A good friend, and member of our local North Colonie Clergy Group, Father śp. Garen Gdanian who had served St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, New York has reposed in the Lord. May his memory be eternal. May God enlighten Der Garen’s soul and bring peace and comfort to Yn. Zabel and family.
Latham – Father Garen Gdanian, 88, passed peacefully on Thursday, June 27, 2013, surrounded by his loving family. He was the second child of the late Kevork and Siranoosh (Tavookjian) Gdanian.
Father Garen Gdanian was born on February 1, 1925 in Aleppo, Syria. His baptismal name was Sarkis. He attended local Armenian schools; first, the Nersessian School, then Zavarian, and later Gertaisratz School.
At the age of 13, he entered the Armenian Seminary of Jerusalem and studied there six full years. In 1944, he returned to Aleppo and taught in the Zavarian Armenian School for one year. From 1945 to 1947, he studied at the Armenian Theological Seminary of Antelias, Lebanon.
In the year 1947, Father Garen came to the United States as a student upon the invitation of then Primate, Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan. He studied at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA, where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1950. He continued his studies one more year by attending the Harvard Divinity School.
Father Garen was ordained a deacon in January of 1948 and was assigned to Lowell Armenian Church as Deacon-in-Charge. On December 19, 1948, Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan ordained him as a priest at St. Vartanantz Church of Lowell, MA, giving him the priestly name ‘Garen.’ Father Garen served this parish nine full years as its pastor.
It was at this parish that Father Garen met his soul mate, Zabelle. In 1952, Father Garen married the former Zabelle Kludjian and together they had three children.
In September of 1957, Father Garen became pastor of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in New York City. Archbishop Mampre Calfaian, who was the Primate at that time, made the change in assignment. In 1964, he was given permission to wear a pectoral cross. Father Garen stayed in this second parish for 13 years, until 1970.
Father Garen was elected Pastor of St. Peter Armenian Church of Troy, NY and began serving this community in September 1970. The parish was building a new church sanctuary in Watervliet and in two months’ time the church community moved from Troy to Watervliet. Father Garen faithfully served this third parish for 19 years. Following his retirement in September 1989, Father Garen continued to serve the St. Peter parish and community as Pastor Emeritus up until the time of his death.
In 1977, Father Garen received his floral Pilonium and in 1984 he was elevated to the rank of Avak Kahana or Arch Priest. He served on the Diocesan Council from 1971-1975. The St. Peter Parish and Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America honored and celebrated his milestones of ordination to the priesthood in 1973 (twenty-five years), 1988 (forty years), 1998 (fifty years), and 2009 (sixty years).
Father Garen continued his studies by joining various workshops and seminars and by attending courses at the University of New York at Albany and Siena College in Loudonville, NY. He has been a member of the Watervliet Clergy and Capital Area Clergy Support Group.
He has also published several inspirational books based on his sermons and life experiences.
Although retired, Father Garen always helped out by filling in as a priest when needed in the Diocese, including the nearby Springfield and Binghamton parishes. He also travelled to serve parish communities in Texas, Ohio and Florida, as well as two preaching missions in Armenia.
Father Garen was a well-loved, kind, gentle and intelligent man. His passion for his church and for the people he served never ceased to be a second priority. His family was always number one. As a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he filled his family’s lives with knowledge and joy that will stay with them for a lifetime. As an important figure in the Capital District community and throughout the Eastern Diocese, he will be dearly missed. His accomplishments not only lie within his priesthood, but within the friendships he developed and kept over the years.
Father Garen is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Zabelle (Kludjian) and his three children; daughter Arpy Gdanian Ernest, son Kyn (Maureen), daughter Garyn Ahearn (Brian), six grandchildren: Katrina Ernest Mayba (Christopher), Lucy Gdanian Stoyles (Gregory), Naomi Gdanian, Anna Gdanian, Josiah Gdanian (Chelsea) and Gregory Gdanian. He also has two great-grandchildren. Additionally, he leaves behind several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was pre-deceased by two brothers and one sister.
The funeral service, which includes the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the final anointing of Father Garen, will take place on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 11 o’clock AM in St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church, Watervliet. Interment will follow in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, NY.
Relatives, friends, clergy and parishioners are invited and may also visit with Father Garen’s family on Monday from 3 until 7 PM in St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church, Watervliet. A wake service will take place, in the church, on Monday evening at 6:30 PM.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church, Building Fund, P.O. Box 196, Watervliet, NY 12189.
Read more, including Dar Garen’s essay “What is Man” at the website of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.