Prelacy History

The Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, which was established in 1973, serves under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia.  It is headquartered in La Crescenta, California.

The primary mission of the Western Prelacy is to preserve and foster the faith, heritage, traditions, and culture, and religious and national values of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and to provide spiritual guidance to over 500,000 Armenian-Americans in California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, and beyond.

From the Western Prelacy headquarters, also known as “The People’s Home”, the Prelate and Religious and Executive Councils oversee the day-to-day activities of the Churches and Schools, providing the necessary guidance and assistance.  The Western Prelacy also has a network of benefactors and sponsors who through their generous moral and financial support contribute to the realization of the ever-expanding mission of the Prelacy.

Currently, there are 13 churches and day Schools that function under the auspices and guidance of the Western Prelacy, serving hundreds of thousands of active parishioners and thousands of students.  The Prelacy reaches out to its faithful community through its official bilingual periodical, the “Spiritual Spectrum”, its website which features news reports and educational information, and the weekly television program “The Armenian Church”.

Sunday Schools were established over eighty years ago, and the Armenian Church Youth Association decades ago, to instruct Armenia-American children and young adults according to the doctrines and traditions of the Armenian Church.  The Western Prelacy also has a prison ministry program, offering spiritual guidance to Armenian inmates and former inmates.


Following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia was exiled from its centuries-old Holy See in Western Armenian and in 1930 was re-established and settled in Antelias, Lebanon.  With its multifaceted mission, the Catholicosate has a permanent presence throughout the Armenian Diaspora as a spiritual center with its Prelacies and affiliated bodies, and as a community of faithful believers.  Part of the growing mission of the Holy See of Cilicia was the establishment of the North American Prelacy in New York in 1958 by then Catholicos H.H. Zareh I of blessed memory.

The current Catholicos is His Holiness Aram I, who was elected and consecrated in 1995.

As the Armenian population in the Western United States began to grow in the 1970’s, it became apparent that more than one Prelacy was needed in North America, thus precipitating the establishment of the Western Prelacy in 1973 to meet the spiritual needs of the burgeoning population.

Since the establishment of the Western Prelacy in 1973, four high-ranking clergymen have served as Prelates.  They are; Archbishop Sumbat Lapajian of blessed memory (the first Prelate, served from 1973-1977), Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian (1977-1985), Archbishop Datev Sarkissian (1985-1995), Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian (1995-2020) and the current Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan (from 2020).

In twenty-five years, thanks to the meritorious leadership and diligence of Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, the Western Prelacy experienced significant growth and was able to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of an ever-growing community of faithful.  Among his most memorable achievements to date are the construction of the Prelacy headquarters, the establishment of new Churches and Parishes, and the overall expansion of the Prelacy’s endeavors and reach.

The oldest of the Churches is Holy Trinity Church in Fresno which was founded in 1900 and was the first Armenian Apostolic Church in the Western United States.  The second oldest Church is Holy Cross Church is Los Angeles (later Holy Cross Cathedral of Montebello), which was established in 1921.  Other Churches include St. Garabed (Los Angeles), Holy Martyrs (Encino), St. Mary’s (Glendale), St. Sarkis (Pasadena), Forty Martyrs (Orange County), St. Gregory (San Francisco), St. Garabed (Las Vegas), the Armenian Apostolic Church of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region, the Armenian Apostolic Church of Crescenta Valley, the Armenian Apostolic Church of Riverside County, and the Armenian Apostolic Church of North Hollywood.

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