LOS ANGELES—His Holiness Catholicos Aram I arrived at Los Angeles City Hall on the morning of Friday, October 14, where a breakfast reception was held in his honor, after which His Holiness addressed the full City Council in Chambers.
The Catholicos was accompanied by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and staff bearer Very Rev. Fr. Mesrob Sarkissian. Participating in the reception were Clergy, Councils members, community leaders and members, Prelacy sponsors and friends.
Opening remarks were delivered by Jim Clarke, Director of Federal Relations for Mayor Villaraigosa. Council President Eric Garcetti said it was a great honor to welcome His Holiness to City Hall and invited Council member Paul Krekorian to deliver his remarks.
Council member Krekorian stated that it was personally extraordinary for him to be there as the first Armenian-American Council member, and that the presence of His Holiness at City Hall is “a point of pride for each of us and gives us strength as representatives of this community”.
The Prelate thanked the Council members for the warm welcome and reception, and for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa facilitating the arrival of His Holiness at LAX. He noted that this is the fourth visit of His Holiness to City Hall and invited His Holiness to deliver his message.
His Holiness expressed profound joy to be at City Hall in the heart of Los Angeles stating, “This is no ordinary building. I came here to examine the heartbeat, the activities, and the planning oriented work towards helping and serving people. People are a part of the government, as Plato said, and this is democracy in action.” His Holiness concluded by saying, “The United States is a great nation of values. May God less you all and may you continue to serve Los Angeles”.
His Holiness, entourage, and guests were then escorted to Chambers where the full City Council was assembled.
First to speak were Council member Krekorian and Council President Garcetti.
Council member Krekorian said it was both an honor and a privilege to be there. Antelias is the heart and soul of the Armenian people and His Holiness is our spiritual leader and we are thankful for his leadership and guidance. His Holiness has brought together many faiths and he is responsible for inter-religious dialogue. It is rare that we get a man of such stature in our Chamber, concluded Krekorian.
Council President Garcetti stated that is was a great honor to receive His Holiness at LAX and welcomed him to the temple of democracy. He referred to His Holiness as an inspiration and expressed his appreciation for his involvement in educational institutions.
His Holiness then addressed the City Council stating that it was a profound joy to be with them and being with them meant being with the people. He urged them to serve with transparency and accountability and to serve the interest of the people and not individuals. Looking around at those assembled in the Chamber, His Holiness noted that each of them has different root and different background, but they must first and foremost remain true to their American values. He shared his pride that so many Armenians are a part of America and share in those American values, and expressed gratitude to the United States as it was the first nation to accept refugees following the Armenian Genocide.
“I am proud that my own community is part of the diverse American community, and a contributing one at that. After the genocide of 1915, the United States was the first nation to accept refugees as Displaced Peoples, but we didn’t remain as such, we became Americans. And I am proud of that. We must remain now true to our American values. It is my profound joy to be with you once again. As public servants, service should be the center of our spirituality. We all serve the same people. They should be the center of our reflection,” concluded His Holiness who was met with a standing ovation.
The event concluded with the presentation of a proclamation to His Holiness by Council members.