BURBANK–His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenia’s Monday met with students from the Los Angeles area Armenian schools, as he continued his visit to Southern California.
The procession of clergy accompanying the Catholicos entered Kalaydjian Hall at the Western Diocese headquarters, where students enthusiastically applauded the Pontiff.
The Catholicos accompanied by Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and the other clergy, including the Vicar General of the Western Diocese, Right Rev. Dajad Yardemian, met with the students.
Students representing the Manoogian-Demirdjian, AGBU Pasadena, Arashak Dickranian, Hovsepian, Rose and Alex Pilibos, Holy Martyrs Ferrahian, Mesrobian, Chamlian, Merdinian, and Sts. Sahag-Mesrob schools gathered to greet the Catholicos.
The administrators and faculty from the schools accompanied the students, who had researched and chosen their questions in advance through a competitive process in order to have the most productive discussion with the Catholicos.
The Vicar General of the Western Diocese, Right Rev, Dajad Yardemian, who was in charge of organizing the event, addressed Catholicos and gave a warm introduction, describing the students’ vigor and enthusiasm in learning the Armenia language, absorbing the Christian faith and values and the precious heritage of our forefathers. Yardemian also explained the meaning of the word “Catholicos.”
Alex Pilibos students Meline Hambartsumian (singer) and Lusine Galstian (pianist) performed the US and Armenian national anthems. His Holiness was very pleased with the question & answer portion of the program, candidly answering the wide-range of questions.
Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian welcomed the Catholicos with a deep sense of appreciation, emphasizing the critical importance of Karekin II’s visit, hoping that members of the Western Diocese will measure up to the expectations of the Catholicos in terms of our faith and dedication to our Diocese the Church and the Community. Derderian announced that this had been the first meeting the Catholicos had with the students during his third pontifical visit.
The Catholicos offered his blessing on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Diocese. He also spoke of the importance of the youth and their proper education, and that the parents and educators bore a great responsibility in this regard.
“The clergy in the Western Diocese under the effective and exemplary leadership of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian have played an impressively constructive role in the life of the community,” added the Catholicos.
He emphasized that more needed to be done to secure a bright and faithful future for the youth of the community, as exemplary U. citizens, who would ultimately benefit the Diaspora, the homeland, Karabakh, and the Armenian Church.
The event was concluded with the Catholicos offering a blessing prayer. The students as well as all other participants received a prayer-book on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Diocese.
The main altar of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Pasadena was consecrated by the Catholicos later that day.
Upon Catholicos Karekin II’s arrival on the church grounds, four students from the St. Gregory A & M Hovsepian School, dressed in traditional Armenian costumes, greeted him with bread, salt and water, which His Holiness blessed as a symbol of his safe arrival and thanksgiving for his warm welcome by the parish.
A festive pontifical procession led by the Catholicos and the clergy, deacons and choir members of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America took place, as the faithful cheerfully received His Holiness during the procession towards the main entrance of the church.
In the newly built sanctuary, which was consecrated on September 9, a welcoming Hrashapar service was held. His Holiness Karekin II then consecrated the main altar of the church, which was donated by brothers Vahe, Daniel, and Vasken Imasdounian.
Very Rev. Fr. Baret Yeretzian, Pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, enthusiastically welcomed Catholicos Karekin II and expressed his thanks on behalf of the entire parish to His Holiness, for his historic visit to Pasadena. On behalf of the entire Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, also warmly welcomed His Holiness and thanked him for his participation in the 80th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Western Diocese, and the historic consecration of the main altar of the new church.
The pontiff then thanked the Primate and Pastor, and encouraged the clergy and faithful to remain strong in their Christian faith and love for the Armenian Church. His Holiness also noted the significance of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Western Diocese, as well as the importance of the completion of the new church sanctuary and consecration of the main altar.
Upon the conclusion of the service the faithful participated in a welcoming reception for Karekin II held in the adjacent Agajanian Hall.