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.