VAN NUYS–His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s arrived at Van Nuys Airport on Thursday–May 10 at 10:00 a.m. His visit to Los Angeles is part of his first official pontifical tour of the United States and in celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the Armenian Apostolic Church. His Holiness was accompanied by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America.
His Holiness was greeted at the airport by clergymen of the Western Diocese–Armenian Consul General to Los Angeles Valery Mkrtoumian–ARF Bureau member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian–ARF Western Central Committee representative Viken Yacoubian–representatives of the Ramgavar and Hunchagian parties–public officials–and reporters.
The Catholicos visited San Francisco and Fresno earlier in the week.
Upon his arrival in Los Angeles–a traditional bread and salt blessing was held at the airport–followed by a press conference.
Welcoming remarks were made by Berge Boyadjian –who mentioned the fact that this was the pontiff’s first official visit to the United States.
Arch. Vatche Hovsepian welcomed His Holiness Karekin II to Southern California–and spoke of the enthusiasm displayed by the communities in San Francisco and Fresno during the pontiff’s visits.
His Holiness thanked God for allowing him to travel to the United States to take part in celebration festivities dedicated to the 1700th anniversary of Christianity’s adoption by Armenia’s. The pontiff recognized the contributions made by the Armenian-American community to the US–where Armenia’s have been established for over a century.
"We have brought blessings from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin–blessings from the free and independent homeland–love and greetings from the people of Armenia," said the Catholicos.
During the press conference–His Holiness was asked questions related to the unification of the Armenian Apostolic Church–the youth–the spread of various sects in Armenia–and the issue of students studying in the seminaries.
His Holiness left for Arizona after the press conference. He returned to Los Angeles later in the evening to take part in the "Hrashapar" ceremony held at St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Van Nuys.
The pontiff will meet with students from the community’s Armenian schools on Friday–May 11 at Aghajanian Hall (St. Gregory the Illuminator Church) in Pasadena from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
He will attend a concert dedicated to the 1700th anniversary at 7:30 p.m. that evening at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
A youth rally at the Martyrs Monument in Montebello on Saturday morning will also be attended by the Catholicos. His Holiness will also visit the Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of Montebello at 3:30 on Saturday where a "Hrashapar" ceremony will be held. The pontiff was invited by the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America to take part in the service at Holy Cross.