armenian school children she taught through the years and the indelible mark she left on St. Thomas.
Seta was exceptional. Elegant, accomplished, and diligent, she was a beautiful person throughout. She is irreplaceable in the lives of her family members, for those at St. Thomas and to the Armenian community. The memory of her sweet face and graceful spirit will never fade, but will radiate in our her hearts and minds forever.
Seta Sahinyan Yavru-Sakuk was a person who “…pleased God and was loved by God and, while living among sinners, was taken up by God…” so that her innocence and faith would not be defiled by the wickedness of this materialistic, immoral and mercilless world — what is referred to as “humankind”. She walked in the path of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Nation – two percepts that she repeatedly emphasized in her words and deeds that were inseparably intertwined with each other.
Seta had grasped what it meant to be an Armenian. It was, just like the yoke of Christ, expensive — you had to pay a price for it. Though, paradoxically, it was “light and affable,” its reward was dining with Christ at His royal table, in His eternal kingdom. Consequently, she was ineffably proud of her national and spiritual identity.
Seta was immensely cognizant of the fact that every Armenian should, within their limits, put their contribution into the treasury of the Armenian Church and Nation to perpetuate them. And she did it abundantly and Generously through her riches and time, with unconditional faith and love towards God. “Otherwise,” she would say, “how else is the Armenian Church going to survive?”
In her belief and experience, the survival of the Armenian Church meant the survival of the 3000 year-old glorious Armenian Nation. One had to penetrate the spirit of Armenian history in order to decipher and appreciate that reality. And she had immersed herself into it through her analytical and sound reasoning, deep understanding and unmatched dedication.
Seta loved her fellow Armenians, even if they hurt her. She loved them, because every Armenian was made in the image of God; every Armenian was a child of our ancestors Hayk and St. Vartan; and every Armenian belonged to the one and the same Armenian family, the Nation.
I witnessed her exemplary lifestyle for almost two decades and was inspired by it.
She did carry her cross in this world, just like our Eternal Shepherd and Captain of our Salvation, Christ, did. She carried it as Christ had said: “If you are my daughter take your cross and follow me.” She did it for her children, she did it for the image and honor of the Armenian family and she did it for Christ. As she was walking with her cross on her back bleeding, in pain and thirsty, Christ saw her and recognized His daughter and took her in His bosom with kisses, and they started walking together towards His eternal kingdom, with a host of angels and saints… she, in His bosom… together…
Very Rev. Fr. Papken Anoushian, Pastor
August 8, 2008
The Book of Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-15
These verses are found in the 28th Book fo the Old Testament of the Holy Bible
(The Armenian Version)
THE PREMATURE DEATH OF THE VIRTUOUS PERSON
7. But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.
8. For old age is not honored for lenght of time, or measured by number of years;
9. but wisdom is equal to gray hair and a blameless life is equal to a ripe old age.
10. There were some who pleased God and were loved by him, and while living among sinners were taken up.
11. They were taken up so that evil might not change their understanding or guile deceive their souls.
12. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
13. Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years;
14. for their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness.
15. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, or take such a thing to heart, that God’s grace and mercy are with His elect, and that He watches over His holy ones.
(The Jerusalem Bible, 1968)