1- The Origin of Bzommar Congregation
In the days of Abraham Bedros I Catholicos (1742-1749), the patriarchal clergy was composed of the Bishops and some spiritual leaders of St. Antoine, who, in 1750, moved from the convent of Kreim to the newly built convent of Bzommar. There, they started to live in communities, as the preachers of the Armenian convents of that time whose chiefs were the Catholicos or the Patriarch and the Bishops.
After finishing the convent material structure, the Catholicos Hagop Bedros II (1749-1753) worked hard in order to enhance the moral structure, by putting the bases of an organized public life in Bzommar convent.
That is how the patriarchal congregation of Bzommar originated as a congregation joined to the patriarchal Seat as a permanent company who was disposable for the Catholicos permanently and for all the mission domains.
The congregation's peculiar purpose according to the article No. 4 of the book of regulations published in 1986 and ratified by the Eastern churches was:
a. to preach the Catholic faith in the Armenian nation.
b. to offer a sacerdotal position for the service of the Patriarchate, congregation and mission places, by the authority of the Patriarch, the patriarchal successor of the congregation and the leaders of the eparchies according to the jurisdiction of each one of them.
c. to organize the new members of the Congregation in the congregational seminary and to put them under the disposition of the Catholicos for the service of the missions.
From the first day, what characterized Bzommar cenobite was to show his whole readiness for the service of the Armenian people wherever it was, following the directions of the Catholicos who was regularly the chief of the congregation even if he was not a cenobite. Indeed, the Catholicos even during his election day became a cenobite and the chief of the congregation. But he immediately managed the Congregation through his patriarchal successor who also was usually the chief of the convent.
By the power of their chief, the cenobites of Bzommar could be considered as being a group of apostles who were subject permanently to an authority and who couldn’t refuse any mission proposed to them, except when they had a very serious reason to refuse.
They, by their self-sacrifice, registered heroic episodes in the history of the Armenian Catholic Church. In the provinces of Minor Asia, they did confrontation and fratricide battles, in Caucasus, lately, they did their mission secretly. Many of them were exiled, imprisoned or killed.
During the Armenian Genocide human horror year, 15 martyrs, one of them was His Beatitude Iknadios Maloyan who was the model of the clergy of the 21st century, the glory of the Armenian and the Universal Church and the strong protector of Bzommar Congregation and its big seminary.
a.The chief of Bzommar Congregation is the Catholicos Patriarch who managed the Congregation through his patriarchal successor who, in his turn, with four administrative Fathers organized the administrative council whose duty was:
- To manage the properties and fortunes of the convent.
- To evaluate the Congregation's moral profits
- To animate its apostolic group
- To revive its spiritual deposit
- To brighten its national and cultural treasures and role.
- To strengthen its historical subsistence by preparing new cenobites according to the spiritual and national demands of the 21st century.
b. The Congregation was managed by a special constitution ratified in February 24, 1986, also by the decisions and demonstrations of the general canonical meetings which were assembled one time every six years or when the authorization of the Catholicos Patriarch, the chief of the congregation, and the Eastern Churches was necessary.
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