On February 12, as St. Sarkis Church of Carrollton, TX, celebrated its name day during the Divine Liturgy, the parish watched two of its altar servers become ordained as deacons of the Armenian Church.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, who celebrated the badarak, ordained Daron Bolat and Njteh Keleshian as the parish’s two newest deacons.
The Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church, assisted the Primate; the Rev. Fr. Mikael Devejian also was in attendance during the ordination.
The ordination service was part of Archbishop Barsamian’s weekend visit to St. Sarkis Church. The parish celebrated its 26th anniversary while preparing for the start of construction of a new parish complex and sanctuary near its current facilities.
The Primate lauded the sense of faithful leadership that led Daron and Njteh to serve the Armenian Church.
“Daron and Njteh are two outstanding young men who show what it means to be a leader in our church,” said Archbishop Barsamian. “They are dedicated servants and role models for what it means to be an Armenian Christian in the 21st century.”
Daron was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and moved with his family to Washington, DC, when he was two years old. His parents set the example of how to serve the church and community by regularly attending St. Mary Church. His mother Zivart taught Sunday School and served in the parish’s Women’s Guild, while his father Krikor sang in the choir. Both volunteered their time to support various parish events, including the annual St. Mary Bazaar.
The late Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian also played a decisive role in shaping Daron’s service to the Armenian Church, by encouraging him to serve on the altar and become involved with the parish’s ACYOA juniors and seniors groups. Eventually, Daron served as chair St. Mary’s ACYOA seniors and was elected to the ACYOA Central Council. In 2002, he was awarded the ACYOA’s “Gregory Arpajian Award” for displaying leadership in service to the church and Armenian community.
After graduating in 2000 from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in criminal justice, he attended the ACYOA Armenia Service Program (ASP) trip, which became a life-changing experience. After contemplating a career in law, Daron followed his passion of serving the Armenian Church and the ACYOA.
In 2003, he enrolled in St. Nersess Armenian Seminary’s Master of Arts program. In 2005, he graduated from St. Nersess Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with an M.A. in General Theology, focusing on youth ministry. After a yearlong internship at the Eastern Diocese, Daron returned to Washington, where he served as the youth director of St. Mary Church.
In 2011, Daron married Ani Tovar, who also served on the ACYOA Central Council, and moved to Dallas, where he immediately became involved with St. Sarkis Church by serving on the altar and parish council, leading bible study programs, and advising the parish ACYOA chapters.
“Being ordained was truly humbling and moving,” he said, adding he’s working with Fr. Ajamian on developing a community outreach program for the parish. “Having the whole parish stand and say ‘Arjhanee eh’ [“He is worthy”] was overwhelming. I see my ministry as not just serving during badarak and other services, but also in teaching, preaching, and serving the needy.”
Njteh Keleshian was born in California, but lived in Beirut, Lebanon, until he was 11 years old. In 2005, his family moved from Beirut to Dallas and promptly joined the St. Sarkis community when it was under the pastorship of Bishop Haigazoun Najarian, who now serves as the Primate of Australia and New Zealand.
Njeth and his brother immediately started serving on the altar every Sunday; within a year Njteh became one of the youngest participants in St. Nersess Seminary’s summer Deacons Training Program. He attended various St. Nersess summer conferences throughout his teenage years.
In 2016, he joined the Eastern Diocese’s annual youth pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which further inspired his commitment to the church and deepened his Christian faith. That path led him to his ordination as a deacon.
“The ordination to the diaconate felt like the culmination of years of learning about and experiencing our faith,” said Njteh. “It is an immense honor and privilege to serve the wonderful community of St. Sarkis in this way.”