This year, we welcome a new student from the Western Diocese. Dn. Garen Hamamjian grew up in Los Angeles, CA, and attended St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank. He graduated from UCLA with an undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies, focusing the Abrahamic Religions and Armenian Studies.
"Even though I had visited St. Nersess in the summer of 2015 and 2016, I did not know what to expect of the academic and spiritual life. This past month I already feel that St. Nersess has transformed me as I have become inspired by the students and faculty every day. They know exactly what I need both mentally and spiritually and make sure that I am given the right tools to continue my journey to the priesthood," commented Dn. Garen. "Though I am far away from home, they have made me a part of their family, and now St. Nersess feels very much like home. I have been challenged in ways that I did not expect. I know that St. Nersess will be guiding me to become a humble and devoted servant of God, his people, and the Armenian Apostolic Church," he continued.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, had this to say about Dn. Garen: "Garen is a fine young deacon of the Western Diocese, whose dedication has been exceptional. He has responded to God's call to enter the journey to priesthood with compassionate love, and I trust that he will be an outstanding American-born Armenian priest in the life of our Church. Surely, St. Nersess is the sacred ground to train young students to become devout servants of Christ our Lord."
The seminary also welcomes Arman Shirikyan who will be following the St. Nersess the Great for Late Vocations program. This program prepares men who seek ordination to the holy priesthood of the Armenian Church as a second or late vocation. Arman resides with his family in Massachusetts and is under the guidance of Fr. Khachatur Kesablyan at the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church in Chelmsford. He will take his classes remotely and travel to the seminary monthly.
There are five students who are studying at St. Nersess, including Julia Hintlian, a doctoral student at Harvard University who has returned to St. Nersess for a full academic year of study and research. In addition, there are four part-time students studying both remotely and on campus.
While all the students are engaged in coursework during the academic year, seminarians are also required to spend their summers in educational programs, including: participating in a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, working at a Diocesan or AGBU summer camp, and studying at Holy Etchmiadzin or the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Following their graduation, they spend a full year at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin to complete their studies.