MONTREAL—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia continued his pontifical visit to Canada by attending a special unveiling ceremony of a monument dedicated to the arrival of the first Lebanese in Montreal over 125 years ago at Park Marcelin-Wilson on the afternoon of June 18.
Following the ceremony, His Holiness met with the Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism for a brief talk. The Catholicos and Minister Kenney have had the opportunity to meet on a previous occasion and have discussed several subjects, including the state of affairs of Canadian Armenians.
The Catholicos then attended the “Nor Dsaghig” children’s choir concert held in honor of the Armenian Catholicosate’s Zarehian Seminary in Bikfaya, Lebanon, at the Sourp Hagop Armenian Church.
The choir performed more than ten songs under the direction of Elizabeth Harboyan and was accompanied by Maria Andonian on the organ. The “Nor Dsaghig” children’s Sourp Hagop church choir was founded in 2006 and has around 40 members who meet every Friday to practice and learn spiritual and national hymns and songs.
At the end of the event, the Catholicos decorated Elizabeth Harboyan with “St. Mesrob Mashdots” medal of the Catholicosate for her dedication to Armenian music and culture. Aram I closed the ceremony with a few words of encouragement and noted how impressive and important it is for children to continue to learn and perform Armenian songs, as they are our future and the future of the Armenian Nation.
During his pontifical visit to Montreal, Aram I held several gatherings with the Armenian community and local ecumenical leaders.
He began the weekend with a lunch meeting with ecumenical members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Baptist Church, Catholic Church, Evangelical Church, so name a few, at the Armenian Prelacy of Canada on June 19.
On the same evening, the Catholicos blessed the new granite stone-cross (khatchkar) that was re-erected at the Armenian Prelacy of Canada in memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
The first monument, a “douf” cross on a grey granite slab, was erected during the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, when remains from victims of the Genocide taken from the Deir Zor desert were put to rest. However, due to extreme weather conditions, the monument had to be replaced, but the same design and base were kept.
Following the ceremony, the Catholicos met with more than 200 representatives and members of community organizations from Montreal and Laval over dinner at the Montreal Armenian Community Center’s Aharonian Hall.
At the onset of the evening, Rev. Father Karnig Koyounian, Pastor of Sourp Hagop Church, raised his glass to toast the re-election of Canadian Prelate Archbishop Khajag Hagopian and congratulated the 15-year anniversary of the appointment of Aram I as Catholicos.
Prelacy Executive Council Chairperson, Dr. Jean Arakelian officially opened the night with welcoming remarks and Raffi Donabedian, chairman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of Canada, spoke on behalf of the representatives and members of the sister organizations present at the banquet.
During the evening, the Catholicos noted that he “strongly believed in dialogue, of listening as well as speaking, of being straightforward and direct with each other,” and emphasized that “it is only with dialogue that we can build a bright and successful future together.”
Accordingly, the Catholicos encouraged attendants to feel free and ask questions they felt were pertinent, and for close to an hour, an open discussion with His Holiness took place about a variety of topics, from the important role women play in our society to Armenian youth and Faith.
The evening came to an end with a special blessing by the Catholicos and the joint rendition of the traditional song of the Catholicosate, “Cilicia.”
On Sunday, June 20, the Catholicos presided over Divine Liturgy at Sourp Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church.
Following Divine Liturgy, the Catholicos, along with Archbishops Hagopian, Sebouh Sarkissian and Souren Kataroyan, attended the special ground-breaking ceremony for a monument dedicated to the Armenian Genocide in Laval.
With more than 100 members of the Armenian community, as well as local politicians from the municipal, provincial and federal levels were present for this historic event; His Holiness opened the ceremony with our Lord’s Prayer.
The monument, which is also dedicated to all crimes against humanity, was made possible by the efforts of the Armenian National Committee of Laval and the City of Laval, under Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and his team. The monument is scheduled to be erected on April 24, 2011.
The Catholicos left soon thereafter to attend the Interfaith Summit in Winnipeg and will continue his pontifical visit in Toronto on June 24, 2010.