Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

His Eminence Abp. Hovnan Derderian

Biographical Highlight

His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, named Vahram at his baptism, was born on December 1, 1957 in Beirut, Lebanon.

1970: At the age of 13, he attended the theological seminary of the Cilician Catholicosate, in Bik­faya; Lebanon and graduated from the seminary in 1975.

1976: He traveled to Etchmiadzin, Armenia to continue his theological studies at the Gevorkian se­minary.

1980: Completed his studies at the Gevorkian seminary and was ordained to the order of a celibate priest by His Holiness Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians, and was renamed Hovnan. In the same year, by the recommendation of His Holiness Vazken I, Very Rev. Father Hovnan went to Oxford University, England, to enhance his studies in the theological field.

1983: Upon graduating from the Oxford Theological School, Very Rev. Father Hovnan obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Theology. In the same year, he retuned to the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and began teaching the following subjects; Armenian Church History, General Church History and liturgical music. In addition to his teaching assignments, he worked on his doctoral thesis in theology, by comprising an in-depth study on the topic, "Guides to Church Feasts."

1984: Very Rev. Father Hovnan is elevated to the rank of a Vartaped (Doctor of Theology). During the same year, he was appointed pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Toronto, Canada. He served the Toronto community for the following 6 years. With his efforts the Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC) was reestablished and became an active and vibrant group.

1987: Very Rev. Father organized the consecration of the newly built church, which was conducted by His Holiness Vazken I. In addition, he received a Master's Degree in Theology from Oxford University. Also, on the occasion of the conferment of the rank of Dzairakuyn Vartaped he presented and published a work entitled "A Practical Manual of Pastoral Theology."

1990: On May 25-26, during the meeting of Diocesan Delegates held in St. Catharine's, Ontario, Very Rev. Father Hovnan Derderian was elected Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada. On October 7, in the Cathedral of St. Etchmiadzin, he was ordained by His Holiness Vazken I to the level of Bishop.

1993: February 18, His Eminence was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by His Holiness Vazken I.

1995: His Eminence was reelected as primate of the Armenian Church of Canada for his second term.

2000: His Eminence was reelected as Primate of the Armenian Church of Canada for his third term. 

2003: On May 3, His Eminence was elected as the Primate of the Western Diocese of the Amrenian Church of North America by the 76th Annual Assembly.

2004: Archbishop Hovnan Derderian consecrates St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale. Changes are implemented in the Diocesan structure. A younger generation of professional Diocesan staff is hired.

2005: His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians pays Second Pontifical Visit to the Western Diocese and presides over the official opening ceremony of the “Aga-Sargsyan” Library of the Diocese. The Christian Education Department of the Western Diocese is formed. “The Voice of the Armenian Church” television program is launched.

2006: The Office of Executive Director is created in efforts to effectively plan and execute out all administrative matters related to the Diocesan Headquarters. The architectural blue print of the Diocesan Cathedral is submitted.

2007: His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians presides over Groundblessing Ceremony of the Cathedral while on his Fourth Pontifical Visit to the Western Diocese. The Pontiff consecrates the newly constructed St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church in Pasadena. The Baidzar Terpanjian Bookstore of the Western Diocese opens its doors to the faithful.

2008: His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian ordains four priests into the Sacred Order of the Priesthood. The priests are Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian, Rev. Fr. Nerses Hayrapetyan and Rev. Fr. Diran Avagyan. The vision of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian to bring together ACYO members from the Dioceses of the world is realized as ACYO youth gather for the first time in Holy Etchmiadzin.    

2009: On May 1, Archbishop Derderian gets re-elected as the Primate of the Western Diocese for the second 7 years term by the 82nd Diocesan Annual Assembly. In the same year, Archbishop Derderian ordains Rev. Fr. Krikor Zakaryan into the Priesthood. The Primate consecrates St. Kevork Armenian Church in Portland, St. Apkar Armenian Church in Scottsdale and St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Santa Clarita. His Eminence receives official recognition from Oxford University.

2010: Construction efforts of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral are completed. The spiritual center of the Western Diocese is consecrated on September 11, 2010 by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. The Diocese celebrates the Primate’s 30th anniversary of Ordination into the Sacred Order of the Priesthood and the 20th anniversary of his elevation to the rank of Bishop. The “Zorayan Museum” opens its doors to the public.

2011: President Serzh Sargsyan honors Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian with the honorary medal of the second rank for services contributed to the Motherland.

2012: Primate consecrates St. Garabed Armenian Church in Rancho Mirage on January 7. Holy Resurrection Armenian Church in Seattle is consecrated by the Primate on January 14. On April 29, Archbishop Derderian ordained and consecrated Dn. Matthew Ash into the Sacred Order of the Priesthood renaming him Father Mesrop. On August 11, the Primate presided over the Blessing and Dedication ceremony of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Crescenta Valley. On October 20, the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Armenian Church Complex of Las Vegas was held.

2013: Primate presides over the Blessing and Dedication ceremony of the new church property of St. James Armenian Church in Sacramento. On May 5, the Headquarters of the Western Diocese was renamed “Turpanjian Diocesan Building of the Western Diocese” in honor of the Turpanjian family. At the Primate’s initiative, on July 15, the Summer Camp of the Western Diocese was renamed after Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian. The year also marked the 10th anniversary of the Primacy of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

List of Accomplishments during the Primacy

of His Eminence

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

  • As part of the expansion process, nine clergymen, besides those ordained by Archbishop Derderian, were invited to serve at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.
  • The Stewardship Program was reorganized and revitalized. There are presently three Priesthood-Candidates in the Western Diocese.
  • More than 570 individuals were ordained as acolytes or deacons during the ten year pastoral tenure of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
  • Nine churches have been consecrated and nine mission parishes have been established
  • More than 100 literary works were published by the Western Diocese of which 27 were authored by the Primate.
  • Missions in Armenia were launched namely Christian Youth Mission to Armenia (CYMA), Etchmiadzin Children’s Fund (ECF), Sister Churches, and Mer Hooys – House of Hope. Because of the active participation of Diocesan benefactors, a number of renovation and building projects were realized in Armenia including the complete renovation of Harichavank Monastery and Seminary, the building of the Conference Hall and Gymnasium in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and many others.
  • The Primate sought after active involvement and participation in the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders (LACRL-where he has served as Council President), the Southern California Ecumenical Council (SCEC), Faith and Order, and Los Angeles Inter Religious Council (IRC).

During his pastoral tenure, Archbishop Derderian has authored 27 books.