“Apostle of Faith:” His Holiness Aram I – Lifelong Learner and Educator (Part One)

With great joy and enthusiasm the Western Prelacy and community prepares to welcome His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, our beloved Pontiff and “apostle of faith,” who will visit from September 29 to October 4, 2016 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his election and consecration. It is no coincidence that this visit corresponds with the “Year of Service” proclamation, as His Holiness Aram I is the epitome of true service. He has lived a life with a mission, one characterized by faith and tireless service, and has become an inspirational figure within the Holy See of Cilicia and within the Armenian Apostolic Church on the whole.

All leaders are defined by their achievements and unique attributes. The accomplishments of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I are so varied and expansive that it is not possible to encapsulate his leadership and service with one word or phrase.
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Thus, we begin this series by presenting a brief biography of His Holiness, focusing on his early days and his lifelong love of learning and teaching.

His Holiness Aram I was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1947. He received his primary education at Mesrobian School, after which he enrolled at the Armenian Theological Seminary in Antelias in 1961. On May 28, 1968, he was ordained a celibate priest. From 1968-1978, he continued his higher education at the Near East School of Theology in Lebanon, American University of Beirut, Ecumenical Institute at Bossey in Switzerland, Oxford University, and Fordham University in New York. He has earned a number of degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Theology, and a Doctor of Philosophy, and several honorary degrees. During this time, he lectured on Armenological and theological subjects at the Armenian Seminary and at Haigazian University in Lebanon. He was elected Prelate of Lebanon in 1978 and elevated to the rank of Bishop in 1980. On June 28, 1995, His Holiness was elected Catholicos. He was consecrated in July of 1995.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has demonstrated a true passion for learning and teaching. He closely monitors the quality of education offered at the Seminary of the Holy See of Cilicia, where he continues to teach theology, pastoral theology, and patrology. The Seminary has always been a focus of attention for His Holiness and today remains a hub of knowledge, edification, and enlightenment, owing to the paternal care and guidance of our Pontiff. Continuing education is also of utmost importance to His Holiness, as evidenced by the fact that members of the Brotherhood of the Holy See of Cilicia are driven by the Pontiff to attend the finest universities in order to expand and enhance their knowledge so that they are able to serve our church and nation to the absolute best of their abilities. Without a doubt, education forms a central part of His Holiness’ mission, and it is not an overstatement to deem His Holiness one of our modern-day champions in shaping the character, faith, and Armenian identity of our younger generations.

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