Successful Deacons’ Training Program at St Nersess Seminary
New Rochelle, NY: Last Sunday, July 5, 1998, twelve young men from parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America completed a program to train them to become deacons. The ten-day program was designed for experienced altar servers, as well as those with no prior experience. Lay and clergy instructors taught classes in chanting the deacons’ parts of the Divine Liturgy, censing (poorvar), vesting the priest, the Morning Service (Aravodyan Zham), chanting the gospel, and the Requiem Service (Hokehankist).
The deacons also had daily instruction in the theology of the Divine Liturgy and its meaning today. By the last day of the program, participants who did not formerly know the Armenian alphabet were reading the deacons’ litanies in the ancient alphabet of the Armenian people. Other participants studied some fundamentals of Classical Armenian (Krapar), the language of the Armenian liturgy, using an innovative method developed at St Nersess Seminary.
Invited guests made presentations on:
- Armenian Sacred Art
- Armenian Calligraphy
- The Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem
- Our Sister: The Syrian Orthodox Church
- Role of the deacon in the Bible, and in the Armenian Church today
- Leading Committed Lives as Armenian Christians in America today
Daily Bible Study and Morning and Evening Services combined with social and athletic activities and an outing in New York City to round out the program.
On Tuesday evening, July 1, His Eminence Abp. Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America visited the conference and led an engaging discussion on the vocation to priesthood in the Armenian Church. He shared personal reflections on his own calling to become a priest and later a bishop of the Church. Fr Sarkis Petoyan, an alumnus of St Nersess Seminary, ordained just days earlier in Los Angeles, and spending his forty-day retreat at the Seminary, added his own thoughts to the discussion.
On the two Sundays falling within the ten-day course, the participants and staff participated in the Divine Liturgy at St Vartan Armenian Cathedral and Holy Cross Church of Armenia, both in New York City.
Participants came from Texas, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York. The conference was directed by VRev Fr Daniel Findikyan, Assistant Professor of Liturgy at St Nersess Seminary. He was joined by Deacon Aren Jebejian, Deacon-in-Charge of St Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Chicago; and Sub-Deacon Patrick Kaprelian of St Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ.