Primate Very Rev. Parsamyan

Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan Takes His Place as Primate of the Eastern Diocese


By Stephan S. Nigohosian

NEW YORK — In a spiritually moving and significant milestone in the life of the Eastern Diocese, clergy and faithful laity gathered as one Christian body at St. Vartan Cathedral on June 9, to bear witness as Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan took his place as the 13th Diocesan Primate.

Several hundred faithful filled the cathedral sanctuary to take part in the special “service of enthronement.” In addition, the event was broadcast live on the Diocese Facebook and YouTube media channels, providing the global Armenian community with the opportunity to join in the beginning of a new chapter in the Diocese’s 124-year history.

As the service commenced, deeply rooted traditions of our Armenian Christian faith were unmistakably visible. Incense wafted from the poorvar (censer) and swirled about the clergy entered the sanctuary in procession, filling the cathedral with the sweet smell of God’s Kingdom. Fr. Mesrop bestowed blessings among the faithful as he made his way towards the altar, and the expressions of joy and reverence on the faces of all who interacted with him reflected how deeply they were moved by the emotional experience.

Among the high clergy in the procession were Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate, and Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Fr. Parsamyan’s predecessor as Primate, who stood abreast with him at the foot of the altar in a gesture of unity and grace.

Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan, Primate, left, with the previous Primate, Bishop Daniel Findikyan

“The most tangible symbol of the Primate’s authority is the assa, the ceremonial walking staff, which I have the great honor of placing into the hands of our new Primate, Hayr Mesrop Vartabed,” said Findikyan as he passed the staff into Parsamyan’s hand.

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He added, “I will pray fervently that our Lord God may bestow upon you every grace, gift, and virtue that you will need to successfully pastor our people and lead our parishes and clergy, for the building up of our Diocese and church, and for the glory of Almighty God.”

Our Apostolic Mission

After taking up the staff, and expressing his mutual gratitude to the outgoing Primate, Parsamyan addressed the flock in his new position. “I am humbled by this honor bestowed upon me, and blessed by the opportunities that lie ahead,” he began.

After offering words of thanks to the faithful, the Catholicos, and his parents, Fr. Mesrop spoke about the importance of the word arakelagan—“apostolic”—as it pertains to the Armenian Church. “Our ancestors received the Gospel from Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, who actually lived with Christ,” he explained. “Apostolic also means that our church upholds the true teachings of the apostles of Jesus: clear and pure, ancient yet always new, unchanged yet sensitive to present conditions, so that each generation can receive our Lord’s teachings.”

Above all, though, Parsamyan affirmed the Apostolic nature of the Armenian Church as a mission to “draw people closer to God.” He spoke of the urgency of the Apostolic call “to go forth” among the people, “carrying the light of our Lord Jesus Christ and the deep wisdom of our ancient, holy church into the world.”

He briefly referenced the distressing state of the world in recent years, but then continued: “Our Lord has better plans for his children, to bring them help and hope for the future…. Upon the strong foundation of our church, and by God’s will, we will grow in faith together.”

Guests at the reception

“The church needs you,” he said, in a call to action directed to people both in the sanctuary and watching from home. “But more important than that,” he added: “We all need the church.”

The public reception that followed was a welcome occasion for people in the community —including visitors and clergy from parishes across the breadth of the Diocese — to gather together and express their warm-hearted good wishes to the new Primate, in the elegant atmosphere of the Diocesan Center’s Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.

The viewing audience for the Enthronement Service included thousands of people from across the Diocese and around the world, sharing in the service as it was broadcast over the Internet. The dedicated production team included director Yervant Keshishian, narrator Christopher Zakian, and Artur Petrosyan. Diran Jebejian photographed the event.

A native of Yerevan, the Primate received his Archimandrite (Vardapet) rank (the doctoral degree of the Armenian Church) and holds a Bachelor’s degree in theology from Gevorgian Theological Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, as well as a Master’s degree in Theology and Religious Sciences from the University of Strasbourg, France.

After being ordained into the holy priesthood in 2003, he served as the staff-bearer for His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians. Bishop Mesrop was also a professor (and later became Dean) at Gevorgian Theological Seminary, as well as deputy-chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin.

Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan, Primate flanked by Saro and Hilda Hartounian of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of Greater New York

Fr. Mesrop arrived in the United States in 2015, where he became pastor of Holy Shoghagat Church in Belleville, IL. He subsequently became Director of Ministries at the Diocesan Center in New York City, and was appointed Vicar of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in 2018.

With the blessing and confirmation of Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Fr. Parsamyan assumed the office of the 13th Diocesan Primate on May 17, 2022, following his election to that office during the 120th Diocesan Assembly session of May 6.

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