On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, confirmed the election of the Very Reverend Fr. Daniel Findikyan as the new Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.
Fr. Findikyan was elected as Primate on May 4, by the delegates to the 116th Diocesan Assembly. The gathering of representative from all the local parishes of the Eastern Diocese met May 3-5 in Westchester County, NY.
He succeeds Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, who earlier had announced he would conclude his term as Primate after holding the office for 28 years and seven terms of office, making him the longest-serving Primate of the Eastern Diocese.
The letter from Catholicos Karekin II, dated May 8 and addressing Fr. Findikyan for the first time as Primate, read in part (in English translation): “With this letter we approve your election as Primate, and with prayers to God we ask that the Lord will support your zealous service, so that the lofty responsibility entrusted to you may be productive, strengthening the national and spiritual life of the Eastern Diocese, and bringing brightness upon our Apostolic Holy Church.” (See the whole letter in English translation below.)
His Holiness’ official confirmation of the election result paved the way for authority to be formally transferred from Archbishop Barsamian to Fr. Findikyan.
This was accomplished via a short enthronement ceremony in St. Vartan Cathedral on the afternoon of May 8. About a dozen clergymen, including two of episcopal rank, took part in the service, which went forward before a group of Diocesan staff members and guests from the surrounding locale.
In the course of a procession of priests and deacons before the cathedral altar, Archbishop Barsamian transferred the Primate’s sign of office—a ceremonial walking stick known as the “asa”—into the hand of Fr. Findikyan. The new Primate thereupon took his place on the Primate’s throne, as the clergy approached him to kiss his hand and receive his blessing.
Officially representing Catholicos Karekin II at the ceremony was Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisian, visiting the Eastern Diocese from Holy Etchmiadzin. He read aloud the letter of the Catholicos of All Armenians, and offered some gracious words of congratulations to the Diocese, its new Primate, and Archbishop Barsamian.
As outgoing Primate, Archbishop Barsamian spoke gratefully about his years of service, and expressed warm optimism for the ministry of his successor. “With his intelligence, his spirituality, and his skill at communication, Fr. Daniel will speak to and help broaden our appeal to the younger generation, and draw all our people more deeply into the life of the church,” he said.
He revealed that the silver-headed walking stick, or “asa,” had originally belonged to the late Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, who prior to becoming Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia served as Diocesan Primate, from 1939 to 1944. Archbishop Barsamian addressed the new Primate as a worthy recipient of the late Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian’s staff.
With Hope and Joy
In his first remarks following his confirmation as Primate, Fr. Daniel Findikyan addressed the gathering in Armenian, recalling the honored names of the previous primates of the Diocese. He thanked Archbishop Barsamian and Archbishop Hovhannisian, and expressed brotherly affection for all the clergy.
He continued: “It’s an almost unimaginable honor for me to stand before you as Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.” He said that he has taken up the role with some trepidation, but mostly with hope and joy, adding that it was deeply humbling to receive the staff previously held by some of the greatest Armenian churchmen of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Addressing himself to the broad body of clergy and faithful throughout the Eastern Diocese, he said: “I take great strength from the thought that by your faith and strength, the Lord will guide us all.”
With the blessing of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findkyan now goes forward as the 12th Primate of the Diocese. What follows is the text of His Holiness Karekin II’s letter of confirmation, in English translation.
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No. 635 / May 8, 2018
Very Reverend Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Primate
Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
New York, U.S.A.
Dear Hayr Sourp:
From the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin we convey our pontifical blessings and congratulations to you on the occasion of your election as Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, on May 4, during the Diocesan Assembly of the Eastern Diocese.
With this letter we approve your election as Primate, and with prayers to God we ask that the Lord will support your zealous service, so that the lofty responsibility entrusted to you may be productive, strengthening the national and spiritual life of the Eastern Diocese, and bringing brightness upon our Apostolic Holy Church.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Catholicos of all Armenians