Greeted with bear-hug embraces by the pastor, St. Nersess alumnus Fr. Tateos Abdalian, the seminary team was here to bring St. Nersess to the Armenians of Philadelphia for a full weekend of spiritual, educational, and social events.
Also participating in the weekend's activities were St. Nersess alumni Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Pastor of St. Peter Armenian Church (Watervliet, NY); Director of the Seminary's Youth Programs; Ms. Nancy Basmajian, Executive Secretary of the ACYOA (and a Philadelphia native); and Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral, who represented the Eastern Diocesan Council at the request of the Primate, His Eminence Abp. Khajag Barsamian. Seminary Administrator Mr. John Aslanian also participated in the weekend activities.
"Those who attend the Badarak regularly all too easily overlook the power of these words," he said. "Their theological and poetic gravity--even in English translation--invite prayerful thought and contemplation. The Divine Liturgy invites us into the depths of the mystery of God."
Following Fr. Findikyan's talk and a spirited question and answer period, Fr. Mardiros Chevian spoke on behalf of the Eastern Diocesan Council.
Fr. Chevian served as full-time recruiter, and then as Rector of St. Nersess for ten years, during which twelve young men and two women were graduated from the seminary.
Following the brief prayer service that concluded the day, Fr. Haigazoun said, "I am encouraged that a group of young Armenians such as this are looking to their Christian faith and their ancestral church for direction and peace."
The other seminarians spent Sunday across town at Sts. Sahag and Mesrob in Wynnewood, where the guest celebrant was His Eminence Abp. Yeghishe Gizirian, retired Primate of the Armenian Church of England. Serving at the holy altar with him were seminarians Yervant Kutchukian (who preached the sermon), Daron Bolat and Ara Karamanian.
After the Divine Liturgy, at Holy Trinity and Sts. Sahag and Mesrob respectively, Fr. Daniel and Seminary Adminsitrator Mr. John Aslanian gave brief presentations on the Seminary's mission, work, and immediate plans.
"This is your seminary," said Aslanian. "If St. Nersess is to serve the Armenian Church by training qualified and effective priests and lay leaders, then you will need to pray for it. You will need to care for it. You will need to support it financially. The Armenian Church calls on you to be an intimate part of St. Nersess Seminary's growth and work."
The Seminary is planning similar weekends "on the road" in Livingston, NJ (November 21) and Detroit, MI (April 8-10, 2005).