St. Nersess Serves as a Model for Future Programs in Europe
Fr. Mardiros Chevian, as dean of the seminary, visits Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin at least once annually. During his most recent visit in mid-February, he attended a meeting of a consultative committee of clergy and lay people commissioned by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, to address questions related to seminary curriculum, admission policies, qualifications for graduation, inter-seminary cooperation and collaboration.
The committee has met over the past two years and at this latest meeting was asked to consider the following topics:
1) current status of seminary education worldwide
2) the recruitment process for new candidates
3) continuing education for clergy
4) the establishment of small satellite seminaries in various parts of the world, for example Europe and Russia
St. Nersess Seminary was used as an example of what these seminaries could look like. The mission would be to recruit, train and educate local young men for their local parishes and dioceses. The program of study would be offered both by the new local seminary and the Gevorgian Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin.
After discussing these matters for two days, the committee presented its report and proposals to the Catholicos. Vehapar Der was pleased with the suggestions and informed the committee that the next step would be to present the report to the Supreme Spiritual Council at its next meeting.
Recently, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, former primate of the Eastern Diocese and now the Pontifical Legate of Western Europe and Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See, asked Fr. Mardiros to assist the European dioceses to implement some of the ideas proposed during the committee meetings in Armenia. Khajag Srpazan is at the forefront of the implementation, while St. Nersess has a decades-long experience with some of these programs.
The first area in which St. Nersess is offering its help is in the planning of a remote Deacons’ Training Program for the European dioceses to be held this August. A program was created with the assistance of Dn. Michael Sabounjian and Dn. Alexander Calikyan, both St. Nersess graduates with experience in these types of programs. The plan is that this remote program will evolve into a full onsite Deacons’ Training Program next summer.
Additionally, the seminary was asked to provide its Acculturation Program model for new priests. In response to their request, we have shared our 3-6 month program which was established five years ago for new priests in the Eastern Diocese.
In the near future, we will also provide assistance in helping their dioceses to establish a small local seminary on their continent.
We are honored and pleased to be able to share our experience with our fellow clergy and faithful abroad. We join our prayers with theirs as they work to expand and improve the mission of the Armenian Church in Europe.