Orientation Retreat Held at the Ararat Center
The seminary held its annual orientation retreat on September 16-18, continuing the tradition of spending it at the Ararat Center, in Greenville, NY. A sense of spiritual and brotherly/sisterly closeness permeated throughout the weekend, with the key theme, “Where does the Spirit blow.”
Discussion topics explored how to respond to the winds that may come out of nowhere in life blowing us in different directions, and how we might see the hand of God in each of these moments. As a fun project and to illustrate this, retreatants had an opportunity to interact with wind as they worked in teams to fly kites on Saturday morning.
The weekend retreat was led by the seminary’s spiritual director, Dn. Yervant Kutchukian, and Professor Roberta Ervine, who engaged the following students and spouses: Dn. Garen Hamamjian, Dn. Serop Krajekian, Sevan Krajekian, Arman Shirikyan, Arin Parsanyan, Zareh Mirzayan, Dan Bullock, Arpi Nakashian, and Vardan Sargsyan. The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean, also joined the group.
The retreat began on Friday evening with icebreakers and an evening worship service. Fr. Mardiros led the group in a presentation and discussion on being mindful and attentive in our worship and prayer life, studies, seminary community life and ultimately as pastors of a community.
There were worship services twice daily. On Saturday afternoon, the retreatants enjoyed apple picking at a local orchard and in the evening, they gathered around a campfire to enjoy fellowship and friendship.
The retreat concluded on Sunday with Divine Liturgy at St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, NY, where the Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor and a St. Nersess alumnus, and members of the parish welcomed back the orientation group. Dn. Garen Hamamjian offered the day’s spiritual message in English and Armenian, while the other students served on the altar and sang in the choir. Everyone enjoyed a lovely fellowship following services prepared by the Parish Council and members of the church community.
The weekend ended with a visit to see the Primate, the Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, where retreatants had an opportunity to hear the Primate’s reflections on the retreat theme of how the Wind of the Spirit moves us through life. The visit concluded with a shared moment of prayer and singing, led by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, former Primate of the Eastern Diocese, who was also visiting. Hayr Soorp blessed the retreatants before their return to St. Nersess.