This year the program was under the direction of the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean, and led by Dn. Ari Terjanian of St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church (Richmond Heights, OH) who served as the Program Director. Previously, Dn. Ari served as the Assistant Director under the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, the new Primate of the Eastern Diocese.
The participants came from 12 states and the Republic Armenia. With great enthusiasm, the altar servers and prospective deacons participated in daily practical workshops, classes, discussions, Bible Study and worship.
For the second year, the program welcomed two participants from Armenia. Gevorg Abrahamyan, 16, and Hambardzum Tsaturyan, 15, are from the village of Ashtarak and serve at the altar at St. Marianeh Armenian Church in their village. They were recommended by the Very Rev. Fr. Anania Tsaturyan, who resided at St. Nersess for a year and a half and recently returned to Etchmiadzin in May.
The students' travel expenses were covered by generous donors, similarly to the program in place for students from the Sts. Tarkmanchatz School in Jerusalem who attend the High School Summer Conference. "We are happy to offer our American students the opportunity to learn from their peers from Armenia and Jerusalem," remarked Fr. Mardiros Chevian.
The teaching staff included the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, the Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, the Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian, the Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian, the Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian, Dn. Eric Vozzy, and Dr. Roberta Ervine, as well as seminary graduate Dn. Michael Sabounjian. Seminarian Dn. Timothy Aznavourian served as Assistant Director.
New this year, was an opportunity for participants over the age of 16 to serve at nearby Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry to distribute donated food. Because the theme of the 2018 Deacon's Training Program was "servant-leadership", the participants were presented with a great opportunity to live out the fullness of the diaconate by serving those marginalized by society. Director Dn. Ari Terjanian and Dn. Michael Sabounjian suggested the idea and Vice President of Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, Kelley Housman, helped to organize the event. The Deacons' Training Program hopes to make service to the local community an integral part of the St. Nersess summer conference experience in the future.
The participants also traveled to the diocesan complex in New York City, where they spent the day with Fr. Daniel and had a tour of St. Vartan Cathedral.
On the Fourth of July, the group was warmly welcomed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice and Azat Lahham in Jackson, NJ, to spend the holiday swimming and enjoying a festive barbecue.
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