Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), recently appointed Fr. Mardiros Chevian (SVOTS Class of '76) to serve as the new Dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, New York. Father Mardiros will be returning to the institution in which he worked in 1981 as the Director of Recruitment and Programs, and then later, as the Seminary's Rector. "Although I have enjoyed immensely being the Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral for the past nineteen years, I am excited to return to St. Nersess and direct the expanded mission of the seminary at its new campus," said Fr. Mardiros.
The St. Nersess November 15 announcement noted that as the new Dean, Fr. Mardiros will oversee plans to expand the Seminary's mission by moving the community to a new campus location in Armonk, NY, in 2014. The new five–and–a–half–acre Armonk campus is about sixteen miles north of the existing seminary location, and will allow for St. Nersess to continue its historic and close relationship with St. Vladimir's.
The SVOTS Academic Catalog explains that for years, "students at St. Nersess Seminary have taken their M.Div. degree at St. Vladimir's Seminary. With the revision of St. Vladimir's M.Div. curriculum beginning in 2007, a further step towards greater collaboration was taken, whereby the courses offered by the faculty of St. Nersess count for credit at St. Vladimir's. In this way, students of St. Vladimir's can benefit greatly from the remarkable range of courses offered by the distinguished faculty of St Nersess."
The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean and professor of Patristics at St. Vladimir's Seminary, expressed enthusiasm about the new St. Nersess Dean. "We have long valued our special relationship with St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, working together to enrich all of our students and their educational pursuits. We are very pleased with the appointment of Fr. Mardiros, an SVOTS alumnus, and look forward to many positive developments during his tenure."
The St. Nersess website outlined the goals of Fr. Mardiros and his administration as they move forward:
- Continuing education of current priests, through planned educational and training workshops
- Offering support & training for Armenian priests from abroad who need assistance with acclimation and acculturation and are destined to serve in the North American dioceses
- Transforming St. Nersess into a center for theological research for exchange faculty and students from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- Strengthening the Armenian education of our American born seminarians through longer study in our seminaries in Armenia and Jerusalem
- Introducing an undergraduate program that would combine local college study and courses, worship, and residence at St. Nersess Seminary
- Continuing and expanding the fifty year tradition of summer youth programs, retreats, and altar server programs
"I want to challenge and inspire students who want to pursue the Armenian priesthood," noted Fr. Mardiros. "Even if a young American–born Armenian does not have a good command of the Armenian language, he will learn it....he must be confident and comfortable in his ministry as an Armenian priest. In addition to academics, it is important for a priest to be able to transmit what he knows and demonstrate strong leadership skills."