Eight St. Nersess seminarians took a weekend away from the books and participated in a Lenten retreat from March 5-7. The retreat was led by Rev. Fr. Vasken Kouzoukian, Pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cambridge, MA, and a St. Nersess alumnus. The retreat was held in the wintry tranquility of Camp Nubar in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York.
Focusing on the theme, "Peace through Prayer," Fr. Vasken led the seminarians on an extended discussion about finding true peace in a world that is stressful--often ruthlessly so--and largely indifferent about God. Drawing attention to the story of Jesus calming the storm, Fr. Vasken helped the seminarians apply this biblical story to their own lives. Later, Fr. Vasken contemplated with them a selection of prayers by St. Gregory of Narek, exquisite testimony that God can truly bring peace to even a tormented life.
"I enjoyed spending a weekend of spiritual discussion and prayer with the seminarians," said Fr. Kouzouian. "They are remarkable young men, each on his own journey with God. They will make good leaders for our church."
On Sunday, March 7, Fr. Vasken and the seminarians participated in the Divine Liturgy at St. Peter Armenian Church, Watervliet, NY. Fr. Vasken celebrated the Divine Liturgy while the seminarians served at the altar, joined the choir and taught in the Sunday School. Dn. Nishan Baljian, a first-year seminarian, gave a sermon to the children.
Reflecting on the weekend, seminarian Daron Bolat remarked, "It was good to get away and focus on what is really important. I came home having a bit of that peace that Christ promises us."