Philadelphia Community Bids Fond Farewell to Academy Principal Sister Louisa


RADNOR, Penn. — For many, the Armenian Sisters’ Academy (ASA) of Radnor and its longtime principal, Sister V. Louisa Kassarjian, are synonymous. For nearly 41 years, she has loved, educated and nurtured hundreds of students in the Philadelphia area, guiding them not only academically, but culturally and spiritually, as well.

This summer, the Order of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception reassigned Sister Louisa to a large school in Syria, where she will enjoy being near family.

As testimony to her years of dedication, more than 350 well-wishers attended a reception in her honor at the school’s Hovsepian Activity Center. Dr. Garo Megerian, alumnus and ASA parent, recounted Kassarjian’s many attributes. He commended her longevity at the academy and the accomplishment of educating two generations of children. Some in the second generation are children of alumni and comprise nearly a third of the student body. Kassarjian considers all the students her “children” and calls the alumni children her “grandchildren.”

Kassarjian began her career at ASA in 1969, two years after the school’s inception, and became principal in 1986. Megerian applauded her work ethic and hands-on style of leadership. Never one for the limelight, her selflessness is extraordinary, he said, adding that she has always led by example and rarely rests. Many students fondly remember (and have often sampled) the M&Ms always stocked in the candy dispenser in her office, he reflected.

The mother and daughter team Melissa and Katrina Selverian, both ASA alumni, took the podium to present a moving presentation. Many eyes filled with tears as the emotional video showed Kassarjian teaching, giving speeches, accepting roses after a hantes and showcasing the school’s 35 graduating classes, each of which she has been a part of. After the presentation, Sister received a standing ovation for all she has accomplished.

Grace Keshgegian, academy parent and grandparent, has been the school’s volunteer bookeeper and has worked alongside Kassarjian since the early days. She invited all students who have ever been educated by Kassarjian to the stage, and more than 100 individuals filed to the front — from current students to those from the first graduating class — surrounding Kassarjian with the love she has fostered in them. In between tears, Keshgegian verbalized the thoughts of many: “Sister, we will miss you terribly; this is your home, and you know the door is always open.”

Then it was Kassarjian’s turn to take the podium, as she has hundreds of times before. “I’m grateful to Sister Hripsime and Sister Arousiag, whose foresight guided me during my early years. I am appreciative and indebted to many supporters in the community, who helped make ASA the family it is. With your prayers and God’s help, I will be able to fulfill my mission at the Sisters’ school in Aleppo, Syria, of more than 400 students, though my thoughts and prayers will always be here with you. I know Sister Emma is enthusiastic about returning to the school and helping the Academy soar ever higher,” she said. “May the Lord bless each of you, and please come visit me in Syria.” With that, the crowd gave her a second standing ovation.

The academy family hosted a dessert buffet following the program, while the many guests bid Kassarjian farewell, gathered with her for photographs and honored her with gifts.

Sister Emma Moussayan, who served the Radnor school for many years prior to her most recent assignment in Rome, will return to the ASA as its new principal.

A scholarship fund in Sister Louisa Kassarjian’s name has been established for the purpose of assisting academy students who qualify for financial aid. In lieu of gifts, contributions to that scholarship fund can be donated in her honor. Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund can donate online to http://www.asaphila.org, (note “Sister Louisa Scholarship Fund”) or mail checks to Armenian Sister Academy, 440 Upper Gulph Road, Radnor, PA 19087.