St Nersess Seminary gave its 22nd priest to the Armenian Church as His Eminence Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, Primate of the Western Diocese and Vice President of the St Nersess Seminary Board of Directors ordained Deacon Deron Petoyan to the Order of the Holy Priesthood. During the ordination rite, which took place on June 27 and 28, 1998 at St Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys, California, Archbishop Hovsepian renamed the newly ordained Fr Sarkis.
Fr. Sarkis was born on November 6, 1959 in Los Angeles, the son of the late Dr. Arthur Petoyan and Arpie Petoyan. He graduated from California State University at Northridge with a Bachelor degree in Philosophy in 1982. He simultaneously earned a B.A. degree in the Humanities. After his employment as a bank manger, Fr Sarkis was accepted by the primate as a postulant for the priesthood. Following studies in Holy Etchmiadzin and St James Monastery in Jerusalem, he applied and was accepted to St Nersess and St Vladimir's Seminaries. He graduated in 1995 with an M.Div degree having successfully presented his thesis entitled "Relation of Third Generation Armenian-Americans to the Armenian Church: A Case Study." An exhaustive one-year study which incorporated 200 pages of thesis, approved statistics, appendices and interviews, the work sought to learn the faith, membership and attendance practices of Armenian Baby-Boomers. The main purpose of the thesis was to learn more about the tragic phenomenon of the grandchildren of genocide survivors who fail to maintain a relationship with the Armenian Church. As part of his graduation requirement, he completed his Hospital Chaplaincy training program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York.
He married the former Talin Mermerian , a member of the Diocesan Summer Camp Committee and Sunday School teacher at St Peter Armenian church for over ten years, in 1997.
In addition to his love for Christ is his love for Armenian culture. In 1982 he traveled throughout Turkey, which he prefers to call Occupied Armenia. The search for his roots took him to his grandfather's home town of Kharpert but also to Dickranagerd, Malatya, Erzeroom, Bitlis, Kars, Holy Cross Monastery on Aghtamar Island in Lake Van and finally Ani, the 10th Century capitol of Armenia which sits on the Turkish side of the Armenian border.
Serving as Khardavilags or Sponsoring priests were Fr Shahe Semerdjian, who was Fr Sarkis' pastor during his formative years and Fr. Shnork Demirjian, Pastor of St Peter Armenian Church. Mr and Mrs Chris Yaldezian, a Christ-loving and compassionate couple, served as Godparents while Mrs Agnes Sulujian, an active member of St Peter Sunday School program for forty years, stood as Honorary Godmother.
The newly ordained will spend his forty days of seclusion at St Nersess Seminary and will celebrate his Antranig Badarak on August 9 at St Peter Church. On August 16 he and Yeretsgeen Talin will begin their ministry at St John Armenian Church in San Francisco.