Catholicos of the Great See of Cilicia Aram I

Catholicos Aram I of Great House of Cilicia Visits Eastern US


By Florence Avakian

NEW YORK — Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Armenian Prelacy, has announced the visit of Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia to community Armenians on the eastern U.S. coast.

“At this time of turmoil internationally and in Armenia, Vehapar is taking this long journey to bring his message of faith and hope, and also to express his great support to Artsakh and its brave people,” the Prelate stated.

He arrived in the US on November 6, landing at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, and will stay until November 21. During this visit, his schedule has been packed with visits, lectures and meetings with religious, humanitarian and governmental leaders.

In the nation’s capital, the Catholicos gave the opening prayer in the US Congress on November 9, paid visits to the Lebanese and Armenian Embassies, presented a lecture at George Washington University and celebrated the Pontifical Badarak on Sunday at Holy Cross Church and conduct a youth forum.

Other stops include visits to Maryland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

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On Saturday, November 18, there will be an Ecumenical Service at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, honoring the 850 anniversary of St. Nerses Shnorhali, a renowned priest, poet and musician. His legendary and holy “I Confess in Faith” will be recited in 24 languages during the Ecumenical Service, followed by a fellowship hour in the church hall, and a youth conference at St. Sarkis Church.

On Sunday November 19, Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate of the Western US Prelacy, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral with the Catholicos delivering the homily. A gala banquet will follow at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, with a reception at 2 p.m. and a luncheon at 3 p.m.

The trip of Catholicos Aram I will conclude with several Board meetings at the Armenian Prelacy with the Karagheusian Foundation, the Armenian Medical Fund Board, the Near East Foundation Board, St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s, and with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia.

Born in Beirut in 1947, Catholicos Aram I was consecrated leader of the Great House of Cilicia in 1995. His educational background was extensive and included the American University of Beirut, the Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, England’s Oxford University and New York’s Fordham University, where he earned two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate of Philosophy.

A prolific writer of many articles and books in Armenian, English and French, he has been an early advocate of the international Ecumenical Movement. A multi-year member of the World Council of Churches, he is currently one of eight presidents of the World Council of Churches and also one of the founding members of the Middle East Council of Churches, serving as its president since 2007.

Catholicos Arm I first visited the Eastern Prelacy in 1997. This was followed by visits in 2001 for the 1700 anniversary of Christian Armenia; 2005 for the 75th anniversary of the Cilician See’s Theological Seminary; 2012 – a Pontifical visit; 2015 for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; and 2016 for the 20th anniversary of his spiritual leadership as Catholicos.

The Eastern Prelacy Prelate, Archbishop Tanielian recently returned from a trip to Armenia, with a group commissioned by Catholicos Aram I. The group also included Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Jirair Habibian of the Prelacies’ Arab Gulf Countries, and Hagop Lousararian, a member of the Executive Council of the Lebanon Diocese.

The group had meetings with Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and the Artsakh refugees, in several provinces, especially the 40,000 refugees in Kotayk, giving them cash donations.

Archbishop Tanielian pointed out that Kotayk is especially unique in that it has no borders with any neighboring countries.

The Eastern Prelacy Prelate called the trip to the Artsakh refugees “emotionally devastating. Not only have they lost their homes, schools, churches and been cut off from their ancestral land, but they cannot visit the tombs of their loved ones.  And now they don’t know what the future holds. This is a renewal of the Genocide.”

On the current trip of Catholicos Aram I to Eastern U.S. communities, Archbishop Tanielian stated, “the presence of Catholicos Aram I in this current situation will bring us, especially the young generation, new hope and faith in our community at large, as well as a new understanding of the Diasporan role in pan-Armenian advancement.”


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