Father Mesrob was the parish priest at St. Vartan Armenian Church in Oakland, California for nearly twenty-five years until his death in 2009. Born Richard Kegham Sarafian in Fresno, California in 1933, Fr. Mesrob spent his entire life in service to others.
Fr. Mesrob’s path to the ministry took many turns before his ordination in 1984. As a teenager, he was active in the Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO), and developed a love for the Church. This connection only grew as he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in History at the University of California at Berkeley.
After graduating in 1954, Richard made the commitment to attend Seminary in Antelias and Jerusalem. After initially beginning his degree at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he completed his religious studies at the Theological Union in Berkeley. There, he received a Master’s degree in Divinity in June 1960.
Although he remained active in the church as a Deacon, Richard did not feel ready for ordination to the Priesthood. Instead, he joined secular life. After trying his hand at real state and stock broking, Richard decided to devote his time to a grocery business that he ran for over twenty years. He married and had three children, and he became a beloved member of community.
At the age of 50, Richard heard and answered God’s call to the Priesthood. Ordained Fr. Mesrob in 1984, he dedicated himself to God’s service and to the service of others.
He loved his work, his family, and his parishioners. He was deeply shaped by his experiences in the secular world. Along with the wisdom God imparted through him, he shared the lessons he learned along his long and winding path to the Priesthood. A man of the people, he was undeniably approachable and never judgmental. He saw the good in all people, and with humility, he recognized his own imperfections and shortcomings as he continued to seek and honor God through all his endeavors.
His kindness and openness to others, regardless of their circumstances or personal flaws, personifies the spirit of The Sarafian Foundation and guides its endeavors to help children and families. The Sarafian Foundation strives to honor his legacy of service to the community as it works to provide hope and assistance to those in need.