The leader of the Armenian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, visited Fresno on Monday. The visit culminated with an evening prayer service that he led at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Fresno, followed by a reception, before he departed for Northern California. The Vespers service included chants in Armenian and thanks from Minassian for the Fresno welcome he received.

His visit to the central San Joaquin Valley was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for community member Bryan Tellalian. “We’re kind of in a diaspora situation, and so even amongst Armenians, Armenian Catholics are a small group, so it just means a whole lot to us that our patriarch thought of us to come here to Fresno,” Tellalian said. “We’re very grateful, and we feel very blessed.”

There are approximately 800,000 Armenian Catholics throughout the world, the Diocese of Fresno said. Tellalian shared his thanks at the end of the prayer service as a representative for Fresno’s Armenian community. Many are descendants of Armenian genocide survivors. Minassian visited the Armenian Genocide Monument at Fresno State earlier in the day.

Full story at Fresno Bee.