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St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Offered in the Western Diocese

St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Offered in the Western Diocese

The St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Program is tailored to young men who would like to learn to participate in the liturgical services of the Armenian Church as deacons and altar servers. This type of program has been offered by the seminary for over 50 years and continues to be a popular conference every summer.

In addition, deacon and altar server one-day workshops have been offered at various parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese over the years. In the last two years, the seminary has also offered workshops in the Western Diocese, one at St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys, CA, in March 2020, and the other last month at St. Leon (Ghevontiants) Armenian Cathedral in Burbank.

Last August, with the blessing of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, a Deacons’ Training Program, which was modeled after the one offered at the seminary, was offered in the Western Diocese at Hye Camp in Dunlap, CA. With the support of Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, Eastern Diocese Instructor of Sacred Music, served as one of the instructors. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, organized and led the program. He has participated in deacons’ training programs as an instructor before recently relocating his ministry to CA.

The St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Program is tailored to young men who would like to learn to participate in the liturgical services of the Armenian Church as deacons and altar servers. This type of program has been offered by the seminary for over 50 years and continues to be a popular conference every summer.

With the blessing of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, a Deacons’ Training Program was also offered in the Western Diocese this past August at Hye Camp in Dunlap, CA. With the support of Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, Eastern Diocese Instructor of Sacred Music, served as one of the instructors. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, organized and led the program. He has participated in deacons’ training programs as an instructor before recently relocating his ministry to CA.

Daily morning and evening prayer services, classes and lectures, Bible studies, and Armenian language classes were offered to 10 participants who attended from parishes throughout the Western Diocese. These students already serve the Armenian Church as deacons, subdeacon and acolytes but attended the program to gain a deeper understanding of our church’s worship services and return to their home churches with polished liturgical skills.

Dn. Barlo DerMegurdichian, PhD taught Armenian language and history classes. He also taught a lecture on the conversion of Armenia to Christianity by St. Gregory the Illuminator and King Drtad, the creation of the Armenian alphabet by St. Mesrob Mashtots, with the support of St. Sahag and King Vramshapookh translation of the Bible, and Sts. Vartanantz.

Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian provided musical lessons of the deacons’ part of the Divine Liturgy through Zoom. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian led deacons’ training classes, focusing on poorvar, kushots, Gospel procession, Veraperoom, Voghchooyn, Hokehankisd, and making nushkhar. He also presented a lecture about Komitas Vartabed.

Instructors for the Bible studies and some deacons’ training classes included Fr. Zaven Markosyan, Fr. Mashdots Keshishian, Fr. Vazken Movsesian, Fr. Harutiun Tachjian, Fr. Yesayi Bedros, and Dn. Aris Sevak. They also participated in the prayer services. During the Holy Badarak, Fr. Yesayi Bedros was the guest celebrant and Dn. Andrew Hagopian played the organ and led the choir parts, while the students served on the altar under the guidance of Der Gomidas.

In the evenings, the group bonded by singing Armenian songs from the St. Nersess Songbook as Dn. Andrew accompanied on the keyboard. Everyone looked forward to singing together every night, especially the song “Mi Chinatsi.” Janice Hendrix, Yn. Roberta Hairabedian, and Salpy Adams volunteered as the kitchen crew for the program, and the participants enjoyed their homecooked Armenian meals, along with other delicious food.

Overall, the program was a great learning experience for both the participants and their mentors, who bonded over faith, heritage, and tradition. Most importantly, they shared the same love for serving God. The Western Diocese’s Deacons’ Training Program was a success, and the participants are eager to return the summer of 2022!