Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
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October 22, 2012

In Memoriam: His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian

Reflections of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian

On Monday, October 22, 2012, the funeral service was performed for His
Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, of blessed memory, the late 96th
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and former Primate of the Eastern Diocese,
who passed away on October 12. On the prior evening, the casket was carried
in a procession from the Jaffa Gate to Sts. James Armenian Cathedral, where
the Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Monday morning. The Patriarch was
subsequently interred at the Holy Savior Monastery at the Zion Gate.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, has been in Jerusalem this
week, to pay his final respects to Patriarch Torkom. What follows is his
reflection on the Patriarch's life and ministry.

IN THE HOLY CITY OF JERUSALEM TODAY-after a procession through the streets
once walked by Jesus Christ, and having observed the ancient rituals of the
Armenian Church-we laid to rest the mortal remains of the 96th Armenian
Patriarch: His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.

It has been a day to reflect on history: the history of Jerusalem itself;
the history of the Armenian Patriarchate; and the history of a single man's
life, spent in humble, devoted service to our church, our people, and our
risen Lord.

One moment of history I envision happened almost a half-century ago. It was
1968, and His Holiness Vasken I, the late, great Catholicos of All
Armenians, was departing from America, having recently consecrated St.
Vartan Cathedral in New York. In a parting statement to the community,
Vasken Vehapar had this to say:

"We convey our affection to Archbishop Torkom, who is a youthful and
energetic asset, a ray of hope for you and for us. We see that his task is
difficult: a heavy responsibility weighs upon his shoulders. Help him,
gather round him-hand in hand, clergy and laymen alike-so that in an
atmosphere of solidarity and a spirit of unity you may accomplish even
greater things than you have thus far."

Vehapar spoke to the Armenians of America as a proud father giving
encouragement to his children. And chief among those children was the
talented arajnort of the Diocese: Torkom Srpazan.

In the years-the long years-that followed, that relationship grew, and
became deeper. To Vasken Vehapar, Torkom Srpazan was like the son whom a
father relies on to uphold the family honor and name. And Torkom Srpazan was
more than a son to the Catholicos: he was his close advisor, his loyal
champion in the field, his strong right arm who always lifted up the
Catholicos and the dignity of our church.

I personally saw this relationship expressed again and again: during the
Karabagh crisis; at the time of the earthquake; and in countless moments
behind the scenes.

I recall these matters because they show that Torkom Srpazan, throughout his
ministry, was not merely a talented priest, or an energetic primate, or a
distinguished patriarch. He was one of the very few churchmen of his
generation to carry the weight of our church on his shoulders.

To be sure, he shared that weight with others. But even in that small group
of indispensible figures, Torkom Manoogian was the one who stood out: who
shined; and who seemed to combine all the grace and dignity of the Armenian
past, with all our fondest hopes and aspirations for the future.

He came out of the deserts of Baghdad: a boy with the name of Avedis. And
when he chose to answer our Lord's call to become a priest, it was indeed a
medz avedis for an Armenian Church which bore the fresh scars of the

>From the positions of authority he occupied-whether at St. Vartan Cathedral,
or the Throne of St. James-Torkom Srpazan was a man of towering stature in
religious and national life. He was a fixture in ecumenical and interfaith
circles, who built enduring relationships, and friendships, with his fellow
religious leaders.

To thousands of people across our Diocese-not only in our parishes, but in
the surrounding society-Torkom Srpazan was the compassionate face of the
Armenian Church of America: vigorous, spiritual, always impressive.

His was the beautiful, poetic voice of our people-advocating forcefully for
our rights and aspirations, while always exemplifying the great Armenian
civilization that had bestowed works of profound art and spirituality on
world culture.

Above all, Archbishop Torkom insisted on the dignity of the Church, as the
foremost institution of the Armenian nation: the greatest expression of our
national genius. It was through the church, he reminded us, that the
Armenians had produced a Vartan, a Nersess Shnorhali, a Krikor Naregetsi, a
Gomidas Vartabed.

Now today, we bury Torkom Srpazan alongside figures of similar stature: the
Armenian Patriarch's of ages past. We remember his name with theirs:
Koushagian, Tourian-all the way back to Abraham the Chain-bearer. And we
affirm that, surely, this is the company in which Patriarch Torkom belongs
for all eternity.

Now, in death, they are all together-along with our other great figures like
Gomidas, and Vasken Vehapar, and others too numerous to name. From the
perspective of the world, they are all together in history. But to us as
followers of the risen Christ, they are alive, and merely sleeping; waiting
for the day when they will join in that heavenly chorus of the saints-to
which Torkom Manoogian aspired his entire life, and where his strong,
powerful, inspirational voice will be heard once again.

Today we cherish and bless his memory, and express gratitude to God, as we
pray for the soul of His devoted, princely servant. Amen.