JACUELINE ARIKIAN–STAFF WRITER
His Holiness Karekin I visited California State University, Fresno to deliver a message of religious education and revival. He centered his speech around the importance of educating Armenians in the homeland, where Christian education has been virtually nonexistence over the past several years. “Fortunately faith has been kept in the hearts of the Armenian people,” said the Catholicos. Ironically Armenia was the first Christian nation yet in the present they lack religious knowledge. What happened to the Armenian people who once had devoted religious teaching?
In the not so distant past communism took its toll. “It was official communist policy to eliminate religion from the life of the people,” explained His Holiness to the students, faculty and community of Fresno State. Armenia is now a free and independent nation. With their new found freedom, has come new found religious education that promises to provide knowledge to the youth and residents of Armenia.
The message of the Catholicos not only had religious impact on the audience, but provided insight on the true meaning of education. “Christian education is not a function of the church. The church is the education of life. It is a spiritual and intellectual uplifting,” explained His Holiness. He went on to say ,”Teaching is a matter of life, not the transmission of ideas.” He enabled the audience to grasp that knowledge is not only formal education, rather the fusion of traditional education and personal experience. It is with the combination of both, that one is able to better understand the ways of life, and with the interjection of Christian education one is able to obtain greater light in understanding the purpose of life.
The insightful, youth focused, message of His Holiness, did not stop at Fresno State. The following morning it continued at St. Paul Armenian Church, where a special breakfast was held in honor of His Holiness Karekin. His Holiness, sitting at the head table with the many other priests, had heartfelt smile upon his face, a smile that lit up my heart and touched my soul. Their was something pleasing about his very presence and the happiness he experienced as he watched the little servants of God perform a heartwarming presentation, consisting of traditional Armenian songs and contemporary musical pieces, clearly expressing the love of God that the children had within their hearts.
As the performance of the children grew to an end, the Armenian people knew that the visit of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians would soon be coming to an end as well. However, their was one last message to be delivered. “If anyone asks me if Armenia is a nation of the past, I would say if you were in St. Paul’s Hall on February 10th, you would know that this nation is a nation for the future, not of the past.”
Reflecting on His Holiness during his four day visit, it is obvious that one was not only listening to a man who was elected as the head of the Armenian Church, but listening to a man of great insight and knowledge, not only in a religious aspect, but in an aspect of everyday life, where “the truth is always within.”