NORTHRIDGE—His Holiness Catholicos Aram I led an ecumenical prayer service, on Wednesday, October 19, with the participation of spiritual leaders and clergy from the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches, Coptic, Syriac, and Antiochian Orthodox Churches, and the Roman Catholic Church.
The prayer service was hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese and took place at St. Mary and St. Athanasius Church in Northridge.
Participating in the prayer service were Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Bishop Serapion (Coptic Church), Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan (Syriac Church), Bishop Joseph Zehlaoui (Antiochian Church), Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith (Roman Catholic Church), Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Chahinian (Armenian Catholic Church), and Rev. Joe Matossian (Armenian Evangelical Union), and clergy members from each of the Churches. The Prelate was accompanied by Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian and clergy members.
With the singing of the “Hrashapar” hymn, His Holiness entered the Church accompanied by the clergy. Prayers were then offered by the leaders or clergy of each Church in their respective languages, followed by readings from the Bible.
Remarks were delivered by Bishop Serapion, Archbishop Kaplan, and Bishop Zehlaoui, all of whom reflected on the current situation in the Middle East and specifically on the recent clashes in Egypt, and expressed their hope for peace to prevail in the region. Bishop Serapion conveyed the greetings and well wishes of Pope Shenouda III to His Holiness.
The Prelate spoke of the purpose and significance of the ecumenical gathering, and invited His Holiness to deliver his message.
After greeting the clergy, His Holiness commended Bishop Serapion, who he has known for many years, speaking highly of his service in ecumenical affairs from the Middle East to the United States, and expressed his thanks to the Bishop for hosting the gathering.
His Holiness noted that Christian Churches were established on the basis of peace, that peace forms the heart of our Churches and the foundation of our mission. Christians are disciples of peace and must remain so, and with their faith, knowledge, and hope, must preserve their identity in the Middle East as they have deep roots in the region and form a part of the region’s rich and ancient culture. Being a disciple of peace does not mean being stagnant, it means protecting one’s rights, assuming responsibility of obligations, and contributing to the development of democracy. His Holiness concluded by calling for strengthening of ecumenical collaboration.
An exchange of mementos followed, after which His Holiness and clergy were hosted to lunch by the Coptic Church.
Aram I Meets with Armenian Professionals
On Tuesday, a luncheon was held at the Prelacy during which His Holiness Catholicos Aram I met with Armenian professionals of various fields. The luncheon was organized by the Pontifical Visit Public Relations Committee and was significant in that it related to the program recently initiated by the Catholicosate of Cilicia aimed at gathering information about our manpower in the Diaspora.
His Holiness, accompanied by Archbishop Mardirossian, Prelate, and Councils members, was led to the “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall where over a hundred Armenian professionals welcomed the Pontiff.
The lunch meeting provided attendees with a unique opportunity to discuss with His Holiness challenges and opportunities affecting our community and to hear his paternal guidance and message. Attendees were given forms to fill out, which will be submitted to the Catholicosate to assist in their program of gathering data.
Master of Ceremonies Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian welcomed the guests, and thanked His Holiness for the opportunity to hold this important luncheon, which she said is about acknowledging the individuals who take on another level of responsibility and burden. “Every attendee here volunteers their talent, skills and knowledge for the betterment of the Armenian community. Armenians are achieving professional milestones in larger numbers in every professional arena. We all have potential power inside us and it is the request of His Holiness to identify our talents, strengths and skills to serve the better good of all Armenians.” She concluded by stating, “Your Holiness, allow our presence today representing 12 active professional organizations to signal our support to your initiative.”
An opportunity was given for a representative from each organization to share information with the guests to more closely familiarize them with the endeavors and mission of their specific organization.
The Prelate commended all the organizations present for the work they carry out and for their service to the Armenian community. He then invited His Holiness to deliver his message.
His Holiness expressed joy and pride at the growing number of Armenian professionals. He noted that we must not be satisfied with the status quo, rather individuals and organizations must strive to do more as the work that needs to be done is unending. His Holiness also stated that professionals must consider service as a part of their mission and they, in conjunction with the Church, must reach out to members of society and assist in the betterment of their communities.
A question and answer session followed on topics including confiscated Churches in Western Armenia and the growing number of religious factions in Armenia and the Diaspora. In conclusion, His Holiness stated that manpower is much more crucial then financial capacity, as manpower is God given while the financial is man-built.
The event concluded with the benediction by His Holiness.
Catholicos Hold Meetings With Various Groups
On the Tuesday afternoon, Catholicos Aram I had a number of meetings with community members at the Prelacy “Sulahian” reception room. Archbishop Mardirossian, Prelate, and Executive Council member Vahan Bezdikian, joined His Holiness at the meetings.
His Holiness met with representatives from the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Armenian Writers Association of California, Armenian Veterans of World War II and Artsakh, and the Armenian Democratic-Liberal Party. A representative from the “Azad Or” newspaper joined the last meeting.
The meetings were an opportunity for an exchange of information and a discussion on general concerns of the Armenian people. His Holiness also spoke of the main themes of his Pontifical Visit to the Western Prelacy and the endeavors and mission of the Catholicosate.
Each of the meetings concluded with an exchange of mementos.