NEW YORK — The Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America entered a new era of leadership on Friday, May 4, 2018, when the 116th Diocesan Assembly elected the Very Reverend Fr. Daniel Findikyan as the new Diocesan Primate.

Pending the anticipated confirmation of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Fr. Findikyan will serve as the 12th Primate of the Diocese, and the first in its 120-year history born in the United States of America.

Ordained as a celibate priest in 1997, and a noted international scholar of liturgics, Fr. Findikyan has served the church as dean of North America’s St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and (currently) as director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, the Eastern Diocese’s research and scholarship facility.

He succeeds Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, at 28 years the longest serving Diocesan Primate.

The delegates of the 116th Diocesan Assembly voted on a slate of three candidates, which included Archbishop Vicken Aykazian (the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director), the Very Reverend Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian (pastor of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, PA), and Fr. Findikyan.

In their respective, brief remarks to the delegates prior to balloting on Friday morning, each of the candidates expressed warm brotherly regard for each other, and humble gratitude to be under consideration for the honor of serving as Primate. The same feelings of mutual respect and graciousness were expressed by all three after the result was announced.

Following the announcement of the election result, all the clergy present entered the assembly chamber in procession, leading the Primate elect—along with the other candidates and incumbent Primate Archbishop Barsamian—to the singing of the hymn “Ourakh Ler” (Be Joyful). In a moving ceremony, the clergy then approached Fr. Findikyan one by one to receive his blessing.

In his first address as Primate-elect, Fr. Findikyan told the delegates he was “enormously humbled and honored that you have chosen me to be your next Primate.”

He addressed warm thanks to Archbishop Aykazian, calling him “a father to me for decades,” from whom “I have learned, and will continue to learn, and I will need your help in the days ahead.”

To Fr. Gulgulian—who served as Fr. Findikyan’s sponsor at his elevation to the rank of vartabed—he thanked him for years of friendship, wished him many joyful years of his ministry, and asked for “many more years of joy-filled, brotherly counsel.”

Finally he thanked Archbishop Barsamian, who ordained Fr. Findikyan 21 years ago. Thanking him for his fatherly guidance over two decades, he said to the outgoing Primate: “You have a large family of spiritual children, and I am honored to be one of those children. My prayer is that God will lead you to where He needs you, with the same fatherly love you’ve shown to this Diocese.”

Archbishop Barsamian in turn congratulated the Primate-elect, expressing his confidence in him “from the bottom of my heart. I will always be ready to help you any time you need me.”

Finally, Fr. Findikyan thanked the delegates, and through them the people of the Diocese. “I have infinite confidence in you,” he said. “Together, with eyes raised to Jesus Christ, and our feet firmly planted in the precious soil of the Armenian Church, we will work together to overcome the challenges before us.”

The Diocesan Assembly immediately issued a letter to His Holiness Karekin II requesting that the Catholicos of All Armenians confirm and bless the election result. With the confirmation of Catholicos Karekin II, Fr. Findikyan would officially advance from Primate-elect to Diocesan Primate.

The 116th Diocesan Assembly convened at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in West Harrison, New York, hosted by the St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, on Thursday, May 3. It runs to midday Saturday, May 5.

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