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Inspiring Young Alumni: Catching up with Haig Chahinian ’13

After graduating from St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) in 2013, Haig Chahinian completed a degree in international relations and a double minor in French language and history in 2018. He then answered the call to priesthood, entering the Armenian Catholic Seminary.

Read on to learn more about this inspiring young alumnus.

SMCS Inspiring Young Alumnus Haig Chahinian getting ordained a sub-diaconate

Please provide a brief update on your professional life.

After completing my philosophy and theology studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome after nearly six years, I moved back to Toronto in the summer of 2023. As an Armenian Catholic, priests are allowed to marry and have a family; in September 2023, I married my wife Marine, whom I met in our Armenian Church in Rome during my studies. The same month, I began my master’s of theology and licentiate of sacred theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto. In November 2023, I was ordained Sub-Deacon. As I complete my master’s degree, I work concurrently as a senior strategy manager, while waiting for my priestly ordination (God willing, later this year) and continuing to serve at our St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Parish of Toronto.

I firmly believe that juggling my pastoral life, a new marriage, a full-time job, and a full-time master’s is only possible with the blessing and strength of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. As the first Armenian Catholic Seminarian from Canada, the journey has been full of joy and ambiguity, and I remain confident that our Lord will continue to open the right doors at the right moments on the path to serving our faithful here in Toronto.

SMCS Inspiring Young Alumnus Haig Chahinian

How would you describe your time at the school?

As a first-generation Canadian, I had the opportunity to be the first in our family to attend St. Mike’s, and it has remained one of the greatest blessings of my life. From varsity hockey on the Double Blues to Student Government, Jazz Ensemble, Club Franco-Spagnol, Peer Tutoring, Leadership Camp, and everything in between. Despite having graduated over a decade ago, the friendships that I made continue to flourish to this day: the brotherhood lives on. My brothers Gabriel ’15, and Raphael ’22 also had the opportunity to graduate a St. Michael’s Man, and for that, all three of us are forever grateful to our parents, Gary and Maral.

How did SMCS prepare you for and propel you into life?

Reflecting on my time at SMCS, I realize its profound impact on shaping my readiness for life’s challenges. Each moment spent within its walls was a lesson in resourcefulness and resilience. Attending SMCS was not merely about academics; it was about embracing a holistic approach to personal development. Balancing rigorous academics, participating in athletics and the arts, contributing to the community, and nurturing our faith endowed me with a well-rounded skill set and purpose. These experiences became integral parts of my identity, equipping me with the tools and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of life beyond the school gates. SMCS was not just a school; it was a launching pad for personal growth and success.

How do you live out the Basilian motto of Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge?

Living out the Basilian motto of “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge” has been a guiding principle in my life, shaping my interactions with others, my personal conduct, and my pursuit of lifelong learning. Understanding goodness as extending kindness and empathy towards others has led me to prioritize compassion and service in my relationships and community involvement. Discipline, in the context of self-mastery and accountability, has instilled in me the importance of setting high standards for myself and adhering to them with dedication and perseverance. And knowledge, as both acquired and shared, underscores my commitment to continuous learning and the dissemination of knowledge for the betterment of society. In essence, living out this motto entails embodying goodness in my actions towards others, maintaining discipline in my personal endeavors, and tirelessly seeking and imparting knowledge to contribute positively to the world around me.

Briefly describe what you are doing now.

Alongside my studies, I work as a senior strategy manager (as my background prior to entering the seminary was in management consulting). Simultaneously, my pastoral life finds me at our Parish (St. Gregory, the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church of Toronto) several days a week for various pastoral services. I await my priestly ordination (God willing, later this year), which will be coordinated with our Eparch, His Excellency Bishop Mikael Mouradian.

SMCS Inspiring Young Alumnus Haig Chahinian reflecting with students

How do you stay connected to SMCS within your community or industry?

Regrettably, I must admit that I haven’t been the most exemplary in staying connected with the entire SMCS community. Circumstances led me to reside outside the continent for most of the decade following my graduation, posing challenges in maintaining physical ties with the community. However, despite geographical distance, I’ve managed to remain closely connected with my dear friends from our cohort, ensuring that I’m never completely isolated. I urge all my fellow brothers from the SMCS community to keep the school and its community in their prayers consistently. Let us beseech Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. Michael the Archangel to watch over our alma mater while entrusting our community leaders with the courage to uphold the truths inherent in our Catholic faith, making them central to our educational priorities.

SMCS Inspiring Young Alumnus Haig Chahinian with his wife Marine

Describe how you are being the best for the world through your work and education.

As a future married priest in the Armenian Catholic Church, I am deeply committed to serving others and striving to be the best for the world through my work and education. My vocation entails a profound dedication to promoting love, compassion, and understanding within communities, fostering a sense of unity and empathy among individuals within my family, and others. Through rigorous theological education and pastoral training, I am equipping myself with the knowledge, skills, and spiritual insights necessary to support and guide others on their faith journeys.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

I have always been passionate about empowering others to be the best version of themselves, for themselves. However, the growth I continue to experience in my spiritual journey in preparation for the priesthood elevated that passion to empowering others to be the best version of themselves, for Jesus Christ. This is why, for the last several years, I have adapted 1 Peter 3:15 as the compass in my life.

What advice do you have for current students?

My brothers in Christ and in St. Michael, approach every moment, every class, every game, every project, every performance, every debate with a sense of gratitude. Ask yourself, “How can I make today at SMCS a part of my life forever?” It may seem like a grand question, but every ounce of effort you put into your time at St. Michael’s will form you into the person you will be in your university studies and beyond. The habits you set in the yellow brick walls will be the habits that stay with you forever. Enjoy the ride, contribute, and give thanks to God and your families for the opportunity to wear the crest on your heart that reads Doce Me Bonitatem et Disciplinam et Scientiam.

We are excited to feature Haig Chahinian as one of our inspiring young alumni. More inspiring young alumni can be found on the featured wall across from the main office.

Related links:

SMCS Alumni

Inspiring Young Alumni

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