Fr. Mardiros Chevian Appointed New Seminary Dean
When Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), invited Fr. Mardiros Chevian to return to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary as its new Dean, he accepted the invitation after much consideration.
“Although I have enjoyed immensely being the Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral for the past 19 years, I am excited to return to St. Nersess and direct the expanded mission of the seminary at its new campus in Armonk, NY”, stated Fr. Mardiros recently.
Second Term as Seminary Dean
This is not the first time he has answered the call to serve at St. Nersess. In 1978, after returning from his studies in Holy Etchmiadzin, he went to St. George Armenian Church in Waukegan, IL, as the Deacon-in-Charge where he was very happy to start his ministry. But not soon after, in 1981, he received a call from Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, of blessed memory, to be the Director of Recruitment and Programs at the newly purchased St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, NY. Fr. Mardiros later became the Rector of the Seminary where he served until 1991.
New Expanded Mission
The “pull to meet a new challenge”, according to Fr. Chevian, appears to have a continuous theme in his life. As the new Dean, he plans to direct the expanded mission of St. Nersess when it moves to its new campus location in 2014. “The expanded mission of St. Nersess will serve Armenian priests, both in America and abroad”, stated Fr. Chevian. Some of the new initiatives and programs of the seminary will include the following:
- Continuing education of current priests, through planned educational and training workshops
- Offering support & training for Armenian priests from abroad who need assistance with acclimation and acculturation and are destined to serve in the North American dioceses
- Transforming St. Nersess into a center for theological research for exchange faculty and students from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- Strengthening the Armenian education of our American born seminarians through longer study in our seminaries in Armenia and Jerusalem
Introducing an undergraduate program that would combine local college study and courses, worship, and residence at St. Nersess Seminary
Continuing and expanding the 50 year tradition of summer youth programs, retreats, and altar server programs
Fr. Daniel to Continue Teaching at Seminary
But Fr. Mardiros cannot accomplish this alone. He will continue to have the services of Fr. Daniel Findikyan, the previous Dean of St. Nersess, at the new location. “I give a lot of credit to Fr. Daniel who has done an outstanding job as the dean for the past 12 years, and I look forward to him continuing as a professor at the seminary, directing the deacon’s training program, and serving as academic advisor to the seminarians,” stated Fr. Chevian.
Fr. Daniel agrees. “I am not leaving St. Nersess. My heart and soul is committed to this institution,” said Fr. Findikyan.
Close Cooperation with Armenian Seminaries Abroad
In order for St. Nersess to succeed in the future, it plans to work closely with the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “These relations are extremely important to St. Nersess,” according to Fr. Chevian. Also important is that Fr. Mardiros will reside on the new campus, just as he did when he directed St. Nersess throughout the 1980s. According to the St. Nersess Board of Directors, “it is important for the dean to oversee and supervise the daily life of the St. Nersess campus by living on the campus.”
But for now, as he takes the helm on November 15, Fr. Mardiros’ primary mission is to oversee the training of young men to become parish priests—what Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan envisioned when St. Nersess was founded in 1961.
“I want to challenge and inspire students who want to pursue the Armenian priesthood. Even if a young American-born Armenian does not have a good command of the Armenian language, he will learn it. Most importantly, he must be confident and comfortable in his ministry as an Armenian priest,” said Fr. Mardiros. “In addition to academics, it is important for a priest to be able to transmit what he knows and demonstrate strong leadership skills.”
Modern New Seminary Campus in Armonk
St. Nersess Armenian Seminary is more relevant today than ever before. The new 5.5 acre Armonk campus, located approximately 16 miles north of the New Rochelle location, will be better equipped to serve the growing needs of the dioceses in North America. By staying in Westchester County, St. Nersess will maintain important ties with St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, as well as remain close to the Diocesan headquarters in New York City. The new site will be a sustainable campus to better prepare future priests and lay leaders for service in the Armenian Church. And with the ultimate sale of New Rochelle, St. Nersess will have a more sound financial foundation. St. Nersess remains the only Armenian seminary in the Western hemisphere that has prepared leaders for the Armenian Church for the past 50 years.
Currently, a fundraising campaign is underway for the renovation of buildings on the new campus. The three existing structures will be renovated and expanded to include housing for single and married students and faculty, a Dean’s residence, youth center, and a small workout and exercise facility, with an anticipated completion date of 2014.
Donors will have naming opportunities for the renovation projects and the campus grounds. In addition to the renovations, a new 8,400-square-foot His Holiness Karekin I Theological Center, which will include a chapel, library, classrooms, and offices, will be constructed. The Theological Center, as well as the purchase of the property, has been made possible by the generous donation of Haig and Elsa Didizian of London, England.