Fr. Dajad Davidian and Fr. Arsen Barsamian Honored at St. James Church on 50th Anniversary of Ordination


WATERTOWN, Mass. — Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), visited St. James Armenian Church, on Sunday, December 13, as the parish honored two former pastors, Rev. Arsen Barsamian and Rev. Dajad Davidian, to mark the 50th anniversary of their ordinations into the holy priesthood. The day also marked the 78th anniversary of St. James Church.

Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and Davidian delivered the day’s sermon. In the sanctuary, the Primate presented both clergymen with Pontifical Encyclicals on behalf of Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Archbishop Barsamian expressed his appreciation to Rev. Barsamian and Davidian for their dedication to the Armenian Church, and said he was glad that Karekin II, too, was honoring their years of service.

“Today is a day of celebration and a day of recommitment,” the Primate said. “We are here to say thank you to Father Arsen and Father Dajad. It is also an opportunity for us to commit ourselves to the task of ensuring that there will be other priests like them to continue the mission of the Armenian Church.”
In this “Year of Vocations,” the Primate encouraged parishioners to guide young people, especially young men, who are serving their church. “It is so instructive to hold up these two worthy examples of dedication to God,” Archbishop Barsamian said of the day’s honorees, “two distinct paths of service, united in their response to our Lord’s calling, leading them to the common destination of holiness.”

‘A Good Shepherd’

A native of South Milwaukee, Wis., Fr. Arsen Barsamian was preparing for a career in music when he felt the calling to become a priest. After three years of studying music theory and composition at the University of Wisconsin, he traveled to Lebanon to study theology at the seminary of the Great House of Cilicia in 1953. Later he continued his work at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and completed coursework at several seminaries in the US.

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On March 13, 1960, he was ordained into the holy priesthood by then-Primate Archbishop Sion Manoogian at St. Mesrob Armenian Church of Racine, Wis., and appointed pastor of St. George Armenian Church of Waukegan, Ill., where he would serve for the next four years. During this time, Arsen Barsamian also visited parishes in Illinois and Wisconsin, serving communities without a permanent pastor.

In 1967, he became pastor of St. James Armenian Church of Richmond, Va. He also has served at St. Mary Armenian Church of Washington, DC., Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Cheltenham, Penn., St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church of Cleveland, Ohio and St. John the Baptist Armenian Church of Milwaukee.
In 1989, Fr. Barsamian became the associate pastor of St. James Armenian Church of Watertown, where he served until his retirement in 2002. He continues to assist the parish’s current pastor, Rev. Arakel Aljalian.

“For over 50 years, as a good shepherd, you have nurtured the spiritual needs of our faithful in the Eastern Diocese of the United States,” Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II wrote to Fr. Arsen Barsamian in the encyclical. “We are very pleased to know that even after your retirement, you continue to contribute to the spiritual growth of our faithful, and to help realize our church’s Christ-given mission.”

Fr. Arsen Barsamian and Yn. Varteni Barsamian have three children: Loosaper Anjel, Steven Asadour and Raphael Shnork.

From Watertown to Armenia

Fr. Dajad Davidian was born in Worcester, Mass. Like Fr. Barsamian, he began his theological studies at the seminary of the Great House of Cilicia, in 1952. Returning to the US three years later, he enrolled at General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, graduating in 1958.

Davidian was ordained into the priesthood on July 17, 1960, by Archbishop Sion Manoogian. Following ordination, he served at the Armenian Church of Bergen County, in New Jersey, was the executive secretary of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) and held the position of editor of The Armenian Guardian.

In 1962, he joined the staff of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and later became pastor of St. Mesrob Church of Racine, Wis. In 1969, he was appointed pastor of St. James Church of Watertown, where he served until his retirement in 1999.

After his retirement, Davidian traveled to Armenia, where he has spent time preaching, organizing new parishes, and directing youth centers. He also works with Radio Vem, a radio station based in Armenia which features religious programming.

“It gives us great joy that you are realizing this very important task of reaching our youth in Armenia, providing spiritual education, and helping them create ties with their heritage,” Karekin II wrote to Davidian in the encyclical. “We pray that our Heavenly Father keeps you under His care and protection so that you may continue your fruitful church-building mission in Armenia.”

Davidian was married to the late Yeretzgin Rosemarie, with whom he had three children: Ari, Susan and Raymond.

‘Role Models for a Younger Generation’

Following services on December 13, the community gathered for the 78th anniversary name day banquet at St. James Church. During the banquet, the Primate presented Spiritual Leadership Awards to Barsamian and Davidian on behalf of the Eastern Diocese.

“For a generation, the people of this parish were fortunate to enjoy the pastoral leadership of Der Dajad and Der Arsen,” Archbishop Barsamian said.

“Through his deep learning, his inexhaustible energy, and his warm, open-hearted personality, Dajad has been a worthy servant to our Diocese and our people in general. He is a true soldier of the Armenian Church: indomitable in spirit, protective of our traditions, and passionate about exerting the church’s influence in the surrounding world.”

“While a quieter soul by nature, Father Arsen has been no less of a forceful presence in the life of our church. He has embraced the role of teacher and author, pouring his learning into resources meant to awaken our people to the treasures of our heritage — and to waken, also, a deeper awareness of God’s presence among us. Numerous souls have found both consolation and inspiration in Der Arsen’s dignified, peaceful spirituality.”

More than 400 people attended the event, which was organized by the Rev. Arakel Aljalian and the parishioners of St. James Church. Aljalian said many in the parish have been touched by the work of Arsen Barsamian and Davidian.

“They are very devoted pastors of St. James Church,” he said. “They have contributed tremendously to the well-being of this church, and they have become role models for a younger generation.”

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