More than three hundred members of the Armenian community, benefactors, representatives of Armenian organisations, clergy of the Diocese, representatives of sister Churches and parliamentarians attended the official banquet in honour of the Catholicos of All Armenians held at Miramare Gardens Reception Centre on the evening of Sunday 3 February. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Diocesan Council Vice-Chairman, Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian.

The evening’s program was dedicated to performances by the youth of our community which embodied community dance groups and talented performances by musicians Alex Sahagian, siblings Tara and Anthony Sahagian and Natalie Minasian; vocalists Isabelle Marcarian, Masha Mnjoyan, the Church of Holy Resurrection’s Shnorhali Vocal Ensemble and ACYA Choir; and moving recitation by Manoug Kotoyan.

During the evening, the Catholicos of All Armenians presented a number of Diocesan Centre benefactors with Commendation Encyclicals and similarly to Mr Armen Baghdasaryan for his long-term service to the Church and the Diocese.

A welcoming address was presented by Willoughby City Mayor, Clr Gail Gils-Gidney who reflected on her visit to Armenia in June 2018 when she had the opportunity to meet the Catholicos of All Armenians at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian also welcomed the Catholicos again on this occasion thanking him for inspiring the community with his presence on such a significant milestone in the history of the Armenian church of Australia.

In his address, His Holiness Karekin II stated:
“We give thanks to God, full of encouragement, for you. We felt the love of our people for our Apostolic Church, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and Motherland, and were especially pleased to hear the native language of our children so far from Armenia.

Dear friends, we see your church and nationwide work that builds community life as we hear the words of respect and appreciation for our people living in Australia that you earn in your blessed country through your faithful life, your activity and your toil. Indeed, among the Armenian communities worldwide, the Australian community is one of the youngest, but has solid roots and a foundation that continues and strengthens with the zeal and good faith of your church, community leadership and benefactors.

The life of your Armenian community has not been created easily.”  His Holiness said, expressing gratitude to the present state officials of Australia the authorities, for the kind attitude and support shown towards the children of the Armenian people. His Holiness also touched upon the brotherly affection and cooperation of the sister churches in Australia, which was also reflected in the visit of the delegation of the Christian Churches of Australia to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in 2018.

The Catholicos of All Armenians conveyed information on the activities of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, about the existing priorities and challenges. He spoke about Armenian life and the responsibility towards the Homeland. “Today, dear ones, our people in the homeland and the Diaspora live in good expectations that are related to the reforms in Armenia, the hope of our country’s development and progress. Armenia’s development is of vital importance to our nation-settled people living in the blockade, as well as the security of Artsakh, the strength of our army and our borders. A powerful homeland is the basis of our national life, the guarantee of our aspirations. Our people living in the Diaspora now have more opportunities to contribute to the homeland, to unite with their homeland, to develop their progress, to embody their desires,” the Armenian Patriarch emphasised.
His Holiness urged the Armenian people to strengthen themselves with faith and to educate their children in faith, nurture love for the nation, teach children the native language, for the present day and for the future.