An expert on the Near East
From the start of his new assignment, he dedicated himself to the study of Arabic through direct contact with people. In his new mission in the Near East, he specialized in the Armenian language and literature.
He studied at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut for four years. The Vicar Apostolic of Beirut, Eustace John Smith, OFM, ordained him a priest in the Armenian Rite on June 29, 1961.
He continued to study philosophy and linguistics in Beirut and Paris. His final year of formation was in Cleveland in the USA, where he completed tertianship. He professed solemn vows on August 15, 1969.
At St. Joseph’s University in Beirut he was professor of linguistics and Armenian language and literature (1968-1974). In 1974 he was named Vice-Provincial of the Near East. He took part in General Congregation 32 (1975).
In 1981 he was called to Rome as Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.