The history begins in 1957, when a group of Armenians accredited by the National Representative Assembly of the Armenian Prelacy of North America arrived in Antelias, Lebanon, and petitioned His Holiness Catholicos Zareh I (1956-1963) for the auspices of the Great House of Cilicia.
The prudent and far-sighted Patriarch, understanding the critical nature of the situation, gave his fatherly blessing to this nation-building initiative and mission of service with an encyclical on October 12, 1957. It is fitting to quote the relevant portion of the text:
“And behold, as against all the bitterness and the disappointment which you endured, and as the crowning glory of your hopes which ‘shall never shame you,’ the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, one of the hierarchical sees of the Armenian Church, says to you: ‘And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them to shepherd them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, says the Lord.’(Jeremiah 23:3-4).
And we, as the head of this oft-tortured throne, in fulfillment of our ecclesiastical duty, and with a deep realization and faith, have always said and shall say again: ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.’ (Isaiah 61: 1-2).
Therefore, ‘let there be gladness for your discomfitures, and let there be joy for the injustice which you have suffered,’ for the Catholicosate of Cilicia takes you under its wings.”
For the past sixty-five years, the Armenian Prelacy, now Eastern Prelacy, has lived long and prospered under the wings of the Catholicosate of the Great House. We are marking the long decades of life of the great Prelacy family on Sunday, November 20, with a thanksgiving celebration of service. The Divine Liturgy at the St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City, to be celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate will be followed by a banquet at Terrace on the Park, in Queens. It is the right time to look forward to embrace the future and keep growing.