by Fr. Karekin Kasparian
In all my years of pastoral ministry, I have been privileged to have established such pastoral relationships with parishioners that their appreciative expressions have truly humbled me.
One of my parishioners was experiencing deep depression as a result of some family conflicts and business failure. He would be reluctant to get up in the mornings. Even shaving became a big chore for him. Reluctantly he was seeing a psychiatrist, but with very slow progress. One day his wife asked me to speak with him. We instituted a system whereby on alternate days we would drive to each other’s house, park the car and talk while walking on the quiet street of our neighborhood. This “walk and talk” practice lasted for over two years. My friend slowly came out of his depression, much due to the psychiatrist. I developed a habit of walking (almost daily), which contributes to my staying healthy.
Another time, I administered Holy Communion to an elderly mother who enjoyed attending services at our church in Westchester, New York. However, we were not in church, but in her hospital room. In a tearful and prayerful session, she received communion and felt comforted. A few months later, in a West Coast hospital, she was visited by another Armenian priest who offered to give her Holy Communion. She reluctantly said, “But my Der Hayr has already given me Holy communion. That’s enough far me.” Our pastor-parishioner relationship was so strong that in her painful moments, she used to call me from 1500 miles away to talk to me and ask for prayers over the phone.