Primate of the Eastern Diocese, His Eminence Khajag Barsamian
Khajag Barsamian was born in Arapkir, Turkey on July 4, 1951. At the age of 13, he began his religious studies at the Holy Cross Armenian Seminary in Istanbul. Encouraged by Archbishop Shnork Kaloustian (the late Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople), he went to Jerusalem to study at the Seminary of the St.James Armenian Patriarchate from 1967 to 1971. He was ordained a celibate priest in 1971 and achieved the ecclesiastical degree of vartabed two years later.
His later educational pursuits have led him throughout the United States and Europe: to New York's General Theological Seminary, St. John's University in Minneapolis, the Gregorian University in Rome, and Oxford's Oriental Institute. He has lectured in the U.S., Italy, England, Germany, Jerusalem and Armenia, and has conducted research at the Manuscript Library of Yerevan, the Mekhitarist Institute of Venice and the Manuscript Library at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. His publications have appeared in various educational and scholarly journals. In October 1991, General Theological Seminary awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree.
Concurrent with and subsequent to his education, he has taken on pastoral duties in Istanbul; in the Armenian communities in Jaffa, Haifa and Ramleh; and throughout the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America—in Worcester, Massachusetts; Minneapolis – Saint Paul and at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City, where he served as Vicar General and director of Ecumenical Relations.
Khajag Barsamian was elected as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in the spring of 1990 (succeeding Abp. Torkom Manoogian), and was subsequently elevated to the rank of bishop by Vasken I (the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians), at the Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin.
In 1992, he received the rank of archbishop. He is currently serving his sixth four-year term as chief bishop of the largest diocese of the Armenian diaspora.