GLENDALE–Upon arriving in Los Angeles to preside over celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia met with community members and directed his first address following Vespers at St. Mary’s Armenian Church on Wednesday evening.
The church was filled to capacity by parishioners and community leaders–as the Catholicos entered the church under the traditional baldaquin–accompanied by Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Eastern US and Canada Prelate Arch. Oshagan Choloyan–Chairman of the Western Prelacy Religious Council–Right Rev. Papken Charian–the Catholicos’ Scepter Bearer Very Rev. Krikor Chiftjian–Western Primate Arch. Vatche Hovsepian–as well as reverend clergy from the area and members of the Prelacy Executive Council. Also present were Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian and community organizational leaders.
The Homenetmen’scouts greeted the Catholicos and his entourage at the entrance of the church.
Attending the Vespers service were religious leaders of the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical churches–as well as the representatives of the Coptic Orthodox community of Los Angeles and members of the Glendale City Council.
Following the Vespers–Bishop Mardirossian welcomed the Catholicos to California–on behalf of the Western Prelacy community and explained that the pontiff’s visit was joyous occasion–since he would be presiding over celebrations marking 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion. The importance of the 1700th anniversary was brought to light–the Prelate explained–by national and religious leaders more than five years ago. Bishop Mardirossian added that the celebrations of the 1700th anniversary came as a directive from religious leaders and are to span over years–before official celebrations kick off in 2001.
The Prelate added that the presence of the Western Primate and the representatives of the Armenian government were an indication of the unity surrounding the celebrations and the Armenian church.
In his first address to the California community–Aram I emphasized the importance of turning the 1700th celebrations into a national reawakening for the Armenian people.
Following the Vespers and the Catholicosal Sermon–the community had an opportunity to meet with Pontiff.
On Thursday morning–the Catholicos met with more than 700 Prelacy Armenian School students at the Crucifixion and Resurrection Hall at Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Prior to Aram I’s remarks–a presentation was made of a "The Crucifixion," a panoramic painting by Polish master Jan Styka that was acclaimed "an inspiring work of art" by Pope John Paul II. Its companion painting Robert Clarke’s "The Resurrection" was also discussed for the students by Forest Lawn officials.
Students from Alex Pilibos–Ferrahian–Mesrobian–Chamlian and Ari Guiragos Minassian were on hand to receive His Holiness’ message.
The program was commenced by remarks from Prelate Mardirossian–after whom–the Catholicos made his pontifical statemen’s to the youth.
Aram I presided over celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion Thursday evening at the Alex Theatre in Glendale–after meeting with representatives of World Vision charitable organization.