His Holiness Catholicos Aram I dedicated his opening prayer in Congress on Thursday, November 9, to the United States lawmakers in their service to the country and the Artsakh refugees, as he served as the Guest Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives.
“Grant us wisdom, courage and vision in order that we may fully dedicate ourselves to the service of the people and the United States,” the Catholicos said before the session. The Morning Prayer was televised live on C-SPAN and will be included in the Congressional Record.
The Catholicos also prayed for peace in the world.
“Help us, Giver of peace and justice, to work ardently for peace with justice, in a world torn apart by violence and polarization.”
Near the end of the prayer, he invoked the recent ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the genocidal state of Azerbaijan, which caused the forced displacement of more than 100,000 Armenians from their ancestral homes in Artsakh.
“Help us, O God of Mercy, to remember in our prayers more than one hundred thousand Armenian refugees who recently were forced to leave Nagorno-Karabagh, their centuries old homeland, and face huge difficulties and uncertainties.”
Before the prayer, His Holiness met House speaker Mike Johnson and Representative Adam Schiff. After the prayer, His Holiness and his entourage stopped at the Congressional Prayer Room, where they prayed and sung the “Hayr Mer.” During the reception in his honor, the Catholicos met Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Minority Whip, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Young Kim, Congressman Jim Costa, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Congressman Brad Sherman, Congresswoman Dina Titus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Congressman Jerry Carl. The question of Artsakh, the difficulties confronted by Armenia, and the Palestinian crisis were subjects of the conversation.
His Holiness Aram I was accompanied by the three Prelates; the co-chair of the Central Executive Council Stepan Der Bedrossian; the leadership of the Executive Councils of the Prelacies, and the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Aram Hamparian.
Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, has saluted the visit of His Holiness as a source of inspiration and fortitude as Armenians and the entire world experience some of the worst upheavals in decades.
“At this time of turmoil internationally and in Armenia, the Vehapar is taking this long journey to bring his message of faith and hope, and also to express his great support to Artsakh and its brave people,” Archbishop Anoushavan stated.
The tour of His Holiness started on November 6, when the Catholicos arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. He was welcomed by Archbishop Anoushavan; Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Vicar, and members of the Washington, D.C. community. The visit ends on Tuesday, November 21, when he departs from New York’s JFK Airport. During this trip, his schedule will be packed with welcoming Hrashapar services, visits, lectures, and meetings with religious, humanitarian, and governmental leaders. Archbishop Papken, Prelate of the Canadian Prelacy, and Bishop Torkom, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, are also part of his entourage.
His agenda also includes visits to the Lebanese and Armenian embassies, a lecture at George Washington University on Friday, and a youth forum on Saturday. On Wednesday, November 8, he presided over a clergy conference of the three Prelacies of North America. On Thursday, November 9, he will preside over a meeting of the leadership of their Executive Councils. On Sunday, November 12, he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at Soorp Khatch Church in Bethesda, Maryland.
Afterwards, Catholicos Aram I will visit the church communities of Philadelphia including the Armenian Sisters’ Academy; New Jersey, including the Hovnanian School and the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA); Troy, NY; New Britain, CT; and New York City, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
On Saturday, November 18, an Ecumenical Service will be celebrated at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, honoring the 850th anniversary of the death of St. Nerses Shnorhali, one of the most distinguished figures of the Armenian Church. His “In Faith I Confess” will be recited in 24 languages during the Ecumenical Service, followed by a fellowship hour in the parish hall and a youth conference at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York.
On Sunday, November 19, Bishop Torkom, Prelate of the Western U.S. Prelacy, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, with Catholicos Aram I delivering the homily. A Thanksgiving gala banquet will follow at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center.
The trip of Catholicos Aram I will conclude with several Board meetings at the Armenian Prelacy with the Karagheusian Foundation, the Armenian Medical Fund Board, the Near East Foundation Board, and with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, as well as with a visit to St. Vladimir’s Seminary.