St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Program Held in the Western Diocese
For the third summer, a St. Nersess Deacons’ Training Program was offered in the Western Diocese at Hye Camp in Dunlap, CA, from August 6-12. It was organized and directed by Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, seminary dean, traveled to the program and was part of the teaching staff.
This year, there were nine participants, including two deacons, a subdeacon, and six acolytes from various parishes of the Western Diocese. There were daily morning and evening prayer services, deacons’ training classes, Bible studies, Armenian language classes, and lectures. The focus this year was the Sunrise Service, or “Արեւագալի Ժամերգութիւն.”
Dn. Barlow DerMegurdichian, Ph.D., lectured about the life and works of St. Nersess Shnorhali. Fr. Mardiros Chevian lectured about “Vocation,” and Hayk Madoyan delivered several lectures on “The Church Introduction”, “The Armenian Apostolic Church”, “Holy Bible”, and “Reading and Studying the Holy Bible.” Fr. Zaven Markosyan and Fr. Gomidas led DTP classes, specifically on singing during the Badarak, poorvar, kushots, Gospel procession, Veraperoom, Voghchooyn, and Hokehangist Service.
The Bible studies were led by Fr. Mardiros, Fr. Zaven, and Fr. Gomidas. On Friday morning, Fr. Gomidas celebrated Holy Badarak, and Fr. Zaven led the singing of the choir, with the participants serving on the altar.
The volunteer kitchen crew consisted of Tigran Iskenyan and Kaghtsrik Manukyan. Thanks to them, the participants had traditional Armenian food, along with other delicious meals. In the evenings, the group bonded by singing Armenian songs from the St. Nersess songbook. The program was a wonderful way for both the participants and their mentors to bond through their Armenian faith, heritage, and traditions. Most importantly, they discussed and shared their experiences in responding to God’s call to serve.
Currently, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary has four full-time students from the Western Diocese. Through holding the Deacons’ Training Program in CA, the seminary can reach more altar servers in the Western Diocese. We hope and pray that our younger generation will participate in diocesan programs like these, which will help shape them into our future spiritual and lay leaders.
Before the program began, Fr. Mardiros Chevian, at the invitation of Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, was the guest celebrant and homilist at St. Gregory Armenian Church in Fowler, CA on Sunday, August 6. In his message, Der Hayr spoke about the important role of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in the life of the Armenian Church in North America. He concluded by thanking Hovnan Srpazan for the wonderful opportunity and expressed his gratitude to St. Gregory’s parishioners for their constant support and generous donations.