By Tom Vartebedian
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The Rev. Stephan Baljian was installed as pastor of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley Aug. 25 by His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, vicar general of the Eastern Prelacy, in what proved a homecoming for the young priest.
On hand to witness the celebration were members of his family, including his wife, Yeretskin Alice; his two children, Nishan and Hovhaness; his mother, Yeretskin Cheryl Arpineh; and his sister Nayiri.
His father, the Rev. Archbishop Antranig Baljian, attended to business as usual, celebrating his service at St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown.
“My father’s spirit is with me today,” said the new priest. “My new church is very familiar to me. I’ve had an association with each and every one of the pastors who have preceded me here. In some cases, I’ve attended their ordinations which solidified my ambition to become a priest.”
“As we embark upon a new journey here in Merrimack Valley, may we travel new inroads and meet new challenges together,” he added. “We are grateful to be part of its yet-to-be-written future.”
Bishop Tanielian reached out to the new pastor, who spent the past five years following his ordination at a similarly-named church in Granite City, Ill., after spending his childhood in Indian Orchard. A passion for singing and the organ will be much to his advantage, aside from his deep spiritual values.
“Ever since he was a child, I sensed a religious devotion in his life,” confirmed Bishop Anoushavan. “Patience is a gift and it’s very obvious with this servant of God. Perhaps someday there will be a third generation in his family to enter the priesthood.”
After settling his family in North Andover, Father Baljian celebrates his first service tomorrow and will prepare to greet hundreds of attendees at a church picnic Sept. 8 on the church grounds.