Opening Ceremonies: Newly Renovated Gevorkian Theological Seminary

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 1) 517 163
Fax: (374 1) 517 301
E-Mail: [email protected]
August 7, 2004

Opening Ceremonies for Newly Renovated Gevorkian Theological Seminary in
Holy Etchmiadzin

The evening of August 5 inaugurated a memorable and historical event in the
life of the Armenian Church. Under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin
II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the newly renovated
Gevorkian Theological Seminary building in the Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin was re-opened. Present for the opening ceremonies were hundreds
of clergy and faithful, including more than 30 family members of national
benefactors Kevork and Sirvart Hovnanian. Mr. and Mrs. Hovnanian, from the
United States, were the sponsors of the year-long construction and
renovation work on the historic building.

The Catholicos of All Armenians accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Hovnanian cut
the ribbon at the entry of the famous building and led the procession of
guests and dignitaries to the large hall of the seminary, where a home
blessing service was offered, with readings from the Holy Bible and prayers
asking for God’s protection for the seminarians, instructors and

Following the service, as the program began, Rev. Fr. Yeghishe Archpriest
Sargisian, dean of the seminary, welcomed the guests and spoke about the 130
year glorious history of the seminary founded by Catholicos of All Armenians
Gevork IV in 1874, (after whom the theological school was named), and the
important role that it has played in the life of the Armenian nation and
people. The dean also presented a short synopsis on the present status of
the university, and the many plans and projects currently underway, all
aimed at preparing a new generation of Armenian Church clergymen for
throughout the world. The Theological Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin has more
than 300 young men enrolled in four campuses throughout Armenia.

His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the
Armenian Church of America (Eastern), spoke eloquently of the unique and
exceptional role the Gevorkian Theological Seminary plays in the preparation
of young clergymen, noting that it has an irreplaceable duty in guaranteeing
the future of the Armenian Church. His Eminence also noted that in addition
to this princely gift for the worldwide Armenian Church and the Mother See,
the Hovnanian Family has also exhibited great generosity towards projects
supporting the Eastern Diocese in the United States, as well as the
independent Republic of Armenia.

President of the National Academy of Sciences Mr. Fadey Sargisian noted the
rich legacy of individuals, both priests and laymen, who received their
higher education in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, among them being
Komitas Vardapet Soghomonian, Hrachia Ajarian, Makar Yekmalian, Aksel
Bakounts, and Levon Shant.

National benefactor Kevork Hovnanian next addressed the assembled guests,
and spoke tenderly from the heart, noting in part, “Your Holiness, I see
that a new Golden Age has begun for the Armenian Church. I pray that the
new generation of priests will follow Your Holiness’ example, greater
strengthening Holy Etchmiadzin and our Mother Church, because it is only the
Armenian Church, who through her 1700 year rich experience has succeeded in
keeping us Armenian, in keeping us Christian, and has warmed our hearts,
always keeping alive in our minds and souls the love for the homeland and
our Church.”

At the conclusion of the program, His Holiness Karekin II gave his message
of blessing and appreciation to the benefactors and guests. The Pontiff of
All Armenians spoke of the vital mission which is reserved for the Gevorkian
Theological Seminary, in the past as well as the present and the future.
His Holiness highly appreciated the devotion of the benefactors, Mr. and
Mrs. Kevork and Sirvart Hovnanian, and noted his joy at the presence of many
members of their family, including Mr. and Mrs. Hrair Hovnanian, Mr. and
Mrs. Vahakn Hovnanian, and children and grandchildren numbering more than
30, who had all traveled to Armenia, many for the first time, to be present
for the opening ceremonies of the school. His Holiness further noted the
unselfish example set by the entire Hovnanian family in their dedication to
the Armenian Church, her worldwide spiritual and administrative
headquarters – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Armenian diaspora and
the state of the Republic of Armenia.

In his message, the Catholicos of All Armenians stated, “Our happiness today
is transformed into prayer in our souls for the memory of our blessed
predecessors, the Supreme Pontiffs of our Church, whose vision and dream it
had been to pass through the re-opened doors of this historic building and
institution. They had dreamed to see our Church strengthened and vibrant,
and today we mark one more great step in that progress. As our forebears
lived and kept their identity through our Mother Church, regardless of where
or when they lived, they likewise taught and raised their children in our
unique Armenian Christian spirit – resolute, strengthened and supported by
this institution.”

Also present for the opening ceremonies were visiting primates from Armenian
dioceses in Europe and the United States, high ranking clergymen and members
of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, visiting priests from the Armenian
Patriarchate of Jerusalem, representatives of sister Christian Churches,
members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, President of the Constitutional
Court of the Republic of Armenia Gagik Haroutiunian, RA Minister of Culture
and Youth Affairs Hovik Hoveyan, Yerevan State University President Dr.
Radik Martirosian, and many other guests from the spheres of science,
education, culture and the arts. The musical program for the evening was
provided by the Choir of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary under the
direction of Maestro Ruben Sharbatian.

The program concluded with a banquet held in the refectory of the Mother See
in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Kevork Hovnanian.