Watervliet celebrates priestly anniversary

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

October 16, 2006


By Florence Avakian

For Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor of the St. Peter Church of Watervliet,
NY, ministry is about building a connection to the next generation. For the
past 10 years, passing the flame of Armenian Christianity has been the focus
of his ministry.

On Sunday, October 1, 2006, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presented Fr.
Doudoukjian with the pectoral cross in honor of the 10th anniversary of his
ordination to the priesthood.

"The idea of ‘Carrying the Flame’ has been the over-arching theme of Fr.
Stepanos Doudoukjian’s entire ministry," said the Primate in his remarks
during the celebration. "The idea of ‘Youth Carrying the Flame’ has the goal
of passing the flame of our heritage on to our children, who will carry it
into the 21st century. Der Stepanos is surely a man who has chosen to carry
that flame, and he does so with the utmost respect and love for what our
flame represents."

"By carrying that flame, Der Stepanos has devoted his ministry to inspiring
others to carry it beside him," the Primate added.

Fr. Stepanos not only works with youth in his parish but also works as
director of youth and vocation at St. Nersess Seminary, organizing events
designed to bring the next generation deeper into the fold of Christ.

"This demonstrations his wonderful, loving touch," the Primate said. "As an
American-born priest, he speaks in a special way to those born in this
country, and has made it a special part of his ministry to reach the newest
of our newcomers."


In his remarks during the celebratory dinner, Fr. Doudoukjian pointed out
that the cross he was presented with is an eternal reminder of Jesus’
suffering. He noted that his passion for the pastoral vocation was shared
by his friend Fr. Haroutiun Dagley, who was ordained just one week before
Fr. Doudoukjian. Fr. Dagley passed away in 2002.

The two friends spent their traditional 40-day retreat after ordination
together. "I wear this cross in memory of Fr. Dagley," Fr. Doudoukjian said

He also paid tribute to his wife, Yn. Paulette, and his children Jonah, 5,
and Gloria, 3. "It’s a blessing to have my family work with me," he said.


The son of Sona and the late Charles Doudoukjian, Fr. Doudoukjian was born
and raised in Teaneck, NJ, and earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary
education from Dominican College in Orangeburg, NJ, and his master’s of
divinity degree from St. Nersess and St. Vladimir’s Seminaries.

Expanding his religious education, he traveled twice to Armenia, and spent
six months in Jerusalem. From 1994 to 1995, he worked as a pastoral
assistant and youth director for the Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside,
NY, and at the Diocesan Center, focusing on college ministry.

When he was ordained in 1996 by Archbishop Barsamian, he requested the name
Stepanos, in honor of his deceased twin-brother. Following his Karasoonk (a
40-day secluded religious retreat) at St. Nersess Seminary, he celebrated
his first Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday, March 31, 1996. In addition to his
parish work, the Primate assigned him to serve as the director of the St.
Nersess Summer and Winter Conferences for Armenian youth, a position he
still holds. He also directs the St. Nersess Youth and Vocations, a
recruitment program for new priests. He calls the latter "one of the most
important institutions."

More important for Fr. Doudoukjian than being granted the pectoral cross is
the focus on his "responsibility as a priest. It is a simple reminder to
live out my vocation each day, to be humble, to be a servant, and a shepherd
for the flock," he notes.

In wanting to connect with his parishioners, he offered a retreat entitled,
"God’s Call To You," on September 30, 2006, which was also attended by the
Primate. "It was a quiet time to reflect, and to reconnect with God, and
with prayer. It was a reaffirmation of my calling."

He said when he was ordained he wrote a poem, "The Call," in which he
related the choice that everyone (not just priests) makes, to respond to or
disregard God’s "Call". "The retreat was just such an opportunity to think
about such decisions," he says.

For the future, he wants God "to achieve something through me, and for me to
continue to serve him. I pray that many more men and women will serve our
church, because at the end of the day, it’s an honor to be walking with the

The celebratory dinner was held at St. Peter Church, and was attended by
more than 150 parishioners and friends, following the Holy Badarak that
morning, celebrated by Fr. Doudoukjian.

The dinner was sponsored by the parish council members Joanne Scaringe and
Mary Hartunian, and featured the church’s Sipan junior dance group as well
as congratulatory remarks by parish council chairman Robert Meeson, and
vice-chairman Erik Trojian.

— 10/16/06

E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable in the News and
Events section of the Eastern Diocese’s website,

PHOTO CAPTION (1): Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor of the St. Peter Church
of Watervliet, NY, delivers communion during the badarak on Sunday, October
1, 2006, the celebration of the 10th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

PHOTO CAPTION (2): Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, presents Fr.
Stepanos Doudoukjian with the pectoral cross marking his decade of ministry.

PHOTO CAPTION (3): Dancers from the Sipan dance group of the St. Peter
Church of Watervliet, NY, perform on Sunday, October 1, 2006, for
parishioners during the dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the
ordination of the parish’s pastor, Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian.

PHOTO CAPTION (4): Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, pastor of the St. Peter Church
of Watervliet, NY, speaks about answering God’s call during the celebratory
banquet marking the 10th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

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