Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II visits with school children.

Catholicos Karekin II Embarks on Pontifical Visit to Australia, New Zealand

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SYDNEY — On February 1, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, arrived on a pontifical visit to the Armenian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

The Catholicos of All Armenians was welcomed at the airport in Sydney, Australia by Diocesan Primate Bishop Haikazoun Najarian, clergy of the Diocese; diocesan and parish as well as about 20 representatives of Armenian organizations.

On February 2, the “Hrashapar” service was held in the Holy Resurrection Church in Sydney. In front of the church, the Catholicos was welcomed by the clergy, members of diocesan and parish councils, choirs, schoolchildren and scouts with processional banners, flags and welcome posters.

Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II with other religious dignitaries

Following the Salt and Bread service, under the singing of the hymns, Karekin II solemnly entered the church where more than 400 faithful were waiting for the blessed visit of the Armenian pontiff. Blessing the pious Armenians, he ascended to the Holy Altar, where the church worship service was held.

Following the service, Najarian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, welcomed the Catholicos of All Armenians and invited to convey his Pontifical blessings to the attending faithful.

In his comments, the Catholicos said, “Throughout the ages, our people have faced challenges and trials, and as a result of the Genocide spread all over the world, but in every place, according to the Apostle’s order, have remained loyal to God, endured hardships and through praiseworthy deeds raised his life. As in the Armenian communities throughout the world, here in Australia also, the history of the Armenian community has become an overcoming of trials, creation of new successes, a glorious testimony to the Motherland, our Holy Church and our spiritual center,  the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin.

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“You have united here from different Armenian communities of the world, bringing and preserving your traditions, with their beautiful diversity you have enriched and improved the community of Sydney.

From the middle of the last century, the confirmation of the parish, the establishment of the Holy Resurrection Church and the consolidation around it has intensified the national and spiritual-ecclesiastical life of the Armenian community of Sydney. The opening of Armenian-language schools, establishment of youth unions, Elderly Care Organization; all national, charitable and cultural institutions that have been established and operated through your efforts.”

At a reception organized by government officials, including the premier of the New South Wales province Gladys Berejiklian

Conveying his appreciation to everyone for their dedicated service and caring efforts in national-community and church life, the Catholicos of All Armenians offered prayers for all Australians.

At the conclusion, the Armenians had the opportunity to approach the pontiff and kiss his hand and receive crosses.

A meeting reception followed.

On February 3, Karekin II offered a Divine Liturgy at the Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection of the Armenian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

The Divine Liturgy was attended by Gladys Berejiklian, Governor of New South Wales; Paul Fletcher, member of the Parliament and Minister; Fred Nile, founder and president of the Christian Democrat party; Father Tovmas Varkis; Roy Williams, President of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council; Elizabeth Stone, General Secretary of the Australian Ecumenical Council; Bishop Daniel, Primate of the Coptic Church; Gwen Harris, President of the Emanuel Synagogue Council; members of diocesan and parish councils; representatives of Armenian organizations and philanthropists.

Led by the procession, the Catholicos of All Armenians entered the temple, where with the participation of devout Armenian and numerous guests he offered a Divine Liturgy.

In his remarks, the Catholicos of All Armenians confirmed with satisfaction: “We are very excited and consoling that the Australian-Armenian community is experiencing new awakening, strengthens his life of faith, united around the Armenian Church, re-evaluating the glorious memories of the history and heritage of our ancestors. Today you are the Ambassadors of the Armenian People in Australia and due to you the Armenian Christian and faithful spirit  are known here, as well as the ancient and rich heritage of our people and culture, love, peace, freedom to create.

“Dear beloved, we are responsible for our time, and it is by our actions that it will be recorded as a time of restoration. It is with our new accomplishments and victories that time should move forward of rebuilding the Homeland and the Diaspora. Christ is our way, whom our fathers have recognized and whom we know.”

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