His Holiness Aram I Visits Toronto

TORONTO–In the context of 1700 anniversary celebrations of Christianization of Armenia–His Holiness Aram I visited the Armenian community in Toronto–under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia–from 11-13 October.

Catholicos Aram I attended a number of functions organized by St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The major celebration took place in the church. After the "Hrashapar"–the choir of the church presented Armenian Church hymns. This was followed by the remarks of the Arch. Oshagan Choloyan–the prelate of the Eastern Prelacy–and Bishop Khajag Hagopian–Vicar General of Canada. In his pontifical message to the congregation–His Holiness Aram I characterized the year 301 as the acceptance of Christianity as a state religion of Armenia–as the encounter between God and the Armenian people–a covenant which sustained and oriented the whole history of the Armenian people. Speaking about the present times–His Holiness said: "Are we faithful today the covenant that we made with God? Are we responding obediently to the imperatives and implications of this covenant in the world today? This is the great challenge of 1700 anniversary celebration" concluded His Holiness.

Catholicos Aram I also attended a similar celebration–organized by the community school. In his pastoral message to the students–His Holiness made an appeal to remain truthful to the Christian faith and all Armenian Christian values and traditions–which have become a source of renewal and transformation to our people.

His Holiness visited the Armenian Catholic and Protestant Churches in Toronto–and shared with them his reflections on this anniversary–on particular its implications today–for the life and witness of the Armenian Orthodox Church.

On the occasion of the 1700 anniversary–His Holiness presided an ecumenical service in the Anglican Cathedral of Toronto. Beside the Armenian clergy–the Anglican Archbishop of Ontario–and representatives of all churches of Toronto–took part in the service. Archbishop Findlay–the primate of Ontario–greeted His Holiness–describing 1700 anniversary a landmark event for the Armenian Church. He also appreciated the important role of Catholicos Aram I in the ecumenical movement and particularly in the WCC–considering him as a highly respected international church leader. In his word of greeting–His Holiness referred to his long-standing relations with the Anglican Church and appreciated the ecumenical commitment of the Anglican Church. In the second part of the sermon–His Holiness spelled out the major features of the life and witness of the Armenian Church with particular reference to its vocation in the life of the Armenian people.

His Holiness also had a number of meetings with various committees and organizations–and community leadership–as well as representatives of churches and ecumenical organizations.

As part of his pontifical visit to the US and Canada–His Holiness Aram I paid a brief visit to the Armenian Community of Cambridge of Canada. After the completion of his visit to the major cities of the US–His Holiness began his visit to Canada.

At the entrance of the St. Nishan Church in Cambridge–a huge crowd welcomed His Holiness. After the church service Aram I gave his pontifical message to the faithful–stressing the vital importance of faith in the life of a Christian.

After the church service Aram I met the Youth of the community. AN interesting discussion took place between the Catholicos and the young generation–concerning issues related to the church–Christian faith–moral and spiritual values and the role of youth in the life of a community.

The visit of His Holiness to Cambridge community was concluded by a reception organized by Board of Trustees–in honor of Aram i. In his second message to the community His Holiness spoke about the importance of preserving spiritual and moral values–as the guiding principles of community life. He appealed to the community–to remain faithful to the Gospel–is a vie the trends and tendencies which jeopardize our Christian identity. "The celebration of the 1700 anniversary of Armenian Christianity–said His Holiness–should be a strong reminder for all of us that we must remain faithful to our Christian heritage.

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