NEW YORK–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–arrived in New York’s Kennedy airport at 2 p.m. Wednesday–on the first leg of his first pontifical visit to Eastern US and Canada. He was accompanied by the Rev. Khoren Doghramajian.
Greeting His Holiness at the airport were Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian–Prelate of Eastern United States and Canada; Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Prelate of Western United States; Archbishop Souren Kataroyan–Prelate of Syria; member of the National Central Executive of the Cilician Catholicosate–Arsen Danielian; Bishop Khajag Hagopian–Locum Tenens of the Canadian Prelacy; the Very Rev. Anoushavan Tanielian–Locum Tenens of the Eastern US prelacy; Lebanese Consul General Antoine Shedid; Irene Helingen–representing New York Mayor Guiliani; Cyril Ibrahim–Spritual leader of the Coptic Church in the US; the Very Rev. Movses Jambazian–Director General of the AMAA; Chairman of the NRA Onnig Marashlian; Antranig Kasparian–representing the ARF Central Committee of Eastern US; Representatives of the ARS–Homenetmen–Hamazkayin–AYF and other organizations.
Delivering greeting addresses at the airport–Archbishop Ashjian–the representative of New York Mayor and the Lebanese Consul General welcomed the Pontiff to the eastern region of the United States and particularly New York.
Following–the Catholicos thanked the gathered for the warm reception–praising the Prelate of the Eastern Region–the Executive Council and the Armenian community of the United States–he expressed his joy of arriving in the United States on his first Pontifical visit in that part of the country. Aram I said that he was in the US to meet with everyone and he emphasized that that was going to be his mission.
He said–"Although I am here as the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia to meet with my parishioners and the faithful–I am prepared to meet all–for I do not believe that for us there are walls of division. Our Church is one–and so is our nation. Those internal disagreemen’s and emotions–which have existed within our Church and nation–will not divide our children."
The Pontiff continued saying that the Holy of Cilicia shall always work toward the improvement and advancement of the Armenian Church–as well as for the protection and strengthening of the homeland.
"It is with this spirit–with which I will begin my visit to the United States and Canada," the Pontiff concluded.
After the traditional bread-and-salt ceremony–the Catholicos addressed the gathering. He reaffirmed the Holy See’s commitment to its national mission and–in these critical times for Armenia’s–toward Karabakh’s liberation struggle.
That same evening Aram I visited New York’s St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral –where he entered accompanied by religious hymns and ceremonial traditions. There the Catholicos conducted a Holy Mass–after which Prelate Ashjian–once again welcomed the Catholicos.
Aram I–then addressed the faithful gathered and after the ceremonies–a dinner banquet in honor of the Catholicos took place at the Cathedral’s hall.
His Holiness will stay in the New York-New Jersey area for the first seven days of his visit. In New York–he will celebrate mass in Grace Episcopalian Church–where in 1883 the first Armenian mass of New York was celebrated.
From Oct. 7 to Nov. 10–His Holiness will visit the Communities in Philadelphia–Washington–Granite City–Chicago–Detroit–Providence–Boston–Montreal and Toronto. He will also have several meetings with religious and political personalities.
During the Catholicos’ stay–there will be several inter-faith–official–diplomatic and community meetings and events.
One such significant event will be Aram I’s meeting with Boston’s Greek Orthodox leader Patriarch Bartholemius.