Each summer, through practical workshops and interactive classes, seminary faculty, priests, deacons, and other specialists teach participants the deacons' chants of the Divine Liturgy and other services. Students who complete the program return to their home churches with polished liturgical skills and a deeper understanding of the church's worship services.
The seminary is fortunate to offer scholarships from two funds that were set up specifically to benefit participants who attend the Deacons' Training Program.
Thanks to the generosity of Karen and Karnig Durgarian, parishioners at the Armenian Church of Holy Translators in Framingham, MA, a scholarship fund was established in April 2016 for the Deacons' Training Program to honor the memory of Dn. Samuel Avakian, Karen's father. Dn. Samuel was a devout Christian and the senior deacon at St. John the Baptist Armenian Church in Greenfield, WI.
"The Samuel and Anne Avakian scholarship for Deacons' Training was initiated in dedication for their lifetime work in the Armenian church, something they both had a passion for," commented Karen Durgarian. "At the age of five, my father began serving as a candle holder in the church in Racine, WI. Throughout his entire life, he was devoted to the Armenian Church as a choir director, deacon, and eventually ordained an arch deacon. He even met his wife, Anne, my mom, as he offered choir rehearsals in South Milwaukee which she attended. Sam also trained young deacons in Milwaukee and had a desire for all to learn the Badarak."
A second scholarship fund was established in November 2016 in honor of Dn. Charles Pinajian, a parishioner and deacon at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, and an altar server since 1951. He was ordained a deacon in 1972 and was trained by the late Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian. For his 90th birthday party, he and his family and friends gave generously to the newly established Dn. Charles Pinajian Scholarship Fund for Deacons' Training. Dn. Charles passed away in the Spring of 2017. The scholarship fund was further funded by in lieu of flowers.
"Other than our family, nothing was more important to Dad than our church and his service on the altar," recalls his daughter, Lynn Beylerian. "I'll never forget trying to convince Dad to skip church one Sunday and come to the beach with us. I told him there were other deacons and St. Leon's could do without him for one Sunday. His response to me was, 'You don't understand. It's not that they need me. It's that I need them.' When Der Mardiros Chevian suggested an endowment fund to be used for Deacon's Training Program Scholarship, we knew that would be the perfect way to honor Dad and his 65+ years of service on the altar."
This past summer, nine participants received full or partial scholarships to attend the Deacons' Training Program from the two funds. St. Nersess is grateful to the deacons and their families for which the funds were named.