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.”

Be a Piazza: Perspectives of a Companion In Mission

Mary Ann and Sister Betty“A piazza is open and it knows people are going to come in and people are going to go out, but it is always going to stay open. …The other may come in, may reside there, and may share what he or she has with me; then the other may go back out.”  I liked the impression of ease and confidence in that image. Mary Ann, our Companion in Mission offers her final reflection of her summer experience with us.

One Saturday night in July, I went to a Western Dance party organized by the members of the Lordstown SCOPE. I didn’t recognize many of the songs the band played, but since I enjoyed going to dances in college, I couldn’t resist getting myself out on the dance floor and having a good time. Among the other dancers was a white-haired woman named Dorothy who came dressed for the event, complete with Western boots and a fringed shirt. I noticed she was looking for a dance partner, so I offered to join her, and I was quickly able to learn her step. A good-humored man named Frank tried to follow along with us, and he’d slump his shoulders in exaggerated defeat whenever he made a mistake. Whenever he’d start to get the hang of it, he’d smile to his spectators seated at the table to assure them he had figured it out, but at some point he would slip up again. Read more….