ANTELIAS: Forum with His Holiness Aram I

Catholicosate of Cilicia
Communication and Information Department
Contact: V.Rev.Fr.Krikor Chiftjian, Communications Director
Tel: (04) 410001, 410003
Fax: (04) 419724
E- mail: [email protected]

PO Box 70 317

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LOS ANGELES, ANTELIAS – On the evening of Wednesday, October 12, 2011, a
Pontifical Forum with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of
Cilicia, was held at Brand Library in Glendale. The theme of the forum was
“The Armenian Church, Youth, and General Concerns of the Armenian People”.
The presentation of the Pontiff’s latest book, Taking the Church of the
People, took place during the event.

Upon their arrival at the hall, His Holiness, accompanied by H.E. Archbishop
Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, Clergy and Councils members, were greeted by
an over-capacity crowd, the majority of which were young adults.

The forum was organized at the behest of His Holiness himself, who has
always placed a strong emphasis on the youth, empowering them to take an
active role in the life of the Armenian church and urging them to become
co-architects of the renewal of the church. The evening drew a large crowd
of individuals from various parts of California, Fresno, and the surrounding

One major part of the program was to introduce the Pontiff’s latest book,
“Taking the Church to the People”, which was re-published by the Western
Prelacy on the occasion of the Pontifical Visit of His Holiness. The book
provides an in-depth analysis about the current status of the Armenian
Church and nation, while at the same time provides a forward-looking outlook
on the challenges our church and nation are facing and how we can overcome
them. It has been a long-standing goal of His Holiness to take the church
beyond its walls and move it from the margins of society to the center. His
Holiness has stressed both in his publications as well as in his formal
addresses to the people that the mission of the church can no longer take
place only inside the church, but must be moved to where the people are, the
marketplace of ideas and of everyday life.

The program consisted of a panel of four diverse speakers, both men and
women, from varying age groups and walks of life who presented different
perspectives on issues significant to the church today. The speakers
included Deacon Mark Shirin of Fresno, Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian of Los
Angeles, Varoujan Der Simonian of Fresno, and Melvin Arzoumanian of
Glendale, California. Vanna Der Ohanessian, Esq. served as Mistress of

Mark Shirin presented issues surrounding the Armenian Church today. Himself
a graduate of the Catholicosate of the Cilicia’s Theological Seminary, Mr.
Shirin shared his insight on the some of the challenges facing the church,
as well as made recommendations on how to modernize it. Thereafter, Mrs.
Kasparian reflected on the challenges of being both a woman and a youth and
the imperative of the youth’s involvement within the life of the church.
The third speaker was Varoujan Der Simonian who presented on general
concerns and various challenges facing the Armenian people in the diaspora
and in Armenia. Lastly, Mr. Arzoumanian, a Sub-Committee member of the
Prelacy’s Armenian Church Youth Association, shared the expectations of the
youth following his travel to Antelias, Lebanon to participate in an
Inter-Diocesan Armenian Youth Conference organized by the Holy See of
Cilicia. In her address, Mrs. Der Ohanessian touched upon some of the core
issues facing women and the expectations of women within the Armenian
Church, as presented by His Holiness in “Taking the Church to the People.”
She also thanked His Holiness for recognizing and empowering women as
persons capable of holding key responsibilities on an equal footing with men
in public and community life and in the renewal of the church.

Following the presentations by the panelists, His Eminence Archbishop
Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian
Apostolic Church of America, addressed the people and stated that it was His
Holiness’ wish that the Forum be organized in large part for the faithful to
speak, ask questions, and receive answers from the Pontiff himself. After
thanking the many faithful who had come to take part in the evening’s
program, Archbishop Mardirossian invited His Holiness Aram I to speak to the

In taking the stage, His Holiness, with an iron-like inner strength,
emphasized that the church is a community of faith and urged his followers
to sharpen the community character of the Armenian Church. He stated that
women, youth, and all people within the community must work hand-in-hand
with the clergy to renew the church and give its mission new life and
meaning. His Holiness then addressed some of the major themes in his book
such as the importance of Christian education, the Armenian school,
globalization, and methods to achieve renewal. The highlight of the evening
was the final segment, which was comprised of a question and answer session.
This portion of the program allowed audience members to ask His Holiness
questions pertaining to his book, challenges facing the youth, as well as
social, cultural and religious issues. A diverse group of people engaged in
direct dialogue with His Holiness, ranging from children to adult women in
the community. At the conclusion of the program, each attendant received a
copy of “Taking the Church to the People” as gift from His Holiness.

The evening was a huge success, as evidenced by the many in attendance who
thanked the Public Relations Committee for organizing such a memorable
evening with their fatherly shepherd.

The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is one of the two Catholicosates of
the Armenian Orthodox Church. For detailed information about the dioceses of
the Cilician Catholicosate, you may refer to the web page of the
Catholicosate, The Cilician
Catholicosate, the administrative center of the church is located in
Antelias, Lebanon.

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