East Coast NRA Elects New Prelate Approves New Status for Canada

BOSTON–The National Representative Assembly of the Prelacy of the Eastern US and Canada over the weekend elected Bishop Oshagan Choloyan to replace the outgoing Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian and approved a measure establishing a Vicarage in Canada.

Outgoing Prelate Ashjian had announced his intentions for not seeking a fourth term at the Eastern Prelacy–thus one of the most important tasks of the NRA was to elect a new prelate.

The meeting nominated Bishop Khajag Hagopian–Vicar General of Canada; Very Rev. Anoushavan Tanielian–Prelacy Vicar General and Bishop Choloyan.

Of the 93 votes–Choloyan received 62 votes and Tanielian 31. At the end of voting–Tanielian moved to approve Choloyan’s election with unanimous consent–which was greeted by a standing ovation. Before voting–Hagopian withdrew his candidacy.

One of the pivotal decisions by the NRA was the establishment of a Vicarage in Canada–which is under the auspices of the Eastern Prelacy.

"Under the overall guidance of the Prelate–the Executive Council of the Prelacy–the Canadian Vicarage–composed of the Vicar General–the Vicarage Council and the Canadian Churches–shall be responsible for internal Canadian affairs of the Prelacy–including the administration of religious and executive issues regarding the Canadian Churches and representation of the Prelacy in all Canadian forums," stressed the resolution adopted by the NRA.

The assembly also mandated that the Vicar General and Vicarage Council to call a Canadian Vicarage Assembly to discuss religious issues pertaining to Canada.

Another decision by the NRA was that "future unity meetings should follow agreement on these issues between the Holy sees of Etchmiadzin and Antelias," mandating that unity talks must be spearheaded by the two Cathlicoi.

The newly elected prelate was born in Aleppo–Syria–in 1947 with the baptismal name of Manoog. He received his primary education in Aleppo’s Haikazian School. In 1960 he was accepted in the Cilician See’s Seminary. He was ordained a deacon in 1964 and a celibate priest in 1967 by Bishop Karekin Sarkissian (now Catholicos of All Armenia’s)–who in 1994 as Catholicos Karekin II of Cilicia–ordained him a Bishop.

He attended the American University of Beirut from 1968 to 1970 where he majored in history. From 1974 to 1978 he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary (New Jersey) where he majored in education and psychology earning a masters megree. His continued studies at Princeton in the history of the church earned him a second masters degree.

Bishop Choloyan has taught in the Cilician Seminary–the Mardigian National School in Beirut–and the Karen Jeppe Jemaran and Sahagian National School in Aleppo.

In April 1980 His Holiness Karekin II (now Karekin I of Etchmiadzin) appointed him to serve as pontifical legate to Kuwait and the Arab emirates and was subsequently elected to serve that diocese as Prelate. Bishop Choloyan has worked in the editorial offices of Hask–the Cilician See’s official publication–and Gladzor–the Seminary’s publication. Together with Bishop Datev Sarkissian he has prepared and published religious textbooks for grades 1 to 10–currently in use in the Middle East. With Archbishop Zareh Aznavourian–Bishop Choloyan has prepared five volumes of Sharagans of the Armenian Church.

He and Archbishop Aznavourian have also collaborated on the translation of the New Testament from classical Armenian to modern Armenian under the auspices of the Bible Society. They are now in the process of translating the Old Testament. He has been a member of the Middle East Council of Churches since 1979 serving for several years on the Executive Committee. He has participated in many meetings on behalf of the Great House of Cilicia.

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