Last Monday and Tuesday, November 14-15, 2005, fourteen St. Nersess Alumni"10 clergy and 4 lay men and women in Christian education, youth ministry, and service" convened for a welcome opportunity to explore issues of faith and contemporary church life.
The retreat site chosen for the occasion was the beautiful St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, NY, and, with its serene and hospitable facilities, was bested only by the bright fall weather (at least for the first day) and the enthusiasm of retreatants.
The idea for such a gathering was conceived at a breakfast alumni reunion, spontaneously organized at last May's Annual Assembly of the Eastern Diocese. As issues were hotly discussed around the table, it was decided that a meeting for Eastern Diocese alums actively serving the Armenian Church would be a great idea for further discussion and refueling.
On Tuesday morning, Fr. Jim Hederman of the St. Ignatius Retreat House staff led the group through two basic Ignatian spiritual exercises: active Scripture reading and self-questioning meditation.
Nancy Basmajian, currently ACYOA Executive Secretary, echoed the sentiments of many when she remarked "How interesting to consider that in the humblest object or moment, God could be drawing us closer."
As alumni increase in number (there are currently an unprecedented 11 students at St. Nersess Seminary), reunions may take a new direction, organized in smaller groups and different geographical areas. "This was a great opportunity to renew relationships, set a course for more collaborative efforts in support of the Seminary and its mission, and recharge our own individual ministries within the Church," noted Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral, as he and other alumni were saying their goodbyes.
For St. Nersess alumni of the Eastern Diocese, the next scheduled encounter is the May 2006 Diocesan Assembly in Fair Lawn, NJ.