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Father Vartan D. Joulfayan  

Fr. Vartan was born in Beirut, Lebanon and was baptized Dikran at the St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church. In his teenage years he attended the Mesrobian Armenian Catholic School governed by the dedicated Armenian Catholic vardapets. During the civil war in Lebanon, as a young pilgrim, he journeyed to Jerusalem to be enrolled in the St. James Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate as a jarankavor (inheritor).

The following year he traveled to Armenia and continued his theological studies at the Gevorgian Seminary of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He graduated with honors and along with his classmates he was ordained to the deaconate in February 1986 by the grand sacristan of the Mother See, Archbishop Housig Santourian.After defending his thesis and receiving his diploma in theology and Armenian studies, he was assigned to numerous responsibilities in the monastery of Holy Etchmiadzin by the blessed memory, Vasken I Catholicos of all Armenians.

In 1988 he moved to Canada and held the position of administrative assistant to the late primate, Archbishop Vasken Keshishian. He participated in dialogues with the Assyrian, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican Churches. Deacon Dikran also organized and led the ACYOC Montreal youth chapter. He conducted Bible studies and several religious and social events.

In 1989 he was assigned as the assistant pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Toronto. His duties included the supervision of the church Sunday school, teaching at Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Heritage School and leading the Jr. ACYOC Toronto youth chapter. He greatly contributed to the “Nor Serount” church newsletter and prepared the Sunday bulletins.

Deacon Joulfayan was also invited by the AGBU Zaroukian School to teach religion and Armenian Church history to the six graders. During his three years of service in Toronto, he represented the Canadian Diocese and its Primate, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian at the Canadian Council of Churches and regularly participated in the Anglican Oriental-Orthodox Dialogue. In the meantime he worked closely with the Armenian Refugee Committee welcoming and accommodating refugee families arriving in Toronto. In order to further his education, he also took theological courses at the University of Toronto. Deacon Dikran participated in two humanitarian missions to Armenia organized by the St. Nersess Seminary and the Canadian Diocese in 1992 and 1994.

In 1993 he enrolled in St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. After submitting his thesis on one of the works of Vardan Vardapet Arewelc'i, Deacon Dikran graduated from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary receiving a Master of Arts degree in 1995.

Thereafter he traveled to Armenia and worked in Yerevan for the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) as Assistant Director of the Development Projects. Deacon Joulfayan also lectured at the Gevorgian Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin and organized religious studies for the youth of the Araratian Diocese. During his stay in Armenia he met Gayane Vahradyan and they were married at St. Gayane Church in 1996.

The realization of Deacon Dikran’s dream came to fruition on Fabruary 22, 1998. By the will of God Deacon Joulfayan was ordained to the sacred order of priesthood as Father Vartan by His Eminence Arhchbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. Fr. Vartan was then assigned to the St. John the Baptist Church of Miami. Upon the completion of the new sanctuary, the church was consecrated and renamed St. Mary Armenian Church. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, and Yn. Gayane have since been serving the St. Mary Church of Hollywood, Florida.

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