By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — It was an afternoon of great anticipation on Wednesday, September 26, as New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral awaited the arrival of Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
As he mounted the steps to the cathedral plaza with his entourage trailing him, including Armenia’s Ambassador to the US Grigor Hovhannissian and Secret Service agents, Pashinyan was greeted with cheers from the small crowd of Diocesan staffers and local friends who had turned out for the prime minister’s impromptu visit.
Greeting him at the entry to the cathedral was the visiting Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, accompanied by Diocesan Primate the Very Rev. Daniel Findikyan. Also on hand were the former Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Legate in Washington D.C. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Vicar General Very Rev. Simeon Odabashian, and Diocesan Director of Ministries Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan.
The prime minister, reflecting his reputation as a “man of the people,” was casually garbed in a sweater and jeans, and warmly smiled as he looked up at the carving of St. Vartan above the large bronze doors before entering the sanctuary.
The Diocesan Primate guided him around the cathedral, and welcomed him and the Vehapar. Speaking in Armenian with obvious emotion, he said in his formal remarks: “St. Vartan Cathedral is your home, because it is the home of every Armenian soul that enters the orbit of this great city.”