On Sunday, the 28th of March 2010, at 7:00 PM, the opening ceremony of St Krikor Naregatsi center of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate took place under the patronage of His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics and the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Mrs. Hranoush Hagopian. On this occasion, a ceremony took place in the UAC «Araradian» Hall in Beirut - Lebanon. Mrs. Hagopian was in Beirut from the 25th of March to make the acquaintance of the Armenian community.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia Ashot Kocharian, Consul of Armenia Ashod Vartanian, deputies including Minister of State Jean Ogasapian, MP Serge Tor Sarkissian and MP Sebouh Kalpakian, former minister Hagop Choukhadarian; the representative of patriarchal eparchy His Excellency Mgr. Vartan Ashkarian, the High Priest of Bzommar Father Michael Mouradian, the representatives of governmental, communal, cultural and informational institutions and a large number of people were present at the opening ceremony of St. Krikor Naregatsi center as well as at the ceremony that took place on this occasion. They all came to affirm the foundation of this unique institution and at the same time to make the acquaintance of the officer who has taken charge of the direction of the communication and the cooperation between Armenia and the Diaspora.
Before starting the ceremony, the Most Reverend Spiritual Father and Mrs. Hagopian, accompanied by a group of guests, walked round the center and got acquainted with its structure. On this occasion, they offered their good wishes for the personnel’s successful work. Then, they went to the « Araradian » Hall where the ceremony dedicated to the opening of the center started with the Lebanese and Armenian national anthems.
The opening speech was made by Mrs. Zevart Nadjarian, the representative of the committee who welcomed the minister Hagopian. She welcomed Mrs. Hagopian by emphasizing that the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate doors were always wide open in front of the native country representatives and that there is a cooperation between them in all the domains related to the Armenians’ life. She also emphasized that the Armenian people must be guided on the principle that says « one nation, one culture, one identity, one heritage, one history and one destiny ». Mrs. Nadjarian was thankful that, within the application of this principle, the Diaspora minister contributed, through her work, to the development of the buildings belonging to the Armenians living in the Diaspora as well as to the coordination and reinforcement works. On this occasion, Mrs. Nadjarian congratulated Mrs. Hagopian on obtaining the «Woman of the Year » title.
Then, the director of St. Krikor Naregatsi center Father Vartan Kazandjian made a speech in which he first declared the foundation of the center with the permission of the Most Reverend Spiritual Father and to the knowledge of all. Then, he presented the work principles and the structure of the center.
Concerning the organization, St. Krikor Naregatsi center has 6 ways of working that 6 corresponding offices will take care of them. These offices are the school Armenology development office, the Mass media and Information office, the Statistics office, the ritual studies office, the pastoral office, the Christian education office.
After describing briefly the work of each office, Father Kazandjian said « In these work fields, St. Krikor Naregatsi center will live Christianity and will let others live it within the Armenian culture and exceptionally through it ». He added by saying that « Being based on the Christian principles, relied on universal experience and strengthened by the purest origins of the Armenian culture, this center will advance in order to participate in safeguarding the Armenian Christian heritage and to enrich it with new values ».
Father Vartan Kazandjian affirmed that the center believes in clear principles and will stay away from the circumstantial agendas. He emphasized by saying that « St. Krikor Naregatsi center is involved in investigation for it is the choice of the center in order to find new things that lead to good things and it is possible to succeed in accomplishing this mission only if we get acquainted with the old heritage and we safeguard it ». Father Kazandjian mentioned that the center started out with such principles and such an ideal that in case of translating thoughts into actions particularly in different outlines, the center can be called to play the greatest role in the Armenians’ life for the sake of the new Armenian in the new epoch ».
By talking about the denomination of the center, Father Kazandjian said that « Being inspired by Naregatsi, the greatest character who safeguarded the Armenian culture; this center chooses to safeguard its work fields, by always becoming aware of all the difficulties and challenges in order to become ready and apt to do such work ».
He informed that the center will have its fund and its supportive co-workers. On this occasion, he invited them all to cooperate in order to realize the pursued aims.
Father Kazandjian was thankful to the minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Mrs. Hranoush Hagopian, who presided this meeting, for supporting the center, along with the Government of the Republic of Armenia, in a work that is done for all of us, since it is important and urgent for the native country, the nation and the church ».
Then, the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal «Groung» choir presented an artistic program, being directed by Dr. Edward Toriguian and accompanied by Tamar Kassabian who played the piano.
The choir performed professionally «Voghchouyn kez Mariam», «Alakiaz Achert», «Chaghatss mani mani», «Havoun havoun», «Ya Beirut» and «Tson mayreni lezvin» songs and the audience showed its appreciation of the performance.
The minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranoush Hagopian declared that on the occasion of her visit to Lebanon, she as a Diaspora minister is revived by seeing the love and the warmth that the Lebanese Armenian people show toward the native country and seeing the Armenian scented atmosphere that dominates the real situation of the Armenians in Lebanon.
The minister said that her first acquaintance with the Lebanese Armenian community is already enough to affirm that Lebanon is the capital of the Diaspora with its active life including the Armenian culture, education and associations.
Mrs. Hagopian congratulated the audience on the foundation of St. Krikor Naregatsi center and appreciated greatly the work done by the Armenian Catholic Church in order to protect the Armenians. She guaranteed that the ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and the newly created center can, together, realize projects to make an important contribution to the cooperation between Armenia and the Diaspora.
She emphasized that, at present, the Armenian people are resisting and in order to win they must be gathered by uniting the faculties of all the Armenians in the world. The minister said that the Armenians, living in the Diaspora, are resisting in order to safeguard their identity. While in Armenia, they are resisting in order to form the government. She mentioned that the two Armenian parties are obliged to help each other in order to succeed on all fronts.
Mrs. Hagopian considered the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the condemnation as well as the independence of Artsakh and the reinforcement of Armenia as the current priorities of the Armenians. She guaranteed that the Government of the Republic of Armenia is supporting the Diaspora unreservedly, with regard to the Genocide and in its turn, it is claiming justice. The minister added that Armenia is supporting Artsakh strongly and will never accept that that part of the Armenian world becomes once again subject to the foreign domination. She invited the Armenians living in the Diaspora to grasp at the native country which is Armenia and to contribute greatly to its establishment as a prosperous and powerful government and as the true governmental house of the Armenian people.
His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Catholicos Patriarch ended the ceremony dedicated to the opening of St Krikor Naregatsi center with «Bahbanich» prayer.