The Eastern Prelacy’s St. Gregory of Datev Institute held its 32 annual summer program for youth ages 13-18 at St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from July 1-8, 2018, with the participation of 34 students from 11 parishes. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), it was directed this year by Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Worcester, Massachusetts). The Institute offers a unique Christian educational program for teens in a wholesome and nurturing environment, with three-pronged objectives: Christian education, prayer/worship, and fellowship and recreational activities.
Maintaining a proper balance of these three components is what makes Datev a unique program for our youth, something that seems appreciated and valued by most participants. Not only are the students’ daily program enhanced by morning and evening Armenian church services, the students are afforded the opportunity to engage with high caliber lay and clergy teachers on matters of faith and church-related topics. As Maral Zobian, a first year participant, remarked: “I was very surprised that it was different from other camps/retreats. It’s unique. The classes are intriguing and it is good that we have time to socialize as well as time to worship. I’m glad I made new friends, and I can’t wait for next summer!”
To be sure, Datev is not a camp, merely a full day of continuous games and sports and other recreational activities. It is a Christian educational program, where students attend classes, three hours in the morning and two in the evening, participate in morning and evening worship services, and enjoy afternoon sports and recreational activities, such as volleyball, soccer, swimming, and soccer, as well as bowling (off-site).
“I absolutely love coming to the Datev institute”, said Margaret Jemian, a 2018 graduate of the Institute. “I have the unique opportunity to learn much about the church… In addition, coming to Datev gives me the chance to meet Armenian kids my age and to make friendships that will last lifetime!” This sort of sentiment is shared by many Datevatsies.
The curriculum of the Institute is designed to be completed in four weeks, one week each summer. The graduates have the option to return for post-graduate classes. All five levels of classes take place concurrently. Each year students participate in about 20 hours of educational sessions.
In addition to the regular classes, there are usually special general sessions at Datev. This year, brainy 11-year old Gregory Musaelian, from St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in NYC, spoke about the existence of God, advancing arguments from ontology, cosmology, quantum mechanics, morality, and Dostoyevsky/Civilization. Smart kid! Dr. Ari Nalbandian, a Datev alumnus, from Sts. Vartanantz Church of Providence, Rhode Island, gave an interactive lecture on Science and Religion, ensued by a lively discussion. And there was a panel discussion on gender identity—panel comprised of Datev instructors—following Der Antranig Baljian’s introduction of the topic.
The weeklong program culminated on Sunday, July 8, with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy (Soorp Badarak) at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The celebrant and the homilist was Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, Pastor Emeritus, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church (Providence, Rhode Island). Following the Soorp Badarak, the Philadelphia Artemis Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) hosted a luncheon, at the conclusion of which diplomas were distributed to the graduates.
This year, the Institute graduated 9 students: Meghrig Arakelian, Shant Asadurian, Katherine Jemian, Margaret Jemian, Megerdich Khederlarian, Nishan Kouyoumjian, Meline Momjian, Nyrie Ovanessian, and Angela Trozzo.
The Instructors and staff were: H.G. Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, Rev. Fr. Antranig Baljian, Rev. Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Rev. Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian, Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Dn. Vahan Kouyoumdjian, MD, Dn. Bedros Kalajian, Dn. James Haddad, Ph.D., Yn. Alice Baljian, R.N., Mrs. Maggie Kouyoumdjian, Ms. Tamar Lakissian, and Ari Nalbandian, MD.
Word of Appreciation
A program of this scope can only be made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Armenian Prelacy, clergy and lay instructors and leaders, parishes, parents, and a number of organizations and individuals. The Institute thanks the instructors for their labor of love, the parents for entrusting their children to the Institute for a week of Christian formation, the supervisors and counselors for their invaluable services.
The Institute extends its appreciation to those parishes that subsidized a portion of the expenses by providing scholarships to church-server participants, and to the following for their generous support and donations: The St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral (NYC), St. Sarkis Armenian Church (Douglaston, new York), the National Association of Ladies’ Guilds (NALG), Ani Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society (Pennsylvania), and Artemis Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society (Pennsylvania), Mr. and Mrs. Ohanes Chamavonian, Gharibian Farmers, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Indzigulyan, Asdghig Kazanjian (Armenian Delight), Dr. and Mrs. Vahan Kouyoumdjian, Taleen Lakissian, Dr. Ari Nalbandian, and Toufayan Bakeries.
A special thanks to the pastor and board of trustees of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Philadelphia for their hospitality.
Datev 2018 Photo Gallery