Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia visits Eastern US Armenian Communities

NEW YORK—Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Armenian Prelacy, has announced with great anticipation the visit of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia to Armenian communities on the east coast of the United States. 

“At this time of turmoil internationally and in Armenia, Vehapar is taking this long journey to bring his message of faith and hope, and also to express his great support to Artsakh and its brave people,” the Prelate stated. 

The Catholicos arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., on Monday, November 6, and will remain until Tuesday, November 21, when he will depart from New York’s JFK Airport. His schedule is packed with welcoming Hrashapar services, visits, lectures and meetings with religious, humanitarian and governmental leaders.  

In the nation’s capital, the Catholicos will give the opening prayer in the U.S. Congress on Thursday, November 9, pay visits to the Lebanese and Armenian embassies, present a lecture at George Washington University on Friday, November 10, and conduct a youth forum on Saturday, November 11. On Sunday, November 12, he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at Soorp Khatch Church in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Catholicos Aram I will then visit the church communities of Philadelphia, including the Armenian Sisters’ Academy; New Jersey, including the Armenian Missionary Association of America and the Hovnanian School; Troy, New York; New Britain, Connecticut; and New York City, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

The Powerful 24 Translations

On Saturday, November 18, there will be a unique and profound ecumenical service at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, honoring the 850th anniversary of St. Nerses Shnorhali, a renowned priest, poet and musician. His legendary and holy “I Confess in Faith” will be recited in 24 languages during the Ecumenical Service, followed by a fellowship hour in the church hall and a youth conference at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York.

On Sunday, November 19, Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral with the Catholicos, delivering the homily. A Thanksgiving gala banquet will follow at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, with a reception at 2 p.m. and a luncheon at 3 p.m. 

The trip will conclude with several board meetings at the Armenian Prelacy with the Karagheusian Foundation, the Armenian Medical Fund Board, the Near East Foundation Board and with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, as well as with a visit to St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

Born in Beirut in 1947, Catholicos Aram I was consecrated leader of the Great House of Cilicia in 1995. His extensive educational background includes studies at the American University of Beirut, the Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, England’s Oxford University and New York’s Fordham University, where he earned two master’s degrees and a Doctorate of Philosophy.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia

A prolific writer of many articles and books in Armenian, English and French, he was an early advocate of the international ecumenical movement. A multi-year member of the World Council of Churches, he is currently one of its eight presidents and one of the founding members of the Middle East Council of Churches, serving as its president since 2007.

The Catholicos first visited the Eastern Prelacy in 1997. This was followed by visits in 2001 for the 1700th anniversary of Christian Armenia; 2005 for the 75th anniversary of the Cilician See’s Theological Seminary; 2012 for a Pontifical visit; 2015 for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; and 2016 for the 20th anniversary of his spiritual leadership as Catholicos.

A Commissioned Trip to Artsakh Refugees

The Eastern Prelacy Prelate, Archbishop Tanielian, recently returned from a trip to Armenia, with a group commissioned by Catholicos Aram I. The group also included Bishop Donoyan, Jirair Habibian of the Prelacy of the Arab Gulf Countries, and Hagop Lousararian, member of the Executive Council of the Lebanon Prelacy.

The group had meetings with Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and refugees from Artsakh in several provinces, especially among the 40,000 refugees in the Kotayk province, giving them cash donations.

Archbishop Tanielian pointed out that Kotayk is especially unique in that it has no borders with any neighboring countries.

His Eminence called the trip to the Artsakh refugees “emotionally devastating. Not only have they lost their homes, schools, churches and been cut off from their ancestral land, but they cannot visit the tombs of their loved ones. And now they don’t know what the future holds. This is a renewal of the Genocide.”

Regarding the current trip of Catholicos Aram I to the eastern U.S. communities, Archbishop Tanielian stated, “The presence of Catholicos Aram I in this current situation will bring us, especially the young generation, new hope and faith in our community at large, as well as a new understanding of the Diasporan role in pan-Armenian advancement.”

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