Catholic Leader Most Rev. Hovhannes Tertzakian Dies

NEW YORK–Most Reverend Hovhannes Tertzakian–a priest and bishop of the Armenian Catholic Church–former Exarch of the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics in the United States of America and Canada–former Abbot General of the Mekhitarist Order–died in a traffic accident in front of his residence on January 28. A wake will be held on Friday–February 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. with the participation of His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston and the funeral Mass–which will be celebrated by Most Rev. Manuel Batakian–the current Apostolic Exarch–will take place on Saturday–February 2nd–at 11:30 a.m. Both services will be held in the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church–200 Lexington Street–Belmont–Massachusetts.

Most Reverend Hovhannes Tertzakian was born in Aleppo–Syria–on January 3–1924. He attended the Marist Brothers Grammar School in Aleppo–and on November 20–1935–he went to the Mekhitarist Monastery of St. Lazarus in Venice–Italy. On September 17–1939–he entered the novitiate and on October 24–1940 he took his vows and became a member of the Order. In October 1942 he began his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Ordained a priest at the St. Lazarus Monastery on September 8–1948–Most. Rev. Tertzakian completed his studies in philosophy and theology in 1949 with high honors. That same year he began his career in education as a teacher in the Mekhitarist School of Alexandria–Egypt–where he later became the Dean of Studies. In 1956–he was transferred to the Mekhitarist School of Aleppo as the Dean of Studies and Administrator–and in 1960–he was appointed as the Headmaster of the school and Superior of the Order’s Province.

Most. Rev. Tertzakian was elected to the General Council–the governing body of the Order–in 1970–and was also appointed as the Rector of the Moorat-Raphael College in Venice. In 1976–he was elected as the General Administrator of the Order by the General Assembly. In 1979 and 1980–he was back in the Middle East as Provincial Superior and Administrator. From 1980 to 1982–he was the Rector of the Order’s Samuel-Moorat College in Svres–France.

He was elected Abbot General of the Mekhitarist Order on July 16–1982–but resigned the office on January 4–1984. At that time he came to the United States with the mission of establishing a school network to benefit the children of Armenian heritage.

Most Rev. Nerses M. Setian–the Apostolic Exarch for Armenian Catholics in the United States of America and in Canada at that time–asked Most Rev. Tertzakian to become Rector of St. Ann’s Armenian Catholic Cathedral in New York City–and on July 1–1986–he accepted the proposal. On February 9–1989–Bishop Setian appointed him as Pro Exarch and–in July 1990–as Exarchate Chancellor.

On January 6–1995–on the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord–the papal bull was published nominating Most Rev. Tertzakian successor of Most Rev. Nerses M. Setian as the second Apostolic Exarch for Armenian Catholics in the United States of America and Canada.

With the same bull–the Holy Father elevated Most Rev. Tertzakian to the episcopacy nominating him to the see of Trebizond of Armenia’s.

On April 29–1995–Catholicos-Patriarch Hovhannes Bedros XVIII Kasparian–assisted by Most Rev. Bishops Nerses M. Setian–Exarch Emeritus–and Krikor Ghabroyan–Ordinary of the Armenian Catholic Diocese of the Holy Cross in France–conferred the Episcopal ordination on Most Rev. Hovhannes Tertzakian in the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family in Glendale–California. The canonical installation in the cathedral of St. Ann in New York City took place on May 7–1995. Most Rev. Tertzakian resigned from the pastoral care of the exarchate upon having reached the age limit in the year 2000.

During his tenure–Most Rev. Tertzakian single handedly oversaw the renovation of the interior of St. Ann Cathedral. Under his vigilant care and guidance–the Exarchate periodical Eternal Flame was aimed at promoting the development of spiritual growth in a life of prayer. He supported the establishment of the St. Nerses Lambronatsi Catechetical Institute–with the hope that it would enable Armenia’s of all ages to grow in both the unique spirituality of their Church and the upright teachings of the Catholic Faith.

And now he greets the heavenly Groom with his lamp trimmed; he has always been ready for the coming of the Lord. He served his flock and he never pursued his personal gain or comfort. He was obedient to a heroic degree; he chose this path even when human judgment suggested different ways out.

Bishop Tertzakian’s earthly remains will repose in Venice at the Monastery amongst the brethren of his order.


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