Reverend Father Karekin Kasparian has been associated with what is now the St. Gregory parish since its inception in the early 1970s. While working as Dean of St. Nersess Seminary in 1971, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian assigned him as part-time deacon in Charge of Westchester Armenian community. He worked with a handful of local families as well as the St. Nersess Seminarians to start the mission parish. Over forty years later the parish has flourished into a thriving community with a beautiful and growing church complex with over 250 members.
He received his graduate education in Cambridge, earning Master degrees from the Episcopal Theological Seminary and Harvard University. His Master’s dissertation from Harvard in the field of psychology and pastoral counseling is entitled “Confession in the light of Psychotherapy.”
He supplemented his academic studies with practical training at Worcester State and Boston City Hospitals as Assistant Chaplain in a program called Clinical Pastoral Education (C.P.E.). He was just shy of completing his doctoral program at Boston University when he was invited to begin the next phase of his life in Evanston, Illinois.
The institution he is most closely associated with, aside from St. Gregory, is St. Nersess Seminary. He had the distinct privilege to help found the seminary in Evanston while serving under the direction of his beloved Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan. He was instrumental in the development of both summer study and deacon’s training programs, which are still offered today and have served thousands of Armenian youth in this country.
He has held numerous roles at St. Nersess Seminary, including Dean, Vocational Director, Administrator, Recruiter, Instructor, and now a member of Board of Directors. Most recently he has taken on the role of liturgical music coordinator and instructor of Armenian language.
He initiated the Mission Programs for parishes without pastors, and educational pilgrimage programs for ACYOA Armenian Studies Program (ASP) under the sponsorship of Diocese. The intent of ASP was to introduce young Armenian-Americans to their spiritual heritage and cultural legacy through month long educational pilgrimages.
Deacon Hovhannes was ordained a priest by His Eminence Archbishop Torkom Manoogian May 18-19, 1974 and was renamed Father Karekin after Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants, under whom he studied in Antelias.
The late Archbishop Torkom Manoogian and the late Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan were mentors of Der Karekin in his pastoral and liturgical growth. His administrative and educational involvement on the Diocesan level include: a member of the Central Council of the Association of Armenian Church Choirs of America; member of the Armenian Schools’ Educational Council; Executive Secretary of the ACYOA and the member of Diocesan Council for two terms.
Service rendered to His Holiness Vasken, Catholicos of All Armenians include; interpreter during the Catholicos’ visit to the USA in 1968, “special assistant” in Etchmiadzin in 1969, producer of the videotape “Mission of Mercy” (the earthquake story) in 1989, and chairman of the HAVAD Committee of Eastern Diocese (assisting the Mother See in its mission of outreach to our people in the Homeland). In appreciation of his services, Catholicos Vasken bestowed upon him the privilege of wearing a pectoral cross in 1977.
The Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian granted Der Karekin the right to wear “dsaghgya pilon” in 1991 and “Avak Kahana” Archpriest designation in 1994. The ACYOA honored Der Karekin in 2007 with an award for his “passionate leadership, exemplary service and dedicated efforts on behalf of the youth of the Armenian Church.’
Der Karekin has a passion for travel to the homeland. He has personally led over dozen trips to Armenia over years, initially focused on the youth, and more recently for parishioners and friends including a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, contributing the growth of both their faith and cultural awareness of participants.
Der Karekin has always taken a special interest in nurturing and teaching young clergymen to help ensure the future of our church in the United States. He was asked by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian to develop a new program, “Clergy Support Ministry” and to organize regional clergy retreats. He also accepted the additional responsibility of training intern priests, and has enjoyed the opportunity to teach and mentor six clergymen at St. Gregory.
Having shepherded the tremendous growth of this parish over forty years is his most treasured accomplishment. At the time of its inception it would have been impossible to imagine how his parish would flourish, from its humble beginnings in seven borrowed facilities to the beautiful traditional church complex we now enjoy.
Der Karekin has ministered to our parishioners in the performance of weddings, baptism, funerals, ordinations, counseling, home and grave blessings, and in countless other ways. He has championed our church organizations, attending meetings and providing suggestions, expertise and support along the way. He has made children and youth a priority through the time invested with the Armenian and Sunday Schools and the ACYOA.