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The Seminary

The Very Rev. Father Krikor Chiftjian is one of the many graduates of the Theological Seminary of the Catholicossate of Cilicia.  As an important institution in our community, the Seminary contributes to our religion and culture by being a source for our community leaders and citizens.  To learn more about the Seminary, select a topic from the right, or, scroll through the pages using the back and next buttons at the top.

The Seminary

The Eastern and Western Prelacies of the United States of American and the Vicarage of Canada have designated teh second week of October to commemorate Seminary Day.  This coincides with the opening of the new academic year of the Zarehian Seminary.

The Pontiffs of the Holy See have accurately described the Seminary as the See's "heart".  It is in the Seminary where seminarians are imbued with church history, rituals, and doctrines as well as the treasures of Armenian culture.  It is in the Seminary where paper is transformed into books, reeds into pencils, the temporal into the spiritual. 

From there come those gifted clergymen and intellectuals who return to serve their church and people more learned, more devoted, for the glorification of the Armenian Church and nation.

Seminary Day will be observed every year in October in appreciation of the establishment of this great institution of learning.  For decades, the Seminary has been the champion for the well being and protection of our people.  The Seminary has been the means of transmitting our legacy and enriching our people with Christian teachings and national pride.

We must continue to support the Seminary, as we have in the past, so that it will continue to prepare the leaders of our church and nation.


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Founding & 70 Years of Service

Following the amssacres in Adana (1909) and the Genocide (1915), the remnants of Cilician Armenians were deported from their homeland for a final time and found refuge in Syria and Lebanon.  In December 1921, Catholicos Sahag II was also forced to leave Sis, the Catholicosal Seat, and for nine years lived a life of exile in Syria and Lebanon.


In September 1930, Catholicos Sahag established the Seat of the See in Antelias, Lebanon, the former site of a Near East Relief orphanage.  One month later, on October 13, 1930, the Seminary was opened through the combined efforts of Catholicos Sahag, coadjutor Catholicos Papken, and Archbishop Shahe Kasparian.

In nearly 70 years, more than 1,000 Armenian young students have passed through the Seminary.  Some completed the entire course of study; others attended for a certain number of years.


In this time, the Seminary has produced:

  • 4 Catholicoi

  • 30 Archbishops and Bishops

  • 73 Celibate Priests

  • More than 120 married priests

  • More than 200 teachers, school principals, and choir-masters

Hundreds of students who have studied at the Seminary have chosen to follow other horizons, but they have utilized the religious and cultural education they received at the Seminary in various ways for the benefit of our communities.  Therefore, the Seminary has been and remains to be a vital resource for our church and nation.


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Academic Curriculum

The academic curriculum of the Seminary is largely based on Religious and Armenian studies and divided into undergraduate and graduate levels.

The five year undergraduate program includes:

  1. Biblical, liturgical, eglesiastical and ethics courses.

  2. Languages: Armenian (classical and modern), Arabic, English, and French.

  3. History and Geography (General and National).

  4. Arts (Music, Armenian Church Music and Painting).

  5. Sciences and Mathematics.

The four year graduate program includes:

  1. Biblical studies (Introduction to Old and New Testaments, Interpretation of the Gospels and History of Biblical times).

  2. Theology (Dogmatic, Pastoral and Patrology).

  3. History (of the Christian Church, The Armenian Church, The Armenian Pople, Armenian Culture, and Religions).

  4. Philosophy (History of Philosophy, Logic, Psychology, Education, and Sociology).

  5. Literature (Armenian Classical Literature, Modern Armenian Literature, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory).

  6. Laws (Church Canon and National Constitution).

  7. Languages (Bibilical Greek and Hebrew, Arabic, English, and French).

In addition, the Seminary maintains a special one or two year education program for the training of candidates for married priesthood.


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Financial Situation

The Seminary takes a major part of the Catholicate's annual budget.  The annual expense for 65 seminarians, including education, boarding, medical, etc, is now $250,000 (US).  This amount would be much higher were it not for the fact that many of the teachers are members of the Cilician Brotherhood.

The annual cost per Seminarian is $4,000 (US), which is now partly financed by:

  1. Individual friends who underwrite one or two students.

  2. Income from the Seminary Endowment Fund.

  3. Aid from Ecumenic sources.

  4. General Donations.

Because of the continued economic difficulties in Lebanon, the Seminary's financial situation is becoming more and more difficult with each passing year.  The resources of the Catholicossate are not adequate to cover the Seminary's annual budget.  It is the obligation of our various dioceses to support the Seminary because it is this institution which produces the needed clergymen and lay teachers for our dioceses.

Therefore, we ask the members of the community in the Eastern and Western Prelacies, the Vicarage of Canada, individual donors, and graduates of the Seminary to contribute a portion of their earnings to the Seminary, this venerable institution, that has great significance in the life of our church and community.


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*Information about the Seminary found in this section is from "The Theological Seminary of the Catholicossate of Cilicia", a    publication of the Eastern and Western Prelacies and Canadian Vicarage of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, 1999.


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