Orientation Retreat Held at the Ararat Center
The seminary held its annual orientation retreat over the weekend of September15-17 at the Ararat Center in Greenville, NY. A sense of spiritual and brotherly/sisterly closeness permeated. The topics for this year’s retreat were drawn from St. Nersess Shnorhali’s words to priests in his General Epistle. One of the key themes was, “It’s not rocket science!” Discussions explored what applications St. Nersess’ counsel to priests holds for priests in formation today.
The retreat was led by the seminary’s spiritual director, Dn. Yervant Kutchukian, and Professor Roberta Ervine, who engaged the following students: Dn. Garen Hamamjian, Dn. Daniel Bullock, Subdeacon Arman Shirikyan, Arin Parsanian, Zareh Mirzayan, and our newest seminarian, Karo Boyadzhyan. The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean, and Dr. Ani Shahinian, our new faculty member, were also in attendance.
Fr. Mardiros led daily services and spoke to the students about seminary life. He expressed his delight and joy in this year’s robust and diverse student body. On Saturday, the seminary family enjoyed apple picking at a local orchard, and in the evening the retreatants gathered around a campfire to enjoy fellowship and a reflection by Dr. Ani Shahinian.
The retreat concluded with Divine Liturgy at St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, where the Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor and a seminary alumnus, and members of the parish welcomed back the orientation group.
Seminarians began their service by harvesting basil from the parish garden for the day’s celebration. Zareh Mirzayan offered the spiritual message in Armenian and Arin Parsanian offered the spiritual message in English, while the other students served on the altar. Following services, Fr. Stepanos accompanied the seminarians to a community picnic at Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church in Troy, where all were warmly welcomed by Fr. Vahan Kouyoumjian and the Holy Cross community