LOS ANGELES—On behalf of the Western Prelacy family of clergy, Representative Assembly members, Religious and Executive Councils, committees, and faithful, with joyful hearts we welcome our beloved Pontiff, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, who honors us with this sixth visit since his election and consecration twenty-one years ago. Without a doubt, September 29 to October 4, 2016, will forever be remembered as a momentous time in the annals of our history.
This latest visit is notable and distinctive in that it offers our community the unique and blessed opportunity to collectively celebrate and honor His Holiness Aram I’s worthy and lifelong legacy of service. When His Holiness was consecrated at the Mother Cathedral in Antelias on July 1st, 1995, he vowed and assumed the mighty responsibility of keeping ablaze the torch that was lit over seventeen centuries ago at Holy Etchmiadzin, a torch that shined bright over the Armenian nation for centuries, radiated throughout our communities worldwide, rested in the historic seat in Sis a millennium ago, and was at risk of being extinguished during the Genocide of 1915. Thank God, that same torch was reignited in Antelias and kept aflame owing to our successive visionary Pontiffs and the faith and devoted service of Brotherhood members, becoming the guiding light of the Armenian Diaspora.
This 20th anniversary celebration of the enthronement of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I is a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to our Pontiff’s remarkable accomplishments and considerable contributions to the life of the Holy See of Cilicia and the Armenian people, to the ecumenical and inter-faith movement, international relations, and in numerous other arenas. Under the leadership of His Holiness, the Catholicosate, together with the Seminary, has undergone tremendous growth in the areas of Christian Education, youth activities, and much more. There has been an upsurge of collaborative efforts with Prelacies worldwide. Antelias, Bikfaya, the Birds’ Nest in Jbeil, among others, underwent physical transformations. The Catholicosate expanded exponentially and gained ground in the areas of international, ecumenical, inter-faith, and inter-community relations. In the Middle Eastern context, His Holiness became an influential voice in fostering Christian-Islam dialogue and relations thanks to his keen insight and principled stand, earning the respect of diverse communities toward the Armenian people.
Also noteworthy is the tremendous value His Holiness places on education. For decades, he has taught and enlightened the young minds at the Seminary. He has lectured in Armenian, international, and ecumenical circles and authored over three dozen volumes in various languages on theological, ecclesiastical and national issues. He is a highly regarded scholar, educator, and author. In short, His Holiness can fittingly be described as a man of letters.
His Holiness has certainly been a powerful force in our national life. He has played a history-making role in the expansion of collaboration with Armenia and Artsakh, in revitalizing relations with the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, and most recently, in providing vital aid and support to the crisis-laden Armenian community in Syria. Furthermore, he has and continues to be one of the greatest and most vocal champions of the Armenian Cause, bringing worldwide attention to our history and rights particularly through legal action against the Turkish government.
As we joyfully welcome His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to our community, we collectively and emphatically affirm our abiding allegiance to the Holy See of Cilicia and pledge our steadfast support of its God-pleasing, faith-building, and nation-building mission. We pray for Almighty God to bless our beloved Pontiff with a long life and long Pontificate and to keep our Holy See of Cilicia unshaken and in peace.
Happy 20th anniversary our dear Pontiff.
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian