A four-day pontifical visit to St. Sarkis Church was held between May 20 and 23.
His Holiness started the visit with a private reception held at the hotel with the sponsors of the visit, Hagop and Aida Dakessian, Raffi and Patricia Kuredjian, Eric and Nicole Kachikian, Mike and Laura Dorian, and Michael and Tamar Kadian along with the co-chairs of the visit, Mr. Raffi Ourlian and Dr. Jeff Noroyan.
His Holiness was welcomed by Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian, pastor, Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian, Armenian clergy of greater Detroit, members of the parish's board of trustees, community organizations and parishioners.
The Hayamzkain Arax Dance group performed a dance welcoming His Holiness, which followed with the traditional blessing of the bread and the salt. A bouquet of flowers was offered to the Catholicos, as customary. Archbishop Oshagan, however, explained the special significance of this gesture. The flowers were being offered by a young girl, Teny Topouzian whose great-grandmother had offered flowers to Catholicos Sahak when he visited Aintab 112 years ago. The Homenetmen scouts greeted His Holiness and the Hrashapar service began, with the participation of the choir deacons and acolytes.
In his message to the assembled parishioners and guests, His Holiness focused on a biblical verse, "If any want to become my followers, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me," (Luke 9:23). The Catholicos said that the "Church, as the people of God, deepens our faith and shows us how to serve God by living Jesus's words."
Following the service, His Holiness greeted and blessed the faithful and met with representatives of the interfaith community who were in attendance.
A reception followed at the Lillian Arakelian Hall. Emcee of the day was Mr. Raffi Ourlian. National anthems were sung and were followed with a short program by ARS Zavarian School, Sunday School and Hamazkain dance group and ended with Q & A with His Holiness.
On May 21, a Requiem Service was held at St Sarkis Church in memory of Archbishop Gorun Babian, who passed in Lebanon that same morning.
His Holiness was the guest of the Lebanese Counsel General, Mr. Bilal Kabalan who had invited over 20 Christian and Muslim leader of greater Detroit to meet with His Holiness. They had lunch with him. On Thursday night, a fundraising event took place hosted by the Michael and Tamar Kadian family at the Pine Lake Country Club.
On May 22, His Holiness met with leaders of the church and community organizations in the Detroit area. In his remarks, the Catholicos emphasized that our community is built by a number of organizations with the church as the center of our common life. "Each of the organizations has its specific functions and priorities and we must preserve them, and avoid duplication, contradiction, or polarization," the Catholicos said. His Holiness also advised: "We are one nation. In our reflection and action we must have a holistic approach by maintaining the dynamic interaction between the homeland, diaspora, and the local community. Therefore we must develop pan-Armenian perspectives, reflections and actions."
Special thanks to the organizing committee members, representatives of church and community organizations, who made this event a success.