More than 40 high school and college students gathered today for an all-day "mini" St. Nersess conference at St. John's Armenian Church, Southfield, MI. The theme of the day was "The Armenian Church: Security for your Inner Homeland." It featured a variety of interactive discussions and activities intended to help the young people find peace and security in Christ within the life of the Armenian Church.
Sessions and discussions were led by V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Seminary Dean and Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Director of the St. Nersess Youth Programs. Also participating in the day's acitvities was St. Nersess alumnus Rev. Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, Pastor of St. John Armenian Church, San Francisco, CA. A Bible Study was prepared and led by the Pastor of the Detroit parish, Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian and his wife, Yeretzgin Roberta. Fr. Garabed is one of the early alumni of the Seminary. Yet another presenter was Jason Demerjian, Director of College Ministry for the Eastern Diocese and a part-time seminarian at St. Nersess.
In another presentation with the surprising title, "Anti-Virus Protection for Your Soul," Jason Demerjian referred to the seven deadly sins mentioned in the Divine Liturgy as "viruses" that can damage and disable us in our daily lives just as computer viruses do. "The sacraments, especially baptism and holy communion, are the antidotes to these spiritual viruses of our day," he said.
"Today's mini-conference reopened my eyes to who I truly am and where I come from; the many distractions in life camouflaging my eyes from it. It made me start searching for my own inner peace," said Jonathan Banks.
Another participants commented, "It was great to take a break from school and work to think about God's place in my life and refocus. I also had a lot of fun!"
The all-day program was part of a full weekend of activities related to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. On Friday, Fr. Daniel Findikyan led a workshop for deacons and altar servers on the traditional Armenian ceremony known as Antasdan, the Blessing of the Four Corners of the World. He was assisted by by Deacon Rubik Mailian, St. John's Musical Director and Pastoral Assistant and yet another St. Nersess alumnus.
"The math is very simple," said St. John's Pastor, Fr. Garabed Kochakian, when asked why his parish organized this St. Nersess Weekend. "When our kids go to St. Nersess in the summer they come back charged with new enthusiasm and energy for their Christian faith and their Armenian identity," he said, adding, "That translates into new life and growth for our parish."