Hagop Derian, Jonah Doudoukjian and Patrick Kayayan were ordained to the rank of subdeacon on Sunday, November 3rd, by His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan. The three boys are three months apart and have been friends their entire 18-year-old lives. The Armenian Church has been a constant, as well as a common denominator, from their very early days of crawling, walking, running, playing, praying, and serving. Together, as infants, they participated in “Little Faithfuls,” a group that brought infants and parents together at church to pray and to grow in the Armenian faith. Together, they attended Armenian and Sunday Schools, learning the language, faith, and culture. Together, they had their feet washed on many Holy Thursday evenings, as well as participating in the “Darkness” vigil — even bringing their sleeping bags, snacks, and videos games for the three-hour service, ultimately falling asleep in the pews. Together, they matured and grew in their faith through ACYOA. Together, they serve at the Altar leading the other youth by their example. Now together, they were ordained to the rank of subdeacon.
Their friendship, as well as their commitment to service in the Armenian Church, is an inspiration to the St. Peter Armenian Church community. No doubt, both their friendship and desire to continue learning and serving the church, will only deepen over time.
The weekend of November 2nd and 3rd was also an opportunity to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of the establishment of the St. Peter Armenian Church parish. The symbolism and meaning of ordaining three teenagers on this milestone anniversary give much hope and encouragement for the future of the Armenian Church as well as to the Armenians of the Capital District. A new generation of church leadership is being formed and shaped in these three young men.
On the evening of November 2nd, the faithful gathered for a special Hrashapar Service welcoming Bishop Daniel to the St. Peter Armenian Church for the first time since becoming Bishop of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). At the conclusion of the ceremony, His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan blessed a new altar curtain in blessed memory of Dn. Hrant Bardakjian. Dn. Hrant served the Armenian Church his entire life and had served as a deacon at St. Peter Armenian Church since 1972, until his passing in 2017.
During an eloquent and celebratory banquet, the three newly ordained subdeacons offered inspiring words, the following are excerpts from their remarks:
Today is one of the most important days of my life and will remain one of the most important for the rest of my life. My faith was instilled in me from a very young age through the patience, encouragement, and pure love of my family. I realize how blessed I am to be raised in a family that sings sharagans when we are in the car together or have spontaneous bible study in the living room. For this gift, I thank God.
I am especially thankful to my family for bringing me to church every Sunday. From a young age, I watched my role models prioritize faith over everything else and that has made me who I am today. I specifically thank my Hyrig and Medz Hyrig who have spent hours with me, teaching me thousand-year-old sharagans and explaining their significance. Yet this is only the beginning. I pray that I am able to expand my knowledge of our services and liturgy.
I am also extremely blessed by the people and environment of St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church. I really have the most excellent and caring Der Hayr, who wants for me what he would want for one of his own. He and Deacon Yervant have spent hours with us during deacons’ training, building the foundation necessary to reach the achievement of becoming a sub-deacon. With me, during all those times, were Patrick and Jonah. We are lifelong friends who come together on Sundays and do what we love – serve on our home church’s altar. We help and learn from each other, both on and off the altar. The three of us have come a long way from bringing sleeping bags and snacks to the Khavaroum service, to becoming candle servers, to our first poorvar swing, to now. So again, thank you everyone for coming today to celebrate such a meaningful milestone in my life.
It is an honor to be ordained a subdeacon along
with two of my best friends that I have known and have served with since birth.
Being ordained in this church is special
because this church means so much to me. I truly realized that when I was away recently
in California. As most or all of you
know, I was in California
for just over three months working at a base camp helping the recovery efforts following the devastating fires that destroyed the three towns of Paradise, Magalia, and Pulga. Early on in my work there, there was talk of us getting ordained in early November if we could pass the test. I thought to myself that there is no way I’m going to pass this test; I won’t even be home by then. I just blew it off. I didn’t even think more about it. I was working 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I just didn’t think I could do it. Well, I want to thank my parents for encouraging me, but about a week after word got around that I didn’t want to do it, I got a call from someone special. This man talked to me for over 20 minutes and encouraged me to take on the challenge. I listened to him and I took on the challenge, studied, and eventually passed the test. That man was Hagop’s father. Thank you so much Mr. Derian!
A lot of you don’t know this, but the stole that I was ordained with was actually my father’s, the same stole he was ordained with as subdeacon when he was my age. Finally, I have to thank Srpazan Hayr, also known to me as Uncle Padre. It’s so cool and such an honor for me to get baptized by you and now ordained sub deacon by you as well 18 years later.
I have always loved being a part of the Armenian Church. Ever since I was a little boy, my dad would always bring me to church every Sunday. I remember the days of starting out on the altar, holding the candle and trying my best to participate. I remember going to Sunday School before badarak, and coming upstairs for confession after. Looking back, I am baffled by just how much I, and also Jonah and Hagop, have grown as people and servants of God. It’s crazy to think that the three of us have entered the next step of our service to God, and I am thrilled to be able to stand here today as a subdeacon. I am excited to keep growing in my faith and I look forward to staying as a part of this wonderful community.
I just want to take some time to say thank you to a few people. I would first like to thank Bishop Daniel for taking the time to come to our church and to officially ordain me as a subdeacon of the Armenian Church. It is an honor to have you here and I look forward to many more of your visits in the future. Next, I would like to thank Der Stepanos for all of his continued support and love in everything I do. Without his guidance and determination to believe in me, I wouldn’t be standing right here giving this message as the person I am today. I would also like to thank my fellow deacons and altar servers for helping me and inspiring me to grow, both a person and as a servant of the Armenian Church. I would especially like to thank Deacon Hagop and Deacon Garo for their help in learning chants as well as guiding me on the altar if I did not know what to do. I would also like to thank Jonah and Hagop for being great friends throughout all the years. I do not think my love for serving the church would be as strong if I did not have them serving alongside me on the altar. I continue to look forward to serving with you guys. My last and final thank you goes out to all of you sitting in the audience. Thank you for all of the love, the prayers, and support that you constantly give to me. I am so glad to be part of such a loving community, and I am excited that I will be able to stay here as I pursue my studies at RPI.
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