Change Our Hearts

Change Our Hearts

Written by Sister Therese Ann Rich in 2017                    

My favorite and most challenging Lenten hymn, Change Our Hearts,sets the tone each year as I enter into the Season of Lent:  “Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be. Change our minds this time, your life could make us free. We are the people your call sets apart. Lord, this time change our hearts.” [Rory Cooney]

How do you prepare for Lent? How have you prepared in the past? What are your ideas about what should happen during Lent?

We have the traditional Catholic practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving. So, we pray more than usual, or we pray with different emphases. We eat smaller or fewer meals or give up a favorite food or drink group. We give more of our resources or give them specifically to special works of mercy during Lent.

Prayer, fasting, and charitable giving continue to be quite good practices during Lent or at any time.

However, this year I am asking: How do I want to be during Lent this year? More quiet and thoughtful? More open to God’s desires? Better able to sit with people who need me? More attentive to sacred readings? Do I need to be more compassionate toward my own fears and failings? Do I need to become more courageous about using the gifts God has given me?
Will my heart be changed this time?

This Lent I invite you to join me in these three short and simple prayer starters:

Ask God, every day, “What does my soul need?” Just ask, and wait quietly. Because we’re very good at fooling ourselves about how we’re doing, it might take several days of praying this question before we’re truly open and humble enough to know the answer.

Ask God, every day, “What about my life makes you happy?” Yes, when God looks at our lives, some parts of it — perhaps many aspects of it — bring joy to God’s heart. I invite you to think of how your children or grandchildren or other people close to you make you happy. God is in relationship with you, which means that your sins grieve God’s heart, but also that your growth and love and freedom and kindness bring joy to the God of the universe. Again, you and I will probably need to pray this a few times before we are willing to consider that we give God pleasure, that we make God happy in any way. Stick with this little prayer and keep listening.

Tell God, and yourself, every day, “I want to be open to the graces of this Lenten season.” Maybe you and I are not open right now, or you and I are not as open and willing as we’d like to be or think we ought to be. What else is new? We can always open our lives a bit more, let go of more stuff, listen better, and do more quickly and passionately what we know helps nurture God’s kingdom on earth.

This is a beginning: three short and simple prayer starters as we enter into this holy season.

Wanted: Tutors for children’s program

Our Children’s Program is in need of tutors! This is a perfect way for college students to earn service hours and gain experience, and for retired teachers to give back.

Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays from 3:30-5 p.m., we need tutors for school-age children. You’ll center on core subjects, play games to build social skills, and do crafts to enhance fine-motor skills and introduce fun with the arts.

Come 1, 2 or 3 afternoons each week.

To volunteer, call Sister Norma Raupple at 330-261-4729. You’ll also need to fill out a volunteer application at

We need tutors for adults!

Our Immigrant Outreach Adult Program is in need of tutors!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings, we need folks to assist moms in English Language Learning.

You’ll help the ladies learn English following a workbook-style curriculum. There’s no need to speak another language and no teaching degree is required.

Come 1 or 2 mornings a week, Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, from 9-11 a.m. 

To volunteer, call Sister Norma Raupple at 330-261-4729. You’ll also need to fill out a volunteer application at

Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten to Close

After 60 years of quality education, I am sorry to announce that Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten will close at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. The Ursuline Sisters Mission Board and the Leadership Team of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown made this decision after considering all available options.

When Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten opened in the fall of 1963, it was staffed by Ursuline Sisters to make a Catholic program available when there was no comparable preschool program in the area. For 60 years, thousands of children and generations of families have had the experience of attending UPSK. The Sisters and lay teachers who have staffed and directed the program have served the school with distinction. We are incredibly proud of the work and commitment of the current administration and staff.

But in 2023, there is a different reality. Income received through tuition does not cover the educational expenses of the school. The Ursuline Sisters have long underwritten the cost of UPSK. This subsidy has been provided in a variety of ways: through a very modest stipend paid to Sisters, little rent payment for the use of the facility which the Ursuline Sisters built, and, in recent years, improving wages and benefits for teachers and assistants.

The Ursuline Sisters are no longer able to shoulder this expense. Moreover, parents today have numerous options for preschool and kindergarten education, including the Early Childhood Learning Centers at several Catholic parishes in the area (St. Christine, St. Joseph, St. Charles, St. Luke, and Holy Family). 

The administration and staff of Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten will continue to provide a quality education through the end of this school year. We are grateful to the UPSK families for their support of our administration and staff, and to each other during this difficult time. We will also provide information and referrals for other Catholic schools.

Further, we thank parents for entrusting their children to the care of Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten. While we are saddened at the closing of the school, we are consoled by the good that has been the heritage of UPSK since 1963.

Sister Mary McCormick
General Superior, Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown
Chair, Ursuline Sisters Mission Board

Grant Helps Ursuline Sisters Mission

Ursuline Sisters Mission has received a $25,000 grant from the estate of Timothy M. Yovich of Youngstown, who died in May.

Rick Cross with USM Rep. Donna Bellino

The donation was presented by Rick Cross, the executor of Yovich’s estate and his friend since childhood. 

“I am very proud to honor Tim’s legacy by ensuring that his final wishes are being carried out,” Cross said.  “The work of the Ursuline Sisters Mission was important to Tim, and that is why he remembered them in his will.  His legacy continues through his philanthropy.”

Additionally, Yovich requested that memorial tributes in his honor be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of all of our donors, and a bequest like Mr. Yovich’s allows us to continue the important work he valued in his lifetime,” said Brigid Kennedy, president and CEO of Ursuline Sisters Mission. “What a legacy he has left Ursuline Sisters Mission and our community!”

Ursuline Sisters Mission enhances and develops support for the ministries sponsored by and reflecting the charism of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown to provide long-term sustainability and gospel service to the community. Ursuline Sisters Mission is gospel service poured out into the world by the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and their ministries.

O, Christmas Trees!

The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown tree

We’re again honored to participate in Mill Creek Metroparks’ annual festival of Christmas trees at the Davis Center.

From Dec. 1-31, 50 trees decorated by area nonprofits and not-for-profits, are on display.

The park also hosts Winter Nights at Fellows Riverside Gardens the Saturdays of Dec. 3, 10, 17 and 31 from 5 – 7 p.m.

The grounds are decorated with dazzling lights, and the Davis Center will be open to view the trees and enjoy other offerings.

The Ursuline Sisters Mission tree

Take a selfie with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown Tree, located in the rotunda, and/or the Ursuline Sisters Mission tree in the Melnick Museum, and DM us on Instagram. We’ll share it on our story!

Many thanks to our volunteers India and Sabrina, who’ve helped us decorate the trees the last few years!

Advent begins today!

Lord, during this Advent season, increase your peace in our hearts and allow your promise of rest and refreshment to lighten the labors and burdens in our busy lives.

Teach us how to practice silence, solitude and simple living, and how to slow our pace, so we can hear the silence of Christmas around us.

Let us empty our hearts of material wants to make room for the real meaning of the birth of the Christ Child. And when we are weary and anxious, may we always find rest in you.


Listening to Christmas

By Alan Harris

Have you ever heard snow?

Christmas at the Motherhouse

Not the howling wind of a blizzard, not the crackling of snow underfoot, but the actual falling of snow?

Have you ever heard Christmas? Not the traffic noises in the city, not the bells and hymns and carols, beautiful as they are, not even the laughter of your children as they open their presents — but Christmas itself?

Have you been by yourself and just sat and listened to the silence within, patiently, without letting the mind race to the next Christmas chore?

Perhaps if you have, you felt the pulse of all humanity beating in your own heart.
Perhaps you noticed an outflowing of love for all your brothers and sisters on the earth, a soft sense of Oneness with all that lives.

In the silence of a snowy night, listen intently, holding your breath, and you may hear snow on snow.
Serene, alone, undisturbed by thought, listen to the silence in your heart, and you may hear Christmas.


Autumn’s Lessons

Photo by Valiphotos

October’s splendor always seems too short to me.

Autumn is one of my favorite life coaches, for with each falling leaf and changing color, there can be found a lesson, metaphor or parable.

I’m most coachable during fall because the season is hypnotizing.

Fall is when I remember to pause and relish life. Nature has my full attention. It’s my season of pensive reflection and resolution.

What Professor Autumn has on the curriculum this year:

  • An ending is a beginning in disguise
  • Change is constant
  • Growth necessitates change and change necessitates growth. 

As you experience this season, we invite you to ponder: What spiritual lessons and practices are suggested by the coming of autumn?

Written by Sister Therese Ann Rich in October 2019.

How we got the name Ursulines

Written by Sister Dorothy Kundracik in October 2013

If St. Angela Merici founded the Ursulines, why are we named after St. Ursula? Unlike the Dominican and Franciscan orders, named for their founders, St. Angela chose to offer her maidens the model and protection of St. Ursula. We celebrate St. Ursula’s feast day on October 21.

st ursula
An artist’s rendering of
St. Ursula.

Angela’s father read to his children from the Lives of the Saints. In northern Italy, where Angela lived, there were many artists’ works displayed in the churches. These renderings of saints were a way to remember and tell the stories of holy people from the past.

People have always needed heroes. Saintly people inspired others — held up for their bravery, steadfastness, and willingness to suffer for what they believed.

St. Ursula, circa the 5th century, is honored as the patron saint and protector of Cologne, Germany. One legend is that Ursula and a band of companions sailed from Britain for Rome to visit the tombs of the saints. Swept northward by a storm and wrecking at the mouth of the Rhine River, they met Attila and his barbarous Huns, who were planning to attack Cologne. Refusing to yield to the barbarians’ lustful desires, the women were slaughtered, “martyred for their faith and maidenhood.”

How might Angela have understood this tale? While the Medieval culture tended to diminish women in economics, sexuality, education, politics and culture, Angela pursued respect for unmarried women. She was seeking an ideal for her companions to espouse, emulate, and if necessary, die for. She found that ideal in Ursula, who embodied the Gospel and protected her companions. At home in Brescia and in other Italian churches, Angela’s eyes must have prayed with many paintings popular at that time. Angela especially would have loved the painting by Moretto of Ursula that still graces the Church of St. Clement.

In it, Ursula is depicted as a graceful, beautiful, wise, cultured scholar. Her learning confounded church doctors and theologians; Ursula was the special protector of the theological school and the Sorbonne in Paris. Her influence was far reaching: Columbus named the Virgin Islands after St. Ursula and her companions. Angela took that life of Ursula that was monumentalized as a confident, charismatic leader, with her intelligence, grace, goodness, and resolve and gave it to her company to immortalize in their lives.

Just as the women in Ursula’s story stood up to evil, women today need to stand up and refuse to be treated as objects rather than persons. Ursula stood up to the barbarians. She and her companions stood firm on what they believed, their dignity and self-possession, and on their love of the good and beautiful.

We can hardly do less.

Justice & Mercy

On any given day, you’re presented with little situations that cause you to cry out for justice.

The person who cuts you off while driving or steals your seat on the bus.

The cable company that jacks up prices right after you’ve signed a two-year service agreement — and puts you on hold for 40 minutes when you call to complain.

Your hopes for justice are usually fruitless. But don’t let these experiences shape your response to pleas for mercy from a disobedient child, a tardy employee, an inattentive spouse.

Shakespeare tells us that earthly powers are most like God “when mercy seasons justice.”

Make sure to sprinkle a healthy portion of mercy in your efforts to set the world aright. Then live in hope that tomorrow, commuters will behaved better and the cable company will offer you a rebate.

Written by Sister Therese Ann Rich in September 2014.

Golf outing raises $100,000+ for our ministry

The Annual Window World & Beatitude House Golf Tournament reached a huge milestone in its 26th year. Over $100,000 was raised as a result of the event July 18 at The Lake Club in Poland.

The tournament is sponsored by Window World, Boardman, which is owned by Fred and Pat Moran. Associated Materials LLC, AIM Transportation, Covelli Enterprises, Joe & Linda Vivacqua, Jones Wealth Management, and The Muransky Companies are the Masters Sponsors of the tournament and contributed to the record breaking total. 

Officially $101,655 was raised through the efforts of more than 25 local sponsors, 144 golfers, and numerous other donors. The funds collected will benefit the transformative work of Beatitude House, a ministry of Ursuline Sisters Mission, by helping to create safe homes for families served by the housing program. 

Live Auction items brought in close to $18,000 of the total amount, which featured passes to the 2023 Memorial Tournament, tickets to the Ohio State vs. Toledo football game, and a one week golf vacation in Sarasota, Fla. provided by the Moran family.

The annual golf event is scheduled again for July 2023.

Beatitude House, a ministry of Ursuline Sisters Mission, has been successful in creating homes, providing educational opportunities and fostering healthy families since 1991 and has transformed over 7,500 lives. Ursuline Sisters Mission is gospel service poured out into the world by the us and our ministries.

Becoming Eucharist for others

This blog post was 1st posted by Sister Therese Ann Rich Aug., 16, 2009

Don and Annie were “empty nesters” as far as their children were concerned.

However, for 12 years Annie’s mother had lived with them. At first, she was a great help, but as the years rolled by, age was not kind to her and she began to diminish in energy and enthusiasm. Then she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had only a short time to live and wanted to die in familiar surroundings. Annie and Don agreed to round the clock care and continued their loving.

Their heartaches were many – the pain, the constant demands, family obligations, work obligations. However, the biggest heartache was expressed by Annie when she shared with me her longing for Eucharist. She had not been to Mass for so long because she didn’t want to leave her mother nor did she have the energy to get to Mass. Little did this overburdened daughter know that Eucharistic acts are as common as bread and wine, as common as the self-sacrificing love we freely give to others.

In the Gospel today, Jesus’ self-giving is made present in the Eucharist. Our eating this bread and drinking of this cup draws us into the mystery of self-giving. And in sharing in this bread and drinking of this cup, we become Eucharist for others.

Annie and Don became Eucharist for their family.

A House of Blessing Ashtabula celebrating remarkable milestone

On August 10, A House of Blessing Ashtabula hosted a celebration of the impact the program’s had on 136 women and 174 children since opening its doors a decade ago.

The family-friendly event featured Zoo-2-Go Mobile Petting Zoo and a catered lunch by Guyreino’s Deli. Children received birthday gifts in honor of A House of Blessing Ashtabula’s 10th birthday. Attendees were former and current clients, donors, community partners, friends and staff.

The program offers safe and secure transitional housing for Ashtabula’s most vulnerable population of women and children facing homelessness and poverty. The site features 10 apartments, a children’s playroom, case management offices, and an inviting, spacious family gathering area.

A House of Blessing Ashtabula is still the only transitional housing program of its kind in Ashtabula County and provides housing to approximately 40 women and children each year.

“The most amazing thing to me is watching the growth of each individual who comes through our program,” said Tammy Wetherbee, A House of Blessing Ashtabula’s Support Service Specialist. She’s served there since it opened.

“The women and children we serve do amazing things and seeing their progress keeps me going,” Wetherbee said.

During the event, the Sister Margaret Scheetz Award was given to Nicole, an outstanding client who’s shown great perseverance while in the program and to recognize all she’s accomplished. The late Sister Margaret, an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown, founded Beatitude House through inspiration to meet community needs.

After her involvement with A House of Blessing Ashtabula and through the assistance of its Ursuline Sisters Scholar’s program, Nicole passed state boards for cosmetology and recently was hired at a local salon.

“If it wasn’t for Beatitude House, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today,” Nicole said. “You marked the beginning of the change in my life and played a major role in supporting me when I didn’t have anyone else.”

Beatitude House accepts applications for the Scholar’s Program, a supportive program for post-secondary students, from all Ashtabula County residents.

The award, along with the celebration, mark the success A House of Blessing Ashtabula has achieved not only with the individuals who’ve been served but also in reducing homelessness and promoting education in Ashtabula County.

Just last year, Beatitude House, a ministry of Ursuline Sisters Mission and headquartered on Youngstown’s north side, celebrated 30 years of service which includes providing housing services for those experiencing homelessness, the operation of the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program, and outreach for disadvantaged women and children.

A part of Ursuline Sisters Mission (USM), Beatitude House is a ministry of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. It was founded in 1991 by the late Ursuline Sister Margaret Scheetz and has served over 7,500 over the span of 30 years. Beatitude House is committed to serving disadvantaged women and children by creating homes, providing educational opportunities, and fostering healthy families. Beatitude House provides them with the opportunity to transform their lives through various programs and resources.

8th Annual Nun Run to help more children

Ursuline Sisters Mission is hosting the8th annual Nun Run 5k, 1-mile walk, and kids’ run. The event is once again offered as a hybrid — both in-person and virtual.

It’s a wonderful way for families and friends across the Mahoning Valley, country and world to support vital children’s programs, stay active, and be involved in a healthy service activity.

The entry fee is $30 in advance or $35 the day of the race. To be guaranteed a t-shirt, entries must be received by Fri., Sept. 16. There is no entry fee for the Kids’ Run. Participants also receive a swag bag.

The in person event is Sat., Oct. 1 at the Ursuline Center, 4280 Shields Road. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. The Kids’ Fun Run begins at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 1-Mile Walk at 8:30 a.m. and the 5k Race at 9 a.m. Awards will be given to the top three overall male and female finishers, as well as for age-group winners. A cash award will be given to the man and woman who can set a new record on the 5k course.

The virtual event runs Sat., Oct. 1 to Sat., Oct. 15 and can be completed from anywhere in the world! Virtual participants will receive an official Nun Run t-shirt, finisher medal and swag with their entry fee of $30.

Proceeds from the event benefit the children served by the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry, Beatitude House and the Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten. 

Back by popular demand is “Run for a Nun.”  Participants can sign up to run in honor of an Ursuline Sister.

Online registration and sponsorship opportunities are available on our race website at For more, contact Marie Voitus at 330-793-0434 or at [email protected]. Learn more about the children who will be helped at these ministry websites:,, and

Stop the Violence!

Sister Norma Raupple, center, represented us and our ministries at a Stop the Violence rally in Youngstown August 7, 2022.

Her group included Ted Brown, Associate Pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown, its members, and Chris from the Dorothy Day House/Youngstown Catholic Worker board, walked around Crandall Park on Youngstown’s north side and prayed at four intersections.

“We prayed for victims, loved ones, for those who commit violent acts, police, our city, and country,” Sister Norma says. “Similar events have been taking place all summer and continue.”

We Ursulines — Sisters, Associates, lay leaders and loved ones — will continue to pray daily for peace and an end to violence.

Ursulines & the USA

Nearly 300 years ago, a group of Ursuline Sisters, two priests, and one religious brother boarded the ship the Gironde in France for a five month voyage across the Atlantic to begin a new mission in New Orleans.

Their arrival Aug. 7, 1727 is recognized by Catholic human service and health providers as the first organized effort by the Catholic Church to establish human and health services in the present day United States of America.

Their efforts include the oldest continuously operating school for women and the oldest Catholic school in the United States (independent of the students’ race, religion, ethnicity, or economic status) and the first children’s orphanage and refuge for battered women.

We give thanks for their example of service and fortitude as we celebrate this anniversary!

Jesus is counting on you!

This was authored by Sister Therese Ann Rich June 7, 2009

There’s a legend that recounts the return of Jesus to glory after his time on earth.

He bore the marks of his cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached him and asked, “Master, do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?”

“No,” Jesus replied, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”

Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?”

Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha and a few others to tell people about me. Those who are told will tell others, and my story will be spread throughout the earth. Ultimately, all humankind will know about my love.”

Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He well knew what poor stuff humans were made of.

He said, “But what if Peter denies you again? What if they all run away again in the face of opposition? What if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twenty-first century people just don’t tell others about you? Do you have another plan?

Jesus answered, “No. I’m counting on them.”

It’s centuries later and God still has no other plan.

Jesus describes for us an intimate and inexplicable relationship which calls us to be in communion with one another. As members of the Christian community, we’re called to attend to those beyond ourselves.  We’re called to be the face of Christ for each other. Jesus is counting on you!

We’ll soon be in print!

Author and historian Thomas Welsh is writing a book about us as we approach our 150th anniversary of ministry in the Mahoning Valley.

Tom’s working closely with Sister Mary McCormick, our general superior, Sister Bridget Nolan, our archivist, and Michele, our director of Mission Advancement.

He’s discovering lots of great stories from our past, and lots of great info about our future!

We’ll let you know when the book’s available for purchase, which is expected around September 18, 2024 – our official anniversary date.

Tom is the author of Closing Chapters: Urban Change, Religious Reform, and the Decline of Youngstown’s Catholic Elementary Schools (Lexington Books, 2011), a revised version of his dissertation. 

Since earning his doctorate at Kent State University, Tom has coauthored three books: Strouss’: Youngstown’s Dependable Store (History Press, 2012), Classic Restaurants of Youngstown (History Press, 2014), and A History of Jewish Youngstown and the Steel Valley (History Press, 2017). 

He recently completed a biography of Youngstown-based mall developer William M. Cafaro.

Tom is an Ursuline Associate, correspondent for the Catholic Exponent, and president of the Youngstown Torch Club.  

Pool closed for repairs

The Ursuline Education & Wellness Center’s pool is closed for repairs. Those wishing to inquire about classes should call 330-799-4941 at the beginning of September. Thank you!

A Prayer for all

By Pope Francis, taken from his encyclical Laudato Si’

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

The God Quest

By Sister Norma Raupple

Sister Norma with young adult volunteers and kids in Beatitude House’s Immigrant Outreach Program

Some call it the God Quest. It’s our lifelong attention to our faith journey.

Service is how it manifests itself. The gospel challenges us to make the marginalized our family, to love the larger Human Family. We make that a priority our whole life.

When you live in community, you belong to something, and when you belong to something it gives you strength and support. It gives you the financial freedom of not having to support yourself.

You’re freer to respond to the needs of the times, and it keeps evolving. In the times of St. Angela, she was totally other oriented — focused on others, available to others.

Sister Norma with a group of medical students she led to the U.S./Mexico Border

She was focused on the God Quest, on listening to the Spirit in her life, spending time with scripture and prayer. That enabled her to love the Human Family and discern how God was leading her.

It’s a freedom, openness, availability and a listening to the Spirit and the gospel, and then just kind of overflowing or responding each day.

So what is service? Some say the word is overused. I think of it as the opposite of being self-centered. For someone in approaching it through faith, its other centered, so that our eyes and ears and hearts are open to others and what’s going on in society. It doesn’t have to be hours of service or a service project. It can be being the face of St. Angela today and responding how Jesus would respond.

As religious Sisters we don’t have our own families, but we do have our way of loving, which is lifelong, and it’s fulfilling and meaningful. It’s not that our way of life is better than how other people live, it’s different.

Sister Norma and Mervat, a mom with Beatitude House who she helped to become a U.S. Citizen

There’s something young adults are searching for that could connect to the faith journey of a life dedicated to others. Most find it through marriage. But some don’t sense that that’s where they’re their best selves.

Be who God made you to be, and become your best self in some way of loving.

The Feast of Corpus Christi

Jesus’ actions in this Sunday’s Gospel – choosing, blessing, breaking and giving – foreshadows the total gift of self on the Cross, in the Eucharist.

The fullest presence of the kingdom of God is revealed by the total gift of self.

When we receive Jesus’ gift of self in the Eucharist, and choose to be transformed into being that same gift for others, we are the visible presence of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God comes to fulfillment in every act of total self-giving.

Jesus is the one who gave himself totally and continues to give himself to us in the Eucharist. In this Gospel, Jesus not only fills the hungry with good things, he fills them to overflowing.

Human food leaves is temporarily filling. Jesus’ food leaves us satisfied. But the satisfaction comes from what the eating and drinking lead us to do: give ourselves over to others in self-surrender as Jesus did. The focus of this feast is not limited to Eucharistic elements but leads to our pledge of self-giving.

When we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, we’re transformed more perfectly into the presence of the risen Christ for others. This transformation is both a gift and a challenge. It’s a challenge to spend ourselves for others, to give of ourselves.

The deepest mystery of this feast is that we, too, must give our very own body and blood to others so that they may be satisfied. And when the leftover fragments of ourselves are gathered up, we will find ourselves sharing in the everlasting abundance of the banquet! Such a mystery!

Adapted Renew International Year B; this post first appeared in 2021 and was written by Sister Therese Ann Rich.

Welcoming Jesus into your heart

Recently I read a story about the account of Christ’s birth in the Gospel of Luke. It suggested most of us are like the innkeeper — so caught up with the busyness and chaos of our lives that we “turn away” Jesus. We often feel like we don’t have enough time, and therefore, we don’t make space for him often enough in our hearts.

The innkeeper, of course, couldn’t have realized who that little family was. But he saw the couple’s situation. Could he have found it in his heart to offer greater hospitality through more comfortable accommodations?  Probably at an inconvenience. But imagine the regret he must have felt afterwards.

How often do we wish we had more time to pray, to talk to God? Work, family and social obligations get in the way. We think – Jesus is always there for us, so it’s okay if we’re not always there for him. He gets it.

But how much better do we feel when we do take the time?

And we can’t forget that Jesus is a living God. He challenges us to see His presence and honor His presence in everyone. That means if we want to truly live as Christians, we must be welcoming and kind to everyone – as much as possible. Sometimes more than we think is possible.

St. Angela Merici, who founded our order about 500 years ago, often spoke of Jesus – her rock in all matters of life. This one counsel, in particular, reminds me to see God’s presence in others: “Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.’”

Google the topic “the importance of welcoming Jesus into our hearts” and you’ll find many examples in the Bible to guide you. One I want to share with you is from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Try to focus a few minutes a day on welcoming Jesus into your heart, letting him work his plans, and letting him fill you with hope.

Filled with fire

As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Horses can have a mind of their own and be stubborn. So can humans!

We often need prodding — motivation — to do something, especially if it’s something we don’t enjoy. When it comes to us humans, motivation plays a huge role in why we do anything and how we do everything. Need is a strong motivator.
This solemnity is really about motivation — the reason why we listen to Jesus and choose to follow him. We followers of Jesus never stand alone. We have each other to motivate ourselves toward faithful action.

But even more, we always have the Spirit who dwells within and among us and binds us into one. Through the Holy Spirit we all share in the same risen Life, the same saving mission, the same love. We become bigger than ourselves. 
Pentecost is a celebration of both the gift of the Spirit and the effects of that gift. We share in the one Body of Christ who take up Jesus’ mission to preach the Good News of salvation. [Living Liturgy 2013]
The Father sent the “Advocate, the Holy Spirit” to teach us “everything.” This is why and how keeping Jesus’ commandments and word is the unconditional condition of loving him. This is why and how this love is the wellspring of our relationship to Jesus and his Father in their Spirit.

What the Spirit teaches us, in the end, is why we do anything and how we do everything.

This post first appeared in 2021 and was written by Sister Therese Ann Rich.

Remembering Sister Mary Ellen Dean

Sister Mary Ellen Dean, OSU, died Friday, May 27, 2022 at
St. Elizabeth Hospital, Boardman after a short illness.  She was 85. Mary Ellen was born on June 16, 1936 in Youngstown, the only child of Anthony J. and Mary Grace Miller Dean. She attended Patrick and St. Ann Elementary Schools and graduated from Ursuline High School in 1954.

She entered the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown on September 12, 1954 and was received into the novitiate on August 10, 1955 when she received the religious name of Sister Suzanne. She made perpetual profession in 1960.

Sister Mary Ellen earned a BS in Education from Youngstown State University in 1959 and a MA in History and Government from Marquette University in 1963. She did additional post-graduate studies at Youngstown State University, Michigan State University, the University of South Carolina, as well as a Library Science program at Clarion University.

Sister Mary Ellen was active in ministry for 63 years.  She began her career in Catholic school education
by teaching at St. Nicholas, Struthers, Holy Family, Poland, St. Patrick, Youngstown, St. Charles, Boardman, St. Joan of Arc, Canton, and St. Patrick, Leetonia.

In 1966 she was assigned to teach at Ursuline high School and began a long tenure there. At Ursuline she taught American History and Government. She served as the Registrar for two years and was Director of the Library for 29 years. In that capacity she oversaw the transition of Ursuline’s library services to a technology center. She retired from Ursuline in 2011.

After her teaching career at Ursuline Sister Mary Ellen helped with the SilverSneakers Program at the Ursuline Center, a position she held until 2020. 

Sister Mary Ellen leaves her Sisters in community. She was preceded in death by her parents.

Funeral services will be at the Ursuline Motherhouse, 4250 Shields Rd., Canfield.  Friends may call beginning at 10:30 am on Tuesday May 31. The Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:30 am. Please wear a mask if you come to the wake or funeral Mass.