A Beautiful Graduation Day
The 2020/2021 St. Nersess Graduation served as a beautiful reminder of the seminary’s everyday mission – to educate future clergy and lay leaders of the Armenian Church.
On May 14, in an outdoor ceremony under a festive tent, a limited number of guests representing clergy, board of directors, faculty, alumni association, and families of the graduates celebrated the graduation of Dn. Timothy Aznavourian, Dn. Armen Terjimanian, and Andrew Kayaian.
Officiating at the graduation was Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors. The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean, opened the graduation program by welcoming the guests and introducing the three graduates. Then Zaven Tachdjian, representing the St. Nersess Board of Directors, addressed the graduates and reminded them that they are not simply graduates but will “always be part of the St. Nersess family.” The board had just met for its semi-annual meeting prior to the graduation, and Fr. Mardiros recognized and thanked the board members in attendance for their support of the seminary.
Speaking next was Dn. Eric Vozzy, a 2017 graduate, who spoke on behalf of the St. Nersess Alumni Association. “We will pray for you and are grateful for your chosen mission. I want to remind you that you are now a part of the alumni association!” declared Dn. Eric.
Dr. Ionut-Alexandru Tudorie, Academic Dean at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, then spoke to the graduates. “We are glad the St. Nersess students are interacting with the St. Vladimir’s students because you are our students too,” Dr. Tudorie said. The audience was reminded of the 50+ year affiliation between the two institutions.
Der Mardiros recognized the faculty in attendance, including the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, Rev. Fr. Arshen Aivazian, and Dn. Yervant Kutchukian, before introducing Prof. Roberta Ervine as the next speaker. She reminded the graduates how they have faced tough challenges together over the past year. “You have prepared for the community in which you will serve, and we are so proud of you,” said Prof. Ervine.
Speaking to the graduates as a fellow classmate was Dn. Adam Bullock. “These graduates are my brothers. I am grateful to know and study with each one. The bonds of seminary brotherhood are unique and cannot be broken,” reflected Dn. Adam. Two days following the graduation, Adam was ordained a deacon in the seminary chapel.
Fr. Mardiros invited each graduate to address the attendees. The first to speak was Andrew, who recalled the last year a “surreal experience”. “St. Nersess is nourishment for the soul. Thank you for allowing me to take advantage of this opportunity,” proclaimed Andrew.
Dn. Timothy then addressed the crowd in Armenian, stressing the importance of humility. He related how as seminarians they have been taught to be humble because in order to serve others, one must be humble.
The final graduate to speak was Dn. Armen Terjimanian. He reflected how when he took his first class with Prof. Ervine he knew immediately “I was in the right place.” He thanked Bishop Daniel for being a great mentor and teacher and thanked his family for being a part of the journey, noting they “all affect who we are and the decisions we make.”
Before handing out the diplomas, Bishop Daniel Findikyan offered his own personal reflections. “Lead with love with every encounter and experience. You will never fail as a child a God,” said Bishop Daniel. He expressed this profound gratitude to Fr. Karekin and Fr. Mardiros, two people who have been “attending St. Nersess graduations longer than all of us.”
Bishop Daniel concluded the ceremony by awarding each graduate with his diploma. All three graduates completed the Armenian Church Studies Program. The following day, Dn. Timothy and Dn. Armen were among the graduates at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary to receive a Master of Divinity degree, while Andrew received his Master of Arts and Master of Theology degrees.
The joyful guests enjoyed a pre-packaged meal prepared by Wilma Petrossian, Manager of Food Services. Everyone had an opportunity to personally congratulate the graduates on their accomplishments.