(Armenian-WD) - From February 19-21, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, presided over a regular meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. At the opening of the meeting, His Holiness extended his blessings and appreciation to the Council members for their service.
Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Vicar General of the Armenian Patriarchate ofJerusalem; and Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Vicar General of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, served as the co-Chairmen of the meeting. On the agenda were issues related to adoption of the Constitution; life and the spiritual, educational and outreach mission of the Dioceses; activities for the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; and current problems.
Patriarchal Vicar, Archbishop Aris Shirvanian; presented a report on the recent activities of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, providing details on the election of the Patriarch-elect, Archbishop Nourhan Manougian. Archbishop Aris informed the Council that the applications for ratification of the new Patriarch have been sent to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian authorities. It is expected that ratification will be received soon. The Council members accepted the report and once again congratulated the newly elected Patriarch, wishing that the Lord strengthen him in his efforts to lead the hierarchal See.
Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Patriarchal Vicar, presented a report on the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Archbishop Aram noted that the health condition of Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian remains grave and he is under the constant care of doctors. He also reported on the private efforts for the protection and recovery of the Armenian holy sites. Council members prayed for Gods support for the Patriarch.
Bishop Arshak Khatchatryan, Chancellor of the Catholicosate of All Armenians, presented a report on the 2012 activities of the Mother See, including the educational and ecumenical programs, and the outreach and social missions. 57 Pontifical Encyclicals (Gontags) were issued; 9 priests were ordained, 2 as celibate priests and 7 as married priests, and 35 deacons were ordained. The Total number of ordained clergy is 668, of which 56 are Bishops, 33 are Archimandrites, 61 are Monks, 423 are married Priests, and 95 are Deacons, who serve in the various structures and institutions of the Armenian Church. Currently, there are 220 students enrolled in the religious and educational institutions.
Seven Youth Centers operating under the auspices of the Mother See see attendance by over 5,000 children annually. The new Mer Hooys (Our Hope) Nakashian Children's Home, has been opened, where 10 girls under the age of 20 receive professional education and social support activities for the past year. The Mother See has 51 departments, with a total of 1174 employees, 1032 are lay employees and 142 are Members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Supreme Spiritual Council members welcomed the report and wishing success and vibrancy to the workings of the Mother See.
Supreme Spiritual Council also discussed issues related to the outcomes of the Bishops Council meeting, which was convened at the Mother See in September. The committee discussed the works of various committees: the Canonical Committee, chaired by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America; the Study for Sainthood Committee, chaired by Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan, Primate of the Diocese of Tavush; and the Ritual Committee, chaired by Bishop Arshak Khachatryan, Chancellor of the Catholicosate of All Armenians. The Council received related reports, meeting agendas and materials.
The second session agenda included a discussion of the planned Armenian Church activities for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. They discussed plans presented from Bishop Mikael Ajapahyan Primate of the Shirak Diocese. Mr. Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute discussed the relevance of the planned activities and the possible co-operation with the Mother See. The Supreme Spiritual Council appointed Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, to coordinate proposals for the program and the schedule of events and activities to be undertaken.
The Holy See also heard a report on the religious and educational institutions of the Armenian Church by Bishop Gevork Saroyan, Rector of all Religious and Secular Educational Institutions of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He reported on the religious and educational institutions' activities of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, the Vazgenyan Theological Academy at LakeSevan and the Harichavank Religious High School. He also spoke on the Advanced Clergy Training Course, as well as the programs in and cooperation with Armenia's local and foreign universities.
Reverend Father Vartan Navasardyan, Director of the Christian Education Department of the Mother See, presented a report on the activities of the center, and discussed the effective partnership that has been forged with the Ministry of Education and Science, and the educational programs implemented Ministry of Diaspora, as well as the course "Armenian Church History" which is taught in the public education schools of Armenia. Among the various programs that will be presented in schools for 2013 is a national competition, "The Spiritual and National Song Festival”. The Council members welcomed the initiatives and preparations being undertaken which are placing importance on both ecclesiastical, spiritual and Christian values for the younger generations.
The third session of the Supreme Spiritual Council discussed the support and aid being given to the Armenian Community and Churches in Syria. The Council was informed that the Mother See initially raised and transferred $200,000 USD, and more recently an additional $100,000 USD was raised. The Supreme Council urged the Primates to continue their efforts to help the communities in need, and supportSyria's Armenian community.