Fr. Mardiros presented to His Holiness, both orally and in writing, an extensive report on St. Nersess Seminary, its academics, continuing education, outreach, youth programs, and construction project. He also expressed to His Holiness his desire to explore the opportunities for St. Nersess seminarians to benefit from all that the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has to offer. During his presentation, Fr. Mardiros made several requests, of which all were graciously received by the Vehapar. The first request was that St. Nersess receives a copy of all new publications of the Mother See. These publications will then be catalogued and placed into the St. Nersess library for use by its seminarians and faculty. The second request was that the Mother See provide one instructor per year who will reside at St. Nersess and teach the seminarians for a semester. These instructors will offer expertise in areas of Armenian studies in which they specialize. Another request was that one St. Nersess seminarian be sent to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin each summer to study Armenian language, history, and literature and to familiarize himself with the Fatherland, thus further strengthening his faith and commitment as a future Armenian priest. The final request was for His Holiness to offer a written message of blessing and fatherly advice to the St. Nersess seminarians as a way to encourage them to follow the path to priesthood. The Vehapar was pleased to hear these requests and asked that they be provided in writing. His Holiness then discussed with Fr. Mardiros the possibility of sending priests from Armenia to reside at St. Nersess while they study English. During their stay, they would be available to teach at the seminary before returning to Armenia to continue their ministry.
While Fr. Mardiros shared the challenges St. Nersess has experienced over the years, he also shared its successes which includes producing three bishops, 35 priests, and six lay leaders who are graduates of St. Nersess and are in full-time service to the Armenian Church. He also shared the seminary’s expansion plans on the new Armonk campus where a theological center and chapel, single student residence, married student and faculty residences, dining hall, and recreation center are nearing completion. His Holiness listened with interest about the construction progress being made at St. Nersess.
The Vehapar shared and discussed the accreditation progress of the Gevorkyan Seminary and the effort to increase the number of clergy faculty with doctorates. At the conclusion of his audience with the Vehapar, Fr. Mardiros expressed his personal gain from his visit and how he is forever in debt to the Mother See for helping him become a priest today, recalling his two years of study in 1976-78 at Holy Etchmiadzin when His Holiness was an apegha of the Mother See.
During his five day visit, Fr. Mardiros also met with some seminary faculty and left very impressed with the level of education, organization, and the curriculum development of the Seminary of the Mother See. He spent time with members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin and attended services each day. He also had an opportunity to view the ongoing construction at the Mother See, attend a presentation at the Youth Center of Holy Etchmiadzin, and renew old friendships with clergy with whom he studied during the 1970s. Fr. Mardiros continues to reiterate the belief that St. Nersess Seminary cannot be successful in its mission without the seminaries of the Mother See and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Fr. Mardiros plans to visit Holy Etchmiadzin once a year to maintain and further develop the relationship between St. Nersess and the Mother See. Cooperative relations have been established also with the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as was evidenced last summer when the Deacons’ Training Program was held in Jerusalem.