St. Nersess Armenian Seminary took its famous youth conferences as well as its commitment to faith, learning and prayer to St. John Armenian Church, Southfield, Michigan for a special "St. Nersess Weekend" on the weekend of March 19-21, 2004. At the invitation of the parish priest, St. Nersess Seminary alumnus and Board member Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Dean, and Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Director of the St. Nersess Summer Conferences, traveled to the Detroit parish for a weekend of activities for all ages.
An engaging talk followed by a lively discussion opened the weekend on Friday evening. More than 50 parishioners heard Fr. Daniel speak on the topic, "The Divine Liturgy in a Changing World: Traditional Worship, New Insights."Fr. Daniel, who is a specialist in the history and theology of the Armenian Church's worship, focused on three prayers of the Badarak, whose words he projected on a screen. Fr. Daniel interpreted each prayer, leading the participants through the ancient symbolic language and poetry and demonstrating how the prayers of the Divine Liturgy are actually highly relevant to our modern concerns and issues, sometimes in surprising ways."If we read the prayers and hymns of our Badarak closely, we discover they are highly provocative and call us to action," Fr. Daniel emphasized, adding pointedly, "The Badarak is not intended for your listening pleasure."
No St. Nersess gathering would be complete without a spirited round of traditional Armenian folk songs. When one teen, caught in a burst of enthusiasm, took the lead in the old song, "Hinkala," Fr. Garabed lost no time recruiting him for the church choir.
An animated discussion on the movie, "The Passion of the Christ," led to a moving closing ceremony in the beautiful church sanctuary.
"I was surprised," one teenage girl remarked, "That the spirit of St. Nersess Seminary could come alive in our own church parish. I can't wait to go back this summer."
On Saturday evening Frs. Daniel and Stepanos gave an in-depth presentation on the Seminary's mission, work and future plans at a reception graciously hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Garo and Brooke Hoplamazian, whose children Marin and Garo are both veterans of the summer conferences.
Sunday morning Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian. During the service, Fr. Daniel sermonized on the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia, whose feast day fell on the previous day. He also preached from the day's Gospel reading concerning the Kingdom of God "in your midst."
Following the Badarak, the St. John's A.C.Y.O.A. hosted a reception in the church hall. Mrs. Janet Mardigian, a native Detroiter and a member of the Eastern Diocesan Council, underlined the critical role of St. Nersess Seminary in the life of the Armenian Church in America, and spoke of the Eastern Diocese's plans to work even more closely with the Seminary in the recruitment and training of future priests and lay leaders for the Diocese. She introduced Fr. Daniel, who narrated a short power-point slide presentation on the growth and plans of St. Nersess.
"Every Armenian who takes the Church seriously has two moral imperatives," the dean said. "To support your local parish, where the Armenian Church touches people today; and to support our seminaries, which guarantee the Church's vitality tomorrow."
St. Nersess Seminary is planning similar weekends in various regions of the United States and Canada. For further information, including this summer's schedule of youth conferences, visit the seminary's website at www.stnersess.edu or contact St. Nersess at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 636-2003.