BURBANK—His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians paid a four-day Pontifical Visit to the Western Diocese beginning on September 10. The Pontiff was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese; His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese in Washington D.C; Rev. Fr. Shahe Ananian, Assistant Editor of “Etchmiadzin” Monthly and Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian, Foreign Communications Director of the Catholicosate of All Armenians. They were warmly greeted and welcomed by Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Joseph Kanimian Esq., Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pontifical visit and Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles.
Bishop Arakel Karamian, Primate of the Diocese of Kotayk; Bishop Markos Hovhannisian, Primate of the Diocese of Gegharkunik; Rev. Fr. Vardan Navasardian, Director of the Christian Education Center of the Mother See; and the Very Rev. Fr. Anania Tsaturian Staff-bearer to His Holiness arrived on the same day and were greeted by the Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Dz. V. Yardemian, Vicar General, and Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian.
Pontiff Consecrates St. Leon Cathedral
On Saturday, September 11, at 2:30 p.m., His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians consecrated the St. Leon Cathedral in Burbank, California.
The Pontiff was assisted by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate; Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, former Primate; His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese; Archbishop Avak Asadourian, Primate of the Diocese of Iraq; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese in Washington D.C.; Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, Member of the Great House of Cilicia, , Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan, Primate of the Diocese of Canada; Bishop Ashot Mnatsakanyan, Primate of the Diocese of Egypt; Bishop Armash Nalbandian, Primate of the Diocese of Damascus; Bishop Arakel Karamyan, Primate of the Diocese of Kotayk, Armenia; His Grace Bishop Markos Hovhanissyan, Primate of the Diocese of Gegharkunik, Armenia; and Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian, Foreign Communications Director of the Catholicosate of All Armenians.
The Pontiff’s overhead canopy bearers were Grand Benefactors of the Cathedral Dr. Aramayis Paronyan, Armen Hampar, Chairman of the Diocesan Council; Gerald Turpanjian, and Jack Kalaydjian.
The Primate led the procession to the St. Leon Cathedral where he consecrated the holy altar. According to the traditions of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, The Primate and guest Archbishops from around the world consecrated the cross-stones placed on the columns of the Cathedral in the name of each of the Evangelists.
The following Ecumenical guests were present during the consecration: Metropolitan Gerasimos from the Greek Orthodox Church; the Very Rev. Fr. John Bakas from the Greek Orthodox Church; Bishop Manuel Batakian from the Armenian Catholic Church; Fr. Armenag Bedrossian from the Armenian Catholic Church; Rev. Kathy Black from Claremont School of Theology; the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; Rev. Albert Cohen from the Southern California Ecumenical Council; Rev. Gwynne Guilbord from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; Rev. John Huber from the Lutheran Church; Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Los Angeles Rev. Leonard Jackson; Bishop Dean Nelson from the Southwest California Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church; Rev. Jan Olav Flaaten from the Arizona Ecumenical Council; Rev. Fernando Santillana; His Grace Bishop Serapion from the Coptic Church; the Very Rev. Fr. A. Shara from St. Ephrim Syriac Church; the Right Rev. Fr. Alexei Smith from the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Br. Shakeel Syed from the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California; Pastor George Terian from the Armenian Evangelical Union and His Grace Bishop Maxim from the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Ambassador Tatoul Markaryan, joined Consul General Grigor Hovhannissian and Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles were among the distinguished guests present during the consecration. Other distinguished guests included Berge Setrakian, President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Dn. Dr. Varoujan Altebarmakian and James Kalustian, Members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, Oscar Tatossian, Diocesan Council Chairman of the Eastern Diocese, Ara Boyajian, Diocesan Council Chairman of the Diocese of Canada.
By the organization of Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, Pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Toronto, Canada, 20 parishioners arrived in Burbank to witness the consecration. Ten parishioners of St. Apkar Armenian Church in Arizona witnessed the consecration by the efforts of Rev. Fr. Zacharia Saribekyan, Pastor of St. Apkar and twelve parishioners joined Fr. Serop Azarian from the Armenian Church in Las Vegas.
Having accepted the invitation of the Primate, the following governmental officials were present during the consecration. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Ara Najarian, Mayor of Glendale; Frank Quintero, Member of the Glendale City Council; Jess Talamantes, Vice Mayor of Burbank; Dennis Zine, Member of the Los Angeles City Council; Paul Krekorian, Member Los Angeles City Council; Rita Hadjimanoukian representing Los Angles County Board Supervisor Michael Antonivich; Wendy Greuel, Controller of the City of Los Angeles; Leroy Baca, Sheiff of the County of Los Angeles; Mike Gatto, Assemblyman of the 43rd District; Kevin de Leon, Member of the Assembly with Representative Baydsar Thomasian and Avak Keotahian; Anthony Portantino, Member of the Assembly; His Excellency Jacob Dayan, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, Laura Friedman, Member of the Glendale City Council; Carol Liu, State Senator with Joan Agajanian Quinn; Congressman Brad Sherman, Representative of the House of Represetatives, Carmen A. Trutanich, Los Angeles City Attorney; David Weave, Member of the Glendale City Council and Ron Hartwig, Vice President of The Getty Museum.
In his remarks, the Primate expressed his appreciation to the Pontiff for bestowing upon the faithful of the Western Diocese the gift of his Pontifical visit.
In his spiritual message, the Pontiff reflected on the importance of the Feast Day of the Holy Cross and the immense leadership of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
Following the spiritual message of His Holiness Karekin II, the Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles approached the holy altar and accepted the consecrated cross stone in honor and in memory of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
Amidst the jubilant voices of the Khachadourian Choir led by Dn. Stepan Gozumian, the Pontiff exited the St. Leon Cathedral with a procession while bestowing Pontifical blessings to the faithful.
Reception Hosted by and Mrs. Armen and Nora Hampar
On Saturday, September 11, at 5 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. Armen and Nora Hampar hosted a private reception on the occasion of the consecration at the Kalaydjian Hall of the Western Diocese.
The Primate expressed his sincere gratitude from the Catholicos on the joyous occasion of his fourth Pontifical visit to the Western Diocese. Moreover, he reflected on the arduous and momentous task of completing the St. Leon Cathedral and expressed his gratitude to each and every participant in the God-pleasing project.
Diocesan Archbishops from around the world expressed their gratitude to His Holiness and congratulated the Primate on the significant occasion.
Pontifical Divine Liturgy
On Sunday, September 12, on the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khatchveradz), Karekin II celebrated the Divine Liturgy inside the St. Leon Cathedral of the Western Diocese.
During the service, His Holiness blessed the 150 Junior Godfathers of the St. Leon Cathedral. In his spiritual message, the Pontiff reflected on the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Pontiff Blesses Association of Istanbul-Armenians Center
Following the service, His Holiness accompanied by his entourage and the high-ranking members of the clergy departed to the Association of Istanbul-Armenians Center in Winnetka where the Pontiff would preside over the official opening and blessing of the Association of Istanbul-Armenians Center.
They were warmly greeted by Archpriest Fr. Shnork Demirjian, Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, and Simon Acilacoglu, Chairman of the Association of Istabul-Armenians.
The Pontiff blessed the center and extended his blessings to the members of the association.
Grand Banquet at Universal Hilton Hotel
A Grand Gala Banquet honoring His Holiness was held on Sunday, September 12, at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City. Joseph Kanimian Esq., Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pontifical visit was the Master of Ceremonies during the memorable evening.
Cindy Norian, Chairlady of the Pontifical Banquet Committee offered her welcoming remarks to His Holiness, his accompanying entourage, high-ranking clergy, ecumenical and governmental officials.
In recognition of the immense support of Dr. and Mrs. Aramayis Paronyan and Natella Lalabekyan-Paronyan, Mr. and Mrs. Saro Marukian, Mr. and Mrs. Raffi Marukian, and John Tajirian, to the Western Diocese and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II bestowed upon them the St. Gregory the Illuminator medal. The medal is the highest honor awarded by the Catholicos.
Mr. and Mrs. Sinan Sinanian, and Mrs. Joseph and Karine Kanimian, Mr. and Mrs. Khoren Salmassian, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Simonian, Dn. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Dn. and Mrs. Rod and Rebecca Jorjorian, and Mrs. Ishkhan and Gayane Tatoulian were honored with the St. Nerses the Graceful (Shnorhali) medal for the dedicated services rendered to the Western Diocese and the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa offered his appreciation to His Holiness Karekin II for his kind visit and to the Primate for the gracious invitation. The Mayor reflected on the invaluable service of the Armenian-American community to the livelihood of the Great City of Los Angeles.
Armen Hampar, Chairman of the Diocesan Council expressed his gratitude to His Holiness and offered a toast to his health.
Congressman Brad Sherman, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Ambassador Tatoul Markaryan, Bishop Serapion also welcomed His Holiness with sincere wishes and offered their heartfelt congratulations.
The Primate also expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Karekin II for bestowing the faithful of the Western Diocese with his kind and heart-warming visit. He wished the Pontiff a long and prosperous life and commended the Benefactors, Godfathers and the entire faithful of the Western Diocese for the magnificent achievement. ‘
The banquet concluded with a closing prayer by the Pontiff.
Going Away Reception Hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian
On September 13, at 10:00 a.m., a special reception hosted by and Mrs. Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian was held at the Universal Hilton Hotel.
The Primate offered his welcoming remarks to the distinguished guests and especially thanked and Mrs. Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian for graciously hosting the reception.
The Pontiff informed the guests about current and future programs of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and answered the questions posed by the guests.
The Primate expressed his gratitude to His Holiness, his accompanying entourage, the high-ranking clergymen, Diocesan clergy, Chairman of the Diocesan Council, ecumenical guests, governmental officials, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pontifical visit, Chairman of the Steering Committee and every member of every committee for making the fourth Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians a huge success.
Departure to the Mother See
Joseph Kanimian Esq. and Consul General Grigor Hovhannissian escorted the Pontiff and his accompanying entourage to the Los Angeles International Airport after which they departed to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin on September 13, 2010.