A Visit to Dorothy Day House

When the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality opened on Belmont Avenue in 2009, it was thought a small amount of folks may need its service.

That hasn’t been the case. With meals Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and lunch for those receiving showers Wednesday afternoons, dozens of guests visit the Dorothy Day house each week. Pre-COVID, there were sometimes more than 100 guests each dinner.

We and our Associates, along with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and local lay persons, continue to collaborate at the house. Sister Ann McManamon, HM, who served as director from early on until spring of this year, did a wonderful job of organizing meals from her community’s Associates, ours, and local groups, restaurants and individuals.

A recent Wednesday preparing dinner at the Dorothy Day House. From left are Ursuline Associates Barb, Aimee, Cindy, Jim, Larry, Linda, Dan and Sister Kathleen McCarragher. Sister Kathleen calls bingo on Wednesday afternoons.

The house is now led by a two-member team, comprising Ursuline Associate Dan Wakefield and Valeria Gonvalves.

It offers not only meals, showers, and monthly roundtable discussions on social concerns, but also the opportunity for guests to relax, feel safe, and as one man recently told Ursuline Associate Ruthanne, “Be treated like a human.”

Our founder, St. Angela Merici, taught us to care for the poor of pocket and spirit. As Christ himself stated, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do unto me.”

Dorothy Day was an American who founded the Catholic Worker movement. At a young age, after her family suffered tragedy and became poor, she learned first-hand how hard life can be for those in need – not just from the lack of necessities or frills, but from the humiliation the poor can endure.

Who Do You Say I Am?


I often say things, the implications of which only become clear as time passes. I might promise to help someone move to a new home, only later to find out how much stuff they have, how much packing still needs to be done, how much more time-consuming my offer is than I originally thought. I might say that I will stick by a friend no matter what, only later to discover that to do so might entail jeopardizing my values. When Peter in today’s gospel said to Jesus that he is “The Christ of God,” did Peter really understand the implications of what he was saying?
The exchange between Jesus and his disciples took place within a very significant context: “Jesus was praying in solitude.” It was out of this prayer that he asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am?” and revealed that his very identity entailed suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection. Our own prayer is to lead us to clearer understanding of who we are, and to the revelation that our very identity as disciples entails denying self, taking up our daily cross, and losing our life for the sake of others. Dare we pray? Dare we ask Jesus, “who do you say that I am?” Dare we accept the identity. Jesus offers us and the implications of being faithful to that identity? [Living Liturgy, 2013]
In honest prayer we stand before God, stripped of false self-images and misleading life goals. In prayer we come to know who we are as Jesus’ disciples and accept the demands of following him faithfully. In prayer we encounter the God who never forsakes us, who
strengthens us to face our daily crosses, and who encourages us to be faithful. Dare we pray? How can we not? Dare we ask Jesus, “who do you say that I am?” Why would we not?

Adapted Renew International

Be Set on Fire

As I was preparing for the feast of Pentecost, I came across this reflection. In my experience, nothing is by happenstance. Always, it’s filled with a message I need:

There is a dangerous tendency in human nature to try to domesticate the spiritual world. Beings and events beyond our comprehension become tame or even silly.

Compare Ezekiel’s cherubs, with their bodies covered with eyes, with the fat little babies that we find so often in Christian art. Or think of how absorbed we can become, at Christmas time, with the innumerable variations on the sweet, docile image of the baby in the manger, sleeping quietly or smiling beatifically, surrounded by animals and angels, and sideline the unthinkable reality and awesome mystery that the infant soiling his swaddling clothes is the same God who created the universe and continually holds it in being. How much easier it is to create nice, cozy, safe images of a world that is not only terrifyingly incomprehensible but also very real.

Pope Francis has warned against this tendency to bring the uncontrollable under the semblance of our control. Most recently, he has counseled us against underestimating the devil, of taking him too lightly. But he is also fond of reminding us of the immense power and unpredictable nature of our great friend: the Holy Spirit.  He is the Paraclete, our advocate and helper, but he is also like the wind, which “blows where it wills” (John 3:8).

This image of the Holy Spirit as wind is an important one. It is linked to the understanding of “spirit” evident in the Hebrew word ruah, which means “wind, spirit, breath.” Indeed, we find Jesus in John’s Gospel breathing on his disciples as He tells them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). And every year in the Chrism Mass, in which a bishop consecrates all the sacramental oils to be used throughout his diocese for the coming year, there is a solemn moment in which this successor of the Apostles breathes into each of the urns filled with oil.

But wait. Haven’t I just domesticated the Holy Spirit by downgrading it from wind to breath? Not a bit of it. Because the wind/breath identity of the Holy Spirit is closely linked to the image of the Holy Spirit as fire. Don’t forget that before the flaming tongues appeared above the disciples’ heads at Pentecost, they first heard “a noise like a strong driving wind” (Acts 2:2). Under certain conditions, the interaction between oxygen (in other words, the air that we breathe) and some type of fuel causes a chemical reaction, one product of which is heat and light – commonly known as fire. Consider the air, or the breath, as the Holy Spirit, and the fuel as a human soul: your soul, my soul. Given the right conditions – an openness and a willingness on the part of the “fuel,” spontaneous combustion takes place.

Have you ever watched a piece of wood being consumed by fire? Sighing and crackling and glowing, getting blacker and blacker until it falls apart completely and nothing remains but ash? It doesn’t just look different from the original piece of wood. It is different, at the very core of its being. Its chemical composition has changed. It has been transformed.

[Salt and Light  May 20, 2018]

This is what we are called to as Christians and what awaits us when we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. Let yourself be set on fire by the Holy Spirit. Let yourself be transformed.

Meet St. Angela Merici

The Founder of the Ursulines

An original painting of St. Angela commissioned by the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown

Angela Merici was born in Northern Italy and lived on Lake Garda with her parents and sister, her closest companions. Angela diligently worked on her father’s farm and was also encouraged by her family to develop habits of prayer and fasting — which she continued to practice her whole life.

After the untimely death of her entire family, Angela went to stay with her uncle in a neighboring town. Angela, obviously quite distraught over this loss, prayed day and night to God for some sign that her family was in heaven. One mid-day during harvest Angela was alone in the fields when she experienced a life-changing vision: the heaven’s opened and angels and young women came toward her singing a melody, surrounded by light. One of the young girl’s was Angela’s sister. From this experience, Angela knew it was her purpose to establish a community of religious and dedicated young women — thus the foundation of the Sisters of Ursuline Order was laid.

Saint Angela Merici
A statue of St. Angela in Thailand

Angela spent her early life helping others as a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. She led a simple life, with only a few hours of sleep a night — much of her waking hours were spent praying.

When Angela was 40 years old she was asked by the Order to travel to the aid of Caterina Patengola, who had just lost her husband and two sons. On her way to Brescia, Angela came to meet up with a religious reform movement, Divino Amore, that catered to the needs of the time.

They established infirmaries for those suffering from syphilis, cared for widows and their families, and founded an orphanage and a shelter for former prostitutes. Here, Angela encountered people and experiences that proved to be especially significant in her later life. In only a few short years, a group of men and women gathered around Angela as their spiritual center.

By 1532, Angela has assembled a small group of women who were her followers and together they embarked on the formation of Angela’s community. By 1536, Angela had won approval from the Diocese for the first Rule written by a woman for a community of women. On November 25, Angela assembled her 28 companions and followers for a founding ceremony.

On January 27, 1540, Angela died in her small room close by the Church of St. Afra. There was nothing extraordinary about her death, she went quietly home. Although, she did leave behind an extraordinary legacy in her life’s work and to the millions of women who have served God as an Ursuline Sister.

Watch a video about our founder on our YouTube channel.

Print a coloring page of St. Angela:

HIV/AIDS Ministry: Dedication Overcomes Difficulties

Like many of you, Dan Wakefield, director of our HIV/AIDS Ministry, and Sister Kathleen Minchin, director emerita and one of its founders, have been especially challenged during this pandemic in gathering food and essential products, such as toilet paper.

Almost all of the ministry’s clients live at or below poverty level, and benefits don’t cover things like personal items and paper products.

But the two are persevering! The pantry isn’t full, but shelves aren’t bare. And they’ve found new ways to offer service, such as a monthly drive-thru café, complete with a home-made meal.

Be Like a Piazza!

By Sister Norma Raupple

August 2019 was our third anniversary “Angela’s Villa” —  the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown’s gathering space for young adults involved in service with us. We’ve discovered it’s like “Angela’s Piazza.”  Sister Martha Buser, in her book “Also In Your Midst,” describes it this way:

“Piazzas are in front of every church in Brescia. They crop up at intersections for no apparent reason at all. But everywhere in Brescia, Italy, piazzas are the same. They are open. One can come and go. One can rest, can just be who one is.”

When St. Angela Merici founded the Ursuline order of vowed religious in 1535, she said to be like a piazza. In doing so, she left us a legacy of how to live. She told us to be open and gracious and hospitable, filled with joy. Being like a piazza is the secret of Angela’s spirituality and gives us a clue about why she seems so contemporary. In Angela’s hospitality there is no dichotomy, rather, there is unity and integrity.

The faith-filled young adults who serve others today are like Angela today. They are generous, vibrant, welcoming and they enjoy each other. They come and go. They rest, or study, or cook, or pray or have fun…. and much more. Gathering together in support of each other brings out the best in each one and Angela knew this. So again this August, we blessed each other — sending a few to new places and welcoming a few new women to our “piazza.”

AmeriCorps Volunteers Give, Gain Much

Laura, Emily, Janie

Guest Contributor: Rachel Gobep

For some it’s money. For others prestige. For Emily Anne Martin, the best motivation to work hard comes from helping others.

“Happiness is truly not found by making a lot of money, but instead by making a difference,” Martin comments.

Through the federal AmeriCorps program, Martin is one of three women performing post-college service with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. The AmeriCorps program provides opportunities for college graduates to perform anywhere from six months to two years of service with a nonprofit, school, public agency, or community and faith-based organization. Communities gain valuable service and the participants gain valuable experience toward their future careers.

Martin was pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at Kent State University, when “I realized that before I graduated, I should gain some real world experience in a nonprofit setting. Not to mention I was ready to move on and do something more meaningful.”

Martin serves as a Nonprofit Management Specialist at Beatitude House, Youngstown, where she interned while earning her baccalaureate. The Ursuline Sisters’ ministry helps homeless women and their children break the cycle of generational poverty through housing, education and other assistance.

“I help with developing a system for tracking volunteers, assist in creating marketing materials, plan and volunteer at events, sort donations and work with other homeless social service agencies in the area,” she says.

Martin and her fellow AmeriCorps participants have contributed 1.4 billion hours since 1993 toward making the world a better place through volunteering, engaging with the community and improving people’s lives, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

It’s a concept that seems simple. But according to participants like Laura Roch, the benefits are complex and unexpected.

“Not only have I learned a lot about myself through my service experience,” she says, “I have learned more about my hometown than I would have ever known had I not taken advantage of this amazing opportunity.”

Roch is serving as a Nonprofit Management Specialist for the Ursuline Sisters. Initially she planned to pursue a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling after graduating from KSU in 2016, but a former instructor of hers from Ursuline High School recommended the AmeriCorps position with the Ursulines.

Through her work with the Ursuline Sisters’ ministries, Roch’s opportunities have ranged from tutoring youth from disadvantaged and privileged homes to helping Spanish and Arabic-speaking women learning English to working with the incarcerated at a local prison – and more. Her work experience at Huntington was a big advantage.

“I’ve learned how to better serve individuals of different races, socioeconomic status, and personalities,” she observes. “I’ve learned how to lesson plan, empower individuals, and run meetings about different topics and projects I’m working on. I have become much more aware of the environment around me, rather than being so naive of things going on in the town where I’ve spent 23 years.”

Roch says her work with the Ursuline Sisters has brought her closer to God because she sees the struggles that others go through daily.

“After seeing the issues and things people right down the street from me deal with, I have not been able to turn a blind eye,” she states. “I know that prayers will be answered and these people will be helped soon.”

Janie Rosko serves as an Education Specialist for the Ursuline Sisters. While in college, she volunteered several years at Potter’s Wheel, the Sisters’ immigrant education program in Youngstown. After graduating from Youngstown State University in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology, Rosko decided to wait before pursuing graduate studies.

“I decided to take this [AmeriCorps] opportunity because I wanted to gain experience serving all varieties of people in all types of situations,” she states.

Among her many on-the-job experiences, Rosko co-teaches an English Language class to immigrant women, serves as a tutor and mentor for children at Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten, Canfield, the Potter’s Wheel and Casa Madre, Youngstown, the Ursuline Sisters’ HIV/AIDS Ministry providing mentoring and other assistance to children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Serving various kinds of people can be challenging at times,” Rosko observes, “but I’m gaining so much knowledge and feel right where I need to be at this moment in time.”

Sister Norma Raupple, Director of the Young Adult Outreach Ministry for the Ursuline Sisters, says Martin, Roch and Rosko “perform a great service by bringing their education and enthusiasm to the Sisters’ ministries and make a positive impact on the lives of those served.

“The women involved with us through AmeriCorps grow by developing their abilities in taking initiative and honing their leadership skills,” she continues. “They become more confident, relate well to the children they work with and become good role models.”

Martin, Roch and Rosko all highly recommend AmeriCorps to anyone considering their career after graduating college.

“It is immensely rewarding and there is much more to learn than one may originally believe,” Rosko posits.

AmeriCorps participants must be 21 years or older. In exchange for working full time, they receive a twice-monthly stipend and are eligible for health benefits and housing. Upon completion of their contract, they earn an education award they can use toward future studies or for paying off student loan debt.

Rachel Gobep is majoring in Journalism at Youngstown State University and interning as a Strategic Communications Specialist with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

Summer Magic

There was a bit of “Summer Magic” at The Ursuline Center today, as our AmeriCorps employees Laura and Janie, Sister Nancy Pawlen, and a host of volunteers put on a one-day camp for children served by our ministries. There were outdoor activities while the rain held off, and plenty of indoor activities — such as musical chairs, slime and other crafts, duck duck goose and swimming. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this day special for children who could use a little special in their lives.

Water With Blessing Mission Trip 2016

1521780_10153632333480599_690473656_n (1)Sister Norma Raupple will lead a group of college women on a mission trip to the U.S./Mexico border December 30, 2016-           January 7, 2017 for Water With Blessings.

This is the third year she’s making the mission trip; in December 2013, Sister Norma made the trip with six of our Companions in Mission. Our Youngstown Associates adopted Water With Blessings as a project, raising $3,000 to buy water filtration kits for families in need of clean water living at the Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Mexico border.

Our local group will meet up with Sister Larraine Lauter, a Kentucky Ursuline who founded the program, for what will be a beautiful and enriching experience. Not only does Water With Blessings help people in desperate need of clean water, it also gives the young women an opportunity for an international immersion/reflection experience with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

Our local group brought the clean water kits to 50 young mothers during the training sessions. These “Water Women” agreed to share their filters with four other families. Thus, “God’s Thirsty Children” received the gift of clean water for Christmas.

For more information download this flier. To participate in this Mission trip contact Sister Norma Raupple at 330.261.4721 by 1 October 2016.

Here is a slideshow of the last visit!

Answering God’s Call to Action

The following reflection was written by Caitlyn, a Summer Service Learning Intern.

flat FrancisOver the summer, many college students like me find themselves as hectically busy as they were during the school year. Whether working a summer job (sometimes two), beginning an internship, taking an extra course, or taking part in all three opportunities, they always try to find time to relax and time for family and friends. One thing they don’t always think about is the considerable amount of time they have left in their schedule.

As a full-time student I work two jobs, have an internship, and hold leadership positions in many clubs and groups. Even though I keep busy, I have many hours left in my day that aren’t being put to good use. If there’s one concept I’ve learned to understand, it’s “time is of the essence.” Sometimes, we can forget how precious time is.

For the young adult volunteers with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, we’ve learned just how precious a few hours of our day can be for another human being. The Sisters’ Summer Service Learning [SSL] Program has been a wonderful opportunity.

DSC00345For the first few weeks, many of the volunteers spent time teaching a Multimedia workshop. One volunteer teacher, Marissa, is a University Scholar in the Youngstown State University Honors College. Marissa’s time spent at The Ursuline Center was filled with what she called, “A spirit of service and Christian love that imbued every action I took there.”

My experience has been the same. When I first stepped into Beatitude House, I was unsure how to communicate with the women from different Hispanic backgrounds. I’d never taught a class, much less a secondary language course. Once I began teaching, though, I was awed at the focus and SSL 2015 Caitlyn at Potter'sdetermination these women had to learn an incredibly difficult language. I felt humbled that God led me down a path not only beneficial to these mothers but also to me. I’ve learned much about their cultures, lifestyles and languages.

Even more incredible to observe was the children’s class down the hall. The young adult volunteers, Kristen, Jenne, Kelly, Courtney, Kayleigh, Carly, Lea and Anny, many of whom are education majors, have patience and passion when working with the children.

SSL 2015 Kristen at Potter's

“The initiative and motivation to learn at such a young age is admirable,” comments Lea, a Walsh University student, “and the atmosphere of Beatitude House is such a bright and enjoyable place for the children to learn and stay free-spirited.


Kelly, an early childhood education major, has participated for the past two years and, with Jenne, is a student leader in the SSL program. “I never know what to expect, or exactly what students I will be working with,” she remarks. “When I get there, my faith allows me to make adjustments to whatever needs are present, and I know that God will give me the strength or knowledge I need in order to handle those situations.”

As a witness to the many projects occurring through the SSL Program, I cannot help but feel awed by this life changing experience. I now realize what a few hours in a week can mean to another human being and a community.

This has been such a rewarding opportunity for all of us volunteers, and I can’t help but wonder what my summer would have been like without this enriching, uplifting experience.
Before this experience, I thought, “What could I possible have to give to these people?” However, God’s call to action has shown me that people of all backgrounds have something to offer, even if it’s only a small amount of time, compassion, or care. I know I will be a returning volunteer next year, and I hope that young people in our community realize it is imperative to take the same call to action that I did.

As a young adult, our time and service is more precious than we realize.

Wake Up The World This Summer

Community Partner AwardPope Francis wrote a letter to Sisters, Brothers,and Priests who have dedicated their lives to the Gospel to join with others to “Wake Up The World”!

These words from our Pope remind me of words we Ursulines have from our Foundress, St. Angela Merici: “Act, Move, Believe, Strive, Hope, cry out with all your heart, for without doubt you will see marvelous things, if you direct everything to the praise and glory of God and the good of souls”! St. Angela also thinks we can wake up the world with the help of many others.

Consider joining us this summer in a variety of service opportunities and find out for yourself. Come to the Orientation on Monday, May 18 at 7:00 PM to get started.

Contact Sister Norma at 330-261-4729 for more information.