St. Leon Armenian Church
Սրբոց Ղեւոնդեանց Հայոց Եկեղեցի
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

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Pastor's Page

Fr. Diran Bohajian is the Pastor of St. Leon Armenian Church. Fr. Diran graduated from New Jersey City University in December of 1987 with a major in History and a minor in Philosophy. In May of 1991 he graduated from St. Nersess and St. Vladimir Seminary with a Master of Divinity Degree. His Master Thesis was The Founding of the Armenian Orthodox Church in America.

Fr. Diran studied in Jerusalem for approximately six months. Upon his return from Jerusalem, Fr. Diran was appointed as Deacon-In-Charge of the St. Stepanos Armenian Church of Elberon, NJ (September, 1992).

On January 17, of 1993, Fr. Diran was ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian. It was the first time that the parishioners of St. Stepanos had witnessed an ordination to the priesthood. During his seven years of service to the St. Stepanos Armenian Church, the parish has showed many positive signs by its growth on all levels of the community.

On November 1, 1999, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian appointed Fr. Diran as pastor of the St. Leon Armenian Church.

Fr. Diran works very hard to spiritually build the parish and continue the good service of his predecessors. Fr. Diran and Yn. Kismet have three children: Anastasia, Richard and Aram.

Pastoral Message

With Which Churches is the Armenian Church in Full Communion

I was recently asked by a parishioner, “With which churches are we in full communion? The Armenian Church is in full communion with the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church of India (Malabar) and the Eritrean Orthodox Church. These churches and the Armenian Church make up the branch of Oriental Orthodox Churches. On Saturday June 11th, I attended the Concelebration Divine Liturgy with our Primate, His Eminence Abp. Khajag Barsamian, at the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, N.J. It was truly wonderful and uplifting to have worshipped with our sister churches with which we are in full communion. What does it mean to be in full communion? The Oriental Orthodox Churches accepted the three ecumenical councils which are the Council of Nicea 325, the Council Constantinople 381 and the Council of Ephesus 431. The Oriental Orthodox Churches rejected the fourth Ecumenical council of Chalcedon and the subsequent councils. Their rejection of the fourth Ecumenical council caused a schism between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Christology of the Oriental Orthodox Churches is that Christ is “One Nature, the Logos Incarnate,” of full humanity and full divinity. The Chalcedonian view is that Christ is in two natures, full humanity and full divinity. Just as humans are of their mothers and fathers and not in their mothers and fathers, so too is the nature of Christ according to the Oriental Orthodox Churches Doctrine. If Christ is in full humanity and in full divinity, then He is separate in two persons as the Nestorians teach (which was denounced as heretical) which contradicts the Oriental Orthodox teachings as well as the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches teachings. What does this mean for us in lay terms? If any of our members attend a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church (Russian, Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian etc.) and the priest knows that you are a member of the Oriental Orthodox Church, he most likely will not give you Holy Communion. We as members of the Armenian Church can freely receive Holy Communion from any of our Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The following is a description of the Oriental Orthodox Churches:

The Coptic Orthodox Church is also known as the Church of Alexandria. Alexandria was the capital of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period. The word “Copt” derives from “gypt” in Aigypptos, the Greek word for Egyptian. The Copts pride themselves in the apostolic origin of their Church, which was founded by the Evangelist, St. Mark. He is regarded as the first of the 117 Patriarchs of Alexandria, as well as the first of many Egyptian saints and martyrs. St. Mark is believed to have come to Alexandria between the years 48 and 55. His first convert was named Anianus, who he later ordained bishop to be his successor, together with three priests and seven deacons. St. Jerome states that St. Mark established the School of Alexandria, which became the highest center of theological education in the Middle East. He was martyred in the year 68. He was buried under the altar of the church. The present head of the Coptic church is His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is also known as the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The word Tewahedo which means “made one”, was chosen to profess the one nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, indigenous to Africa, is both one of the oldest Churches in the world and a founding member of the World Council of Churches. The Church was the creator of Ethiopia’s arts, crafts and literature as well as the secular and theological educational institutions. Ethiopia was the first African nation to worship the one true God. This was officially established by the Queen of Sheba upon her return from her historic visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem. Ethiopia embrace Christianity and has maintained its doctrines from the era of the apostles to the present day. The book of Acts 8:26-39 recounts the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized by St. Philip. This eunuch preached the gospel to the Ethiopians. Also, the apostle Matthew is also accredited with planting the Christian seeds in Ethiopia. The present Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is Patriarch/Catholicos Abune Paulos.

The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch is also referred to today as the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Syrian Orthodox church affirms the oldest church of Christendom. In the book of Acts 11:26, confirms that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. According to tradition St. Peter established the See of Antioch, presiding over it prior to his departure for the West. The Patriarchate of Antioch held ecclesiastical authority over all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, a jurisdiction confirmed by both the Council of Nicea (325) and the Council of Constantinople (381). Later, this authority was extended even as far as India and China. The present Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Igatius Zakka I Iwas.

The Syrian Church of Malabar is also known as the Syrian Orthodox Church of India. The early history of this Church has it’s origin with the apostle Thomas who made his way to India which is recorded in the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas, which is ascribed to Edessene writer Bardesanes (154-222). St. Thomas is said to have preached the Gospel, and to have founded seven churches on the coast before going to the opposite side of the subcontinent. The present Patriarch/Catholicos is Baselios Marthoma Didymos I.

The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is a new member of the Oriental Orthodox Church. Its autocephaly was recognized by the Ethiopian Patriarchate after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993. The Eritrean Orthodox Church was founded by the apostle Phillip. The book of Acts chapter 8 makes reference to this. The first Patriarch of Eritrea was Abune Phillipos who died in 2004 and was succeeded by Abune Yacob. The reign of Abune Yacob as Patriarch of Eritrea was very brief as he died not long after his enthronement and he was succeeded by Abune Antonios as 3rd Patriarch of Eritrea. Abune Antonios was elected in 2004 and Enthroned as the 3rd Patriarch of Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Eritrea. Pope Shenouda III presided at the ceremony, together with the Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and a Coptic Orthodox Church delegation.

In conclusion, I feel that as members of the body of Christ, reconciliation must take place between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches so that oneness of Christ will always unite us. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” I Cor. 8:6

Sources used for this message: Wikipedia of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Booklet-Excerpts from the Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Interchurch Marriages and Other Pastoral Relationships Copyright 1995/United States Catholic Conference, Inc. DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

How to Contact the Pastor

Call the Church Office, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at (201) 791-2862

The Previous Pastors of Saint Leon Parish

  • Reverend Father Hovhannes Kavookjian, 1936-1938
  • Very Reverend Mampre Calfayan, 1939-1941
  • Reverend Father Vahan Jelalian, 1941-1947
  • Very Reverend Father Shnork Kaloustian, 1948-1951
  • Reverend Father Arten Ashjian, 1951-1952
  • Very Reverend Father Mampre Calfayan, 1953-1954
  • Reverend Father Vartan Der Assadourian, 1955-1957
  • Reverend Father Carnig Hallajian, 1958-1972
    (Deacon -in-charge, 1958-72, Priest, 1960-72)
  • Reverend Father Arten Ashjian, 1972-1975
  • Reverend Father Paree Metjian, 1975-1985
  • Reverend Father Arshen Aivazian, 1985-1992
  • Very Reverend Father Vahan Hovhanessian, 1992-1999

St. Leon Armenian Church
12-61 Saddle River Road ♦ Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
Phone: 201-791-2862 Fax: 201-791-1329 Email:


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