Students welcome spiritual leader

The Armenian spiritual leader visited Chamlian Armenian School on Wednesday, blessing a new gymnasium during a ground-breaking ceremony.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I received a warm welcome from students, teachers and parents during his visit to the school Wednesday morning. Students offered him and his clergy bread and salt in what Principal Vazken Madenlian described as an old Armenian welcome dating back centuries.

“That was emotional, of course,” Madenlian said.

The pontiff encouraged students to maintain the Armenian language, continue to study their culture and to flourish.

He then broke ground for the school’s forthcoming gymnasium with a shovel after blessing the site. His nearly two-hour-long visit had him speaking informally in classrooms and concluded with students from Glendale’s Tufenkian pre-school, Pasadena’s Tavlian School and Chamlian performing songs for him in the auditorium.

Nairi Padilla of Burbank, a mother of a fourth-grade student, called his visit “a big deal.”

“You think, ‘God, I’m spending all this money and times are hard. Maybe I should send my kid to a public school,’” she said. “But then you realize, ‘No. He made the sacrifice to come and visit these kids and come and brighten their day.’ It just makes it worth it.”

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