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Alumni: Journey to Priesthood

They heard the call to priesthood and for this pair of St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) alumni, they are working towards answering it.

For Jude Thusiar ’13, his call was first heard when he was in Grade 5 during a school visit from Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain.

“My teacher for some unknown reason selected me to go up and talk to Ronald McDonald,” says Thusiar. “Ronald fed me the answers he wanted me to say while he was asking the questions. I don’t remember most of the questions he asked me to answer, nor the answers that were fed, except for the last one. The last question he asked me was, ‘What do you want to be when you are older?’ The answer he fed me, predictably, was ‘firefighter’. I remember distinctly thinking, ‘No that’s not it’. I said into the microphone, ‘I want to be a priest.’”

SMCS alumnus, Jude Thusiar working towards joining the priesthood
Seminarians for the Archdiocese of Kingston
Photo courtesy of: St. Augustine’s Seminary

Haig Chahinian ’13 grew up in an Armenian Catholic family and served as an altar boy since the age of two. As he entered adulthood, he began to realize he was growing deeper into his faith, but could not determine what role it was to have in his life.

“While going to university full time and working full time at Apple, in 2016 I decided to leave the company to launch my management consultancy,” says Chahinian. “By 2018, the company was really growing in both staff and clientele, but I still felt that something was missing in my life. In July of 2018, I was asked by the Bishop of our Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States and Canada, His Excellency Bishop Mikael Mouradian, to represent Canada in the first-ever Global Armenian Catholic Youth Retreat. It was there I had made my final decision to leave everything behind, and within a matter of weeks I moved to Rome to begin my journey as a seminarian in the Pontifical Armenian College.”

SMCS alumnus, Haig Chahinian working towards joining the priesthood
Haig Chahinian delivers a reading during the Divine Liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Path to the Seminary

After graduating from SMCS, both Chahinian and Thusiar completed university degrees prior to starting their careers and their enrolment in a seminary.

Thusiar graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

“I discovered the Newman House Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s and CCO (Catholic Christian Outreach),” says Thusiar. “Through the chaplain, the missionaries, and the community there, I flourished in my faith. I had four great years at university and accomplished my dream — I became an engineer. In the year following, I worked as an engineer, while following through on discerning properly my call to the priesthood.”

At a ‘Come and See’ at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto, Thusiar was able to see and experience the life of seminarians, including living with, praying, and playing sports with them over a weekend.

SMCS alumnus, Jude Thusiar working towards joining the priesthood
Jude Thusiar serving as assistant master of ceremonies for the Mass of the Installation of Archbishop Michael Mulhall to the Archdiocese of Kingston in May 2019.

“I was attracted by the lives of the seminarians and what they were learning — philosophy and theology,” he says. “After talking over my experience with my spiritual director, I went ahead and applied to the seminary.”

Currently, Thusiar is in year five of a seven-year programme at St. Augustine’s Seminary.

On the other side of the world, Chahinian resides at the Pontificial Armenian College in Rome while he studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He originally attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto for international relations and earned a double minor in French language and history. He graduated in 2018.

“Outside of classes, I volunteer as a journalist for Telepace Armenia, which is the primary media outlet of the Armenian Catholic Church,” he says. “I also a volunteer as a translator for the Canonization Cause of the late Cardinal Gregory Peter XV Aghajanian, who was a key figure in the Second Vatican Council as a Cardinal, as well as the Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church.”

This fall, Chahinian will be entering the final year of his programme which included three years of philosophy followed by three years of theology.

SMCS Influences

Chahinian credits SMCS for teaching him values in life that he carries with him each day.

“Looking back, I believe it was a grace from God to have been so involved in everything from Varsity Hockey, to Student Government, to the Daily Blue, to starting the Club Franco-Spañol, jazz, leadership, and so much more, not even considering the knowledge from inside the classroom,” he says. “That being said, the education and my time at SMCS reinforced the values that my family taught me while seeing the world through the perspective of Christ.”

For Thusiar, it was the support the school provided in helping him pursue his faith outside the comfort of his home.

“The story that most encapsulates this is in Grade 12,” says Thusiar. “My chemistry teacher at the time, Mr. Tessaro, took a break from the usual class that day to make the point that up until now we have been fed the faith and living a faith that has been given to us. An essential part of becoming mature in the faith is making that decision for yourself and putting Christ at the centre of your life. It was that lesson that months later spurred me to go find the Catholic Chaplaincy on campus.”

SMCS alumnus, Haig Chahinian working towards joining the priesthood
Haig Chahinian serving during the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Raphael Bedros XXI Catholicos Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church, in the Armenian Pontifical College in Rome.

Following the completion of their studies, the pair of SMCS alumni will enter the priesthood, answering the call they heard many years ago.

“Upon graduating and beginning my diaconate, it would be a dream-come-true to serve in our St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church in Toronto, while (God willing!) teaching at SMCS in preparation for my priestly ordination!” says Chahinian who will serve as a priest in the Armenian Catholic Church.

“While St. Mike’s first introduced me to the idea of pursuing excellence, my faith deeply instilled it in me. The pursuit of excellence and holiness,” says Thusiar, who will become a diocesan priest for the Archdiocese of Kingston. “My faith helped me to make friends. It was the central part of my friendships and my community. Faith has always been there, informing my decisions and helping me to live my life.”

The alumni humbly ask for your prayers as they continue in their journey to the priesthood.

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