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Karekin I

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His Holiness Karekin I Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
Church Armenian Apostolic Church
See Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Enthroned 1995
Reign ended 1999
Predecessor Vazgen I
Successor Karekin II
Personal details
Birth name Neshan Sarkissian
Born August 27, 1932(1932-08-27)
Kessab, Syria
Died June 29, 1999
Etchmiadzin, Armenia
Buried Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin
His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of Cilicia
Church Armenian Apostolic Church
See Holy See of Cilicia
Enthroned 1983
Reign ended 1995
Predecessor Khoren I
Successor Aram I

Karekin I (Eastern Armenian pronunciation: Garegin I) (Armenian: Գարեգին Ա. Սարգիսյան) (August 27, 1932 - June 29, 1999), served as the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church between 1995 and 1999. Previously, he served as the Catholicos of Cilicia from 1983 to 1994 under the name Karekin II (Armenian: Գարեգին Բ. Սարգիսյան).


Karekin, baptized Neshan Sarkissian, was born in Kessab, Syria, where he attended the Armenian elementary school. In 1946 he was admitted to the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Catholicate of Cilicia and in 1949 ordained a deacon. In 1952, after having graduated with high honors, he was ordained a celibate priest and renamed Karekin. He joined the order of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia.

In 1955 he presented his doctoral thesis on the subject "The Theology of the Armenian Church, According to Liturgical Hymns Sharakans" and was promoted to the ecclesiastical degree of Vardapet. In next year he served as member of the faculty of the theological seminary in Antelias, Lebanon. He studied theology for two years at Oxford University and wrote The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian Church, published in 1965 in London. Upon his return to Lebanon, he served as dean of the seminary.

From 1963, he became an aide to Catholicos Khoren I in which function he had many ecumenical contacts. He served as observer at the Second Vatican Council, the Lambeth Conference of 1968 and the Addis Ababa Conference of the heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. He lectured on theology, literature, history and culture at universities in Beirut, Romania, Moscow and Kotayyam (India).

His ecclesiastical career advanced quickly: In 1963 he was elevated to senior archmandrite and on January 19, 1964, consecrated bishop by Catholicos Khoren.

In 1971 he was elected Prelate of the Diocese of New Julfa in Isfahan, Iran.

In 1973, he received the rank of archbishop and was appointed Pontifical Legate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church of America (in New York) and in 1975 its Primate.

During his time in the United States, he took special care of the younger generation of Armenians and played a key role in the fundraising for Lebanon 1976-1977.

Catholicos Coadjutor of the Holy See of Cilicia (1977-1983)

In 1977, he was elected Catholicos of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and served as Catholicos Coadjutor (Armenian: Աթոռակից Կաթողիկոս) until the death of Catholicos Khoren I in 1983.

Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia (1983-1994)

When fully installed as Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Karekin lavished special attention on religious education, modernizing and promoting the theological seminary. His pontifical visits took him to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Cyprus, the United States and Canada, as well as Kuwait and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Another important facet of his Catholicosate were his ecumenical contacts. Karekin undertook ecumenical visits to Pope John Paul II, Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Church, but also to the Swiss Reformed Churches and the Lutheran Churches of Denmark and Germany. In 1989 he was elected honorary president of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Karekin wrote several books and booklets in Armenian, English, and French and published many articles and studies on theological, Armenological, philosophical, ethical and literary subjects in periodicals.

He also made frequent visits to the Mother See of the Apostolic Church and expressed solidarity on a visit of the earthquake area in Armenia 1988 together with Catholicos Vazgen I.

Catholicos of All Armenians, Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin (1994-1999)

After the death of Catholicos Vazgen in 1994, Catholicos Karekin Sarkissian was elected Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians by a National Ecclesiastical Assembly of 400 delegates and hereafter became known as Karekin I, being the first Supreme Patriarch with that name.

In November 1998, Karekin I underwent cancer treatment in New York. He appointed archbishop Karekin Nersessian, the later Karekin II, as Vicar General. Karekin I died in June 1999.

External links

Preceded by
Khoren I
Catholicoi of the Holy See of Cilicia
Succeeded by
Aram I
Preceded by
Vazgen I
Catholicoi of All Armenians
Succeeded by
Karekin II
hy:Գարեգին Ա. Քեսաբցիru:Гарегин I

fi:Karekin I

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