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During the celebration of Divine Liturgy on Sunday, September 19, nine deacons were anointed and ordained into the Holy Order of Priesthood by His Grace Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, presided during the Divine Liturgy. The deacons are graduates from the Accelerated Academic Course for the Priesthood, under the auspices of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The Accelerated Academic Course for the Priesthood was a new program instituted by His Holiness several years ago to select individuals with higher educations who wished to bring their service to the Armenian Church and Nation as priests. The goal of the program was to reach out to the rural villages and settlements that are in dire need of pastors. Among the graduates are economists, engineers, scientists and others specialists, who expressed their desire to prepare themselves for greater service to the Armenian Church and people.

During the Liturgy, the ordaining bishop anointed the foreheads and palms of both hands of each new priest with Holy Chrism (Muron) and gave them new names.

Deacon Vrej Aleksandrian became Father Hovhannes, Deacon Gurgen Margarian became Father Stepanos, Deacon Arushan Harutyunian became Father Sepouh, Deacon Vartan Ter-Mkrtchian became Father Simeon, Deacon Robert Stepanian became Father Mashtots, Deacon Armen Abrahamian became Father Zgon, Deacon Arkadi Matevosian became Father Shnork, Deacon Artak Markarian became Father Torgom and Deacon Hakob Ter-Barseghian became Father Gevork.

“Today you are called to serve God, to serve our nation through our Church, and for the first time Christ will be the central focus of all your future activities. Priesthood is a gift from God, and you must know how to use that gift. Not everyone can serve as a priest, it is granted only to the chosen ones, before the Holy Altar of God. With Jesus Christ as the real shepherd, you must lead your nation on the path to eternal life. Your weapon must be the Gospel and the Holy Cross. Love your nation, as you love yourself,” stated His Grace in his message congratulating encouraging the newly ordained priests as they commence their preaching activities and pastoral life.

Following the traditional 40-day seclusion period of fasting, mediation and prayer, the new priests will celebrate their inaugural Divine Liturgies at churches throughout Armenia.

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