Nobel Peace Prize
By: Grace Petoyan, daughter of Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, St. Gregory Armenian Church, Pasadena, CA
The Nobel Peace Prize is an award for people who have done or are doing an act to improve the world. There are many people who deserve it, yet in my opinion, I believe that the late Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan (1904-1989) is worthy to be the next nominee. He made a great impact on the Armenian community all over the world.
Born in 1904, in Aintab, Turkey, he was fortunate to be a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Many people in the Kharpet Genocide and the Armenian Genocide were killed by the Ottoman Turks. He escaped to Syria to continue his life. He attended the Armenian seminary of Jerusalem and ordained a priest in 1928. Then, he moved to London and served there during World War II. In 1957, he was nominated as the Patriarch of Jerusalem but did not receive the position.
After the war, he was elected to be the Archbishop Primate of the Eastern Diocese of North America. Upon his arrival, he had the vision to purchase an entire city block in midtown Manhattan as the future site of the very first Armenian Cathedral in North America. There, he established eleven churches and ordained twenty-one members of the clergy.
He also founded the ACYOA which is the acronym for the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America. The four pillars that makeup ACYOA, are worship, education, service, and fellowship. ACYOA is now an active organization, (despite the global pandemic) throughout Europe, North America, and as of recent, Armenia. Currently, I am an active second-generation ACYOA member.
Nersoyan also developed a program to train youth to become church choir members. This bridges the gap between our ancient hymns and the next generation. Not only did he merge the youth into one nation-wide organization, but he also started an Armenian seminary called St. Nersess Armenian Theological Seminary, located in Armonk, New York. Men and women can both attend where they earn their M.A. in theology. They also train men for the priesthood in the Armenian Church specializing in service in the United States. In order to attend St. Nersess, you must have a Bachelor Degree. As of today, St. Nersess has prepared thirty-seven priests and four bishops.
St. Nersess is one of my father’s (Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, serving at St. Gregory Pasadena) alma maters. Another great outcome of St. Nersess is the current Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Bishop Daniel Findikyan, who is the first American Armenian born bishop to serve in North America. He was also a dean of St. Nersess Seminary. Another great outcome of St. Nersess, is the Very Reverend, Fr. Aren Jebejian, serving in Detroit, Michigan. He also happens to be Nersoyan’s great-nephew, my father’s classmate, and a good friend.
Although Nersoyan is not with us today, he deserves so much credit for how the Armenian diaspora has become a family. As he did witness the Armenian Genocide and the outcomes of it, he implemented so many ways for the diaspora to connect. Armenia and Artsakh are in challenging times, and we have done so many charitable acts through these organizations to help our brothers and sisters. The worldwide community he started is why we are here today, attending an Armenian church, school, and helping our fellow Armenians, post the first genocide of the 20th century. Therefore. I believe Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.