(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The Armenian-Lebanese community in the United States welcomed His Holiness Aram I Keshishian, the leader of the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church during an official visit this month.
The religious leader’s month-long visit includes meetings with American diplomats and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and a keynote address to the Armenian Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly on June 7.
Keshishian, who resides in Antelias, Lebanon, had planned a visit to the United States on October 2012 but canceled because of the conflict in Syria that impacted the Syrian-Armenian community.
His stay in the United States will include stops at several Prelacy parishes, where services will focus on the theme “Faithfulness to Our Armenian Christian Heritage,’’ according to a statement released by the Armenian Prelacy.
“In order to remain rooted in our Armenian identity in the diaspora, we should organize and be renewed as community in the church,” the religious leader said.
Keshishian visited the Lebanese Embassy in Washington D.C. on May 11 to meet with Ambassador Antoine Chedid. They discussed the ongoing political and security situation in Lebanon and the threats Christians face in the Middle East.
Keshishian also met with In Defense of Christians Coalition President Toufic Baakline, and Senior Advisor Andrew Dorani. The Catholicos thanked the coalition for their advocacy on behalf of Christians in the Middle East and for their recent statement on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Before Keshishian returns to Lebanon in June, he will visit churches in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
It is his fourth visit to the Eastern Prelacy — the first one was in 1997.