SILVER SPRING, Md. — On Saturday, February 12, friends, family and former parishioners gathered here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Vertanes Kalayjian into the holy priesthood.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided over the event. “Der Vertanes’s preaching, his kindness and generosity, have affected people throughout our entire Diocese,” Barsamian said. “He has inspired many of our people to answer the call of service to Christ and to make service to our Lord a more central and conscious part of their everyday living.”
Born in Aleppo, Syria, Kalayjian began attending the Seminary of Antelias in 1953, and later continued his studies at the St. James Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He was ordained to the priesthood on February 7, 1960. Kalayjian describes his journey to the priesthood as gradual, and says he was inspired by “several of my teachers and mentors and clergymen.”
In 1964, after several years of service in the Middle East, Kalayjian arrived in the Eastern Diocese, where he served at St. George Church of Waukegan, Ill.; Holy Cross Church of Union City, NJ and St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, NJ. He served as the pastor of St. Mary Church of Washington, DC, from 1976 until his retirement in 2007.
“I consider my satisfaction as being able to reach out to people in diverse needs,” Kalayjian said, noting that he has assisted families and individuals with issues ranging from marriage counseling to immigration.
Kalayjian has served on the Diocesan Council and many Diocesan committees, and has represented the Diocese at the National Council of Churches.