On Thursday 17 June 2010 His Holiness Aram I arrived in Montreal on his way to the G8 Inter-religious Summit Meeting in Winnipeg.
Catholicos Aram I was met at the airport by the Prelate of the Diocese of Canada, Archbishop Khajak Hagopian, the Prelates of the Eastern Prelacy in USA, the Prelate of Iran, Bishops, priests, the Lebanese Ambassador in Canada, and members of the Prelacy Council.
After the service of Evening Prayer at the St. James Cathedral, Archbishop Khajak welcomed the Catholicos and spoke of his leadership both in the church and the oikoumene. He said that through the Spiritual leadership of His Holiness Aram I, the church became ?the church of the people?. As a national leader, he continues to remind the world of the demand for justice of the survivors of the genocide. As an ecumenical leader, His Holiness Aram I strives for Christian unity, advocates justice and peace, interfaith dialogue and care for the created world. He then concluded: ?It is with great pride we welcome His Holiness to Canada where he will chair sessions on climate change at the pre-G8 governmental meeting in Winnipeg, and participate in the preparation of a statement to be sent to the Heads of States?.??
On Friday 18 June, in the evening the Youth and Children?s Choir gave a concert??? under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I, dedicated to the Seminary of the Catholicosate in Bikfaya (Lebanon).
After singing spiritual, national and folkloric songs, Catholicos Aram I thanked the director of the Choir Mrs Harboyan, the children and their parents for creating and sustaining such a choir. In appreciation of the commitment of the Director to the Armenian song, he gave her the St. Mashdotz Decoration.
On the same evening, V. Rev. Krikor Chifjian, Director of the Information Department of the Catholicosate, met with youth, listened to their concerns, and discussed the role of the church in responding to their spiritual, moral and cultural needs.
Meeting with representatives of the Armenian community in Montreal
In the Evening of Saturday 19 June 2010, His Holinesss Aram I and his entourage visited the Armenian Centre in Montreal and met with the Representatives of all Armenian associations and organizations in Montreal. After a warm welcome and an opening speech by the Prelate Archbishop Khajak Hagopian,
His Holiness spoke about the witness of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in the Middle East and the Diaspora. He described the activities organized by the Departments in religious education, cooperation with Armenian schools in keeping the language and culture alive in this global world, ecumenical relations, inter-religious activities, work with women and youth. Catholicos Aram I then spoke extensively about the Seminary, its instrumental role in preparing a leadership that would live out the spirituality of the church and respond to the challenges arising from society. His Holiness concluded: ?The seminary is the hope for the renewal of the church and making it become ?A Church Beyond its Walls?.?
Following this enriching introduction, the representatives described their activities and concerns, which culminated in a lively discussion on the role of the Armenian Language School in Montreal specifically, and the role of schools, cultural and sportive associations in the Diaspora.
15th anniversary of Catholicos Aram
On Sunday 20 June 2010, during Holy Liturgy at st. James Cathedral in Montreal, the clergy and the faithful celebrated the 15th anniversary of the consecration of Archbishop Aram Keshishian as Aram I Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.
In the order of the liturgy, after singing the Lord?s Prayer, the celebrant Archbishop Souren Kataroyan, Dean of the Cathedral invited the priests to the alter for a special prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for the life and leadership of His Holiness Aram I. When thanking the clergy and the faithful, His Holiness Aram I said: ?The journey of faith of our church began with St. Gregory the Illuminator. He served the church with deep faith, strong hope and unconditional service to the people. Through his example, Christian values became the guiding principle for the church and the nation through ages. We should learn from our history and become living witnesses in our societies.?
After the Holy Liturgy, His Holiness Aram I joined Mr. Khalil el Hebre, the Consul General of Lebanon in Montreal to the inauguration of a Monument dedicated to the establishment of the Lebanese Community in Montreal.
Before leaving for Winnipeg to take part in the G8 Interfaith Summit on the same evening, His Holiness Aram I visited with Bishop Pakrad Kaldanian of Holy See of Etchmiadzin,? the location where they have already begun to build a Church and an Old Peoples Home.
Stone-cross placed in the courtyard of the Prelacy in Montreal
On Saturday 19 June 2010, after the Evening Service, His Holiness Aram I blessed the new monument Khatchkar (stone cross), named ?Red Gospel?. Located in the courtyard of the Prelacy in Montreal, was built to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
After placing remains of the genocide victims that he had brought from Antelias at the foot of the monument, His Holiness said: ?This Khatchkar will become a constant reminder of our genocide on this continent. The Catholicosate of Cilicia deported from its homeland is a testimony of the impunity condoned by world politicians. The Martyrs? Chapel, with its mass grave in Antelias is the witness of the Gospel in our lives. The Catholicosate of Cilicia will continue to advocate the just cause of our people through its prayer-life and diakonia.? He then continued, ?we should pursue our demand with one voice but with complementary grounds of action. Armenia and Diaspora should complement one another in their claims for justice.?
At the end of the Catholicos?s inspiriting message, the people sang the Anthem of the Catholicosate and greeted him.?
Source: Catholicosate of Cilicia