Catholicosate of Cilicia
Antelias - Lebanon
1.- Meeting with the children at the Birds Nest Orphanage/School in Byblos
On Monday 23 December 2013, Catholicos Aram I, accompanied by members of the clergy, visited the Birds Nest. The sisters of the Kayanian Order, the members of the Board, the director, faculty and staff, greeted the Catholicos. After watching a special programme, which featured poems, songs and dances by the children, His Holiness talked with the children while the priests distributed gifts they had brought with them.
The Birds Nest was established as an orphanage/school after the Genocide of the Armenians in Turkey. Danish Missionaries brought hundreds of orphaned children to Lebanon at that time. The institution currently serves children from broken or poor families and is hosting children victims of the war in Syria.
2.- Visiting the Howard Karagheusian Association for Child Welfare
The director of the Centre, Mr. Serop Ohanian, welcomed His Holiness Aram I and transmitted the greetings of the General Director of the Foundation at the Headquarters in the United States of America. After thanking the director and the staff for their reception, Catholicos Aram I expressed his appreciation for the work of the Karaghuesian Foundation in Lebanon for its long years of service to the Armenian community and particularly for its family-centred support. The Catholicos then blessed the personnel for expressing God’s love through their work.
3.- Meeting the Members of the Armenian Relief Cross (ARC) at the Araxie Boulghourdjian Social Centre
President of the ARC Mrs Maral Hovhannessian and Director Verjin Sarafian welcomed His Holiness Aram I to their Centre. His Holiness thanked the benefactor of the Centre, Mr. Melkon Boulghourdjian, and the members of the ARC who had come to welcome the Catholicos. His Holiness said that the Centre was close to his heart because he had been involved in the planning of the project with Mr. Boulghourdjian while Prelate of Lebanon. He mentioned the important role of the Social Centre during the civil war in Lebanon and acknowledged its contribution to alleviating the suffering of many needy Armenian families. He also commended the devotion and commitment of Armenian women through the Armenian Relief Cross and wished them a blessed Christmas and a fruitful New Year in 2014.
4.- His Holiness Aram I declares 2014 “Year of the Armenian Elderly” during his visit to the Home for the Elderly
The Armenian Home for the Elderly was the last leg of the pastoral visits of the day for Catholicos Aram I. After the formal welcome of the director, Rev. Sebouh Terzian, the priests accompanying His Holiness held a prayer service. The programme continued with a cultural programme prepared and presented by the residents of the Home. The Catholicos thanked the members of the Board and the director and staff of the Home for their services to the elderly. Addressing the elderly, the Catholicos told them that the Home is not an institution, but a home that belongs to the community, hence their home. He then announced that, in order to continue the tradition he had instituted to acknowledge and pay respect to the different members of the Armenian community in the world, he is declaring 2014 as the Year of the Armenian Elderly.
During the visit to the Karaghuesian Foundation, the Armenian Relief Cross and the Elderly Home, His Holiness Aram I was accompanied by the Prelate of Lebanon, Bishop Shahé Panossian, Priests, Panos Manjian, a member of the Government, Vrej Saboundjian, the Minister of Industry, and Hagop Pakradouni, a member of Parliament.
5.- His Holiness Visits the Azounieh Sanatorium-Hospital in the Chouf Region
On Thursday 26 2013, His Holiness Aram I concluded his pastoral visits by going to the Azounieh Hospital accompanied by members of the clergy. Following the prayer service, the Catholicos addressed the medical staff and thanked them for their care and attention towards the residents. He then blessed the patients. Before leaving the Sanatorium-Hospital, the Catholicos, accompanied by the clergy, visited the bed-stricken patients and prayed with them; the priests served them the Eucharist.