PRESS RELEASE
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 10) 517 163
Fax: (374 10) 517 301
E-Mail: [email protected]
Website: www.armenianchurch.org
May 7, 2006

"Be strengthened with faith. Death is not the end of life!"

On Saturday evening, May 7, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and
Catholicos of All Armenians, presided during a solemn requiem service
offered in the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral of Yerevan, in memory
of the victims of the recent Armavia airline disaster. Three days earlier,
the Yerevan-Sochi flight carrying 113 men, women and children was lost in a
tragic accident prior to landing at the Adler airport in the Russian resort
city. Many of the relatives, friends and co-workers of the crew and
passengers were in attendance for the service.

The Pontiff of All Armenians addressed his words of consolation to the
families and friends of the victims, as well as to the entire grieving
Armenian nation dispersed throughout the world. He stated in part, "We have
gathered today in this holy sanctuary, to pray together for the eternal rest
of the souls of the victims who perished in the airline disaster three days
ago... Our great sorrow is shared by millions of people, countless nations,
clergymen and statesmen, who raise their prayers to heaven asking that God
Almighty receive the souls of the victims in luminous and blessed
tranquility and grant solace and consolation to their families and friends.

"Adversities, worries, sorrow and even death are a part of this life.
However, death is not the end of life... Those who perished in this tragedy
departed from us, but life has not departed from them. They went to join
our Creator, Almighty God, Who with His unending love for us, has granted us
eternal life through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

"It is always difficult to become separated from a loved one, great is the
pain of his or her loss. We are unaware of how God will heal the sorrows
and pains, what solace He will bestow, but let our hope in God's mercy be
unshakeable and everlasting. It is God Who strengthens us when we are
filled with sorrow and weak of spirit... As the Apostle states, God
comforts us in our afflictions, so that we may comfort those who are
afflicted as well. (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

"We offer prayers from the depths of our heart, asking that the Lord, in His
love and mercy, receive the souls of the 113 victims of the tragedy and make
them worthy to dwell in His Divine company, and through the Holy Spirit,
grant solace and comfort to their beloved family members, friends and
neighbors. Dear ones - Be strengthened with faith. Death is not the end of
life! Their lives will continue through your righteous works and
God-pleasing paths, and their memories will remain forever alight."

Present for the service were President of Armenia Robert Kocharian and First
Lady Bella Kocharian, Prime Minister and Mrs. Andranik Margarian, National
Assembly (parliament) President and Mrs. Artur Baghdasarian, Constitutional
Court President and Mrs. Gagik Haroutiunian, Ministers and state officials,
members of the National Assembly, ambassadors and foreign diplomats
accredited to Armenia, high-ranking Church officials, members of the Supreme
Spiritual Council, and more than 5,000 faithful. The service was also
broadcast live throughout Armenia and around the world.

Assisting His Holiness during the service were His Eminence Archbishop
Nerses Bozabalian, member of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin; His
Eminence Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian from the Catholicosate of the Great
House of Cilicia; His Grace Bishop Yeznik Petrosian, director of the
Publications Department of the Mother See; and His Grace Bishop Paren
Avedikian, Director of Administrative Affairs for the Mother See.

His Grace Bishop Arshak Khatchatrian, Chancellor of the Mother See, welcomed
the faithful and asked for a moment of silence at the beginning of the
service, and His Grace Bishop Navasard Kjoyan, Vicar General of the
Araratian Pontifical Diocese, read the Holy Gospel. The traditional Repose
of Souls service concluded with a somber choral rendition of "Der Voghormia"
(Lord, Have Mercy).