On May 8, Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean, spoke during annual Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), which was hosted by St. Mary Armenian Church during the National Genocide Centennial in Washington DC. He shared the good news about the seminary's growth and expansion and its relocation to the new campus in early August. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, presided over the meetings. Click here to review the handout given to delegates.
When Zaven Tachdjian saw an opportunity to volunteer his expertise to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, he jumped at the chance to join the construction team alongside St. Nersess Board Members Kevork Toroyan and Michael Haratunian. Since 2013, when the Site Plan for the future seminary campus in Armonk, NY was approved, Mr. Tachdjian has served as the project’s Design & Construction Coordinator.
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.
With the blessing of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, Fr. Mardiros Chevian traveled to the Bay Area in northern California on March 13-15 to visit the parishes of that region. The visit was organized by Fr. Mesrop Ash of St. John Armenian Church in San Francisco who hosted Fr. Mardiros during his stay. While there, he visited the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian Day School and met with the teachers and students of the upper grades and with the principal, Grace Andonian. He also attended meetings with the area clergy of San Francisco, Cupertino and Oakland, as well as with altar servers from Oakland and San Francisco. Fr. Mardiros was also present at a Genocide Commemorative Program at St. Vartan Armenian Church in Oakland. On Sunday, Fr. Mardiros met with the upper grades of the Sunday School at St. John Armenian Church and gave the sermon during the Divine Liturgy. Following church services, he made a PowerPoint presentation about St. Nersess Armenian Seminary to the parishioners.
"It was exciting for the faithful of the Bay Area, especially the youth, to hear Fr. Mardiros' powerful message of vocation in the Armenian Church. It was a poignant reminder that the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to our Christian calling, and consider devotion at the highest level," commented Fr. Mesrop Ash.
On April 10-12, Fr. Mardiros returned to the Western Diocese and traveled to Fresno, CA and the Central Valley to make similar presentations to clergy and parishioners in that region. Fr. Mardiros traveled to St. Gregory Armenian Church in Fowler with Fr. Yessai Bedros, parish priest of St. Paul Armenian Church in Fresno, who served as his host during his visit. There, Fr. Mardiros made a presentation to the clergy and altar servers during a breakfast given by parish priest Fr. Yeghia Hairabedian. He also traveled to Fresno to meet with the St. Paul Armenian Saturday School students, continued to St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem where he was greeted by Fr. Zaven Markosyan, the parish priest, and then addressed the parish's women's group. This was followed by a visit to the Western Diocese Summer Camp where Fr. Mardiros spoke with ACYO members who were on a retreat. Many miles were covered in whirl-wind tour of the Central Valley.
On Sunday morning, Fr. Mardiros was the guest celebrant and homilist at St. Paul in Fresno. In addition to the parish priest Fr. Yessai Bedros, St. Nersess graduate Fr. Kevork Arakelian and Fr. Vartan Kasparian were in attendance. Following the Divine Liturgy and a light lunch for the parishioners, Fr. Mardiros offered a PowerPoint presentation on the work of St. Nersess and its new campus.
“It was my pleasure to meet with Fr. Mardiros,” remarked Fr. Yessai. “It was a very fruitful visit by Fr. Mardiros, establishing a connection with the Central Valley churches to one of the most important missions of our church...the spiritual training and enlightenment of our people. I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to Fr. Mardiros, and we look forward to seeing him again in our church,” said Fr. Yessai.