Official Visit of the Head Chaplain of Armenia to Canada

On March 1-11, 2017, His Grace Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan, Head Chaplain of the Armenian Armed Forces, paid an official visit to Canada on invitation of the Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces, and in collaboration with the Armenian Diocese of Canada, to promote mutual learning about the respective chaplaincies and discuss ways to promote collaboration between the chaplains of Canada and Armenia.

On March 1, Bishop Vrtanes arrived to Montreal where the Armenian Primate of Canada, His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan, welcomed the Head Chaplain of the Armenian Armed Forces.

On March 2, Bishops Abrahamyan and Hovakimyan, accompanied by Levon Isakhanyan, Diocesan Chancellor, visited the AGBU Armenian School of Montreal. Bishops visited two classes, including the one established by the School to accommodate the needs of recently arrived Syrian-Armenian refugee children. On this occasion, the kids performed Armenian spiritual and patriotic songs and received blessings and gifts from the Head Chaplain of the Armenian Armed Forces and the Primate. After meeting the kids, a meeting with the School administration was held to discuss various aspects related to the Chaplaincy Service of the Armenian Armed Forces.

In the evening, at the Diocesan Headquarters, Bishop Hovakimyan offered a reception in honor of Bishop Abrahamyan, where representatives of various church bodies, leaders of the Armenian community organizations of the Greater Montreal, and the Diocesan benefactors gathered to meet the Head Chaplain of Armenia.

At the event, Bishop Abrahamyan introduced the Chaplaincy Service of the Armenian Armed Forces, and handed the “Andranik Ozanyan” Medal of the Armenian Armed Forces to Bishop Hovakimyan, which has recently been awarded to the Primate of Canada by the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Vigen Sargsyan.

On Friday, March 3, two Bishops travelled to Toronto where Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, Vicar of the Diocese of Canada and Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto, welcomed and introduced them to over 20 members of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (Juniors) who had gathered at the Church to receive blessings for their Annual Ski Trip.

On the next day, March the 4th, Bishops accompanied by Rev. Archpriest Zargarian, visited St. Sahag and St. Mesrop Armenian Saturday School at Holy Trinity Armenian Church.

The same evening a reception in honor of the Head Chaplain of the Armenian Armed Forces was offered by the Church Parish Council.

On Sunday, March 5, 2017, Bishop Abrahamyan participated in the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Armenian Church and delivered the sermon. Bishop Hovakimyan, Primate, welcomed and extended his best wishes to the honorable guest. Also attending was Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

Following the Liturgy, and under the auspices of the Diocesan Primate, a public meeting with Bishop Abrahamyan took place at the “Magaros Artinian” Hall of the Church. Bishop Abrahamyan presented a report about the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and the services provided by the chaplaincy to soldiers. He spoke about the positive role of installing strong faith in our soldiers, their victories, as well as the challenges they face.

By the order of the RA Minister of Defence, Bishop Abrahamyan awarded Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian with the Medal of “Andranik Ozanyan” of the Armed Forces for his considerable input and assistance in the betterment of the Armenian Army.

Bishop Abrahamyan awarded Deacon Murad Karakas with the Medal of “Garegin Nzdeh” of the Armenian Armed Forces for his considerable input in strengthening faith and Christian education of the Armenian Army through the Armed Forces of the Chaplaincy.

Bishop Abrahamyan recognized Mr. Migrdic Migrdiciyan, Chairman of Hayastan Foundation Toronto and Master of Ceremonies of the day, as well as Deacon Berc Luleciyan, for their humanitarian contributions towards the betterment of the Armed Forces of Armenia.

The same evening, two Bishops and Rev. Archpriest Zargarian traveled to the National Capital – Ottawa.

On Monday morning, the Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Guy Chapdelaine, accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Jennifer Gosse, Staff Officer to the Chaplain General, greeted Bishop Abrahamyan and the delegation at the hotel, from where they traveled together to the Canadian War Museum for a guided tour.

After the tour, two Bishops, accompanied by the clergy-members of the Diocesan Council, Rev. Archpriest Zareh Zargarian, Rev. Fr. Komitas Mirzakhanyan, and Rev. Fr. Vazgen Boyajyan, and Levon Isakhanyan, Diocesan Chancellor, visited the Office of the Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces.

They made a tour of the Office, after which the Directors of various departments at the Office – Colonel Barbara Putnam, Director of Chaplaincy Operations, and Colonel Sylvain Maurais, Director of Chaplain Service, made a comprehensive introductory presentation about the functioning of the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service, followed by a Q&A session. The structure, strategic issues, priorities, current operations, and challenges faced by the chaplaincy were discussed during the presentation. After the discussion, the Canadian and Armenian Chaplains exchanged memorable gifts.

Late afternoon, the delegation visited the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Canada and met with Mr. Sasun Hovhannisyan, Consul of Armenia in Canada.

On March 7, 2017, Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan, accompanied by Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, and Levon Isakhanyan, visited the Parliament of Canada. At the Memorial Chamber of the Parliament, Bishop Abrahamyan and Fr. Zargarian prayed for the repose of souls of Canadian soldiers.

On March 8, Bishop Abrahamyan, accompanied by Rev. Archpriest Zargarian, and Levon Isakhanyan, visited the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre (CFChSC) in Borden, Ontario. In the morning, the delegation members met the Acting Commandant and the CFChSC staff, and were briefed about the CFChSC and its courses. After the briefing, the guests visited a class, prayed together with future Chaplains and exchanged gifts. Later on, the delegation met with Colonel Liam McGarry, the Base Commander. In the afternoon, a meeting with the Base Chaplain and Chaplains from different religious backgrounds took place followed by visits and prayers in various chapels established at the military base.

On March 9, Bishops Abrahamyan and Hovakimyan, accompanied by Rev. Archpriest Zargarian and Mr. Ohan Ohanessian, Chair of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto Parish Council, visited St. Mary Armenian Church of Toronto and the Armenian Relief Society Armenian School of Toronto.

On March 11, Bishop Abrahamyan departed from Canada to Armenia.

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