40th Anniversary of Ordination of Archbishop Barsamian Celebrated


NEW YORK — This year marks the 40th anniversary of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian’s ordination into priesthood.

He has been a supporter of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, of the ongoing development of an independent homeland and of humanitarian outreach to the vulnerable among Armenia’s citizens.

The foundation for Barsamian’s lifelong service and dedication to the Armenian Church was laid when he was a boy in Arapkir, Turkey. A major influence was his pious grandmother, a Genocide survivor, who instilled strong Christian values in him from his earliest years. Raised in a loving and religious family, he began his formal religious studies at the age of 13, at the Holy Cross Seminary in Istanbul. Sensing his potential, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople at the time, Archbishop Shnork Kaloustian, sent the boy to Jerusalem in 1967, to study at St. James Armenian Patriarchate, where he was ordained into the holy priesthood in 1971. His educational pursuits led him throughout the US and Europe: to New York’s General Theological Seminary, St. John’s University in Minneapolis, the Gregorian University in Rome and the Oriental Institute.

The young Barsamian arrived in the United States in 1976 and was appointed pastor of the Armenian Church of Our Saviour in Worcester, Mass. and in 1977 became Grand Sacristan of New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral. He later took on the duties of vicar general of the Diocese under the Primate, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.

He was elected as Primate of the Diocese in 1990, following Manoogian’s election as the Patriarch of Jerusalem and elevated to the rank of bishop by Vazken I, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, at Holy Echmiadzin. Two years later, he received the rank of archbishop.

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Barsamian has also played a leading role representing the Armenian Church in ecumenical organizations, including the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, Religion in American Life and the American Bible Society.

He is the longtime president of the Fund for Armenian Relief, which under his guidance has become one of the leading humanitarian relief and development agencies serving Armenia and its people.

In the Eastern Diocese, Barsamian has devoted his efforts to strengthening the Armenian Church from within. He frequently visits local parishes and plays a pivotal role in the creation and development of programs and ministries at the Diocesan Center, including the Department of Youth and Education.

From very early on his tenure as Primate, Barsamian has focused on a consistent yearly theme for the Diocese, beginning in 1994 with the “Year of the Family.” Other themes have revolved around the Holy Bible, Mission Outreach, Church and Home, Vocations and most recently “The Call to Serve Ministry of the Faithful.”

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