TINA ATTASHIAN–STAFF WRITER
Having the opportunity to listen or actually meet His Holiness Karekin I was a first time experience for many of the youth at Fresno State. Talking to Fresno State students, His Holiness’ visit created a lot of thoughts and emotions about Christianity. Vahan Balekian, a junior at CSUF and member of ASO stated, ” Karekin I really changed my everyday views. He left me realizing that knowing about the Bible and is one thing and living by it is another. Also, his speech about the Word being in our souls and that we need to bring it out and pass it on to others was inspiring and emotional.” Other students like Autumn Goodmon, the vice-president of the Christian Sorority on campus, Alpha Delta Chi, agreed, ” I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was impressed how well he spoke English. He was able to touch the hearts of many students, including myself.”
Although His Holiness touched the lives of many students in a religious way, he approached the topic of preserving the Armenian culture and encouraged many of the youth, leaving them with patriotic feelings. Raffy Khorozian, president of ASO, said, “After hearing him at the youth rally he gave me the determination and hope to preserve and uphold Armenian culture and tradition.” Crissi Jelladian, vice-president of ASO, expressed her feelings as she explained, ” It was so encouraging when His Holiness spoke of how the Armenian culture is not only knowing the language, but also different things like the food and the dancing. Sometimes people will judge how Armenian you are by the fact of if you know the language, but as the Catholicos told everyone, ‘Just as long as your heart and efforts are in the right place, then you are just as Armenian as anyone else!'”
During the Catholicos’ visit he spread his enthusiasm about unity among the Armenian community. The youth rally at St. Paul’s Church was an event that the youth from all different churches attended. Manuel Momjian, a CSUF student and ASO member at the rally stated, ” There should not be a difference between one Armenian and the other because of the church we attend, we are all the same, we are all Armenians! It’s great that tonight I can look around and see many of the youth from other churches in just one. This is a step of unifying the Armenians that we should have taken a long time ago.” Anna Yergat, also a Fresno State student, added, “Just the Catholicos’ presence helped bring the churches together. After listening to Him speak I know the two churches are going to join together as one more often.”
From talking to many of the youth His Holiness Karekin I came and left leaving a mark in all those lives he had contact with. Aznive Tchapadarian, vice-president of ASO, explained, ” I was surprised and impressed that someone of such high caliber was able to communicate so effectively with the youth and really reach out to all of us. He left leaving us all something to think about.” The pontifical visit was one that truly inspired the youth in a spiritual and unifying manner.