On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, His Grace, Bishop Irinej of Eastern America was among those invited to a lenten luncheon honoring His Holiness, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch at Saint Vartan Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, the headquarters of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), New York, NY. Hierarchs of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches were invited to the luncheon, hosted by His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Armenian Diocese of Eastern America, Primate of the Armenian Church of America.
His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence, Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Eastern USA; His Eminence, Mor Teethose Yeldo, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese for Northern America; His Eminence, Archbishop of the Knanaya Regions in Europe and America; the Very Rev. Raban Joseph, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director; the Very Rev. Joseph Chamoun; and Deacon George Kiraz.
Archbishop Khajag welcomed His Holiness and assured him of the support of the Armenian Apostolic Church and all the Orthodox Churches in his mission. He expressed the solidarity and prayers of the heads of the churches present at the gathering.
In response, His Holiness thanked Archbishop Khajag for his support and spoke about the current situation of Christians in the Middle East. He also spoke about the ecumenical role of the churches in the Middle East and their common witness for Christ in their deeds and humanitarian actions in the face of the different crises in Syria and Iraq.
Also attending the luncheon from the Eastern Orthodox Churches were His Eminence, Geronta Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America; Archpriest Thomas Zain, who represented His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs for the Orthodox Church in America, who accompanied Metropolitan Tikhon, and Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Zivojin Jakovljevic, Dean of St Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, who accompanied Bishop Irinej.