Lebanese Priest Named Bishop of U.S. Eparchy for Armenian Catholics

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Mikael Mouradian, who is superior of the Convent of Notre Dame in Bzommar, Lebanon, as the new bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics.

The appointment was announced May 21 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop–designate Mouradian, who was born in Lebanon, succeeds Bishop Manuel Batakian, who is 81.

The New York–based eparchy serves about 25,000 Armenian Catholics in the United States and about 10,000 in Canada. The church has two parishes in Canada, Toronto and Montreal, and seven in the United States — two in California and one each in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

The eparchy was formed as an exarchate in 1981. On Sept. 12, 2005, Pope Benedict raised it to an eparchy. The same day Bishop Batakian, who had headed the exarchate since 2001, became the first eparch.

Dioceses in Eastern Catholic churches are called eparchies. An exarchate is a church jurisdiction formed in areas where there are enough Catholics of that rite to establish a hierarchy but the church is not sufficiently developed yet to form an eparchy, or full diocesan structure.

The eparchy is named for a village in Armenia. Nareg was the site of a famous monastery and home to one of Armenia’s most noted theologians and saints, St. Gregory of Nareg.

Bishop–designate Mouradian, who will turn 50 in July, is a member of the Institute of the Clergy of Bzommar. Ordained a priest Oct. 24, 1987, he has held a number of positions, including as head of Caritas Armenia.

A native of Greece, Bishop Batakian served the church in Lebanon, Paris and Rome before coming to the United States.

Born in Athens Nov. 5, 1929, he moved with his family to Lebanon during World War II. After philosophy and theology studies in Rome, he was ordained a priest Dec. 8, 1954, as a member of the Armenian patriarchal religious order, the Institute of the Clergy of Bzommar.

He was patriarchal vicar of the institute, 1978-84; pastor of the Armenian cathedral in Paris, 1984-90; and rector of the Armenian Pontifical College in Rome, 1990-94.

Elected a bishop in December 1994, he was ordained the following March and served as vicar general of the patriarchate. He was named head of the U.S.Canadian exarchate in November 2000 and took up that post in January 2001.

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