YEREVAN (Combined sources) – On the morning of Thursday, November 19, Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian, Primate of the Diocese of Gougark (centered in Vanadzor, Armenia), died of Covid-19. The Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin released the following statement: “The death of His Holiness is a great loss for the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Diocese of Gougark and its faithful children.”
Archbishop Chouldjian, who was born in Malatya, Turkey, in 1959, received his primary education as Istanbul’s Nersesian School before his family resettled in Armenia in 1969. As a native of Turkey and former Istanbul resident, the archbishop had a special place in the hearts of Istanbul-Armenians. Meanwhile, he was the Primate of Gougark, a mostly rural area in northern Armenia which includes the city of Vanadzor and the region of Lori.
The Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos wrote the following: “The Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin related the sad news, which caused deep grief for the multitudes of people that loved him. Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian, especially in Vanadzor where he held office, produced fruitful labor, above all in organizing a childrens’ camp, which housed hundreds of kids in the summer months, ensuring them happy times along with patriotic and spiritual education.
“Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian put forth his candidacy in the Istanbul Patriarchal elections [in 2010], but the dark circles that forbade Archbishop Karekin Bekjian’s locum-tenancy also, by treachery, blocked Chouldjian Srpazan’s candidacy.”
The Agos newspaper further editorialized that “The Armenian Apostolic Church, with the death of Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian, loses one who was truly sworn and dedicated to it, reminding us of the words Barouyr Sevag wrote about Gomidas Vartabed: ‘A Biblical staff, which turns whatever it touches into a spring of water.’”
According to Istanbul’s Jamanak newspaper, Patriarch of Istanbul Sahag II Mashalyan also sent his condolences to Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and released a lengthy statement in the press, as well as requesting all Istanbul churches to hold a memorial service for Archbishop Chouldjian on Sunday, November 22.