The seminarians gathered for their annual Lenten Retreat at Enders Island in Mystic, CT, on March 21-23. Rev. Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, St. Nersess Spiritual Director, led the retreat which was centered on our "joy-filled spiritual journey with the Lord." Although we might all experience pain and setbacks along the way, we can always expect God's grace. The Retreat concluded with the seminarians participating in the Divine Liturgy at St. George Armenian Church in Hartford, CT. Led by St. George's pastor, the Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, the community hosted the visiting seminarians during the fellowship hour.
Parish Council members of St. Mary Armenian Church (Livingston, NJ) with their Pastor, Rev. Shnork Souin and the Dean
May 13, 2010
On Saturday May 8th the pastor, Fr. Shnork Souin, and the Parish Council of St. Mary Armenian Church in Livingston New Jersey held their annual Parish Council retreat at the Ouzoonian House of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary from 9:00am to 1:00pm. The retreat was led by Fr. Shnork along with the dean of the seminary, the V. Rev. Dr. Daniel Findikyan. The theme was Vocations.
The retreat, attended by Parish Council members and some heads of other church organizations, began with a matins service in the seminary chapel, following breakfast. After viewing the now very popular Diocesan video production, Vocations-A Call to Serve, a lively and thoughtful discussion ensued, led by Fr. Daniel, concerning the role of the laity in encouraging Vocations in the parish.
Fr. Shnork directed a Bible Study based on the story of the Annunciation of Gabriel whereby St. Mary the Mother of God responded to her very high calling to become the handmaiden and thus the Birthgiver of God.
Fr. Shnork, the first and only Canadian-born priest of the Armenian Church, grew up in the church but only ventured on the path leading to priesthood after working several years in business, marrying and starting a family. Part of his training took place at St. Nersess Seminary.
The retreat was an inspiring and meaningful investment of time for all who attended. Bonds of faith and friendship, the spirit of harmony and community were nurtured among the stewards of the parish along with their pastor.
“Everyone walked away with a renewed understanding of the importance of cultivating a parish environment where vocations can be nurtured not only by pastors, but by parish leadership and families,” St. Mary's Pastor said.
Many of those who attended were visitors to St. Nersess for the first time. They went away with a sense of “ownership” and pride for the seminary and her most important mission of preparing clergy for the Armenin Church in North America.
At the conclusion of the retreat, Fr. Shnork stated that this was perhaps the best of the annual Parish Council retreats in that it brought us to a “home away from home” where “we all now feel far more connected with the mission and purpose of our seminary.”
“I’d love to encourage other parishes to do likewise and see the Seminary as a very viable place to conduct parish visitations and spiritual retreats,” Fr. Shnork said.
by Megan Jendian
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity!”
Gathered for prayer and fellowship, St. Nersess Alumni retreated from various parts of the Eastern Diocese and enjoyed the season’s first snowfall in Greenville, NY at the Ararat Youth & Conference Center. This annual reunion is an opportunity for graduates to reconnect and reflect.
More than 50 St. Nersess Alumni are Serving the Armenian Church Today
38 clergy and 9 lay men and women serving the Armenian Church today have completed a graduate theological program of St. Nersess Seminary. 11 more have studied at St. Nersess for shorter periods of time. Close to 80% of the clergy serving the Eastern Diocese have studied at St. Nersess.
Jesus, Others, Yourself
Assembled on Monday, October 27, men and women of St. Nersess were together for an evening of faith sharing, relationship strengthening, and laughter. Following a chilly night’s rest, thirteen participants were led by Fr. Glenn Sudano, C.F.R. (Franciscan Friar of the Renewal) and long-time friend of the Seminary, along a morning journey of reflection on the “Joy of the Ministry.” Succinctly stated: “You must focus on Jesus, Others, and then Yourself.”
Fr. Glenn, a much loved and admired retreat leader for generations of St. Nersess Seminarians, drew a distinction between happiness and joy. "We cannot manufacture joy," he said. "Joy is a gift from the Lord, a fruit of the Holy Spirit.”
The grey-robed friar encouraged the alumni to respond humbly to the call of sainthood, reminding them that each of us is “destined for greatness and hard-wired for holiness.” When there is a betrayal of what and who we are intended to be in the sight of the Lord, sadness, disappointment, and shame can all diminish joy. “In silence and solitude we may more clearly face ourselves,” he advised.
Prayer, Song and Scripture
During the afternoon Fr. Glenn eagerly ushered in 8 of his novices, young men who have begun the process of devoting their lives to the religious order. They accompanied the alumni in a time of prayer, singing, and Scripture reading. As voices filled the room and snow was falling outside, these young novices “provided the environment to be immersed in a prayerful time with the Lord,” stated Fr. Tateos Abdalian.
Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, Chairman of the Alumni Association, led a meeting to hear reports from the Seminary Dean and Director of Vocations, and to share ideas concerning how to support the mission of the Seminary. Alumni discussed organizing a day in the parishes to highlight vocations. Fr. Yeprem, Pastor of St. Mesrob Armenian Church (Racine, WI) serves the alumni with enthusiasm and love.
The alumni also recognized His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian for his recognition of the importance of such a gathering and for his continuing support of the Seminary and its Alumni.
The next gathering of alumni is scheduled for the May 2009 Diocesan Assembly in Wynnewood, PA. It has become a tradition for the alumni to share an early-morning breakfast at the Diocesan Assembly.
Renewing Rejuvenating Relaxing
Upon returning from the Catskill Mountain retreat, Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian echoed the sentiments of his brother and sister alumni: “My time shared together with fellow alumni was renewing, rejuvenating and relaxing...I always look forward to our yearly retreat.”
All clergy and full-time servants of the Armenian Church--regardless of their alma mater--are welcome to join the St. Nersess Alumni in their spiritual and outreach activities and in fellowship.