On Saturday, May 20, Der Stepanos Doudoukjian, Director of Youth and Vocations at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and lifelong New York Mets fan, brought the third annual St. Nersess Mini Conference to Detroit.
This year he reached out to students from 7th to 12th grade in the form of a spiritual softball game. College students came to help facilitate the day, and blue skies and warm weather set the stage for a day of fun, fellowship and learning.
Graciously planned by Patty Kezelian, the day began with an All-American barbecue. As the students arrived and greeted their friends, college students manned the grill making the "best hot dogs and burgers ever" for the group.
In a few extra seventh-inning stretches, the group came together on the pitching mound to discuss further the important parts of the game. Jaclyn Assarian shared her thoughts on faith. Questions were raised such as, what is faith? In your everyday life when bad things happen, or you run into negative people, how does your faith help? Jaclyn described how, in her experiences, she felt God watching over her.
In the second "stretch" Sara Andonian reflected on hope. She gave examples of hope versus wishful thinking in our daily lives. "Hope is anticipation with patience, the Christian hope of the second coming and heaven," she said, adding, "with faith we have a hopeful future with the Armenian Church as our foundation."
By this point, many who thought they weren't good baseball players figured out that it in this game it really didn't matter!
Der Stepanos, still sporting his Mets cap, and pitching on the mound for Khajag's All Stars, summed up the message of the day.
Helping out as well were college students: Jaclyn Assarian, Steve Assarian, Michael Mamassian, Harry Kezelian, Michael Kezelian, Micher Pifer, Dircan Callan and Raffi Boyajian.
On Saturday evening St. John's Parish sponsored an Armenian dance to benefit a parish fund which subsidizes youth from the parish to participate in the St. Nersess youth conferences.