BEIRUT — Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia Nerses Bedros XIX passed away Thursday, June 25 after suffering a heart attack, The Daily Star reports.

Born in Cairo in 1940 and ordained to the priesthood in 1965, Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni was appointed the Armenian Catholic bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in 1989 and elected patriarch in 1999.

The renowned patriarch is widely known for serving the Armenian community and promoting its interests. The patriarch had visited Armenian communities in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. to boost Armenian catholic schools.

At his request, the archbishop of Mardine Ignace Maloyan, martyr of the Armenian genocide of 1915, was proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

The Catholicos Patriarch also sent the first parish priest to Moscow in 2002 in an attempt to begin a new mission among the Armenian Catholics in Russia, following the opening in 1991 of missions inArmenia and Georgia.

In 1999, the 75-year-old succeeded Hovhannes Bedros XVIII Kasparian as the Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics and took the name Nerses Bedros XIX after Bishops of the Holy Synod of the Catholic Armenian Synod elected him.

In the same year, the patriarch was enthroned and received the Ecclesiastical Communion from Pope John Paul II.

The Armenian Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See, has 376,000 members. Headquartered in Beirut, it has eparchies (dioceses) in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and the United States.

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