Minassian was born to an Armenian family in Lebanon on Oct. 24, 1946. He was ordained in 1973 in Beirut as a priest of the Patriarchal Congregation of Bzommar, an Armenian Catholic religious congregation of priests founded in 1750.
From 1990 to 2006, he served as a pastor in California, where he helped to create a foundation supporting humanitarian projects in Armenia. He also initiated the construction of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church in Glendale.
In 2005, he was appointed leader of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Jerusalem and Amman. In 2009, he established perpetual Eucharistic adoration at the church marking the Fourth Station of the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
When he was appointed as bishop of Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe nine years ago, he decided to prioritize the Catholic Church’s social and spiritual mission.
He told CNA that Armenian Catholics show the utmost respect for members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of the six ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches and Armenia’s national church.
"There is no difference in the proclamation of the faith between the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church. They have the same creed. They have the same liturgy. They have the same prayer,” he said.
He added that, while some clergy emphasized the differences between the two communions, “we don’t have any difficulty or any problematic situation working with everybody and assisting everybody.”
In Pope Francis’ letter to the patriarch, the pope encouraged Armenian Catholics to walk to meet the “Crucified One who is Risen.”
“We know the Armenian people as experts in suffering because of the many trials throughout the more than 1,700 years of Christian history, but also because of its inexhaustible capacity to flourish and bear fruit, through the holiness and wisdom of its saints and martyrs,” the pope wrote.
“The Church which Your Beatitude has been called to lead is fully inserted in the affairs of the Armenian people, preserving their memory and traditions, and at the same time deeply linked to the Successor of the Apostle Peter: I entrust to you the care of the younger generations, the promotion of vocations, and the wise harmony that you must be able to find among the different branches of your community,” he said.