On October 29 – November 2, 2016, a delegation of the Armenian Diocese of Canada, led by His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan, Primate, paid a visit to the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America to participate in several important events presided over by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
Rev. Archpriest Fr. Zareh Zargarian, Diocesan Vicar, Pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto, members of the Diocesan Council executive committee – Mrs. Apet Alpay, Mr. Ohan Ohanessian, Mr. Jirayr Dolar, and Mr. Antranik Sirinyan, and Ms. Arine Kemkemian, a youth representative, accompanied His Grace during the visit.
The primates of the Armenian Church dioceses of North America – His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian (Eastern U.S.), His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian (Western U.S.), and His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan (Canada), and the president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Mr. Berge Setrakian, had invited His Holiness Karekin II to convene the next meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council in New York. This will mark the first time the Supreme Spiritual Council has convened outside of Armenia.
On Saturday, October 29, the Catholicos presided over the 89th General Assembly of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the celebration of AGBU’s 110th anniversary.
On Sunday, October 30, a Divine Liturgy honoring the 17th anniversary of His Holiness’ enthronement as Catholicos of All Armenians was held at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, NY, followed by a banquet in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.
On October 31 – November 1, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Supreme Spiritual Council, the executive committees of the North American Dioceses, and the Central Committee of the AGBU, held a historical joint meeting at the Eastern Diocese headquarters in New York.
Following the Lord’s Prayer, the Catholicos of All Armenians conveyed his message to the meeting participants. His Holiness expressed his satisfaction on the occasion of the joint meeting, and conveyed his blessings and appreciation to the Primates of the three Dioceses of North America: His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan; to AGBU President Mr. Berge Setrakian; and to the Supreme Spiritual Council members; Diocesan Council members, and the AGBU Central Committee members.
“The theme of the meeting, “To take the Church to the nation, and reach the Armenians living in North America” specifies a clear path in which we should travel during this joint meeting and consult with each other on the issues and challenges to the national and church life being faced by our nation’s children living in North America. For centuries, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church has been the birthplace of the Armenian soul and the guarantor and defender of the Armenian identity, and she is called to serve our people worldwide; always keep the life-giving words of the Gospel in their national and spiritual life and lead them to salvation. The mission of our Church has always been and remains the same, but the conditions of time and human life are not the same”, said the Catholicos of All Armenians, noting that the 21st century throws new challenges at humanity and creates new circumstances for Armenians worldwide.
In his remarks the AGBU President Berge Setrakian noted that since the first day of its foundation, the AGBU has considered the Armenian Church as the most important institution of the national life, Mr. Berge Setrakian gave his assurance that the AGBU will continue to support the Armenian Apostolic Church and its mission in the life of the Armenian nation. “We will not have a strong homeland and nation if our Church doesn’t strengthen. If we have kept our identity over the centuries, it was only through the service of the Church. We’ll see how we can strengthen the mission of the Church, because strengthening the mission of the Armenian Church strengthens us”, stressed the AGBU President.
On Saturday, November 12, His Holiness Karekin II will preside over the official opening of the new campus of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in Armonk, NY: the consecration of the seminary’s St. Hagop Chapel, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Karekin I Theological Center.