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Vaskenian Theological Academy (also Vazgenian, Vazgenyan, Vazgenian Seminary) is a theological academy of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the Sevan peninsulamarker on the shores of Lake Sevanmarker in Armeniamarker. It operates under direct supervision of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

History

The Vaskenian Theological Academy of Sevan was re-established in 1990 on the picturesque peninsula of Lake Sevan. The Academy was opened during the Pontificate and with the blessings of His Holiness Vasken I, of Blessed Memory, and by the direct initiative of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, who was then the Vicar of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese. As the re-opening of the Academy was encouraged and approved by His Holiness Vasken I, it was decided in 1994 by His Holiness Karekin I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenian of blessed memory, the Academy should be renamed the Vaskenian Theological Academy in honor of His Holiness, Vasken I.

During the first stages of its existence the Academy was housed in the ancillary building that was constructed in 1897 by the Catholicos of All Armenians, Mkrtich Khrimian (1892-1907) as a building of the Seminary. However, it was never used for that purpose. In the early 1990’s it served both as classrooms and a dormitory building for the students of the Seminary, and a portion of the building was made into a dining room. As the seminary grew, the Seminary property was extended and a stone building was added, to be used as classroom. The original building was converted to a complete dormitory.In addition to the two buildings, the complex encompasses two Churches that are on the Sevan peninsula adjacent to the seminary. These are the St. Karapet and St. Arakelots Churches - and they serve as the heart of the Sevan Seminary, filled with the murmurs of prayers and the musical sounds of Armenian hymns (sharakan) after over half a century of silence. They have regained their former importance and have taken the newly-built Seminary under their protection.

During the course of its history the Vaskenian Seminary which was always headed and supervised by the Catholicos, has had several Deans. Each of them has left their mark on the Seminary. Reverend Father Khoren Martirossian (1990-1991), Sasoun Vardanian (1992-1995), Reverend Father Archimandrite Arakel Karamian (now Archbishop) (1995-1996), Reverend Father Minas Martirossian (1996-2000), Reverend Father Bagrat Galstanian (now Archbishop) (2000-2003) and Reverend Father Garegin Haroutjunnian (2003-2004) Currently, the Dean of the Seminary is Reverend Father Mkrtich Proshian.

Since its foundation the program and schedule of the Seminary has undergone various changes and improvements and gradually it emerged with a clear direction, clarifying the main objectives of the Seminary. Many wonderful traditions have been founded at the Vaskenian Seminary, among them are events and programs held during various feasts and pre-holiday evenings. The Seminary has also hosted several symposiums and will continue to do so in the future.

The Vaskenian Seminary has established itself as the crown of Lake Sevan, and each year hundreds of pilgrims make the arduous task of climbing the stairs to see her churches, always rewarded with site of the beauty of the church and a view of the magnificent lake.

Programs

The Seminary has recently undergone some program changes. To accommodate the increased student population, it has been decided that the students will complete their 4th, 5th, and 6th year of education at the Gevorkian Theological Seminarymarker at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. In previous years, students only attended their 6th year of study at the Gevorkian Seminary. In addition to allowing a larger student population, this also strengthens the bonds within the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, by allowing the students a longer period of time to study together.The basic curriculum of the seminary is the study of; theology, the Holy Church Fathers, literature, history, art, new and old testament, patristics, liturgics and traditions of the Armenian Church.A newly added dimension of student life is the gym, giving the students the opportunity to ensure a healthy body for a healthy soul, which is also of utmost importance as the climate of Sevan is not suitable for those who are not fit and healthy.

Each year the students are expected to create a vast array of writing works. It has become a tradition to compile these works into an annual yearbook or catalog of work, for archival and historical purposes.

In 2005, the seminary started a new special program which was the translation of important works. Students with higher translation skills try to work together on major works, to translate them into English and Russian. After the works are translated, they are edited and prepared for publication

The most recent special program started at the seminary was the introduction of Green Theology. As newer discipline among religious educational institutions, Green Theology is a pioneering method of addressing the ecological issues which face today’s society.

Buildings

The Vaskenian Academy of Lake Sevanmarker is situated on the peninsula of Sevan. The original seminary consisted of an ancillary building that was constructed in 1897 by the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Mkrtich Khrimian (1892-1907). However, it was never used for that purpose. In the early 1990’s it served both as classrooms and a dormitory building for the students of the Seminary, and a portion of the building was made into a dining room. As the seminary grew, the Seminary property was extended and a stone building was added, to be used as classrooms. The original building was converted to a dormitory. A dining hall was constructed between the two buildings.In 2004, a newly constructed building was opened. The capacity of the seminary was increased with the addition of a new dormitory due to the sponsorship of Mr. and Mrs. Garnik and Ani Yacoubyan of Syria and Canada. The seminary can now house 80 students, in addition to the 150 students at the Gevorkian Seminary. Study areas, offices and efficient student bedrooms provide a welcoming environment for learning. The new dormitories were furnished through the endowment fund of Mr. and Mrs. Noubar and Anita Jessourian. The library was also furnished due to the sponsorship of brothers Sarkis and Avetis Demerjian of Lebanon.The seminary consists of two buildings, academic and dormitory. There is a smaller building connecting the two that served as the old dining hall. Above the seminary at the top of the hill is a pair of churches, the St. Karapet and the Church of the Holy Apostles, which are depicted in numerous works of art, both modern and classic in scenes of Lake Sevan.

Within the academic building there are an auditorium, 5 lecture halls, a library and offices.

Churches

The St. Garabet and the Church of the Holy Apostles are used by the students as well as the nearby residents of the town of Sevan. In addition to these two ancient churches, a small chapel has been built within the complex walls of the seminary. The St. James chapel has been built to allow for services to be conducted during times of inclement weather. It has been consecrated at the end of 2005.The St. Garabet and the Church of the Holy Apostles are frequented often by visitors to Lake Sevan. It is viewed as a pilgrimage to climb the long flight of stairs to the top where the visitors are greeted with two beautiful churches and a magnificent view of Lake Sevanmarker.

Gallery

File:Vaskenian Theological Academy in Sevan.jpgFile:The Vaskenian Seminary in Sevan from the medieval chapel.jpg|The Vaskenian Seminary on the Sevan Peninsula from the medieval chapel of Sevanavank.File:St. Hakob Church of Sevan.jpg|Surp Hagop (Saint James) Chapel within the zcademy complex

References

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