His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, was in America this week to bestow a rare distinction on two lifelong servants and defenders of the Armenian Church.
Sarkis Bedevian (of St. Leon Church, Fair Lawn, NJ) and Hratch Toufayan (of St. Mary Church, Livingston, NJ) were each awarded the “Knight of Holy Etchmiadzin” Pontifical Medal, in a ceremony at the Fair Lawn church. The honor is an extremely uncommon one, shared among only a few people in the world: those who have made extraordinary contributions to the worldwide Armenian Church, and to its Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
In his formal remarks, His Holiness described the two honorees with great affection and admiration, extolling not only their remarkable benefactions and achievements, but also the aspects of personal character shared by both men: their humility, vision, and generosity; their dedication to family, and to the Armenian Christian heritage; their willingness to help in every worthy cause, and to build with an eye to the future.
In introductory remarks before the presentation, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan congratulated Catholicos Karekin II on the 20th anniversary of his pontificate, and reflected on the personal bond between the two honorees.
“Above all, Hratch and Sarkis are great friends—a virtue that is the bedrock of a decent, productive, healthy culture,” the Primate said. “Shortly, Vehapar will enlist them into the ‘Order of the Knights of Holy Etchmiadzin’—a name that evokes the great knights of old, and their virtues of courage, loyalty, mutual support, devotion in a shared cause, and brotherly affection.
“Having observed them for many years, I can say that Hratch and Sarkis exemplify these noble qualities in our own age. And they inspire all around them, especially their close family and friends, with a powerful example of brotherly friendship and strength of character.”
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