Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian

Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian Dies at 92

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LOS ANGELES — The Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church reported on Sunday, December 18 the passing of former Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian. He was 92 years old.

Archbishop Hovsepian (baptismal name Hovsep) was born on June 11, 1930, in Beirut, Lebanon. He received his primary education at the Armenian Mesrobian School in Lebanon. Upon his graduation, he entered the Theological Seminary of Antelias.

On June 24, 1951, he was ordained as a celibate priest by Bishop Terenig Poladian, and given the priestly name of Vatche. Upon his ordination, he was appointed to serve as the Dean Assistant and Instructor at the Seminary.

In 1953, he went to study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

In 1956, he was assigned as the spiritual pastor of the Holy Cross Armenian Church of Union City, NJ. Here he continued his studies at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary at Rutgers and received a Bachelor’s of Divinity degree.

In 1967, he was appointed as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Canada. There he organized new parishes and facilitated the implementation of a new constitution for the Canadian Diocese, bringing it into compliance with Canadian requirements.

Archbishop Hovsepian in 2018

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In October 1967, he was consecrated as a bishop by Catholicos of All Armenians Vasken I.

In March 1971, he was elected as the Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. During his tenure in the Western Diocese, he established thirteen new parishes and ordained eight priests. In addition, he elevated and inducted into the ecclesiastical ranks of Acolyte, sub-Deacon and Deacon, hundreds of youth within the Diocese.

In 1976, upon the commemoration of his 25th anniversary of ordination, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop by the pontifical encyclical of Catholicos of All Armenians Vasken I.

In April 1985, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks, he was invited to address both House of the State Legislature of the United States.

In 1986, he served as a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Church.

In 1988, after the disastrous earthquake in Armenia, Archbishop Hovsepian established an Orphan’s Fund in the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. In addition, under his auspices, the Western Diocese re-built the St. Gregory the Illuminator High School in Stepanavan, Armenia. During his tenure, St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian Armenian School was founded in Pasadena, California, which serves the Armenian youth within the Los Angeles area.

In 1994, the Diocesan headquarters were demolished because of the Northridge Earthquake and temporarily moved to the St. Gregory Armenian Church in Pasadena.

In May 1997, through the Primate’s initiative, a new territory for the Diocesan headquarters was purchased and a new spacious Western Diocesan headquarters were built in Burbank, California.

Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin I appointed Archbishop Vatche to serve as the Chairman of the Constitution Committee of the Armenian Church. He was charged with drafting a constitution which was completed in 2002 and submitted for review and approval.

Upon the demise of Catholicos of All Armenians Vasken I, Archbishop Vatche was asked by the Locum Tenens, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, to organize the National Ecclesiastical Assembly in Echmiadzin for the election of the new Catholicos; which he carefully planned and organized.

In 2003, after 32 years of devout service, Archbishop Vatche retired as Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.

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