Little Saints

Please check our weekly bulletin for the next Little Saints program.

The “Little Saints” program at St. John Church (Southfield, MI) began with a brainstorm by pastor Fr. Aren Jebejian.

“One day, after submitting the number of baptisms in our parish to the Diocese, it occurred to me that we were leaving a very important thing to chance,” he recalled. “A parent would register and drop off their child to the church school four years after celebrating the child’s baptism. There was a four-year gap there, in the care of our youngest members of the church—and I felt that needed to change.”

That change resulted in “Little Saints”—which has become a thriving reality thanks to the enthusiastic efforts of a committee composed of the parish’s assistant pastor Fr. Armash Bagdasarian, youth coordinator Lisa Mardigian, and a few dedicated mothers. This program brings young children—from newborns to 4-year-olds—and their parents together each month under the dome of the church, to explore and learn about the sights, sounds, and aromas of our holy place of worship.

Parents and children learn about their faith, and grow closer to God, together.

Bonds With Parents, the Church, and God

Inspired by St. John’s effort, in early 2021 the Eastern Diocese’s Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries released a guidebook with 24 lesson plans, which can be repeated every two years. The lessons were developed by Diocesan staffer Jennifer Morris—a lifelong member of St. John Church, and the mother of a young child herself—with assistance from colleague Kathryn Ashbahian, who designed the layout and format of the guidebook.

After the Diocese shared the resource with its parish leadership, other pastors began taking up the “Little Saints” ministry within their own communities.

Fr. Hratch Sargysan, pastor of St. Gregory of Narek Church (Cleveland, OH), reflected on his “Little Saints” experience. “Jesus says ‘Let the little ones come to me’—so it is our duty to begin teaching about and introducing our little ones to Christ from an early age.”

Cleveland parishioner Maral Antonyan, mother to a toddler, said: “I love the ‘Little Saints’ program for my son because it teaches him that the church is a fun, safe place to learn about God. It gives him the opportunity to develop relationships with his Christian Armenian peers.”

At St. James of Nisibis Church (Evanston, IL), pastor Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan started a “Little Saints” program with the assistance of parent volunteer Rani Yousefzai. She said: “’Little Saints’ is ideal for me and my two boys. Kids love coming to it. They especially enjoy the stories and the craft time. But most important of all, it encourages bonding time with our church, and with God.”

Click the link to view photos of the active “Little Saints” programs in these three communities.

To request an electronic copy of The Little Saints Guidebook, or for assistance with developing a “Little Saints” program in your local parish, contact Jennifer Morris at