FRESNO — On Saturday, April 20, 2024, St. Paul Armenian Church of Fresno hosted 15 Deacons in Formation from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

Rev. Fr. Yesai Bedros, the pastor of St. Paul Armenian Church since 2013, approved the visit and authorized Deacon Matthew Jendian to provide a tour of the sanctuary as well as the Haig Berberian Hall.  Deacon Allan Jendian assisted and displayed the various vestments and vessels used in the services of the Armenian Orthodox Church.

Jim Grant, though retiring in 2020 after 32 years with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno as Director of Social Justice Ministry, continues to lead formation for ministry for the Diocese and reached out to Deacon Matthew.  Jim and Matthew, both members of an Interfaith Clergy Caucus in Fresno, have previously collaborated.  For the 2023 Interfaith Scholar Weekend in Fresno, hosted by St. Paul Newman Center and Temple Beth Israel, Jim had asked Deacon Matthew to present reflections on St. Gregory of Nareg, who had been declared a doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Francis in February 2015.

The Permanent Diaconate in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno began in 1998 and has expanded with six classes of deacons having been ordained as of October 2023. It takes 5 ½ years to properly form a deacon—2 years of Lay Formation, two years of Aspirancy, and 3 ½ years of Diaconate Formation. The total amount of time is 5 ½ years because the two years of Lay Formation and the two years of Aspirancy are offered concurrently. During the formation, deacons are also exposed to various faith and ecumenical traditions, and the Roman Catholic Church and Armenian Orthodox Church have a long, shared history.

In fact, in December 2023, at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, an international conference entitled “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St. Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” was held in honor of the 850th anniversary of the death of Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali (organizers included: Archbishop Poghos Levon Zekiyan, Marko Bais, Željko Paša, Zaroui Pogossyan, Abraham Terian, and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian). Two concerts of St. Nerses Shnorhali’s hymns and liturgical music—a public event at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (December 1) and a private event in the Sistine Chapel (December 2)—brought St. Nerses’s legacy of spiritual music to a worldwide audience.

An ecumenical prayer service at the imposing Basilica of St. Peter (December 2), presided over by leaders of the Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic churches—His Holiness Pope Francis, His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, and His Beatitude Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian—in the spirit of St. Nerses Shnorhali’s 12th century call for religious unity.

The Armenian Church stresses the conviction that churches should be at liberty to differ on points of secondary importance. Her lofty motto for centuries has been: “Unity in essentials; liberty in doubtful matters; charity in all things.”

With the 15 Deacons in Formation, Deacon Matthew shared the origins of the Armenian Orthodox Church, including the first enlighteners of Armenia, Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew who preached in Armenia between 35-43 AD and 44-60 AD, as well as the conversion of King Drtad by St. Gregory the Enlightener in 301 AD and the construction of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in 303 AD.

Deacon Matthew also reviewed the different administrative jurisdictions of the Armenian Church today, the nine daily services, some aspects of the Holy Sacrifice/Divine Liturgy, our iconography and basic floor plan, the impact of the genocide on the Armenian Church, and ten main theological differences between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches.

On behalf of the Diaconate Formation Team under the Shepherding Apostolic leadership of His Excellency Bishop Joseph Brennan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, Deacon Mark Schultz expressed “our most sincere appreciation for the extremely kind hospitality and very informative presentation provided to the current Diaconate formation class candidates and their wives.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Get notified of the latest updates from MassisPost.

You May Also Like

One Year After “Velvet Revolution” – Achievements and Challenges

A little over a year ago Armenia witnessed a peaceful revolution which…

EU Calls for Immediate Cessation of Hostilities Between Armenian and Azerbaijani Forces

BRUSSELS — The European Union has called for immediate cessation of hostilities…

Hrant Dink Commemorated on the 16th Anniversary of His Assassination

ISTANBUL — On Thursday, January 19 at 15:00 (GMT+3), Hrant Dink was commemorated…

Armenian Ombudsman Sends Video of Conversation Between Aliyev and Erdogan’s Wife to EU Leaders

YEREVAN (Armradio)  — Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan has sent the…