NEW BRITAIN – Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection Deacon Michael Sabounjian took his first steps as the church’s new Father after being ordained in a ceremony steeped in history by Bishop Daniel Findikyan Saturday.
Sabounjian was led on his knees by a sponsoring priest as he approached his ordination ceremony and up to the church altar before being anointed by the bishop.
As part of the ceremony, Sabounjian accepted a new Armenian name, Haroutiun Sabounjian, meaning “Resurrection” in English.
Father Krikor Sabounjian, Haroutiun’s father, serves as a priest with the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham, Mass., and was present for his son’s ceremony.
“It was an extremely surreal experience for me,” said Krikor. “Even through the rehearsal yesterday, it didn’t hit me that this was happening. It got a little bit real last night. Then today, it just exploded when the bishop anointed him and gave his name. I just lost it. It’s such a joy and a blessing not only having him follow in my footsteps but to far exceed me.”
Krikor noted Haroutiun’s name was meaningful because it was the name of one of Krikor's passed best friends along with its literal meaning, among others.
Bishop Findikyan said that ordaining Haroutiun was a pleasure, having known his family for many years.
“My role as the bishop is to make sure we have leadership, shepherding and care within our church communities,” said Findikyan, also primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, which is based in New York and leads around 60 churches from Texas to the east coast.
Haroutiun served as a deacon with Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection beginning in March before finally being ordained.
“Post undergraduate studies leads (Haroutiun) to seminary which is a three-year program studying a host of subjects including theology and church history and scriptures,” said Dean Father Mardiros Chevian of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. “It also involves spending some time overseas in an Armenian monastery abroad. Haroutiun has spent time in Jerusalem as well as Armenia. After completing that program, which leads to a masters of divinity degree, he went on and did a more than one year internship at our parish in Providence, Rhode island. Upon completion of the internship, he was appointed a deacon in charge of this community.”
In speech notes provided to the Herald by Parish Council Chairman of the Holy Resurrection Armenian Church Guy Simonian, he recognized visiting dignitaries, family of Haroutiun and church membership.
“In the midst of last year’s pandemic, our future was uncertain and all activities, including service attendance, were limited or nonexistent. I then heard a very timely sermon from Deacon Mathew Cannata preaching the biblical story of Jesus walking on the water towards the boat in the turbulent sea of Capernaum,” wrote Simonian. “During the pandemic, our parishioner volunteers kept our mission going with to-go dinner crews, live streamed services, online Bible studies and social hours. In doing so, they bolstered the financial, psychological and spiritual health of our parish. It was as if Jesus was walking towards us and about to step into our boat telling us ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’”
Simonian noted that the church had seen what Haroutiun could accomplish as a deacon and looked forward to seeing him as a priest.
When asked for a comment, Sabounjian declined stating that his family and friends said everything that needed to be said.