11 March 2014
In this image from 2011, Father Shnork Kasparian, right, is honored on the 50th anniversary of his ordination by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian in St. Louis, Missouri.
(photo: The Armenian Reporter)
Robert Pape serves as major gifts officer in CNEWA’s New York offices.
On 3 March, the CNEWA family lost a most loyal friend and steadfast supporter. Very Rev. Father Shnork Kasparian, a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, passed peacefully into eternal life.
Father Kasparian was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in May 1929. He graduated with the London Chamber of Commerce diploma from the British School. In 1959, he graduated from St. James Seminary in Jerusalem, and was ordained a deacon.
Father Kasparian spoke nine languages. In 1961, he was ordained a celibate priest in Cairo by Archbishop Mampre Siroonian, primate of Egypt. In 1962, he was assigned pastoral duties in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and was elevated to the rank of Vartabed by Archbishop Papken Abadian. In 1963, he was appointed Vicar General of Brazil and Uruguay.
In 1969, he was invited by his Holiness Vazken I, Catholicos of all Armenians, and was assigned as dean of the seminary in Etchmiadzin. In 1979, he was invited by the patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Shnork Kaloostian, as his personal assistant and representative in foreign and ecumenical activities. In 1974, he was elevated to Dzayrakooyn Vartabed.
Father Kasparian served as pastor in Milwaukee, Worcester and Belleville, IL; and Providence, RI. He has also served in Canada.
On 15 December 2010, Father Kasparian was assigned as the visiting pastor of Holy Virgin Mary and Shoghagat Church of Belleville. It was in Belleville where I first met Father Shnork. CNEWA was partnering with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and Caritas Armenia for the building of a civic center to care for children with special needs in Gyumri, Armenia. Father and I spent a cold February day at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. We walked the entire grounds of the shrine. We stopped to talk. We stopped to pray. We stopped to laugh. I wanted to stop and go someplace warm!
I came away from that first meeting knowing that I had met a man of true faith. Although I wasn’t particularly familiar with Armenian Apostolic traditions, I realized the message of East and West is the same. We must look out and care for our sisters and brothers in need.
Father Kasparian’s support of that civic center was vital in getting the project started. In the years to come, countless children with special needs will be cared for and caregivers who have been properly trained because of the prayers and support of this good man.
That initial meeting led to numerous phone calls; we had each other’s cell phone numbers on speed dial. Inspirational emails were exchanged—mostly from him to me. I did have the chance to go back to Belleville and attend Sunday services. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to hear Father Shnork preach. It is an experience I shall always remember.
I will miss my friend. I know he is with our Lord. I pray he keeps an eye out for me until we meet again.