BEIRUT — Armenian Catholic Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Gabroyan died in Beirut May 25.
The 86-year-old had served as patriarch since 2015.
Gabroyan “was a great leader, a servant-hearted leader, wise and realistic,” said Serop Ohanian, Lebanon field director for the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corp., which has served socially and economically vulnerable Armenian communities for 100 years.
“He was always close to the people, visiting the sick and the destitute, providing the necessary and needed support to them,” Ohanian told Catholic News Service. “It is a great loss to our community.”
The Middle East Council of Churches said Patriarch Gabroyan was “a most prominent supporter of the ecumenical movement and the MECC.”
A funeral Mass will be May 29 at the Cathedral of St. Elias and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut.
Gabroyan was born in Aleppo, Syria, Nov. 15, 1934, to parents who had fled Marin, Turkey, as a result of the 1915 genocide. In 1938, his family settled in Lebanon.
He received his early education in Lebanon, including at the Bzommar Monastery School. He continued his higher studies at the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome and graduate studies in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was ordained a priest in Lebanon March 28, 1959.
Gabroyan served as principal of the Armenian Catholic Mesrobian School in Bourj Hammoud, Beirut’s main Armenian district, from 1960 to 1969. He was rector of the minor seminary of Bzommar from 1969 to 1976.
In 1976, he was appointed to serve Armenian Catholics in France and was ordained a bishop Feb. 13, 1977.
He retired Feb. 2, 2013, but that retirement was interrupted two years later when, at age 80, he was elected as the 20th patriarch after the death Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni.