On December 26, the Feast day of St. Stephen the Proto-Deacon and First Martyr of the Church was commemorated in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. According to established tradition, an ordination of deacons was offered in the Mother Cathedral. With the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, 29 recent graduates of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary and two servants of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese and the Diocese of Aragatsotn, were ordained to the diaconate during the celebration of Divine Liturgy by His Grace Bishop Moushegh Babayan.
At the conclusion of the ordination service, the ordinate Bishop congratulated the newly ordained, as well as all the Deacons of the Mother See on the occasion of the Feast. Reflecting on the mystery of the day His Grace stated in part: “Today 31 Acolytes knelt before the Holy Altar of Descent and were led to the Holy Altar to become servants of the Church according to the words of the Lord, to preach the Word of God, and to serve on the Holy Altar. We raise our prayers to God and ask that those graces which were given to the 31 deacons accompany them through out their lives, and according to the will of God, that they become worthy to serve as priests. Our hope is that they can serve at the Holy Altar to transform the body and blood of the Lord with the blessings of the Lord, and to distribute it among faithful who have raised their voices in prayer for them”.
Bishop Moushegh also encouraged the newly ordained deacons to carry on the example of St. Stephen in their spiritual life, thoroughly dedicating themselves to the Holy Apostolic Church and to the service of Her faithful Nation. On the occasion of the Feast, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, extended his Pontifical blessings and fatherly message to all the Deacons of the Mother See. Congratulating the Deacons on the occasion of the Feast of St. Stephen the Protodeacon, the Armenian Pontiff reflected on the image of St. Stephen, stating that today the best example of a loyal servant is presented in the face of St. Stephen, who gave his life and bravely acted in defense of Christ’s Gospel and Doctrine, testifying to the truth of Christ’s life through his words and without hesitation, martyred his life.
“They are people who create the glory of the Church of Christ, becoming worthy of the mercy of the Lord. We can wear the crown of martyrdom through our labor and dedication, through our zealous and devoted activities, and through our behavior and merits; the Church needs such loyal people”, His Holiness stated in part. His Holiness expressed his wish that the young deacons be inspired by the example of the Protodeacon in the path of their spiritual mission and be worthy as individuals in the Church – always appreciated, loved and honored by the people. Once more extending his blessings to the Deacons, the Catholicos of All Armenians expressed his joy that the Deacons of the Mother See, through their noble acts as well as knowledge and service, truly glorify the name of the Armenian Church and add to the respect and love of the nation towards the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church.
Today there are 136 deacons in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, 86 of which are members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, and 50 studying in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary.