Prelate Participates in Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Aram I to the New England Region

Following the national commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Washington D.C., on Sunday, May 10, 2015, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, began a Pontifical Visit to the Eastern Prelacy which will conclude on June 4. On Wednesday, May 27, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, traveled to Boston to join the delegation of His Holiness for his visit to the New England region. The Prelate had also participated in the commencement of the Pontifical Visit at Holy Cross Church in Bethesda, Maryland on May 10.

On Thursday, May 28, the 97th anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia was celebrated at an Independence Day commemoration held at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Watertown. The Prelates of the Eastern and Western Prelacies, members of the Pontifical delegation, and clergy serving the region accompanied the Catholicos. Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans was among the over 500 guests in attendance.

The event began with Thanksgiving Prayers for the Republic and the blessing of the Armenian flag. Dr. Antranig Kasparian spoke of the group of courageous and visionary individuals who created the First Republic, highlighting their deep faith, moral integrity, and strong will.
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H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern United States, spoke of the hope that the First Republic gave to subsequent generations of Armenians, and invited His Holiness to deliver his message.

His Holiness stated that the spirit of May 28 remained alive within Armenians, whether in Armenia or the Diaspora, shaping their demand for justice and sustaining their vision of a united people. “As a result of the Genocide we lost one-and-a-half million of our people, as well as churches, schools, and our lands. The return of our lands and the formation of a united homeland remain at the heart of our cause,” concluded His Holiness.

In response to a request by the Prelates of the Eastern and Western Prelacy and the Armenian National Committee of America, during the commemoration, His Holiness Aram I honored former Ambassador John Evans with the highest medal of the Catholicosate of the Great House Cilicia, the “Knight of Cilicia” insignia, for his courageous stance on the Armenian Genocide. “Mr. Ambassador, you had the courage to speak the truth publicly. No voice in this world can silence the truth; although countries and their political interests try to destroy it, they will fail. You lost your diplomatic career, but you earned the respect of all Armenians and became the ‘Ambassador of Truth’,” said His Holiness.

The commemoration concluded with the Cilicia anthem.

On Friday, May 29, a banquet in honor of His Holiness Aram I hosted by St. Stephen’s Church was held at the Westin Hotel in Waltham. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan presented former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick with the Eastern Prelacy “Spirit of Armenia” certificate in appreciation for his support of the Armenian community and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. At the conclusion of the program, His Holiness awarded the Catholicosate “St. Mesrob Mashdots” insignia to Mr. Missak Barsoumian for his contributions to Armenian language, schools, and culture. In his message, His Holiness stressed the importance of maintain our national identity and Christian roots, and the role of the Armenian Church and of the Holy See of Cilicia in the preservation of our identity and the pursuit of our national demands.

In partnership with the Executive Council of the Eastern Prelacy, on Saturday, May 30, a youth seminar was held with His Holiness Aram I. The event offered a unique opportunity for young adults to speak with our Pontiff about our faith, the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the canonization of Armenian Genocide martyrs, and other important matters. H.G. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian spoke of the canonization of Armenian Genocide martyrs. His Holiness spoke to the youth about challenges they face and their role in the life of church and nation, stressing the importance of faithfulness, participation, vision, and renewal.

In the afternoon, His Holiness visited the Armenian community of Providence, Rhode Island. Following a prayer service at the Armenian Genocide martyrs monument at the Providence cemetery, His Holiness and entourage headed to Sts. Vartanantz Church. The Pontiff conducted the traditional blessing of bread and salt at the entrance of the Church, followed by “Hrashapar” Service.
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His Holiness spoke to the congregation about hope in the context of Christianity. The service concluded with “Achahampuyr,” during which faithful had the opportunity to receive the blessings of our Pontiff.

On the morning of Sunday, May 31st, His Holiness Aram I celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown, assisted at the altar by H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan and H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Over one thousand faithful attended the service. In his sermon, the Catholicos referred to the commandment of Jesus, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). His Holiness described this command as the core of Christian faith; he said, “God expressed his love to humanity through the Creation and further demonstrated His love by becoming flesh through His Son, and showing humanity the road to Salvation through the life and teachings of Jesus.” His Holiness went on to say, “From the beginning, the Armenian Church has expressed God’s love through the teachings of its saints, teachers and spiritual leaders. Showing that life is empty without love, their teachings also helped Armenians to turn to God and live out His love.” His Holiness then concluded, “Our Church carries the same message forged by our ancestors. Although we may sometimes differ in opinion, method or approach, we should love one another because we belong to the same church, the same nation and the same homeland and we are all engaged in the struggle for justice and the restitution of our rights. Love has kept our people united historically and it should sustain our unity and continue to guide our lives.”

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