By Taylor Manookian Gregory
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
ARMONK, N.Y. — Every summer, the St. Nersess Seminary hosts young men from any of the churches within the Eastern and Western Dioceses of the Armenian Church of America, and the Armenian Diocese of Canada. This year, 24 young members from these different churches gathered in this small town north of New York City to delve deeper into the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, or as it’s called in Armenian, the Badarak. This annual conference, which took place this year June 23 to July 2, is called the Deacons’ Training Program.
This conference is geared towards Armenian youth who are already serving on the altar at their home parish and would like to take the next step in their service. During the day, the program focuses on classes about the Armenian language and the Badarak, and how the language pertains to the Badarak specifically. At night, guest lecturers come to speak on topics such as the church’s impact on the current situation in Artsakh, the role of the church in everyday life, and the role of these future deacons within the church.
Eighteen-year-old Hovsep Seferian was one of the acolytes training this summer. Seferian had taken an interest in St. Nersess because of his lifetime of service at the altar at his own church parish in Washington, DC.
“I’ve been serving on the altar for 13 years,” Seferian said, “I started when I was 5.” He became inspired within recent years to ascend higher in the ranks of his home parish because he realized that the altar is going to eventually need new people to serve once the current generation is no longer able to contribute. “Like everything else, the church eventually has to undertake a changing of the guard,” Seferian said about his readiness to be a part of the next generation of deacons.