Devalokam (Kottayam, India): The Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II and a 12 member delegation from the Armenian Orthodox Church visited the Orthodox Church of the East from 5th to 8th of November 2008.
His Holiness Karekin II arrives to India
His Holiness Karekin II and entourage arrived on 5th November 2008 at 9AM at Nedumbassery Airport, Kochi. His Holiness and delegation was received colorfully by His Beatitude Paulose Mar Milithios, Catholicos Designate, His Grace Zachariah Mar Anthonios, Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese, Sri. Oommen Chandy, Opposition Leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala, hosts of priests, monastics and laity.
His Holiness Karekin II’s delegations consists of Their Graces Bishops, Armash Nalbandian (Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church Diocese of Damascus), Anushavan Zhamkochyan (Dean of Yerevan State University – Theological Faculty), and Arshak (Samvel) Khachatryan (Chancellor), His Excellency Dr. Ashot Kocharian (Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to India), V. Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian (Pastor and Manager of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy), Rev. Fr. Hovnan Hakobyan (Staff-Bearer), Mr. Suren Ter-Grigoryan (Shoghakat TV), Mr. Sunil Sobti, Ms. Paula Devejian, Ms. Manya Ghazaryan (Shoghakat TV), and Mrs. Susanne Reuben.
His Holiness the Catholicos of the East Receives His Holiness Karekin II
His Holiness Karekin II and the delegation from the Armenian Orthodox Church were received by His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, the Catholicos of the East at the Catholicosate Palace on the evening of the 5th of November. His Holiness Karekin II and delegation were received by His Beatitude Paulose Mar Milithios, Their Graces Thomas Mar Athanasios, Paulose Mar Pachomios, Zachariah Mar Anthonios Metropolitans, priests, deacons, seminarians and monks from the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East. Other leaders from other Churches and political leaders were also present.
The Armenian Orthodox Delegation was received with lit candles and the chanting of 'Thob'ashlom' by the Deacons and Seminarians of the Orthodox Theological Seminary Community.
His Holiness Karekin II and delegation was received by His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymus I in his private residence. The two Supreme Heads of the the Sister Churches met with a fraternal embrace and sat together for a few moments. His Holiness the Catholicos of the East, Didymus I, recalled His Holiness Vazgen I of blessed memory, a predecessor of Karekin II, who inaugurated and opened the Catholicate Palace over four decades ago.
Afterwards, the Catholicoi processed to St. Basil's Chapel, the private chapel of the Catholicos of the East, where His Holiness Karekin II offered prayers. Following this, the procession continued to the tombs of the former Catholicoi of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East. His Holiness Karekin II offered prayers and incense and their tombs. His Holiness also remembered in prayer, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II of blessed memory.
His Holiness Karekin II and delegation were processed into the banquet hall escorted by His Beatitude and the other Metropolitans, for dinner. The Catholicos of the East, Baselios Marthoma Didymus I offered kind words and fraternal greetings to the Malankara Church. His Holiness Karekin II offered prayers and love to the sister church of the Armenian Church. The Catholicoi exchanged gifts and enjoyed moments of discussion during dinner. His Holiness Didymus I offered gifts and blessings to all the members of the delegation.
His Holiness Karekin II conferred the Order of St. Thomas
His Holiness Karekin II and his delegation were received at Malayala Manorama headquarters at Kottayam on 6th November. There the Catholicos and delegation enjoyed the company of His Grace Thomas Mar Athanasius and Mr. K. M. Mathew, Chief Editor of Malayala Manorama over tea and snacks. His Holiness understood the great importance of the media coverage Malayala Manorama provides to the nation of India especially the State of Kerala. His Holiness offered prayers, blessings and gratitude of the hospitality of Mr. K. M. Mathew by offering an Icon of the Nativity of Christ to him.
Afterwards His Holiness' motorcade arrived at Mammen Mappilai Hall in Kottayam where he was received with traditional 'chenda melam' and a grand crowd of the faithful of the Malankara Church, who sought the blessings of this Supreme Patriarch Catholicos. Leaders from other Christian denominations including His Grace Zacharias Mar Theophilus, the Suffragan Metropolitan of the Marthoma Church, His Eminence Mathew Moolakattu Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kottayam, Bishop Thomas Samuel of the Diocese of Kottayam of the CSI Church and other Christian and political leaders.
This Civic Reception was hosted by His Holiness the Catholicos of the East where he conferred the 'Order of St. Thomas', the highest ecclesiastical award of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, upon His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Catholicos and Patriarch of All Armenians. The faithful were touched by witnessing the fraternal embrace of the two Surpeme Heads of the sister Oriental Orthodox Churches.
His Holiness Karekin II decorated His Grace Thomas Mar Athanasius with a beautiful 'Panagia' on the occasion of his 70th birthday celebrations. Following the public meeting and felicitations by other distinguished guests, a cultural program 'Aikya Bharatham' was performed by the students from Gujarat.
His Holiness Karekin II in Parumala
His Holiness Karekin II and the delegation from the Armenian Apostolic Church participated in Divine Liturgy on the morning of the 7th of November at Sts. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, Parumala. Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Thomas Mar Athansius Metropolitan, in the presence of His Beatitude Paulose Mar Milithios and His Grace Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios.
Thousands of faithful Malankara Orthodox Christians filled the Church to catch a glimpse of the Catholicos Patriarch of all Armenians. Following the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Karekin II gave a 'Panagia' to His Beatitude Paulose Mar Milithios, the Catholicos Designate and also to His Grace Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios. His Holiness was presented with gifts from Mar Osthathios and offered some words expressing the great joy to be with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
His Holiness reflected upon the life of St. Gregorios and encouraged the faithful to follow the great example of Mar Gregorios in following Christ our True God. After these words, His Holiness offered prayers at the tomb of St. Gregorios of Parumala. Following this His
Holiness the Catholicos & Patriarch of all Armenians was escorted to the private conference hall on the Parumala Seminary premises for breakfast with His Holiness the Catholicos of the East and other Hiearchs.
A motorcade procession was enroute from Parumala Seminary to the site of the proposed St. Gregorios Mental Health and De-Addiction Center. A public meeting was held in honor of the distinguished delegation from Armenia, especially for the Supreme Head of the Armenian Orthodox Church. During this function the foundation stone for this new center was blessed by His Holiness Karekin II in the presence of His Holiness Didymus I.
From this center, the entourage was taken to St. Mary's Cathedral, Puthiyacavu where the delegation was received by the local Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Paulose Mar Pachomios. A public meeting and a private luncheon was held in His Holiness' honor at the Cathedral. Following the luncheon His Holiness Karekin II inaugurated the newly built and consecrated Metropolitan's Residence & Diocesan Center of the Diocese of Mavelikara.
After the colorful reception under the auspices of the Mavelikara Diocese, His Holiness and his delegation departed to St. Mary's Church, Niranam one of the ancient churches established by St. Thomas the Disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. Prayers were offered by His Holiness followed by a public meeting.
At 5PM, His Holiness Karekin II along with some members of the delegation answered questions at a press conference held at Windsor Castle, Kottayam. The evening with the media came to an end with love, prayers and gratitude offered by His Holiness Karekin II to His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, His Beatitude Paulose Mar Milithios, members of the Holy Episcopal Synod, the clergy and faithful of the Holy Malankara Church (the Orthodox Church of the East).
His Holiness Karekin II's Fraternal Visit Comes to an End
Saturday, November 8th, His Holiness Karekin II and delegation participated in Divine Liturgy at Orthodox Theological Seminary. They were greeted by Rev. Fr. Dr. K. M. George (Principal of the Seminary), Rev. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose (Principal Secretary to His Holiness the Catholicos), Rev. Fr. M. C. Kuriakose (Manager of the Seminary) and Rev. Fr. Saji Amayil (Professor of the Seminary). Holy Qurbana was celebrated by His Grace Geevarghese Mar Coorilose, Metropolitan of Mumbai Diocese. After Divine Liturgy, His Holiness offered prayers and incense at the tomb of His Grace Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios of Blessed Memory.
A public meeting was held in honor of the Supreme Head of the Armenian Church and the esteemed members of the delegation. His Holiness presented the Seminary community with an Armenian cross and awarded Rev. Fr. Dr. K. M. George and Rev. Fr. Dr. John Mathews each a Armenian pectoral cross. His Holiness and entourage were processed from the chapel to Sruti, the school of liturgical music. At Sruti inaugurated the new recording studio by cutting the ribbon and unveiling the inauguration plaque. After praying in the studio, His Holiness turned on the system for the first time. His Holiness and the accompanying Bishops also performed the first recording of the newly inaugurated recording studio.
Following breakfast at the Sophia Center, the delegation proceeded to the Kolencherry Medicial Mission Center where they were received by that institution. During the brief public meeting, His Holiness unveiled two painting of His Grace Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios and His Grace Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilus both of blessed memory.
After lunch, His Holiness inaugurated the recently completed dialysis wing and was given an extensive tour of the facilities. Some patients were able to receive the prayers and blessings of His Holiness as well.
The delegation then proceeded to the airport where His Holiness and entourage were officially sent off by Their Graces Thomas Mar Athanasios and Geevarghese Mar Coorilos Metropolitans.
This fraternal visit was a blessed experience for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship as sister churches.
Armenian Church head to be honoured