On Tuesday 26 June 2018, His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians received the Australian delegation of the Conference of Middle Eastern Apostolic Churches which includes His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian, His Grace Bishop Robert Rabbat (Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia), His Eminence Archbishop Julian Porteos (Archdiocese of Catholic Church, Tasmania), His Grace Bishop Daniel (Archdiocese of Sydney Coptic Orthodox Church), His Grace Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay (Maronite Eparchy of Australia), Very Reverend Father Parsegh Sousanian (Australian Armenian Catholic Community), Reverend Eli Nakhoul (Dean of St Maroun Cathedral Redfern).

On behalf of the delegation, Archbishop Rabbat spoke of the Old Testament referring to the garden of Eden as the source of the Euphrates and Tigris, also Mount Ararat as the beginning of the new world in which case we are all children of the land of Ararat thus returning to our homeland. He referred to the New Testament, the preaching of Christianity by the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew and also through the effort of St Gregory the Illuminator Armenia became the first Christian nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. He also referred to the fact that various denominations know each other in the Middle East and work harmoniously, likewise in Australia these Ancient Apostolic Churches work hand in hand to support the Christian message in this new land. The visitations to the mother churches and lands further testify towards this solidarity. They also share in the suffering had by the Armenian people in the beginning of the 20th century where more than million and a half people were martyred for their Christian faith. The hierarchs also passed on the greetings of their respective Patriarchs. They wished the new government success in their endeavour to eliminate corruption in the country and to raise the living standards of the people.

A plaque was presented to His Holiness signifying the pilgrimage of this delegation to Armenia. They also presented a small monetary gift as a token for the work done by Holy Etchmiadzin in reaching to the spiritual and physical needs of its people.

The Catholicos of All Armenians thanked the visitors, as well as for the greetings and prayers they brought from their respective Patriarchs. He remembered meeting some of the hierarchs in his previous meetings. He said he hoped to give a Pontifical visit to the Armenian community in Australia in November of this year and wished success to the committee’s work trusting they will return to their dioceses rejuvenated, carrying with them the blessings of St Gregory and the love of the Armenian people. Present were His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannissyan (Director of the External Relations and Protocol Department of the Mother See), Very Reverend Father Shahe Ananyan (Director of the Ecumenical Relations Department of the Mother See) and Father Karekin Hambardzumyan, (Deanof GevorkianTheological Seminary) who translated the message of the Catholicos.

Later in the day, the delegation visited Dzidzernagapert where they laid wreaths and flowers at the Genocide monument, offered their prayers and visited the Genocide Museum. They presented the Vice-Director of the Museum a commemorative plaque on this historic meeting. This was followed by a visit to the Madenataran, the Manuscript house where they were given a tour and explanation of the rich culture of the Armenian and surrounding people.

Click here to read about the entire visit from 24-30 June.