Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian Religion >> The Western Diocese of America

US WESTERN DIOCESE of the Armenian Apostolic Church: is founded in 1927 by the Pontifical letter of the Catholicos of All Armenians Gevorg V Soureniants. Its primacy is the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Los Angelos. Until then the American-Armenian community (founded in the 19th century) was united under one diocese, which was founded in 1898, by the Catholicos of All Armenians Mkrtitch I Vanetsi. Its center was the town of Ulster (in the state of Massachusetts), the city of Boston by 1923, and then New York since 1927. The US Western Diocese extends to the western states of America, and includes 25 parishes. At first, the primacy was in the city of Fresno, then in Los Angelos since 1957. The first prim diocese was the Archbishop Garegin Khachatrian (later Patriarch of Constantinople). Different Archbishops have headed the diocese, among them were: Shnorhk Archbishop Galustian (between 1953-56, later Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople), Torgom Archbishop Manougian (between 1962-66, now Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem) and others. Among the old churches that are in service in the territory of diocese are: Saint Paul’s Church (Fresno 1900), Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church (Fresno 1910), Holy Virgin Marry’s Church (Costa-Mesa 1911), Saint John’s Church (San Francisco 1924), Saint Vartan Church (Auckland 1926), and other 20 churches in various cities. Beside the US Western Diocese, there are numerous youth communities, women’s union, the central administration of Sunday schools with their branches and other organizations. By 1987 the diocese has bought a camp territory in Fresno area (California), which serves as a place for Armenian summer education for over than 500 students from different dioceses, while in winters; it serves as a religious and educational center for the adults. Various parishes and communities provide aids to the camp. Alongside the diocese there is a committee that develops the programs of the camp. Over the past two decades, the diocese has invited several spiritual shepherds from Jerusalem and Armenia to serve it. In 1999 the number of the religious servants was around 30, some of them have received religious education in New York, in the Seminary of Saint Nerses; founded by the Archbishop Diran Nersessian, which continues to train new pastors for the church. The Western Diocese of America has its effect on the mission of the Saint Nersess Seminary.

In Los Angeles there are 15 Armenian every-day schools. By the sponsorship of the diocese, the ever-day Armenian school named after Alfred and Margaret Hovsepian, is in service, alongside Saint Gregory Church in Pasadena. Also AGBU’s Mary Manoukian Primary School and AGBU’s Sarkis and Seta Demirjian High School are in service in Kanuga Park, while Tekeyan Cultural Association’s Arshag Dikranian School serves in Hollywood.

The diocese has Saturday and Sunday Armenian-learning schools, alongside of every church. Since 1979 an official newspaper called “The Mother Church” is been publishing by the US Western Diocese, with its Armenian and English sections. The diocese has showed significant financial assistance to the victims of 1988 destructive earthquake and to the struggling people of Artsakh. It also contributed in the establishing of the college of the city of Stepanavan in Armenia, provided with modern conveniences to serve 750 students. The prime diocese of the US Western diocese is Vatche Archbishop Hovsepian (since 1971).                                                




Source: Encyclopedia of “Christian Armenia”, editor in chief Hovhannes Ayvazyan, Yerevan, 2002, page 46-47. (in Armenian).



Also see:

-         Avagyan K, History of the Armenian Diaspora in USA (since the formation until 1924), Yerevan, 2000. (in Armenian). 

-         Ashjian Arten, The Torch Was Passed: The Centennial History of the Armenian Church of America, New York, 1998.                                   

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