On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Armenia, under the good and magnificent leadership of Gersh. T. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, they will celebrate this historical anniversary with numerous, multi level initiatives.
These days, all those responsible for the Diocese of spiritual, secular, youth, students, philanthropists, 51 schools and churches, as well as more than 40 bodies and committees within the Western Diocese, in a beautiful atmosphere of unity and timeless work, have been fierce work by transforming the Diocese 90th anniversary into unforgettable days. October 24-November 5 will be historic and exceptional days for the Armenians of Western Armenia. The events dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Diocese will be enjoyed by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
For over a month now, our community has been looking forward to seeing the Catholicos of All Armenians, with great love and reverence, for the blessings of the Armenian Pontiff.
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On November 28, 1927, at the Church of the Holy See, with the command of
Echmiadzin’s Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Gevorg the 5th, the Californian Diocese was established. Later, a few other states joined creating the the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Armenia. During these days, the children of the Armenian Apostolic Church built five churches in Fresno and its surrounding towns. These five churches were anointed and subordinate to the leader of the Eastern Diocese, which in turn was subordinate to St. Gregory the Illuminator.
These five churches formed the core of the Western Diocese.
With all our pride, we come to recall that our indispensable role was played in the establishment and formation of the Western Diocese, by the “ADL” citizens and our "New Day" paper. With deep faith and great dedication, they served in church building with confidence characteristic to an Armenian.
"The Armenian church is under a stone,
Under, there is a secret way up to heaven ... "
And so did our marvelous past generations, so that they could keep their identity on these shores, and the faith of a hundred years, thanks to the built Armenian Apostolic churches. Starting from these five churches, today, the Diocese is a magnificent spiritual institution, composed of 51 schools and churches continuing to work under the blessing of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. In the 90 years of existence of the Western Diocese, there have been eight leaders, who are the pride of our Church with their God-given grace.
The First Leader was the Garegin T. Archbishop Khachadourian (from Trabzon), who became the Leader on May 26, 1928, was later elected as the Patriarch of Constantinople. On May 3, 2003, the Prelacy General Assembly of the Western Diocese elected the eighth Leader,
Archbishop T. Hovnan Derderian, who has been heading our diocese for 14 years with his extraordinary abilities, starting the "Golden Age" of the Diocese.
Indeed, even the fast and concise service of our beloved leaders, is worth honorable mentions.
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The Diocese organizing, forming, and firm and solid foundations were led by the Diocese's 7th Constructor, Vache Arch. T. Hovsepian, who has served extensively for 32 years (1971-2003) and has brought the number of churches from 5 to 17.
The previous Leaders were:
T. Bishop Yeghishe Simonian.
T. Torkom Arch. Manoukian, who later became a Patriarch of Jerusalem.
T. Archbishop Babken. Varjabedian.
T. Grace Arch. Galoustian, who later became a Patriarch of Constantinople.
T. Mambre Brotherhood Galfayian.
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18 years ago, In the Holy See of Echmiadzin, The Parliamentary Assembly of the World Armenian Church gathered to elect the succesor of the deceased Garegin I.
On October 27, 1999, the 132rd Catholicos of All Armenians was elected, from the Araratian Diocese, Garegin Archbishop Nersisian, whose anointing took place on November 4, 1999, in presence and with a large number of clergymen and people.
His Holiness Karekin II was born in Voskehat, Echmiadzin, in 1951. The world name is Ktrich. In 1972, Garegin was renamed as a monk priest, and after being elected Catholicos of All Armenians, he was called Garegin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. His Holiness studied at the Kevorkian Lycee and the University of Vienna, studied and served at the Theological Seminary in Pont, Germany, and then studied in the Russia. Returned to Echmiadzin and was appointed as the vicar of the Ararat Diocese, serving in the Kevorkian Seminary. In 1989 he founded the Vazgenian School on Lake Sevan. In 1993, he was ordained as a bishop, and as an Archbishop during the same year, of course, always under the patronage of Vazken A. The Catholicos of All Armenians was a very talented student, a talented teenager. At 48 years of age, Garegin was elected to be the Catholicos of All Armenians and since that day our Pontiff acts with great dedication and resoluteness. He has led the St. Echmiadzin Monastery, the Kevorkian Lycee, bringing to an unprecedented height of spirituality and education. Prepared a huge army of religious men prepared to serve the whole world, many churches were renovated and new ones were established.
During his days Christian education got a new power, many spiritual and literary editions were published in Echmiadzin or in the dioceses of the world. He has been providing a variety of assistance to the Armenians of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, particularly by substantial financial and moral benefits to Iraqi and Syrian Armenians. During his contacts with religious leaders, presidents and politicians, His Holiness has always touched upon the issue of the Armenian Genocide. Through the contacts with the UN leaders, many humanitarian and benevolent organizations, have become interested to be of use to Armenia and Armenians.
Our wish is that the source of all life and talent - God always blossoms and keeps our Mother Church and Apostolic Church intact. Our beloved Patriarch and Catholicosate of the Motherland pampered and calmed, the multitudinous and diversified life of the Armenian nation, proud of its church and its homeland, giving peace, welfare and unity to our people.
Your Holiness, we welcome you from the depths of our hearts, wishing our Graceful Patriarch a healthy lifestyle and pastoring for many years, for the glory of God and the brightness of our everlasting church, our homeland and our people.
All the secular and spiritual leaders of our diocese, the old and new clergymen, the academics, the administrative officials, our precious Leader, T. Archbishop Hovnan. We extend our heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the diocese, wishing new anniversaries for the spiritual enrichment of our people.