ENCINO–More than 1,500 community members turned out at the Holy Martyrs Armenian church to welcome His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia to the Southland.
The Catholicos is in Los Angeles to attend a banquet Saturday marking the 100th airlift of the United Armenian Fund and will be joined by President Robert Kocharian–His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s and benefactor Kirk Kerkorian.
The baldaquin entered the Holy Martyrs compound and–following the traditional blessing of bread and salt–the Catholicos and his entourage entered the church for a Mass. Accompanying the Catholicos were his scepter bearer Deacon Vruyr Demirchian and Prelate of Perya (Syria) Archbishop Souren Kataroyan. Joining his entourage here were Archbishop Goriun Babian–prelate of the Iran-India (Southern Iran) prelacy and Arch. Sempat Lepedjian.
The Catholicos arrived at Los Angeles International airport at 1 p.m. Thursday and was greeted at the plane by Western Prelate Arch. Moushegh Mardirossian; Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles–Armen Melkonian; member of the Catholicosate Central Executive Council Arsen Danielian; Chairman of the Western Prelacy Executive Council Vatche Madenlian–Chairman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Hovig Saliba; Executive Director of the United Armenian Fund Harut Sassounian–members of the UAF 100th airlift celebration banquet Savey Tufenkian and Hacob Shirvanian. Present at the airport were Western Primate Arch. Vatche Hovsepian–Father Raphael Minassian of the Catholic community as well as some 100 community leaders representing various organizations.
Following the Mass–the Catholicos and his entourage went to the adjacent Avedissian hall where the pontiff greeted the flock gathered to welcome his arrival to Los Angeles. Present at the gathering were Consul of Armenia Edward Taranian; Consul General of Lebanon Jibran Soufan; ARF Central Committee members; members of the Prelacy religious and executive councils–as well as all prelacy clerics.
In his welcoming remarks to the Catholicos–Prelate Mardirossian stressed the historic significance of the Catholicos visit to Los Angeles and announced that he would be joining the president and the Catholicos of All Armenia’s for the upcoming UAF banquet.
The prelate praised the Catholicos for his leadership of the Holy See of Cilcia–stressing the pontiff’s contributions to advancing the mission of the Catholicosate.
In his remarks–the Catholicos blessed the Southland community–praising the important and significant role it plays in the national reality.
The pontiff also called on the community to leave behind all past animosity and work toward national unity keeping in mind the vital bridge linking Armenia–Karabakh and the Diaspora.
The Catholicos also welcomed Lebanese Consul General Soufan and expressed his remarks in French to the visiting diplomat.
In conclusion the Catholicos also emphasized the important role of religion in the lives of Armenia’s–and outlined the activities of the Cilician See in advancing religious beliefs in Armenian throughout the world.