Metro Area Armenians Welcome their Pontiff

November 1, 2007

Author: Gregg Krupa

Source: The Detroit News

SOUTHFIELD -- Elizabeth Aprahamian, 5 years old and precious in a folkloric costume of her family's homeland, stood in the vestibule of St. John Armenian Church on Wednesday night waiting for the arrival of Karekin II, the pontiff of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church.

Aprahamian spoke shyly the Armenian greeting she would offer to Karekin in just moments. Then, with a big smile revealing her missing two front teeth, she switched to English and said, "That means, 'I'm your servant.' "

For months, many of the Armenian Orthodox, who number about 3,000 among the 30,000 people of Armenian descent in Metro Detroit, prepared for the three-day visit of their pontiff at the end of Karekin II's 15-stop, month-long pilgrimage through the United States. For a church still throwing off the isolation of communism and previous eras and busy embracing both Armenians in diaspora and their fellow Christians, the trip has been a extraordinary episode.