Fr. Dajad Davidian

Fr. Dajad Davidian, Dynamic Former Leader of St. James Parish Dies

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WATERTOWN — Fr. Dajad Davidian, the former pastor of St. James Armenian Church, died on July 14. He was 84.

He had served the church from 1969 to 1999 and was succeeded by Rev. Arakel Aljalian.

Aljalian, speaking on Monday, July 16, remembered him as a larger-than-life personality, as well as mentor and cheerleader for the church.

Fr. Dajad Davidian

“Der Dajad was a unique individual in the Armenian Church. He was dedicated, charismatic and connected with people. People loved him and he loved people,” he said. “I witnessed it and I believe in it.”

“He was a good mentor to many fellow members of the clergy, including myself,” he recalled. “He served our parish and made a big difference in the lives of thousands of parishioners” during the 30 years he served as pastor of St. James.

“We will definitely miss him and Watertown will miss him. Watertown or St. James would not be the same without him. Everybody respected him,” Aljalian said.

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Losing Davidian was difficult, he said. “It was a big shock for us all, his family and parish family. And Armenia won’t be the same either.”

Davidian was born in Worcester in 1934. He attended the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Catholicosate in Cilicia, through the arrangement of then-Primate Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, from 1952 to 1955. In 1957, Archbishop Mampre Calfayan ordained him as a deacon. Upon his return to America, he continued his education at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, graduating in 1958.  He served as a pastoral assistant at the Holy Cross Church in New York City and in 1958, was assigned as deacon-in-charge at the Armenian Church of Bergen County.

Almost sixty years ago, on July 17, 1960, Fr. Dajad was ordained a priest by Archbishop Sion Manoogian in Worcester. Additionally, he was appointed executive secretary of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America and editor of The Armenian Guardian. He was appointed to the staff of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in 1962 and became the pastor of St. Mesrob Armenian Church of Racine, WI.

In 1969, he was assigned as pastor of St. James parish, where he faithfully served until his retirement in 1999.

Fr. Dajad Davidian

He served on the Diocesan Council of the Eastern Diocese from 1967 to 1977 and 1993 to 2001, serving as its vice-chair and secretary, and was elected as a delegate of the Eastern Diocese to the National Ecclesiastical Assembly in Holy Echmiadzin. He also served on the Board of Directors of St. Nersess Seminary.

Davidian retired 19 years ago from his duties at St. James and dedicated himself to teaching people there about the Armenian Church.

“He said many, many times that he should have done it sooner,” Aljalian said.

“He related to them. He was one with the people. Every time he came back he was bored,” Aljalian said. “Year after year, Armenia inspired him.”

While there he taught at Echmiadzin Seminary as well as hosting a television program on Bible studies.

“He organized youth pilgrimages to holy places in Armenia,” Aljalian recalled. “Lots of people, especially young people, come to know and got to know Christ because of him. He brought people back to the church.”

It was not only their spirituality that was sated because of him, Aljalian added. For many years, he had supported the village of Karagerd. Every year, St. James hosts visits to either Armenia or Jerusalem. When the parish visited Armenia, Davidian took the visitors to the village about an hour and a half outside Yerevan. “It is a poor village. He wanted the church group to visit and help them. They were so happy to see us. We have contributed to this community because of Der Dajad. We will miss him dearly.”

Edmond Azadian, the senior editorial columnist for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator as well as a member of the Supreme Council of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, recalled his relationship with Davidian, which dated back to the time he had lived in Boston. After an acrimonious start, the two became close friends, visiting each other whenever possible. “He was more effective in inculcating Christianity and the role of the Armenian church in Armenia than the local clergy. He was able to put great ideas in simple terms.”

Davidian, whose baptismal name was Arthur, was married to the late Yeretzgin Rosemarie (Abrahamian) Davidian. He leaves his children, Ari Davidian, Susan and her husband Joseph Ferro III, and Raymond A. Davidian and his wife Seta; grandchildren Nicholas, Grayce, Gregory and Nairi; brothers Raymond Davidian and Albert Davidian and his wife Patty, and nieces and nephews Lori Kashgegian and her husband Mark, and of Sara, Paul and Angela Davidian.

In 2010, he and Fr. Arsen Barsamian were honored on the 50th anniversary of their ordinations.

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.

“Today is a day of celebration and a day of recommitment,” then Primate Khajag Barsamian 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.”

His funeral took place on Friday, July 20, with a Divine Liturgy and Final Anointing presided over by the Very Rev. Daniel Findikyan, Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church, Eastern, at St. James Armenian Church. Interment followed at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Watertown.

The family requests that instead of flowers, memorial donations be sent to St. James Armenian Church or the Armenia Tree Project

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