BILLERICA, Mass. — The Very Rev. Ghevont Samoorian, of Billerica, died on January 20, 2013. He was 78.
Born in Cambridge, on April 17, 1934, to Melkon and Mary Samoorian, Samoorian was baptized Diran. He attended public school in Arlington and graduated from Lexington High School. Even though he grew up very much an American, his Armenian ethos was breathed into his soul by his late grandmother who sang Armenian hymns to him while he was a young boy. He received numerous art awards; won a scholarship in 1951 to study mural painting in Verona, Italy, and attended the Boston
Museum School of Fine Arts. When he turned 16, an awareness of his Armenian heritage emerged, and he began attending the Holy Trinity and then the St. James Churches in Boston and Water town,
He majored in history and government at Boston University. From 1954 to 1956 he served in the US Army’s military intelligence operation where he was a special assistant to a two-star general. He received an honorable discharge in 1956. He returned to Boston University, where he studied marketing, advertising and graphic arts. While he resumed his studies, he also became further acquainted with Armenian organizations again and he rejoined the ACYOA and the AYF. It was in the late 1950s that he began expressing an interest in the priesthood. He began working with Fr. Papken Maksoudian at Holy Trinity Church in Boston [later Cambridge]and even did some writing, editing and design work for the church. Maksoudian asked him to paint a painting for the side altars of the newly- consecrated church  and to this day, the painting of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob hangs in the sanctuary. In 1961, he decided to become a priest. The Knights of Vartan became his sponsor and he left for the Holy City of Jerusalem in 1962 to begin his studies.
In 1962, Samoorian entered the Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The late Patriarch Elishe quickly utilized his vast talents by commissioning him to restore the priceless artwork of and treasures of the monastery. He was also called upon to design the mosaic of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which hangs in the
Tomb of the Holy Sepluchre. It was here that he was discovered by the world-renowned Armenian architect and artist Edouard Utujian and he was asked by him to become a fellow at the highly acclaimed art school at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Because Samoorian was passionately in love with the monastery and his desire to become a monastic of the Armenian Church, he declined. He continued his studies at the monastery under the great Armenologist Archbishop Norayr Bogharian and Armenian teacher par excellence, Manual Keuseyan. It was under the latter’s tutelage that he became a master of the Armenian language and idiom. Soon thereafter in 1964, Samoorian was ordained a deacon by Patriarch Elishe and now known as Diratsou Diran.
During the Six-Day War in 1967, Fr. Ghevont was personally responsible for the negotiated release of 12 young boys from various Israeli prisons and concentration camps in the West Bank.
He returned to America in 1968 and attended St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Scarsdale, NY. During his tenure at Sts. Vartanantz, he was instrumental in acquiring 16 acres in nearby Chelmsford, Mass. in order to build a new church.
He was elevated to rank of Vartabed of the Armenian Church by Archbishop Manoogian in 1973. As its new pastor, Samoorian worked tirelessly. By 1976, he had built the most vibrant ACYOA in the diocese and laid host to its ACYOA Sports Weekend and Convention. He was given the title Dzarakouyn Vartabed of the Armenian Church by Patriarch Elishe of Jerusalem in 1978. In the years following the consecration, Fr. Ghevont continued to beautify the church complex. He served as Sts. Vartanantz’s pastor from 1969 to 1994.
He also served as editor in chief of Avarayr periodical of the Knights of Vartan.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, he raised millions of dollars for the Diocese of the Armenian Church. In 1992, he was appointed the Vicar General of the New England Regional Jurisdiction by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church.
In 1994, he was asked by Barsamian to become pastor of Ss. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence, RI. After his term there, he visited many parishes and mesmerized thousands of the faithful with his masterful sermons. In 2000, with a cadre of young savants, he founded the Armenian Orthodox Theological Research Institute, a theological consortium created to research and communicate the magnificence of the Armenian Orthodox Tradition. It was this vehicle that he believed would breath “esprit de corps” back into the Armenian
Church. This institute published two books – the DOMAR, the liturgical calendar of the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Burial Rites. According to the Armenian Orthodox Church [forthcoming]. In addition, he crafted many masterful theological and Armenological articles, short stories and vignettes that will soon be published by a new Institute in his memory.
While visiting parishes in 2009, he suffered a terrible car accident and injured his back. He ended up in a wheel chair and fought sickness for the next two years.
He was the brother of Arlene Depolito and the late Mihran Samoorian. He leaves his nieces and nephews Patrick, Mark and Sandra Depolito, Stephanie Befumo, Michael Samoorian and Susan Guarino, as well as his cousin Jerry
Seymourian, his sister-in-law Marion Samoorian and his dear friend Kathy Geyer.
Visiting hours were at Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church, 180 Old Westford Road, Chelmsford (Rte. 3, Exit 32) on Thursday, 4 – 8 p.m. Funeral service was held at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cambridge on Friday, January 25, at 10 a.m. Interment followed at Westview Cemetery, Lexington. Arrangements were by Aram Bedrosian Funeral Home.