"I wouldn't have wanted to spend my Armenian Christmas with anyone other than the friends I met at St. Nersess; the friendships you make in four days are bonds that will last you a lifetime." said, Raffi El Chemmas, a junior at Michigan State University and from St. John's Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan.
The St. Nersess College Christmas Conference 2007 more than doubled its participants from the previous year as an influx of college students flocked the seminary for the 4 day conference. The theme of the week-long program was" the birth of Jesus Christ, as a bearer of Hope and Light". Many spirited discussions and conversations were had regarding faith, theology, and Church all in the relaxing and safe environment of the seminary.
Serious Commitment to the Church
"It was a rush of adrenaline to see so many college students truly excited about their Armenian faith and taking their commitment to the church so seriously," commented Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Youth and Vocations Director for the Seminary. He continued to express the hope for the seminary in this manner, "The more exposure young people have to affirmative and positive experiences in the church, the more likely they will pursue a vocational career in the church."
The four day conference had something for everyone as college students traveled from Washington DC, New England, Detroit, Pennsylvania and the Metro New Jersey-New York area. The participants spent their days in worship, discussions, Bible Studies, sharing fellowship and simply relaxing by the fireplace.
Some of the discussions included the following topics: The celebration of Christmas in Armenia presented by Dr. Tom Samuelian who is currently residing in Armenia and practices Corporate Law. Yervant Kutchukian and Daron Bolat both Seminary alumni, led innovative and interactive Bible Studies focusing on creative ways to discuss the infancy narratives of Jesus Christ and the multitude of Christmas readings in the Armenian Church's tradition. Jason Demerjian, who is in his final year of Seminary studies, offered a presentation on Decision Making: What is a young person's process for making decisions in today's increasingly difficult world?
Once again, St. Nersess provided an opportunity to put into practice our Armenian Christian faith and share it with others, as another successful visit took place to the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Home in Emerson, New Jersey. The college students, along with Fr. Daniel Findikyan, dean of St. Nersess, and Fr. Doudoukjian, performed the Blessing of the Water service and then distributed the blessed water to all the residents. "It was a heartwarming experience to visit the elderly and provide opportunities to minister to them," said Fr. Findikyan. " Many of our young students were visibly moved by the visit and truly learned valuable lessons from the lives of our elders." Visiting the Armenian Home has become a wonderful tradition that was started last year and will be continued in years to come.
On Armenian Christmas Eve, the participants traveled to the St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Fr. Findikyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and Fr. Doudoukjian preached the sermon. Fr. Diran Bohajian, Parish Priest (also an Alumni of St. Nersess), and the entire community, welcomed the group with smiles and kindness. Jonathan Dadekian, a member of the St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, NY, and a sophomore at Hudson Valley College, summed up his experience at St. Nersess by saying "It was a great experience for me and other youth of the church to be with one another and to feel the unity of our faith being strengthen together." Dates for the 2007 summer conferences are now set and are posted on the seminary's website.