However, this isn’t the first time Zaven has helped St. Nersess. In fact, his history with the seminary dates back 33 years when he and his family moved to Westchester County from Beirut, and he joined the St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church in White Plains, NY. There he met the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, an ardent supporter of and faculty member at the seminary, who helped Zaven to form a relationship with St. Nersess, too. As Chairman of the St. Gregory Parish Council in 2009, Zaven added a $5,000 line item in the church’s budget earmarked for an annual donation to St. Nersess, making St. Gregory Church one of the first to do so.
The support for St. Nersess has continued over the years, as Mr. Tachdjian believes in the seminary’s major role in the preservation and growth of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the United States. “Its impact on the Armenian community is enormous,” commented Mr. Tachdjian recently. “It has created an incubator from which not only bishops and priests have emerged, but also deacons, altar servers, and lay leaders who serve the Armenian Church today. And the young people who attend the summer conferences continue to feel the impact of their experience and as a result, serve their local parishes.”
As the Design & Construction Coordinator for the new St. Nersess campus, Zaven has volunteered over 10-20 hours per week for the last two years. Drawing upon his personal experience as the retired owner of Stone & Powers, a construction and management company, as well as his engineering master’s degree, Zaven has much to offer to the project. Early on, he helped to secure the construction permits and reviewed all the documents with the architect and engineers for the building permit. Moving forward, Zaven has led weekly site job meetings, has helped to resolve any construction issues, negotiated and managed all invoices and payments, and has followed the construction progress. During the selection process of the subcontractors for different trades, Zaven used his contacts to favorably negotiate, save appreciable amounts and reduce the original construction budget. “His experience, knowledge and time committed to the building of our new campus has been invaluable,” stated Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean.
The expansion of the St. Nersess campus will be a state of the art Armenian seminary complex. The new Karekin I Theological Center and Chapel, Single Students Residence, Married Students and Faculty Residences, Dining Hall, and Recreation Center will be fully completed upon the sale of the New Rochelle property. “I firmly believe that under the strong leadership of Fr. Mardiros, and the support of the St. Nersess Board and the Eastern and Western Dioceses, the newly expanded St. Nersess campus will give seminarians and priests improved learning and living facilities and more opportunities to expand the program,” commented Mr. Tachdjian.