Patriarch of the Minassian Armenian Catholic Church in Fresno, California
The head of the Armenian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Raphael Bedros XXI Minassian, visited Fresno on Monday.
The visit ended with an evening prayer service he led at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Fresno, followed by a reception, before he left for Northern California. The Vespers service included chanting in Armenian and Minassian’s thanks for the Fresno welcome he received.
“Our hearts rang with joy,” said Bishop Joseph Brennan of Diocese of Fresno sharing his thanks.
Minassian serves under Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the Catholic Church. Born in Lebanon, Minassian was the Bishop of Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe before his election as patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church last year and served as parish priest in the United States for 15 years. He was also picked earlier this month represent catholics at the Middle East Council of Churches.
His visit to the Central San Joaquin Valley was a “unique opportunity” for community member Bryan Tellalian.
“We are kind of in a diaspora situation, and so even among Armenians, Armenian Catholics are a small group, so it means a lot to us that our patriarch thought of us to come here to Fresno,” Tellalian said. . “We are very grateful and feel very blessed.”
There are approximately 800,000 Armenian Catholics worldwide, the Diocese of Fresno said.
Tellalian shared his thanks at the end of the prayer service as a representative of the Fresno Armenian community. Many are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Minassian visited the Armenian Genocide Monument in Fresno State earlier today.
By helping to announce his visit, the Fresno Armenian Museum stressed that there is a need for more charity in Armenia, Lebanon and the Middle East as thousands suffer the effects of war and an economic crisis and those interested in helping can donate to Armenian Catholic Eparchy.
Some Valley clergy of the Armenian Apostolic Church joined Monday’s prayer service. The Armenian Catholic Church is different from the Armenian Apostolic Church, another ancient religious sect, but Minassian told the Catholic News Agency that they share many similarities: “They have the same creed. They have the same liturgy. They have the same prayer.
Also Monday, First Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno hosted a Memorial Day picnic to celebrate its 125th birthday. First Armenian described itself as the oldest Armenian church in California.