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Seminary Presents at Two Events in the Western Diocese

Seminary Presents at Two Events in the Western Diocese

With the blessing of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese and Vice-President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean, traveled to the Western Diocese in California earlier this month. His trip included a presentation at the RECLAIM Conference, met with seminary board members, interviewed a potential seminarian, and held a Hokehankisd for the first major benefactors and board member of the seminary. St. Nersess serves both the Eastern and Western Dioceses.

On March 2, the 8th annual RECLAIM Conference was held at the Diocesan Headquarters in Burbank, with nearly 100 people in attendance from throughout the Western Diocese. The participants listened attentively to spiritual presentations by clergy and laity, including a talk on the Arev Down Syndrome Children Health & Development Center in Armenia by Fr. Grigor Grigoryan who traveled from Armenia to the conference; and panel discussions on the topics, “Service as a Christian Responsibility” and “Practical approaches to implementing service programs in and through our churches.” 

Fr. Mardiros presented on St. Nersess Seminary during the Service in Action portion of the program, and shared how the seminary prepares leaders for service in the church, the educational process for priests and lay leaders, and the opportunities to attend a summer conference for youth and young adults. He also showed the recent video, “12 Vocations: Broadening the Call.”

Later, Der Mardiros met with two Western Diocese seminary board members, Fr. Sarkis Petoyan who is an alumnus and pastor of St. Gregory Armenian Church in Pasadena, and Margaret Mgrublian who recently joined the board of directors. Together, they discussed a seminary fundraising banquet to take place in Los Angeles on November 17, 2024. With the blessing of Hovnan Srpazan, both Fr. Sarkis and Margaret will serve as co-chairs of the event. More information about the Fall event will be announced soon. Fr. Mardiros Chevian met on several occasions with Abp. Hovnan Derderian to discuss a number of topics related to the seminary and Western Diocese. They also discussed plans for Dn. Garen Hamamjian’s post-graduation studies later this spring. Throughout the week, Der Hayr also met with clergy.

On Saturday, March 9, Dn. Yervant Kutchukian, seminary spiritual director, joined Der Mardiros in leading the highly anticipated Altar Server Lenten Retreat at the Diocesan Center in Burbank. Together they welcomed and engaged 16 altar servers from local parishes for a day long retreat which included spiritual presentations and topics, reflections, a bible study, and an evening service. Dn. Andrew Garibian, a cathedral altar server, assisted in organizing the event.

One participant, Dn. Vartan Arzumanyan, shared, “I am profoundly grateful to Fr. Mardiros, Dn. Yervant, and Dn. Andrew Garibian for a retreat that has left my spirit uplifted and my faith deepened. We delved deep into the heart of service with ‘Serving with Mercy and Beyond’ (Voghormoutiun), embracing the call to serve others with love and compassion.”

Dn. Yervant added, “It was inspiring to see young deacons and altar servers come together to reflect on how we serve God by serving His people and enacting His mercy at the altar and in the world. My presentation on becoming Living Poorvars offered participants the opportunity to reflect on how each of us kindles the fire of God’s love in our hearts and burns the sweet smelling incense of faith, hope, love, and a holy life upon it. These young men are shining examples of selfless service out of love for God.” Following the retreat, Dn. Yervant had the opportunity to meet with Hovnan Srpazan and Diran Avagyan, Program Director/Assistant to the Primate. They talked about new ways St. Nersess can collaborate with the Western Diocese and how the seminary can support the mission and ministry of the Western Diocese, in particular through offerings for clergy, deacons, and lay people.

Finally, on Sunday, March 10, Fr. Mardiros was the guest celebrant and homilist at St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles, the first Armenian parish established in LA. During the requiem service, which followed the Badarak, he led the parish in remembering the V. Rev. Fr. Dirayr Dervishian, parish priest of blessed memory of St. James Church, founding member of the first seminary board of directors in 1961, and classmate of Abp. Tiran Nersoyan. Also remembered were Hagop and Satenig Ouzoonian, beloved parishioners of that parish and cherished first benefactors of St. Nersess Seminary. The Hokehankisd captured the seminary’s profound gratitude and appreciation of their unwavering support and dedication during the seminary’s establishment and infancy.

Following the Divine Liturgy, Der Mardiros was invited by Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, pastor of St. James, to speak during their mid-Lenten Michink fellowship luncheon and give an overview of the seminary. Fr. Haroutioun shared information on the upcoming Summer Conferences.  “My visit to the Western Diocese was a truly uplifting experience,” commented Der Mardiros. “There was a swell of support for St. Nersess Seminary and several potential candidates to study at the seminary.”