E Prelacy: Datev Institute – School for Armenian Christian Formation

Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America
138 East 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-689-7810
Fax: 212-689-7168
e-mail: [email protected]
Contact: Iris Papazian

August 9, 2004


NEW YORK, NY-“There is something about the evening service that is so
moving. It offers a chance to reflect, a time to meditate. Every day, as
night sets in, I look forward to this special time to communicate with God,”
said Krista Guzelian (a 17-year-old Datev Institute participant from North
Andover, Massachusetts). In the morning around 7:15, groups of teens begin
filing from their dorms towards the chapel, a long driveway away. It is a
sight to behold! This happened every day, every evening and every morning,
for seven days.

Worship framed the communal life of the 76 students from 13 parishes
gathered for the 18th St. Gregory of Datev Institute at St. Mary of
Providence Center in bucolic Elverson, Pennsylvania from June 27 to July 4,
2004, sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) of the
Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, under the directorship of
Vicar General Very Rev. Fr. Anoushavan Tanielian.

Sandwiched between morning and evening services, the day was packed with
educational events (8:30am-12: 30pm and 7pm-9pm) and recreational activities
(1:30pm-5:30pm). Through interactive presentations, lectures, discussions,
Bible studies, panel discussions the curriculum exposed the participants to
a range of the essentials of Armenian Christianity, from Bible and creeds,
sacraments and chants, feasts and saints, personal and communal prayer,
language and history, to ethics and moral living.

Nora Palandjian, a second year student from Providence, Rhode Island,
captured the spirit of Datev when she said, “Prayer, education and
fellowship-these are the reasons why I come to Datev.” Granted, not everyone
attends Datev with these objectives in mind, or in that order. But they
leave with those three objectives etched in their minds, because they have
been formed and shaped by the prayers and hymns of the Armenian Church, by
the essential elements of the Armenian Apostolic Christianity, and also by
new and renewed friendships. (Visit the Prelacy web site for more
impressions at )

The St. Gregory of Datev Institute is a four-year faith-based, youth program
(one week each year). Those who complete the 4-year program may return for
postgraduate classes. All five levels of study take place concurrently. In
addition, this year the Institute had pre-Datev classes for students ages
10-12. There were 6 pre-datev students, 18 first-year students, 14
second-year students, 11 third-year students, 11 fourth-year students
(graduates), and 16 post-graduates.

The participants enjoyed the presence of the Prelate, His Eminence
Archbishop Oshagan, who took time out of his busy schedule to be with the
Datevatsies, accompanied by Hon. Judge Sarkis and Ardemis Teshoian. Judge
Teshoian delivered the evening lecture telling the students about the
importance of being Armenian in our society and what it means to be an
Armenian American. Utilizing experiences from his own life, he advised the
students to be good citizens and meet the challenges ahead. “Don’t think
that others are better than you, or that you are better than others,” he
said. He told them that participation in both Armenian and American society
is very important. He also stressed the importance of education and the
knowledge of other languages, not only Armenian and English. “In this age of
globalization,” he said, “the one who knows more will be hired and will
advance up the ladder of success. Remember that just as you get happy when
you read about a successful and famous Armenian, someday an Armenian
youngster will read about you and your success and become happy.”

The weeklong program came to a close with the celebration of the Soorp
Badarak at St. Gregory Armenian Church in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 4,
followed by luncheon, graciously provided and served by the Artemis Chapter
of the Armenian Relief Society.

The instructors of the Institute were: Very Rev. Fr. Anoushavan Tanielian,
Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Chiftjian, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Tashjian, Rev. Fr. Khoren
Habeshian, Rev. Fr. Antranig Baljian, Rev. Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Rev. Fr.
Gomidas Baghsarian, Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, and Dn. Shant Kazanjian. In
addition, the following postgraduate “datevatsies” taught several classes:
Dn. Nishan Baljian, Dn. Dr. Arsen Mekaelian, Barbara Baljian, Nayiri
Baljian, Martha Mekaelian, Jeanette Nazarian.

This year the Institute was privileged to have three guest lecturers: Very
Rev. Fr. Krikor Chiftjian (Media Relations Officer, Catholicosate of
Cilicia), Hon. Judge Sarkis Teshoian, and Prof. John Barnett of St.
Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, NY).

Archbishop Oshagan praised the Datev program and thanked the dedicated
teachers who manage to make the entire Datev experience exhilarating,
enjoyable and educational. “I was so pleased to be able to spend a day with
the Datev students and their teachers. I found the caliber of the
participants to be exceptional. “The atmosphere was joyful and very
respectful,” the Prelate said. “I told the students that they are part of
our family and they have the love of God and our Church in their hearts.”

As Archbishop Oshagan noted, a program of this scope is made possible
through the collaborative efforts between AREC and parishes, parents,
volunteer workers, and a number of organizations and individuals. It is meet
and right to acknowledge and thank them for their support and contributions
to the work of the Institute. In the first place, the Institute wishes to
thank the instructors for their labor of love and the parents for entrusting
their children to the Institute for a week of spiritual formation. The
Institute would like to express its gratitude to the following datevatzies
for their invaluable services as supervisors and counselors: Dn. Nishan
Baljian, Dn. Dr. Arsen Mekaelian, Ms. Barbara Baljian, Ms. Nayiri Baljian,
Mr. Arek Hamalian, Mr. James Haddad, Mr. Harout Khatchadourian, Mrs. Martha
Mekaelian, Mr. Mikhail Mekaelian, Ms. Jeanette Nazarian, and to ANEC
director Gilda Kupelian for conducting the Datev Jeopardy program. Many
thanks to those parishes that subsidized a portion of the expenses by
providing scholarships.

The Institute extends its appreciation to the Pashalian Family Education
Fund for the donation of $2,750. The Institute thanks the following generous
supporters: The Prelacy Ladies Guild (PLG), the National Association of
Ladies’ Guild (NALG), the Artemis Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society,
Mrs. Asdghig Kazanjian, and Mr. and Mrs. Noubar Megerian. Thanks also to the
following donors: Mr. and Mrs. Hrant Jilozian, Mrs. Sirvart Kaloustian, Mr.
and Mrs. Zaven Oranjian.

A photo gallery of the 2004 Datev Institute is on the Prelacy web page,