Little did they know they were about to get "down and dirty."
Entitled Seeking the Living Among the Dead?? (a reference to the question the angel asked the women at Jesus' tomb), the retreat was conducted by Dr. Roberta Ervine, Associate Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess. She began the day by polling participants as to how they were feeling.
Participants were then provided finger-paints and asked to depict the concepts of "life" and "death" (and, as it developed, everything in-between). What members had intended to convey through their colors and shapes and what their colleagues ended up seeing launched an animated discussion on ministry and witness.
As they spoke, participants became aware of how much the emotions of those long-ago people on Resurrection morning had in common with those they had shared at the retreat's opening session.
"This was wonderful," commented Fr Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor of St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, NY. "I don't think I had ever really learned before now how to see what a painting might be telling me."
St. Nersess Seminary alumni, men and women who have attended the degree program for a minimum of a year, now number 60. Many are now serving or living at a distance from the Seminary and are not always able to participate in alumni programs at the Seminary. Future gatherings in other regions are being considered.
Alumna Nancy Basmajian, A.C.Y.O.A. Executive Secretary, expressed the views of all who attended when she contentedly observed: "I really enjoy these alumni gatherings--whether it's a formal retreat or just an informal conversation over dinner. I always leave feeling refreshed and less alone in my ministry. There is a special bond between us."