The event was held for the first time on the new campus and began with Vespers in the new chapel. Following the service, the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Seminary Dean, opened the graduation ceremony by welcoming all who were present and reminding the graduates that their time at the seminary was not a sacrifice but rather a blessing. Presiding at the event was Abp. Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors. Michael Haratunian, Secretary of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, congratulated the graduates and commented that St. Nersess is the heart and soul of the Armenian Church. Following, the Rev. Fr. Ryan Bishop, a member of the graduating class at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, congratulated St. Nersess Seminary on holding its first academic year on the new campus. He also thanked the seminarians for sharing their Armenian culture, faith, wisdom, and food with the students at St. Vladimir’s as it made it a richer experience for everyone.
Representing Abp. Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese and Vice President of the Board of Directors, the Rev. Fr. Sarkis Petoyan, who is a St. Nersess graduate, reminded the audience to not just congratulate the graduates but to express appreciation to them. “The graduates have gone from being a disciple to now an apostle, one that will share his knowledge with others,” said Fr. Sarkis. A message from Abp. Hovnan Derderian was also read. Following, Professor Roberta Ervine spoke on behalf of the St. Nersess faculty, comparing the graduates to seeds and giving blessings to all faithful who will witness how they will grow.
Eric Vozzy, speaking on behalf of the seminarians, offered the following advice to the graduates, “make sure everything you do points to Christ as you are sent out to serve God.” Before receiving their diplomas from Abp. Khajag Barsamian, each of the graduates spoke to the guests about the personal path that led him to enroll as a seminarian at St. Nersess Seminary. Sub-deacon Edgar said that St. Nersess Seminary is more than a place to learn but is a house of wisdom which has given him spiritual nourishment. Dn. Narek spoke about how the seminary has armed him with knowledge to help the Armenian Church to grow, and how he must always question and think, and allow Christ to strengthen him.
Khajag Srpazan then gave the closing message, thanking those who have given from the heart to build the new St. Nersess campus. He reminded everyone that Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church, and that the new graduates are now responsible for carrying on the legacy of the Church. Other honored guests in attendance were the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Rev. Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian, Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, Rev. Fr. Bedros Kadehjian, Rev. Fr. Sevak Gabrielyan, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Hovsepyan, Rev. Fr. Hratch Sargsyan, Rev. Fr. Keghart Garabedian (St. Vartan Armenian Church, Vancouver, Canada), and St. Nersess alumni who serve as lay leaders in the Armenian Church.
Family and friends of the graduates enjoyed a dinner reception on the seminary grounds and had an opportunity to personally congratulate the graduates on their accomplishments. The following day, Dn. Narek Garabedian and Edgar Gevorgyan were amongst the 29 graduates at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary where they received their Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degree, respectively.