Led by Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Director of Youth and Vocations, along with Fr. Daniel Findikyan and Fr. Sahak Kaishian, the teens split into two groups and spent about three hours with residents of the Armenian Home in Emerson, New Jersey, and the Armenian Home in Flushing, New York.
Love One Another
Before setting out on the 45-minute drive to each home, Fr. Stepanos gathered the entire group together to brief them on the purpose of the visit. Many of the youth had never been to a nursing home before. Linking the visit with every Christian's obligation to serve, Fr. Stepanos recalled Jesus' words, "Love one another as I have loved you."
"The greatest gift we can give a person is not bought with money," he said," "It is the gift of our selves given in love."
And they were off.
The young people then spread out to converse with residents, many of whom were seated in wheelchairs, while others were bed-ridden. When lunchtime arrived, the St. Nersess visitors joined the residents in the dining room, continuing their conversations, and in a few cases, lending a hand to those who needed some help in eating.
"Today was englightening," said 17-year old Christopher Manasserian, of California. "I was speaking with a man who was a survivor of the Genocide. He told me so many stories about what he saw and experienced during those years. It was like I was living what I've learned in school."
15-year old Liana Kurkjian of New York said, "It was so moving. I went up to speak with an old woman in a wheelchair. As soon as I approached her she grabbed my hand and pulled me close to her. She wouldn't let me go. It made me realize how happy I made her."
"This was so much fun," said 16 year-old Raffi Serafino of Glendale, California. "It was so interesting to hear their stories. I'd like to do this again."
15-year old Masis Parseghian of New Jersey summed up the visit by saying, "I wanted to leave, but I didn't want to leave."
Six of this summer's St. Nersess Conference groups have visited, or will visit the Armenian Homes this season.