ORLANDO, FL – In July, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), ordained Deacon Vahe Bagdasarian to the holy priesthood in an inspiring service at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City.
The two-day ceremony began on Saturday evening, July 23, at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ. Dn. Bagdasarian before the altar in a traditional calling service that symbolizes a deacon’s formal presentation to the Lord as a candidate for the priesthood.
On Sunday, July 24, Archbishop Barsamian ordained Dn. Bagdasarian to the priesthood during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Vartan Cathedral. More than 1,000 people gathered to witness the special service. Choirs from local churches joined the cathedral choir, under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian, to sing the hymns of the Divine Liturgy.
The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, where Dn. Bagdasarian completed a course of study, served as the sponsoring priest for Dn. Bagdasarian.
Answering God’s Call
Fr. Armash Bagdasarian was born in Istanbul, Turkey, where from a very young age, he began serving the Armenian Church as an altar boy and choir member.
“I often attended the various services that take place throughout the week in our churches in Istanbul, and I was inspired to pursue the priestly vocation during those years,” Fr. Bagdasarian said. “I saw as examples church leaders like Patriarch Shnork Kalustyan, Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan, numerous clergy with whom I was close, as well as the very devoted faithful of all of our churches throughout the city.”
Upon his graduation from Istanbul’s Kultur University in 1998, Fr. Bagdasarian moved to the United States, where he continued service at the Holy Cross Armenian Church in Union City, NJ, and worked as a diamond setter in New York’s Diamond District.
In 1999, he was elevated to the rank of sub-deacon by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and thereafter to deacon in 2002. With the encouragement of Archbishop Barsamian, he began his studies at the St. Nersess Seminary during the fall of 2012 and graduated in the spring of 2015. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education at the Palisades Medical Center and interned at St. Leon Armenian Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, under the guidance of the local pastor, the Rev. Fr. Diran Bohajian.
Reflecting on the ordination service, Fr. Armash Bagdasarian said it was awe-inspiring to take up the yoke of Christ in the presence of friends and loved ones. He said his priestly name echoes the historic Armenian monastery of Armash, which served as an important spiritual and educational institution in Historic Armenia until it was destroyed in the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
“I always heard about the Armash Monastery as a young boy,” Fr. Bagdasarian said. “I even had the opportunity to meet Armenians who knew residents from the immediate area around that monastery. So it was very moving for me to hear Archbishop Barsamian pronounce the priestly name ‘Armash’ when he ordained me at St. Vartan Cathedral.”
Fr. Bagdasarian, his wife Yn. Maran, and their son Nathaniel will move to Orlando, FL, this fall, where Fr. Bagdasarian will serve as the pastor of Soorp Haroutiun Church.
“Der Armash brings to his priesthood seriousness, humility, dedication, love of God, love of nation, and love of those that have been entrusted to his pastoral care,” said Fr. Mardiros Chevian. “I am certain that through his ministry, he and his family will draw many closer to God and to the Armenian Church.”