THE PRIMATE OF THE EASTERN DIOCESE
Bishop Daniel Findikyan
The spring of 2018 marked a season of change in the centuries-old Armenian Apostolic Church. At that time, the church’s Eastern Diocese of America entered a new era of leadership, when the Very Reverend Fr. Daniel Findikyan was elected as Diocesan Primate, by delegates to the annual Diocesan Assembly. Following his confirmation by His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Fr. Findikyan began his service as the 12th Primate of the Diocese, succeeding the 28-year tenure of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.
But this generational transition in the 120-year history of the Armenian Church in America held even greater significance, because Fr. Findikyan would be the first Armenian Church Primate to have been born in the United States of America.
Bishop Daniel Findikyan was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to Nurhan and Ursula Findikyan, who baptized their son with the name Michael. Early on he studied chemical engineering; but he followed instead his spiritual calling to the priesthood, enrolling and graduating from St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New York. While studying at the seminary, he earned a master’s degree in musicology at City University of New York.
After a year sojourn in Armenia, he studied for five years in Italy. In 1997, he received a doctorate degree in liturgy from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, a renowned institute dedicated to the study of the history, theology, liturgy, and spirituality of the ancient Eastern churches. Bishop Daniel’s doctoral thesis dealt compared the daily services of the Armenian Church with the liturgical traditions of other Eastern churches.
Ordained as a celibate priest by Archbishop Barsamian in 1997, and given the priestly name “Daniel,” he served as dean of St. Nersess Seminary until 2012. During that period he also served as a visiting pastor to the St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bishop Daniel is a member of several scholarly and ecumenical associations, has authored numerous academic and popular articles, and was the general editor of the Divine Liturgy pew book used throughout the English-speaking world.
In November 2012, he became director of the Eastern Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, and subsequently also became a visiting professor of liturgy at Notre Dame University, and at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.
In May 2018, while still a vartabed, Fr. Daniel was elected as the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. He was elevated to the rank of bishop by the hand of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on May 12, 2019, in a ceremony at Holy Etchmiadzin in the Republic of Armenia. His consecration as a bishop made him only the second American-born clergyman to attain that rank—and was an occasion for great joy for the faithful of the Diocese he leads.
Lately, Bishop Daniel’s tenure as Primate has coincided with an extremely critical period for the Armenian Church—in America and its native land—and indeed for the entire world. He has led the Diocese with fatherly concern and care throughout the pandemic period and the crises in Armenia and Artsakh, while guiding the launch of the VEMKAR digital ministries initiative, and advancing a bold vision for the Eastern Diocese, titled “Building Up the Body of Christ.”