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Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand. Passes Away
SYDNEY — Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, the Primate of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand has passed away on September 22, while in Sydney Australia. He died suddenly of a heart attack at 66 years old.
Archbishop Aghan Baliozian (baptismal name Yeghia) was born on 18 August 1946 in Aleppo, Syria. He is the son of Nerses and Alice Baliozian. He received his primary education in Aleppo.
In 1961 he entered the Jarangavoratz Seminary at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and graduated in 1968, becoming a member of the Brotherhood of St. James.
He was ordained to the diaconate on 28 May 1966, and was ordained as a celibate priest on 28 July 1968 by then Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Yeghishe Derderian, and given the priestly name of Aghan.
On 4 November 4 1971 Father Aghan received the rank of Archimandrite (Vardapet) in the St. Mesrop Mashtots Church in Oshakan, Armenia, by the Grand Sacristan of the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, Archbishop Haykazun Abrahamian.
From 1968-71 he served as Vice Dean and Secretary at the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, while also teaching Classical Armenian (Grabar), Geography and Physical Education. In 1971-74 he served at the Seminary as a lecturer on several subjects including; Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Hagiography and Theology.
From 1970-71 he served as the Dean of the Gulbenkian Matenadaran in Jerusalem (the Archives Depository where several thousand historical illuminated manuscripts preserved).
In 1971 on the recommendation of the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Vasken I, he entered Yerevan State University where he studied Armenian Language, Literature and History until 1974. In 1974 Father Aghan returned to Jerusalem and was appointed the Dean of Jarangavorats Seminary, where he taught Theology, Classical Armenian and Physical Education.
In 1975 by the order of His Holiness Vazken I Catholicos of All Armenians, he left for Sydney, Australia, to serve as the Vicar General, through the courtesy of the Patriarch Yeghishe of Jerusalem and by the invitation of Bishop Karekin Kazanjian then Primate of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.
In June 1976, in the city of Sydney, Father Aghan received the rank of Senior Archimandrite (Dzayraguyn Vardapet) by the Primate of the Diocese, Bishop Karekin Kazanjian. He also took private courses in Religion, History and Linguistics at the Universities of Sydney, New England, and Mackay, in Australia.
In 1979 he was bestowed with a pectoral cross and flowered cope for his devout and conscientious service to the Armenian Church.
In October 1981 he was appointed as the Primate of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand by His Holiness Vasken I. On 14 February 1982 he was consecrated as a Bishop for Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. In 1991, His Holiness Vasken I restructured the Diocese and appointed Bishop Aghan as Pontifical Legate of India and the Far East.
After years of dedicated service to the Armenian Church, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by the Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness Vazken I, on 17 June 1993. He has been a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Church since 1995.
Archbishop Aghan Baliozian has been very active in ecumenical activities. From 1994 to 1997 he served as the first president of the National Ecclesiastic Council of Australia. Since 1998, he has represented the Armenian Church within the World Council of Churches. He participated in the WCC Congresses of Canberra (1991) and Harare (1998), Ethiopia. In 2001 he was elected as the Vice President of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council. He has served three terms, and was re-elected to the position.
In 1995 and 2003 he was awarded the state order of Australia for his devout service and contribution to the country and society, especially to the Armenian community.
Archbishop Aghan Baliozian works with the “SION” monthly periodical of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He has contributed numerous religious articles and philological works, prepared the bibliography of the monthly for the years 1866-1877 and 1927-1971 as well as the bibliographical works of Poghos of Taron and others.