1700th Anniversary Executive Committee Meets in Etchmiadzin

1700th Anniversary Executive Committee Meets in Armenia; Plans Pilgrimages to Begin in 1997 and Extend Till 2001

Armenian Reporter International [Paramus] 21 Dec 1996: 26. 

ETCHMIADZIN, Armenia The Executive Committee of the 1700th Commemoration of Christian Armenia met for two days on October 24 and 25, in order to hear reports and examine the progress since the committee's last meeting in August. 

Attending the meetings were His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, who was in Armenia to participate in meetings of the Armenia Fund. Catholicos Karekin opened the meeting, reiterating the basic goals of the committee, and Catholicos Aram expressed his blessings and best wishes.

The major part of the meetings was devoted to the many pilgrimages which will take place starting next year and continuing on through to 2001. 

Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, executive secretary of the committee, introduced the basic plans for the organization of pilgrimages, after which Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of Canada, presented a report prepared by the committee overseeing pilgrimages. The meeting was chaired by Archbishop Karekin Nercessian, Primate of the Araratian Diocese, and recorded by Deacon Hratch Tchilingirian. 

Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, representing the Patriarch of Constantinople, and a member of the committee on pilgrimages, explained the concept of the pilgrimages within the context of the Bible and life in the early church. Extensive discussion led by Archbishop Derderian, Deacon Tchilingirian, and Dr. Shahe Orfaly, on how to motivate young people to participate in the pilgrimages, ensued. Pilgrimages are being planned for three specific age groups, 18 to 30 years; 30 to 45 years; and 45 and up. All participants will be responsible for their own expenses. However, it was noted that individuals who cannot participate because of age or health can nevertheless "participate" by sponsoring a pilgrim.

Each diocese will have its own committee for pilgrimages. Members of the local committee will be part of an interdiocesan committee, which will have its first meeting in Yerevan under the sponsorship of the Araratian Diocese, February 19-21, 1997.

After careful study of the reports, the executive committee agreed on the following itinerary for the pilgrimages: 

1997: August 14-18 -- Romania-Armenia, France-Armenia; Dioceses of Ararat, Armavir and Gougark. 

1998: March 25-April 7 -- Lebanon-Armenia; Dioceses of Shirak and Arakadzodn. 

1999: April 7-27 -- Jerusalem-Armenia; Diocese of Gougark. September 10-29 --Turkey-Armenia; Diocese of Geghargounia. 

2000: April 19-May 4 -- Syria-Armenia; Diocese of Artsakh. August 3-17 -- Iran-Armenia; Diocese of Siunik. 

2001: Armenia; Kantzasar, Khor Virab. Holy Etchmiadzin. 

Archbishop Ashjian said all dioceses around the world will soon receive a complete schedule, which will list all events planned by the executive committee. "The dioceses can then organize their own local programs within the context of the international program," the Archbishop said. 

The executive committee enthusiastically accepted the proposal to form the "Friends of St. Garabed of Moush," whose aim will be to advance the concept of the pilgrimages, and help in accommodations and hospitality. 

In order to assure first-rate, well-organized programs, it was decided to form a committee to work solely on the pilgrimages, headed by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. Joining him will be one representative from each of the following areas: Armenia, former Soviet republics, Middle East, Europe, Eastern United States, Western United States, South America, and Australia. The first meeting of this committee will take place in Paris and Amsterdam, January 16-19. 

At the conclusion of the two-day meeting the committee members, led by the two Catholicoses, visited the Khor Virab Monastery which will play a pivotal role in the commemorations. 

"We fervently hope that the pilgrimages will be a time of renewal for our faithful and will bring them closer to the Church, especially the youth in Armenia and the Diaspora," said Archbishop Ashjian. "We want everyone to become aware of the richness of our traditions and our heritage." 

Photo (Catholicoses Karekin and Aram preside over meeting in Etchmiadzin) 

Copyright Armenian Reporter Dec 21, 1996

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