Sargis R. Melqonyan
Key words – Garegin Hovsepyan, Saint Echmiadzin, Gevorgian theological seminary, improvement of the Armenian Church, matenadaran, publishing house, the education of the clergymen.
In our previous article dedicated to the reforming activity of Garegin Hovsepyan we had referred to the programs of the popular scientific periodical of the Holy See and to the one connected with the choice of the priests which, certainly, had vital significance for the improvement of the Armenian Church. But according to Hovsepyan the most significant preconditions for improving the Armenian Church were the science and education. By taking into consideration the above mentioned condition in the present article we have analyzed the programs put forward by him in 1900-1917 in the field of science and education.
At the beginning Garegin Hovsepyan printed his ideas on the given issue in the periodical “Ararat” and put forth the idea that in order to achieve the truth it isn’t necessary to contradict science and religion but they both must be viewed in parallel. While leaving aside the ideological part and passing to the practical one Hovsepyan stated the following three main conditions for the development of science in Mother See: a) the presence of specialists who had undergone scientific preparations,
b)the foundation of fully equipped matenadaran of central Armeniology and theology,
c) the provision of means for the publication of the scientists’ ready works.
Though the above mentioned three points really had crucial significance for the development of the science, nonetheless, Garegin Hovsepyan paid great attention to the educational institutions acting under the control of the Armenian Church. The first of them, where Hovsepyan managed to carry out certain improvements still being an archimandrite, was the diocesan school of Yerevan. After being appointed by the catholicos Mkrtich A. Khrimyan as the surveyor of this school the archimandrite Garegin settled down disputable various issues that were present there by confirming a new system of taking exams.
After conscientiously ruling the diocesan school of Yerevan and settling down the controversy issues there in 1905 Garegin was appointed the surveyor of Gevorgian theological seminary. In 1905-1906 during his years at the office Hovsepyan together with Pedagogical council presented an expanded program of improving the seminary: due to this program he was offering to divide the seminary into two sections, namely, Armeniological and theological ones with their corresponding subjects. Thus, he was establishing in Armenian educational system the model of branch specialization of scientific and educational development that was typical for the German educational system. Besides he was offering to form councils for solving a number of issues in order to avoid the polarization of the seminary. In spite of the fact that the programs put forward by Hovsepyan were rather logical, nonetheless, they were severely criticized and caused various contradictions as a result of which he and his ideological friend were forced to leave the seminary in 1906 due to their application for removal.
In 1915 archimandrite Garegin was appointed the surveyor of Gevorgian theological seminary for the second time and remained in that office till late 1917. This time he was offered this office by the catholicos Gevorg E. Surenyants to whose invitation Hovsepyan presented a project of preconditions and after their assurance he agreed to take the office. While being a surveyor for the second time Hovsepyan succeeded in carrying out the vast amount of the provisions put forward still in 1906 as result of which the following reforms were implemented:
a) In the school section of the seminary 7th grade was opened and new assignment of academic hours was fulfilled
b) The upper specialized educational sector was divided into two professional directions, i.e. theological and Armeniological and for each of them a separate curriculum was created.
c) The Pedagogical council of the seminary was assigned to work out the project of the new charter and hand it to the Catholicos of All Armenians
d) By appointing archimandrite Garegin as a surveyor of the seminary catholicos Gevorg E. instructed him to make an educational body as soon as possible and the right of choosing the members for it was from now on endowed to the surveyor.
In spite of the fact that now archimandrite Garegin had enough opportunities as compared to the first period of him being in office for implementing his programs aimed at the improvement of the seminary, however, this time he was impeded by the inter-political events of Armenia conditioned by the Russian revolution of 1917 as a result of which in late 1917 Gevorgian seminary was closed for a time being.