NEW BRITAIN – A local worship community is welcoming a deacon into the priesthood this weekend.
The Armenian Church of Holy Resurrection at 1910 Stanley St. will celebrate the sacred sacrament of ordination this Saturday at 10 a.m. during the Divine Liturgy.
Rev. Deacon Michael Sabounjian will be anointed and ordained by Primate of the Armenian Church’s Eastern Diocese, Bishop Daniel Findikyan.
A native of the Holy Translators Parish in Framingham, Mass., Sabounjian, 27, is a graduate of Boston College and St. Nersess Seminary. He and his wife Lucine live in Rocky Hill.
“I find myself approaching the day of my ordination with overwhelming feelings of gratitude and humility,” Dn. Michael said during a recent interview with the Eastern Diocese. “I ask everyone for their prayers, that Christ might embolden me in my faith, strengthen me in my perseverance, and guide me in my ministry. It is clear to me that no success in my pastorate will come as a result of my own efforts, but rather from each member of our parish coming together in Christ’s self-sacrificial love. In that spirit, I pray that the Holy Spirit might direct all that I do in this new chapter of my service within the Body of Christ.”
Sabounjian sat down with the Herald this week to discuss the Blessed Sacrament and the warm welcome he’s received from his new church family.
“I came here in February and it’s been a wonderful experience so far,” he said. “It feels like a family. There’s a real sense of unity among the congregation.”
The ordination will be preceded by a Service of the Calling on Friday evening. At this time, the Bishop will conduct a ritualized interrogation of the Deacon in front of the congregation, who will then be asked to accept him.
Retired Attorney Harry Mazadoorian has been a member of the Church of the Holy Resurrection for 80 years, having been baptized in the original sanctuary on Erwin Place. The church hasn’t hosted an ordainment since departing priest Fr. Kapriel was ordained 16 years ago and Mazadoorian is looking forward to it.
“The service is magnificent,” he said. “Symbolically, historically, visually and spiritually. Much of the language that will be used is the same language used in our church for centuries.”
A digital monitor will show the liturgy translated into Armenian and English, so all in attendance can follow along.
According to Mazadoorian, the Armenian word for ordination is literally translated as “the laying on of hands,” referring to one of the ceremony’s rituals, in which the bishop prays with his hands resting on the head of the individual being ordained.
“I think I speak for the congregation when I say ‘enthusiasm’ is the right word to describe it,” Mazadoorian said of Sabounjian becoming the congregation’s new priest. “Deacon Michael is a second-generation priest and we’re very blessed to have him.”
Sabounjian will be led on his knees into the chancel and up to the altar by Sponsoring priest, his father Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian. His Godfather is Stepan Piligian, one of the church’s founding members.
Following the ordainment, Bishop Daniel will anoint Sabounjian with the holy oil and then bestow upon him a new first name, following church tradition.
“The bishop was one of my instructors so it is very special for him to be the ordaining bishop,” Sabounjian pointed out, adding of his forthcoming name, “I fully trust his selection.”
The church community is hosting an Ordination Banquet immediately following the service at the Tunxis Country Club in Farmington. Sabounjian will then spend 40 days in prayer at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary before he begins his priestly ministry.
In his absence, the church’s head deacon will serve the pastoral duties.
Those unable to join the Service of Calling and Ordination in person are encouraged to tune into the live-stream at bit.ly/achrliveStream
Seating will be limited in the church sanctuary and masks are required at all times.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.