PHILADELPHIA–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia arrived in Philadelphia Tuesday on the second week of his first pontifical visit to the East Coast and Canada parishes.
The Catholicos was accompanied by Eastern US and Canada Prelate Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian–Canada Locum Tenens Bishop Khajag Hagopian–Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Right Rev. Anoushavan Danielian and Deacon Khoren Doghramdjian–the Catholicos Scepter Bearer.
The Catholicos was greeted by parishioners and community members at the St. Gregory the Illuminator church in Philadelphia–where following vespers–he gave his first sermon to this mid-Atlantic region community.
In his remarks–the Catholicos emphasized the importance of the church in people’s daily life.
On Wednesday–the Catholicos began his day with a meeting with Cardinal Bevelaka of Philadelphia–during which relations between the Armenian and Catholic churches were discussed–with an emphasis on strengthening those ties and further cooperation between the two churches.
The Catholicos also met with Philadelphia mayor Edward Randall–following which he was the guest of honor at a special reception at Philadelphia’s historic city hall. Gifts were exchanged between the pontiff and the mayor.
On the same day–the Catholicos and his entourage visited the National Archives center in Philadelphia–where ancient Armenian man’scripts were shown to the pontiff.
The Catholicos also met with a group of US representatives and political officials–following which his entourage and he visited the Immaculate Conception Armenian Sisters Academy of Philadelphia. Aram I was warmly greeted at the academy where a special cultural program was staged by the students.
During a meeting with the Armenian youth of Philadelphia–the Catholicos discussed a series of issues facing the Armenian Church and the youth–and during a discussion period–he fielded questions from the audience.
On Wednesday evening–a banquet was held honoring the Catholicos during which prelates Ashjian and Mardirossian–as well as Philadelphia parish priest Rev. Nerses Manougian and members of the church board of trustees and Eastern US and Canada Prelacy Executive Council addressed the crowd.
In his closing remarks–the Catholicos emphasized the importance of participating in community activities–American society and the preservation of our Armenian reality.
The Catholicos’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love received wide attention from the local print and broadcast media. Mayor Randall declared October 8 "His Holiness Catholicos Aram I Day" in Philadelphia.
The pontiff and his entourage left for Washington Thursday.