31 March 2016
Sister Arousiag Sajonian serves as superior of Our Lady of Armenia Convent in Gyumri, Armenia.
(photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
Her first name means “Carrier of Light” in Armenian. And for more than two decades, Sister Arousiag Sajonian has been bringing light and hope to a troubled corner of Armenia — a land ravaged by earthquakes, wars and economic crises.
She was born and raised in the Middle East — “between Syria and Lebanon,” as she puts it — and entered the convent at age 19. A sister of the Immaculate Conception, she now serves as superior of Our Lady of Armenia Convent in Gyumri. CNEWA once described her order as a group of “no nonsense nuns” — and they are, to put it mildly, active. Sister Arousiag supervises an orphanage, a daycare center for the elderly, a vocational school and a summer camp program.
As she wrote in our magazine in 1997:
We have taught some 1,000 students on a weekly basis, preparing them for Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist and Reconciliation.
We have also visited the elderly and the sick and have organized public seminars. All these activities have been made possible through a vehicle donated by CNEWA, which has carried us back and forth from village to village.
Our classes and presentations were the first formal catechetical lessons offered to Armenian Catholics since the country was annexed by Soviet Russia in 1922.
This busy nun visited our New York office in 2012 and found time to sit down for an interview and described her long partnership with CNEWA:
Sister Arousiag: Every time I haven’t been able to get enough funds for a project, I’d write a letter to CNEWA and put on the top “S.O.S.” And I always received a positive response. Immediately.
ONE: What is the one message you’d like the world to hear about the work that you do?
Sister Arousiag: My message would be to share what they have with the least fortunate. Most of the time, they are people who don’t know how to get out of their situations. What we want is to teach them how to overcome — how they can have a more dignified life. That is very important: that we don’t pity them. We just help them to live a better life. That is something every human being strives for. They want dignity.