By Nancy Basmajian
St. Nersess Director of Youth and Vocations, Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, spent Palm Sunday weekend—April 4-5—at Holy Trinity Church in Cheltenham, PA spreading the Gospel and the good news about the seminary. Reaching out to the youth of the parish on Saturday and then to the general membership on Sunday, he was on the go for the entire 48 hours he spent in the city.
His visit began on Saturday with a mini-retreat at the church in which 14 youth from Holy Trinity and its sister parish, Sts. Sahag & Mesrob Church in Wynnewood, PA participated. Their theme was “Lazarus: A Wanted Man” (especially appropriate because, according to the church calendar, it was Lazarus Saturday). Using discussion, small group work, Bible study and improvisation, Fr. Stepanos took the youth on a journey through the Sundays of Lent, the story of the raising of Lazarus and Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The youth discovered that, like Lazarus, they too were “wanted” by Jesus and that the journey through Lent is akin to their own personal faith journeys to God. The highlight of the retreat was a trip to the church parking lot in which the youth re-enacted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, complete with palms and coats on the ground and shouts of “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” There were also a number of “hoorays.
ACYOA: A New Peak
On Palm Sunday, Fr. Stepanos celebrated the Divine Liturgy and served as keynote speaker at the ACYOA Day banquet which followed. A crowd of over 200 parishioners listened as he talked about the vision of Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, the founder of the ACYOA, and mentioned that through its 60-plus-year history, the organization has had several peaks and valleys. “But,” he said, “the ACYOA today is experiencing a peak, and I’m thrilled to be working with the Central Council and witnessing growth of the organization.”
Consider the Priesthood
Of course, the subject closest to Fr. Stepanos’ heart remains St. Nersess Seminary. After relaying a few humorous stories about his first experience with St. Nersess, he used the opportunity to fervently ask families to encourage their young men to consider the priesthood as a vocation.
“We all must take an active role in recruiting our future clergymen in America. After 100 years of having an Armenian Church in America, the time has come for every young Armenian male to consider the priesthood. He should pray to God and discern whether or not God is calling him to ministry.” concluded the Director of Youth and Vocations.