I’m a survivor by ancestry.

Sometimes you meet someone who says something in a conversation that strikes a chord with you and enlightens the way that you understand yourself.

This morning while getting ready for my day, I was speaking to my nurse who said that she is amazed by how well so many people do who come into rehab with a very positive attitude. She also said that people who tend to be negative and do not see a bright future typically do worse.

I for one have always in all situations been very positive by nature and have always seen the potential for greatness and the possibilities in things that for others may seem impossible. I’ve approached my illness with the same attitude. I went to my first surgery, for an implantation of a Ventricular Assist Device, with great hope and great expectation never having any fear. Clearly My body was so weakened that I had many complications throuout and following the surgery. Having woken up from the surgery and learning that all my muscles had atrophied over the one month of complete sedation and lack of movement, I went about the task of retraining my body and reconditioning my muscles. I was very enthusiastic about the process. I knew and believed that the devices placed in and around my heart, called ventricular assist device, would sustain me and allow oxygenated blood to flow to my organs thus allowing them to heal and to rest. This is in fact what has happened and I joyfully go to my therapy classes 3 to 4 times a day. I have a goal to complete every one of the prescribed exercises to completion. This is how I’ve always been in everything I’ve ever done. (https://www.biblehub.com/philippians/4-13.htm). This has been how I’ve approached sports, education, marriage, parenting and in my pastoral responsibilities.

I see vast improvements over the course of my rehabilitation and progress is made on a daily basis. I appreciate and love those who are caring for me and we have formed wonderful bonds.

This morning the nurse about whom I was referring, after I described my family history and how my parents were always so positive about everything they ever faced, Said “you are clearly a survivor.”

I told her that this was a very interesting and enlightening way of putting it and I explained to her how all four of my grandparents were in fact truly survivors being orphans and losing their entire family in the Genocide perpetrated against the Armenians. All four of them did in fact survive and went on to build new lives and see the children of their children. I have realized that in fact perhaps that survivor instinct may have been and possibly was passed down to my parents and in turn passed on to me.

I am so pleased to tell my friends and faithful of my church that from the perspective of my organs, I have healed and I’m responding extremely well. The process of conditioning my muscles and regaining my tone and ability to return home is coming to a close. I’m scheduled to be returning Home in the next couple of weeks. I’m very excited to resume my life and my ministry and I believe that this entire experience, as frightening and as horrific as it was both for me and for my wife and children, was a gift from God. I never once asked God through my entire illness, which was diagnosed nine years ago, “why me why is this happening“.

I believe and know that my Lord Jesus Christ was with me through the entire process and allowed me the privilege to begin to understand the depth of suffering and the grace which he endured during his passion, crucifixion and burial. He did this on my behalf, for my benefit and salvation. I believe that now having shared in the experience of his presence through this ordeal, He has made me a better person, more patient, more loving, more empathetic for those who are suffering, a better husband, a better father, and finally a better pastor.

I want to thank all of you who sent your love supported me and offered prayers on my behalf. Truly our Father in heaven has responded with kindness and granted me the great privilege of healing in order to continue the precious ministry to which He called me.

May God bless you all. Have a blessed Lord‘s day offering prayer and thanksgiving to the Almighty God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to whom is befitting glory dominion and honor, both now and always onto the end of time, amen.

Fr. Shnork Souin


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Fr. Shnork Souin

Priest of the Armenian Orthodox Church

3 thoughts on “I’m a survivor by ancestry.”

  1. Der Hair: I learned only recently about your illness, and God Bless, your recovery….

    Please know that the entire Varadian family prays for your full recovery and ongoing health, to continue to be with your family and serve your flock.

    God Bless you and I long to give you a warm embrace when we see each other next.

    Michael Varadian


  2. Dear Fr. Shnork,
    I was reading the Paros tonight when I learned of your illness. I am so happy to hear you will soon be returning home. You and your family are in my prayers and I send my love and best wishes for a full recovery. Yes, you are a survivor!


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