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Former Pastors

Archbishop Karekin II Kazanjian, (May 18, 1927, Istanbul (Turkey) - March 10, 1998 İstanbul) was the 83rd Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople under the authority of the Catholicos of Armenia and of all Armenians.

Archbishop Karekin was born Petros Kazancıyan in 1927 in Istanbul. Young Petros attended Levon Vartuhiyan School in Topkapı, İstanbul and then the Bezaziyan and Getronagan schools. In October 1940 he was accepted as a seminarian in the Patriarchal Seminary of the St. James Brotherhood in Jerusalem.


In 1945 he was ordained a deacon and on January 22, 1950, he was elevated to the priesthood by Archbishop Mampre Sirounian, the Primate of Egypt.

From 1946 to 1949, Father Karekin was the Assistant Dean of the Seminary of Jerusalem; he also taught at the Seminary as well as at the Tarkmançats School until 1951. For two years, he was the Chancellor of the Holy See of Jerusalem, the second Chairman of the General Assembly of the Brotherhood, and also a member of the Executive Council.

Responding to an invitation by Archbishop Karekin Khachadourian, Patriarch of the Armenians in Turkey, Father Karekin returned to Istanbul in December 1951 to accept the position of Dean of the planned Holy Cross Seminary. Until the formal opening of the Seminary, which took place in January 1954, he taught at the Getronagan and Bezjian secondary schools and served as the Dean of classes for the preparation of priests at the Patriarchate. On the day of the opening of the Holy Cross Seminary, he received the rank of Dzayrakuyn Vartabed, supreme doctorate of Christian dogma, from Patriarch Karekin I. At this institution, he continued to teach classical and modern Armenian literature and served as Dean until July 1959.

In December 1959, Father Karekin went to the United States and accepted the position of pastor of St. Mary Church in Washington, DC.

On October 24, 1966 he was ordained Bishop by Catholicos Vazken I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

From the Washington, DC parish he went to Australia as the first primate of that newly established diocese, where he presided until March 1981, when he was elected to the position of Grand Sacristan of the Brotherhood of St. James in Jerusalem.

Bishop Karekin's thesis for the rank of Vartabedutyun was "Four Minor Prophets", which was published in the 1950-1951 issues of the monthly Sion, the official newsletter of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. His thesis for the rank of Dzayrakooyn Vartabed, was "The Encyclicals of St. Nersess Shnorhali", which he translated into modern Armenian with commentary. Bishop Karekin published religious and literary articles in several journals such as Dziadzan, Sion, Hayasdanyayts Yegeghetsi, Nor Ashkharh, and Marmara.

Through his efforts, a beautiful Armenian church was built in Washington, DC. in 1962.

Bishop Karekin was also instrumental in the construction of a new church in Sydney, Australia in 1972 and in Melbourne in 1976. During his tenure of office, a beautiful and magnificent building was purchased in Sydney to serve as headquarters of the Diocese of Australia. He exerted much effort to alleviate the mortgage on these buildings.

From 1981 to September 5, 1990, he was the Grand Sacristan of the Holy See of Jerusalem. Since 1981 he was elected to serve on a committee that audited the finances of the Monastery and with three other people he was in charge of the possessions of the Monastery. During that time he also taught the senior students of the Seminary.

Archbishop Karekin Kazancıyan was elevated to the position of Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople in September 1990.

On March 10, 1998, Archbishop Karekin Kazancıyan died at the Surp Pırgıç (Holy Saviour) Armenian hospital in Istanbul. He was 71 years of age.

Bishop Paren Avedikian was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His baptismal name was Haroutioun. He received his general education in local Armenian schools in Beirut; following which he entered the Theological Seminary of the Aremenian Catholicate of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon.

As a young seminarian, in 1957, he went to the Holy Land, Jeruselum, to continue his ecclesiastical studies at the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jeruselem, where the Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Manoogian was serving as Dean. On February 7, 1960, following his graduation from the Seminary, Haroutioun was ordained a celibate priest by His Eminence,

Archbishop Souren Kembajian, Administrator of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jeruselem, given the name of Fr. Paren. Fr. Paren, joined the staff of St. Tarkmanchatz (Holy Translators) Elementary and High School; and in 1961 he was appointed principal of the school, a post that he held for two years.

Fr. Paren came to the United States in 1963 to further his education. In 1964, at the invitation of His Eminence, Archbishop Sion Manoogian, then Primate of the Eastern Diocese in America, Fr. Paren assumed pastoral service in the United States. Since that date, he has served as Pastor of the Armenian Churches of Syracuse and Binghamton, New York; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; and Chicago, IL.

In May 1967, Primate, Abp. Torkom Manoogian assigned the Very Rev. Fr. Paren Avedikian to take over as the parish priest at St. Mary Armenia Apostolic Church in Washington, DC.

In 1968, Fr. Paren was given the rank of Vartabed by the Primate, His Eminence, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, during special services at St. Mary’s Church in Washington, D.C. Fr. Paren earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1968 from Syracuse University, where he majored in philosophy and sociology. He continued his studies at the same university, working towards a Master’s Degree.

Bishop Paren Avedikian curently serves as the Director of the Museums of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Archbishop Papken was born Armen Varjabedian in Aintab, Syria, in 1918. His parents were educators who founded a Christian school. He studied there before going on to the national Gratsiratz School, from which he graduated in 1932.

From 1932 until 1936, Father Papken studied at the seminary of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem, and he continued his education at the American Theological Seminary of Beirut, earning a degree in 1939. He was ordained a priest in 1941 in Antelias, Lebanon, and was given the name Papken.

Father Papken came to the United States in 1946 and served as pastor of a church in Troy, N.Y., before becoming pastor of Holy Trinity in 1949.

Father Papken returned briefly to Antelias in 1956 to serve as director of the church's Sunday Schools, and in 1957 he was elected primate of its Western Diocese. He also was elevated to bishop.

Father Papken returned to the Philadelphia area in 1963, taking over as pastor of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, and from 1969 to 1975, he served as pastor of St. Mary's Church in Washington D.C.

His work was primarily in Washington, where he served as the church's ambassador to U.S. and foreign governments from 1969 until he retired in 1997.

As legate, Father Papken met with ecclesiastical, government and diplomatic dignitaries to inform them about the Armenian Church and the Armenian people.

Father Papken, who was elevated to archbishop in 1996, was honored in May by the Armenian Church of America as its man of the year.

Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian was born in Aleppo, Syria. He attended the local parochial school and was admitted to the Seminary of Antelias in 1953. In 1958, he transferred to the Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where he was ordained as a celibate priest on February 7, 1960.

From 1962-1963, he was a member of the St. James Brotherhood and held several offices: assistant dean of the seminary, director of the printing press, and member of the editorial board ofSION, the official publication of the Patriarchate. Simultaneously, he taught religion, Armenian history, Armenian literature, and classical Armenian at Sts. Tarkmanchatz School and at St. James Seminary.

Fr. Kalayjian was the Vicar General in Amman, Jordan, and principal of the local parochial school between 1962-1963. During his tenure, the present school building project started.

In 1963, he taught at the Guiliguian High School and Elementary School in Aleppo, and was appointed as the visiting pastor of St. Vartan Church. He organized “Literary Circle for Youth,” gave lectures, and produced and directed Hagop Oshanagan’s “Orun Oreroon,” a literary tableau at the Guiliguain School’s year-end program.

In December 1964, Fr. Kalayjian came to the United States and served at St. George Church in Illinois, Holy Cross Church in New Jersey, St. Stepanos Church in New Jersey, and St. Mary Church in Washington, D.C.

In 1967, he received the rank of vartabed from then-Primate Archbishop Torkom Manoogian. Subsequently, he received special permission from His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, to become a kahanna, or married priest. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his ordination, he received the rank of avak kahanna and was granted the right to wear the pectoral cross from Catholicos Vasken I.

Parallel to his pastoral work, Fr. Kalayjian pursued undergraduate studies in Christian education and biblical studies, and also graduate studies in public administration.

On February 14, 1969, he married Yeretzgin Anahid Kalayjian. They are blessed with three sons.

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