Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), ordains Michael Sabounjian to the sub-diaconate at the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham, Mass. Assisting him is Michael’s father and parish pastor the Rev. Krikor Sabounjian. Michael’s brother, sub-deacon Arthur Sabounjian, looks on.

Primate Ordains Sub-Deacon at Holy Translators Church in Framingham, Mass.

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), visited the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham, Mass., on November 21-22, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and ordained Michael Sabounjian, son of parish pastor the Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, to the sub-diaconate.

On the eve of Thanksgiving Day celebrations, the Primate spoke about the importance of giving thanks to God in the Armenian tradition. “Thanksgiving is one of our points of contact with Jesus Christ himself,” Archbishop Barsamian said, pointing to examples of thanksgiving in Armenian prayers, hymns, and in the structure of the Divine Liturgy.

“This week, we will all be reminded of the many things we can be thankful for: our families, our health, the blessings of America, our heritage and our homeland,” the Primate said. “But there’s something else for us to be thankful for, too. It was Christ’s sacrifice, which brought mankind the gift of salvation. And for us as Christians, that fact, above all others, is our greatest reason for Thanksgiving.”

On Saturday, November 21, 2009, the Primate shared an evening of fellowship with members of the parish council. Archbishop Barsamian’s visit coincided with the sixth anniversary of the consecration of Holy Translators Church, and the Primate commended the parish leadership on their achievements in the short period.

On Sunday, before the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the community gathered to witness the ordination of Michael Sabounjian to the sub-diaconate. He has been preparing for nearly two years, both with his father, Father Krikor, and at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary’s deacons training sessions.

Michael was ordained to the rank of acolyte in February 2008. Now 16 years old, he says he wanted to pursue the sub-diaconate because he realized that serving on the altar allowed him to be “engaged in the Divine Liturgy in a different way.”

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“It is a powerful experience,” he said, “and having that experience as an acolyte gave me the drive to keep trying.”

Michael said learning the different parts of the Divine Liturgy came naturally, though he did admit it was challenging to master the hymns and chants in Armenian. That proved “the most fulfilling part of my training,” he said, adding that over the past two years he has learned enough of the language to be able to read in Armenian.

His brother, Arthur Sabounjian, who became a sub-deacon in 2003, was another source of inspiration, as were the parish altar servers. Now, Michael hopes he can become a role model to younger students. He is already helping train two young parishioners to become acolytes.

Fr. Krikor Sabounjian leads a vibrant program for altar servers at Holy Translators Church. Last February, Daniel Hyde and Ara Bablouzian were ordained acolytes, along with Michael Sabounjian. Also at that time, the Primate ordained Jeffrey Hyde, Christopher Seifel and Michael Tutunjian as sub-deacons.

“My hope is that when these kids come through, some of them will be inspired to move on, and maybe be touched by God and called to the priesthood,” Fr. Krikor Sabounjian said.

There are also opportunities for young women to learn to serve the church, he added. Some sing in the choir, while others assist during the Kiss of Peace portion of the liturgy, and serve in other ways.

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