His Holiness Karekin II Ordains Bishops for Egypt and Syria

PRESS RELEASE
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address:  Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact:  Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel:  (374 10) 517 163
Fax:  (374 10) 517 301
E-Mail:  [email protected]
January 16, 2006

His Holiness Karekin II Ordains Bishops for Egypt and Syria

On January 15, episcopal ordinations for two new bishops of the Armenian
Church were conducted in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.  His Holiness
Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians celebrated a
Pontifical Divine Liturgy and thereupon consecrated, ordained and elevated
Very Rev. Fr. Ashot Mnatsakanian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt
and Very Rev. Fr. Armash Nalbandian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of
Damascus to the rank of bishop.  The bishops were ordained to continue their
service as primates of Armenian communities in the Middle East.

The previous evening, the two candidates kneeled before the Holy Altar of
Descent in the Mother Cathedral, vowed to remain faithful to the Holy
Gospel, to the canons of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church and to the
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and signed their oaths.

As the liturgy commenced, a public examination of the orthodox faith of the
two candidates took place before the Altar of St. Stephen the Protomartyr in
the Mother Cathedral.  The intercessor for the two candidates was His
Eminence Archbishop Nerses Bozabalian.  According to accepted tradition,
representatives of each ecclesiastical and hierarchal rank – eight acolytes,
two deacons, two priests and four laymen representing different classes of
society approached His Holiness and publicly bore witness on behalf of the
candidates.  His Holiness then confirmed the testimonials and presented each
candidate with his episcopal omophorion.

The Divine Liturgy then continued before the Main Altar of the Mother
Cathedral.  Reciting prayers from the `Mashtots’ (ritual book) of
ordination, His Holiness called the candidates to the rank of bishop.  The
Supreme Patriarch consecrated the candidates’ foreheads and the thumbs of
their right hand with Holy Chrism, following which the symbols of episcopacy
– the episcopal staff and ring, were presented to the newly consecrated
bishops.

In his Pontifical message, His Holiness stated in part, `Indeed, the dark
days of the history of our Church are in the past, when the servants of the
Lord carried out their service `with much patience, in afflictions, in
necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults…” (II
Corinthians 6:4-5)

His Holiness continued, `Today in the course of her mission, our Holy Church
is now facing the new challenges with a new necessity to strengthen our
national-ecclesiastic life.  Praise, glory and thanksgiving to God, that
with the blessing and will of our Lord Jesus Christ, positive results are
being recorded in addressing the issues facing our people and Holy Church. 
We have young servants who have come to complement the ranks of our clergy,
and today, with two newly ordained bishops who vowed to act without shame or
distraction on the faith, canons and teachings of our mother Holy Armenian
Apostolic Church.

`We are convinced that by devoting themselves as vigilant servants of God,
as faithful defenders and clergymen of the Holy Armenian Church, the newly
ordained bishops Ashot and Armash will continue their mission in their
Dioceses.’

The Pontiff of All Armenians offered his words of gratitude to the
governments and state authorities of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the
Syrian Arab Republic, whose support and care are enjoyed by the Armenians
living in these two important countries of the Middle East.

Present for the service were diocesan primates from Armenia and Artsakh,
members of the Brotherhood of the Mother See, members of the Supreme
Spiritual Council, Ambassadors of Egypt and Syria to Armenia and delegations
of the diocesan councils of Egypt and Damascus.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a reception was hosted in the
Mother See during which His Holiness Karekin II presented panagias to the
newly ordained Bishops as a sign of their episcopal authority.

* * *

HIS GRACE BISHOP ASHOT MNATSAKANIAN

His Grace Bishop Ashot Mnatsakanian (baptismal name Garoun) was born
on November 4, 1972 in the village of Tatev, Region of Syunik, Armenia.
From 1979 to 1989 he attended the secondary school in his village.
In 1989 he was admitted to the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of Holy
Etchmiadzin and graduated in 1995, defending his thesis entitled `The Life
and Dogmatic Views of Hovhan Vorotnetsi’.
On October 22, 1995, His Grace Bishop Anania Arabajian ordained him to
the rank of deacon.
On June 2, 1996, he was ordained a celibate priest by His Eminence
Archbishop Shahe Ajemian.
From 1996 to 2001, he was office director of the Commission for the
1700th Anniversary of Christianity as the State Religion of Armenia.
On March 2002, he defended his doctoral thesis entitled `The Parable
of the Prodigal Son in Armenian Literature’ and was elevated to the rank of
Archimandrite (Vardapet).
On October 14, 2002, by the order of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme
Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, he was appointed as Vicar of the
Armenian Diocese of Egypt.
On February 21, 2004, His Holiness appointed him as Locum Tenens of
the Armenian Diocese of Egypt.
In 2005, he was elected as Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt.

* * *

HIS GRACE BISHOP ARMASH NALBANDIAN

His Grace Bishop Armash Nalbandian (baptismal name Hagop) was born on
January 29, 1973 in Aleppo, Syria
He received his primary education in the Cilician academy of Aleppo.
In 1987, he was admitted to the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of the
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
In September 1991, on the Feast of Exhalation of the Holy Cross, he
was ordained a deacon by His Eminence Archbishop Nerses Bozabalian.
In 1993, he graduated form the Gevorkian Theological Seminary
defending his thesis entitled `The Life and Works of Catholicos Gevork V
Sureniants of All Armenians (1911-1930)’.
In December 1993, at the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Karekin
Bekdjian, primate of the Armenian Diocese of Germany, His Holiness Vasken I
Catholicos of All Armenians of blessed memory, sent him to Germany to study
and serve the Armenian community as a pastor.
From 1995 to 2000, he studied New Testament Theology at the University
of Erlangen-Nierenberg. He also studied the languages of ancient Greek and
Latin simultaneously.
In November 1998, he was ordained a celibate priest in Cologne,
Germany, by His Eminence Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian and assumed the
responsibilities of spiritual pastor for Southern Germany.
On December 2003, he defended his doctoral thesis entitled `The Divine
Liturgy of the Armenian Church from the 5th Century to Present’ and was
elevated to the rank of Archimandrite (Vardapet).
In 2004, he was elected as a Primate of the Armenian Diocese of
Damascus. 

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