His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was born in Arapkir, Turkey in 1951.  At the age of 13, he began his religious studies at the Holy Cross Armenian Seminary in Istanbul.  Encouraged by Archbishop Shnork Kaloustian (the late Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople), he traveled to Jerusalem to study at the Seminary of the St. James Armenian Patriarchate from 1967 to 1971.  He was ordained a celibate priest in 1971, and achieved the ecclesiastical degree of vartabed two years later.

His later educational pursuits have led him throughout the United States and Europe: to New York's General Theological Seminary, St. John's University in Minneapolis, the Gregorian University in Rome, and Oxford's Oriental Institute.  He has lectured in the United States, Italy, England, Germany, Jerusalem, and Armenia, and has conduc­ted research at the Manuscript Library of Yerevan, the Mekhitarist Institute of Venice, and the Manu­script Library at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.  His publications have appeared in various educational and scholarly journals.  In October of 1991, General Theological Seminary awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.

Concurrent with and subsequent to his education, he has taken on pastoral duties in Istanbul; in the Armenian communities in Jaffa, Haifa, and Ramleh; and throughout the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America—in Worcester, MA; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; and at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City, where he served as Vicar General and director of Ecumenical Relations.

His Eminence was elected as Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in the spring of 1990, and was subsequently elevated to the rank of bishop by His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, at the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.  In October 1992, he received the rank of archbishop.  He is currently serving his sixth four-year term as chief bishop of the largest diocese of the Armenian diaspora.

As the president of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), he has led the effort to develop the Republic of Armenia, and bring humanitarian assistance to its citizens.

Archbishop Barsamian is a leader in a number of religious and ecumenical organizations, including the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, Religion In American Life, and the American Bible Society.  He is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and has received honorary doctorates from General Theological Seminary, Seaton Hall University, and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia

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