Walking In The Footsteps of Christ: Sister Julia Baluch’s Vocation Story

Imagine setting your feet on the actual ground where Christ Jesus walked. Few of us will ever have that opportunity. But not only has Sister Julia Baluch toured paths in the Holy Land where Jesus is believed to have traveled, she’s dedicated her life to following in the footsteps of Christ by continuing His mission to share God’s love with His people.
When Sister Julia first entered the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown community, she taught grades 1-8 at various schools in the Youngstown Diocese and served as a principal. She has fond memories of the bonds she forged, and in particular remembers a young girl from St. Rose in Girard whose mother and grandmother volunteered at the church baking bread. On the first day of school, the girl gave Sister Julia a rose bud. This gesture marked the beginning of an enduring friendship.
After 30 years as an educator, Sister Julia served as a pastoral minister, including at her home parish of St. Patrick in Youngstown. She visited the sick and families who lost loved ones. She prayed with them, listened to their stories, and attended funeral masses. “It was a gift to God,” Sister Julia says of those experiences. “They were so appreciative, and it was a beautiful thing to see.”
Sister Julia began contemplating a religious vocation during her years attending school at St. Patrick’s. A Sister of St. Joseph visited her school, and a classmate asked the nun how to know if one has a calling to vowed religious life. As Sister Julia recalls, the nun advised them to pray three Hail Marys before bed each night, and “when the time is right, you’ll know.” This piece of advice, Sister Julia says, “sparked” her desire to serve God, a longing which continued to grow.
Throughout her life, Sister Julia was blessed with Catholic mentors and role models. Her mother, an immigrant from Kassa (then part of Hungary), was very religious. Deeply touched by a community of Ursuline Sisters during her childhood in Hungary she even considered joining the community. Therefore, Sister Julia observes, her mother was supportive of her decision to become an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown.
Another mentor was Sister Julia’s spiritual director, Sister Miriam Thompson, an Ursuline Sister of Brown County. “I read about spiritual relationships, but I didn’t know what that meant in my younger days,” she says, describing how their friendship grew in ways she had never imagined. Sister Miriam was a source of inspiration, she says, and also provided her with criticism when needed. Sister Julia remembers making several trips to Brown County, and Sister Miriam promised that there would always be a guest room available for her.
Sister Miriam also shared a quote from Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1607), an Ursuline Sister — recently canonized — who served the Iroquois and children of pioneers in an early French-Canadian colony: “Leave it all to God. He has his own time, this God of ours who is so full of love.”
To this day, Sister Julia keeps a copy of these words with her. Their meaning has evolved over time, she’s found.
Despite having retired five years ago from active ministry (60 years!), Sister Julia remains active and serves others. She is involved with the Antonine Sisters’ program for senior citizens, where she describes her ministry as sharing God’s love and providing a healing presence.
Once, when she was consoling a woman, Sister Julia placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “We continued to talk, and then I was realizing my hand was going over and back, over and back on her back. Actually, I was just massaging her back,” she explains. In that moment, though, Sister Julia discovered her new ministry.
Mary Clyde, Ursuline Associate and aide in Motherhouse Healthcare, has formed a close bond with Sister Julia. “She’s very prayerful with me,” Mary says, recalling the blessing Sister Julia gave Mary’s son before he left for basic training. “You feel good when you are with her,” she adds. “I think I am a better person because I’m with her.”
Ursuline Sister of Youngstown Nancy Dawson, executive director of The Ursuline Center and former general superior, admires Sister Julia’s commitment to reach out to others. “She is a gift of God to the Ursuline Sisters and the whole Church,” Sister Nancy says.
Sister Julia’s Hungarian background brings cultural diversity to the community, and she takes pride in her heritage. She also helped foster the extended Ursuline family, visiting communities across the United States and making two trips to Italy, where the Ursuline order was founded. Her involvement in the Jewish-Christian dialogue led by Father George Balasko and Rabbi Samuel Meyer, united people of different faiths and deepened her own spirituality.
Through life’s changes, Sister Julia remembers a piece of advice she received from her spiritual director: “When you knock on the right door, it will open.”

Called To Be A Nun ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Says Sister Patricia McNicholas

Ursuline Sister Patricia McNicholasShe’s taught elementary through college students. She’s worked for the diocese of Youngstown. And her ministry of nearly two decades saves the lives of homeless women and their children.


Sister Patricia McNicholas, an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown for just over 50 years, calls being a nun “wonderful.” Reflecting on her experience as an Ursuline Sister recently even brought tears of joy to her eyes.


Sister Patricia shares her Vocation Story in this short video



World Day of Prayer For Vocations

This Sunday [April 21} is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In 1963 Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday as World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows us well and gives his life for us. In the name of Christ Jesus we rejoice in the Good Shepherd who leads us into fullness of life. As we celebrate this feast we pray for fidelity to our vocation.
820429-musicThe Church invites us to honor the vocation of all Christians given at baptism. Through the vocation of marriage, priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life, and the single life may we further the reign of God. May those who are discerning their life vocation listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd to guide them.
We offer this prayer to be said on that day.
Gracious God, You have called me to life and gifted me in many ways.
Through Baptism You have sent me to continue the mission of Jesus by sharing my love with others. Strengthen me to respond to Your call each day.
Help me to become all You desire of me. Inspire me to make a difference in others’ lives. Lead me to choose the way of life You have planned for me. Open the hearts of all to listen to Your call. Fill all with Your Holy Spirit that we may have listening hearts and the courage to respond to You.
Enkindle in my heart and the hearts of others the desire to make the world a better place by serving as Lay Minister, Sister, Priest, Brother or Deacon. Amen.


My Joyful Life As A Catholic Nun

Sheila Triplet, Sister Betty Schuster, Sister Mary Alyce KovalBy Sister Mary Alyce Koval [far right in photo]
I never really thought about being a nun until I was in high school. I started to develop relationships with some of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown who were teachers. Eventually I thought, “This is a fun group of women to be a part of!”

I knew there was a joy in their life, prayerfulness in their life, and I liked to be around them.

So here I am, almost 50 years later, and I am one of them! The fact that I am energized every day when I go to work keeps me going.

I was involved in education for over 40 years. I was a teacher for a few years, then I moved into administration and I was a principal in various elementary schools. I dearly loved it.

For the last three years, I’ve been involved at Beatitude House. I’m the education director for the program, which means that I’m responsible for making sure that each of the women in our program has an education plan.

It’s been a real joy. It’s been a blessing to work with them. I have learned so much from the women in hearing their stories and helping them to refocus their lives and aim for something higher.

For any woman thinking about becoming a nun, I would encourage you to establish a relationship with a Sister or group for Sisters. Spend time with them, not just in prayer. Most people think we pray all day but we have very busy lives! Share meals with them. Do things socially with them.

I think the core relationship that has to be established is the relationship with God. I think God can work miracles in people’s hearts and minds. Keep that communication open through prayer – not just formal prayer, but in spending time with the Lord and listening to the Lord’s side of the conversation. Listen to what Jesus is instilling in your heart to move you forward in your journey.

If you believe you are being called to become a nun, give us a call at 330.301.6891 and we can help you discern God’s call.

An Ursuline Sister? You?

A Volunteer with Ursuline SistersIntern, Volunteer Program Extended
You don’t have to become a nun to be a part of our many ministries in the Mahoning Valley. Our Summer Intern & Volunteer Program for young adults age 18+ was so successful this summer that we’re extending it to the fall.
Sister Norma Raupple, coordinator of the program, observes, “Young adults have a special connection with young children. They are great role models and they offer a positive, energetic presence to our programs.”
College students or recent graduates with a few hours a week to spare and a sincere desire to make a difference in the community are encouraged to apply. Participants gain valuable workplace experience to build their résumés while also enriching their lives, having fun, meeting new people and visiting diverse places.
Here’s what just some of our recent participants say about the program:

  • “I learned so much valuable information and would love others to be able to have the same experience.” Lauren, a summer intern.
  • “I very much enjoyed my volunteer experience and would like to thank everyone who made it possible.” Caitlyn, a summer volunteer.
  • “I really liked how the program was set up this year and I think it’s going in a great direction!” Carly, who’s volunteered for two summers now.
  • “Thank you so much! This was a great experience.” Christina, a summer volunteer.
  • “I had a great time helping out and I’d love to do it again!” Natalie, a summer volunteer.
  • “I had a great time working with the children at Potter’s Wheel and at the Villa. It was wonderful to watch them develop their skills and reach their goals over the course of the summer.” Mary Ann, a summer Companion in Mission

Hours are flexible, Sister Norma notes, and we can customize internships or volunteer opportunities to meet students’ needs.
“The Ursuline Sisters serve in a variety of nonprofit settings in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties with people of all ages and backgrounds,” she continues “Our lives are enriched through our service, and we welcome others to join us and share in our experience.”
The Ursuline Sisters serve in a variety of nonprofit settings in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties with people of all ages and backgrounds, such as Beatitude House, housing for homeless women and children in Youngstown and Warren; Potters’ Wheel, Youngstown, offering education and Hispanic outreach; The Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry, at their clinic in Youngstown and at Casa Madre, where they have a program for children; SCOPE of Lordstown, a meeting place for mobile senior citizens; Parkside Health Care Center, a skilled-nursing care facility in Columbiana; Motherhouse Health Care, Canfield, the assisted-care wing for Sisters; Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten, Canfield; St. Columba Parish, Youngstown; and Habitat for Humanity, Youngstown.
For more information or to apply, contact Sister Norma at 330-792-7636 or Email Sister Norma. Applicants must provide a résumé, three references/letters of recommendation and pass a federal background check.

Becoming a Nun: Best Path for You?

Best path?You don’t have to choose religious life to become deeply spiritual, loving human beings.
But becoming a nun  could be you best path toward living a deeply spiritual life,  so I encourage you  to consider it. There is something to be said about the disciplines and expectations of religious life. Nuns/Sisters usually have a community encouraging us toward the practices that build strong Christians: regular prayer and reflection, sacraments, and a spirit of “ministry” to accompany our work. So, how do you know if this is the best path?

Listen to God. Pay attention to your heart. If you’re inclined to throw in your hat with a group of nuns/ sisters–go for it! It can be a great life. Along with all the good, you’ll have bad days, bad months maybe, but that’s because you’re human. Be the best human being you can be, and along the way you will know God’s joy. Because joy comes from a life well-lived. You will find God’s peace because you will be living your calling.

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, novelist Milan Kundera meditates on the mystery of making choices in life: “Human life only occurs once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.”

No, we cannot rewind our lives like a video and undo the consequences of choosing badly or not choosing at all. That’s why discernment, the prayerful consideration of life choices, is essential. Pray and think and consult with others about big decisions in your life, including the possibility of becoming a nun. It might take your whole life to get really good at discernment. So it’s a skill and a habit worth cultivating early.

As the Catholic catechism tells us, our life’s purpose is to find the best way to love and serve God. If religious life is your best way, congratulations!

Give us a call-330. 301.6891 or Email us and we would be happy to journey with you.

Hearing God’s Call: Sister Germaine Staron

Being a nun has been a blessing for Sister Germaine Staron. She first thought of religious life as a child, and her parents’ faith and involvement in church activities was always an inspiration to her, as were stories from the bible – a book she found it hard to put down.

“I decided to enter when I came back from the first year of college. I was just bombarded inside of me,” she says, calling the voice the “Hound of Heaven,” “‘Come, Come, I want you to come.”


If you or someone you know thinks you may want to become a nun, Sister Germaine suggests you pray about the idea and talk to someone in religious life. You can call Sister Norma Raupple at the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, 330-792-7636, or email her at [email protected].

Is God Calling Me To Be A Nun?

Several times a week, we encounter young women asking that very question. With each encounter we ask the young woman:
Do you experience…….
A Desire to live simply
• An Ability to relate with a variety of   people, to be happy alone or in a group
• A Joy in serving others in any outreach or   parish involvement
• Generosity of heart, time and talent
• An Ability to listen to others and accept direction when needed

A Desire to love expansively rather than needing an intimate relationship with one person
• A Desire to grow in union with God through prayer and service of the needy

Then, God may be calling you to become a nun.
The call to religious life, the call to be a nun, is always marked by a desire to serve God and God’s people, to care for the needy and to bring people to experience God’s love. But, since ministry is a part of every vocation, service is not the distinguishing characteristic of a call to consecrated life as a member of a religious community. The uniqueness of the call to be a nun, the call to religious life is living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in community. The essential service of the religious is to witness to all the faithful that each of us is called to treat things, persons and our own self with respect and as ultimately belonging to God.

At the heart of the call to religious life is a desire to give oneself in love to God in a way so total that the pursuit of union with God makes it impossible for anything or anyone to be more central. One becomes unavailable for marriage.

If you believe you are being called to be a nun, give us a call [330. 301.6891] and we can help you discern God’s call.

How Do I Know God Is Calling Me To Be A Nun?

How do I know if God is calling me to become a nun? Many young people ask this very question; in fact I asked it myself not very long ago. The answer is not something you can find and define in a simple way. It is a mystery.
I asked a friend once, “So, how do you know?” She promptly said, “You will know it when you know it.” That was not the answer I was hoping for, but by all accounts, she was right. The answer will come and you will know it, you just have to determine if you’re willing to find it. For me, I wanted clarity and I felt God was not delivering. Then I realized to understand the call I had to pay attention.
One of the first things you can do is simply pray. You would be amazed how prayer can help you sort out the cobwebs of a searching soul. With all the noise and demands of life, just taking time out to be quiet and talk to God is a big step in the discernment process.
Through my prayer I found I wanted to be alone with God. I could hear Jesus’ words, as if directly to me, “Come follow me.” There were times when I doubted or was unsure, but God always led the way.
Eventually it was apparent when in both my prayer and through my loved ones, God’s message was, “It was I who chose you, you do not choose me.” No matter what I did or where I looked, that message came to me. The words of my friend came back to me, “You will know it when you know it.” As many times as I found myself hanging up on God (which I did literally), through attentiveness, prayer and investigation, I began to trust that God’s call was as genuine for me as it is for anyone.
So, how do you know if you are being called? Start by reflecting on these questions:
Do I find myself wondering if there is more to life?
Do I have a desire to know God more deeply and give my whole self to him?
Am I drawn to pray and participate in the liturgy?
Do I take an active role in the life of the Church?
Do I feel called to live out the Gospel?
Do I desire to live a simple lifestyle?
Do I feel called to share life, ministry and faith with others?
Do I value the multicultural abundance in our world?
Am I concerned with the unmet needs of others, especially the poor and those treated unjustly?
Do I believe I can live the life of a religious sister or nun?
Do I think I can live a life of continual conversion?
Do I believe we can do more together than alone?
Do I want a challenging life lived with deep satisfaction and love?
If you answer “yes” to many of these questions, God may be calling you to religious life.
Give us a call. We are happy to journey with you.

Helping Others Deepen Their Relationship With Christ

Sister Therese Ann Rich, an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown, works in a variety of ministries — all focused on helping others deepen their relationship with Christ.


While growing-up, Sister Therese Ann was surrounded by those who celebrated their faith daily, such as her aunt, a Humility of Mary Sister, and her uncle, an Alexian Brother.


In high school, Sister Therese Ann was banking on a career in accounting. But the Lord had another plan. And after her principal introduced her to two Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, Sister Therese Ann knew her life’s calling was to be a nun.



In this installment of Vocation Stories by the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, Sister Therese Ann shares her experience in her own words:


On her ministries:

It’s funny how God moves you in a variety of ways.


My major ministry is really this: to engage people in a deeper relationship with Christ. I’m a pastoral associate in a parish where I work with people who’ve lost a loved one. I do some Adult Education, I do some Religious Education with families. I’ve been teaching online with the Diocese [of Youngstown]. I’m also the IT person here at the community, so I maintain some websites and a Facebook page. Although I do a variety of things my ministry is very pointed, very specific in terms of our relationship with Christ.


On being inspired for the Sisters to build a labyrinth at their Canfield, Ohio, Motherhouse:

I had a lap labyrinth that I could use where I walked it with my fingers, and as I got to the center, it centered me in my prayer. Then I was able to let go of the anxieties or the concerns and actually begin to sit into the heart of God. The labyrinth is the metaphor for life’s journey. I thought to myself, “Gee, couldn’t we just do something here that would help someone or some group get in touch with who they are in relationship with God.


On being inspired to become an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown:

To be honest with you, I wanted to work in the finance world, but something kept tugging at me and tugging at me. The more I visited here, the more I realized I was more comfortable here and I felt more at home. I haven’t had a boring day. There’s something about hospitality and our concern for the poor – it’s more personal than corporate.


Do you or does someone you know want to be a nun? Here’s what Sister Therese Ann Rich says:

The invitation comes personally. It comes through relationships with people, it came personally through my family, and it came personally through my own prayer life.


If you’ve been thinking about service to the church and your heart’s being tugged, come talk to us. Come talk to a Sister. Come volunteer. By volunteering, you might know who we are.


Not Your Typical Nun Story

The story of how Sister Judy Shoff came to be an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown is unique. She was Protestant. She was married with children. But God’s call to Catholicism and Religious life transcended those boundaries.


In her 40s, her family obligations met, Sister Judy answered that call first by volunteering with the Ursuline Sisters, then by joining their community.


In this installment of Vocation Stories, Sister Judy relates in her own words the details of her journey.



Sister Judy Shoff

Most of my friends were Catholic, I was Protestant, and I was always fascinated by the Catholic religion. My friends had the crucifix in their homes, they had the Sign of the Cross they made as they prayed, and this always stayed with me.


Following a New Path

It wasn’t until later years, in fact, I was an adult, I had been married, I had two adult children, three grandchildren, and I was a nurse. I had been working at a hospital and a visitor came in one day and was talking about the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class and I asked him about that and I said I would be interested in learning about the Catholic religion.


A Blossoming Faith

I continued to have the desire to enter religious life. Of course, I prayed about it. People talked to me about their charism and St. Angela Merici, she’s the founder of the Ursuline Sisters. I really became interested and fascinated by – St. Angela cared about the poor and the underserved.


Finding Meaning in Ministry

What continues to give my life meaning is being with others, being in community, being with others at work – patients and also co-workers. We’re there for each other. Even patients, even though I’m there to minister to them, they really minister to me, also.


Surrounded by Family

In community, we have people of all different gifts, so we can help each other. There’s always somebody that is able to help so we’re really here for each other.


I’m Sister Judy Shoff.


Do you think you have the call to be an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown? Sister Judy offers this advice: “Pray about it, of course, and ask God that you really do feel the calling. Try to meet with Sisters in Religious Communities if you’re able to and hear their stories and their experiences.”




What Did Your Parents Say When You Told Them You Wanted to Be A Nun?

In the latest installment of our continuing video series Ask A Nun, Sister Nancy Dawson, General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, answers the question “What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to enter the Convent?”

Sister Nancy Dawson:

I’m Sister Nancy Dawson, an Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, Ohio, and the question for today is: “What did my parents say when I told them I wanted to go to the Convent?

Well, I started to ask the question of myself with a spiritual director, Father Malone, and at that time I was only about 17 or 18, right after high school.

And when I asked my dad, who was not Catholic, if I could go — or should go — to the Convent, he said, “Well, why don’t you wait until you’re 21. Sometimes people don’t have a brain in their head until they get a little bit older.”

So at 21, I went back and said to my dad, “I think I really want to be a nun!” And my dad gave me his blessing. My mother, of course who was Catholic and my primary role model, she loved to say the rosary, and I think she was responsible for my entering the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

I would also say that the Sisters who taught me in grade school at Immaculate [Conception] and at Ursuline High School were an incredible influence on my life. They were always happy. They were always generous. They were compassion.

I was put out of school twice and they took me back, and I thought that was a miracle that they performed.

And so I’m very happy that I’m an Ursuline Sisters today. And I hope that God will continue to bless our community with young people who would come into our life, which is a really exciting and wonderful encounter with Jesus and with all those that we serve.

Contact the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown at [email protected] or 330-792-7636.

How Many Careers Have You Had As a Nun?

In our continuing video series Ask A Nun, Sister Nancy Dawson, General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, answers the question “How many careers have you had as a nun?”

Well, I can’t even count the number of careers that I’ve had. I entered when I was 21. I taught elementary school, high school, and now I teach at YSU (Youngstown State University) as a professor in the department of Philosophy and Religion.

I was a principal for a number of years. I also worked in a parish in a rural area, which was wonderful to be with the people at that time and in that place.

I’ve been in administration for a longer period of time than I would like to name, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to exercise leadership and to energize all of the other sisters for the many ministries that we perform in the diocese of Youngstown and beyond.

I worked at the Elkton Prison for a short period of time as a chaplain, and I’ve also been director of the Ursuline Center at Youngstown, where we have ministries of Walsh University campus, AIDS Ministry, adult education, and swimming lessons for children.

I’m back into administration at this time, and we’re doing some very exciting things as Ursulines in reconfiguring our life and our space and trying to figure out how we can show the world what it means to be nonviolent in our thoughts, words, and actions in a culture that deals with so much diversity. Thank you. Excellent question!

Contact the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown at [email protected] or 330-792-7636.

Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown Mark a Milestone and Plan For the Future

By Michele Ristich Gatts

Angela Merici was a courageous woman. She was also fortunate. She was educated. She had strong faith. But what Angela witnessed in her community saddened her so greatly that she was moved to action.

“She saw that there were needs – young women who were being sexually abused by soldiers,” reflects Sister Mary McCormick, a member of the leadership team for the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. “She believed they could have a life of service, a safe life, rather than a life on the streets.”

And so, says Sister Mary, Angela employed perhaps her greatest gift. “She was somebody who networked. She gathered together people to help her from various backgrounds. She had businessmen of the day who were advisors to her, she had widows who had some affluence, plus, she had a close group of advisors in the church.”

The movement that Angela – St. Angela Merici of Italy – began in the 16th century not only improved the lives of people in her community, the ripple effects of her faith, strength, caring and good works continue to this day, changing and improving the world.

St. Angela was the founder of the Ursuline Order of nuns, who are celebrating 475 years of serving others.  “The struggles and the fears and the needs of people – St. Angela was able to be there and be with them in a pastoral, supportive way,” says Sister Norma Raupple, also a member of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown leadership team. “I see her as a great model for us in our time.”

The Sisters marked the anniversary of their order’s founding Nov. 25 with mass and a celebratory brunch at the Motherhouse. A video of Sister Mary’s reflection presented at the occasion can be viewed elsewhere on this site.

For 136 years, the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown have ministered in education, hospitals and health care facilities and in parish and outreach programs for the poor and disadvantaged.

Like their founder, the Ursuline Sisters build bridges between the more fortunate members of our community and those at risk of becoming lost.

“We can provide for that networking so people in need – women, immigrants, HIV positive people or families of those with autism – find the resources so they have a future that’s hopeful instead of a life on the streets,” explains Sister Mary, who’s also an associate professor of systematic theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in the Diocese of Cleveland.

Some of the Sisters’ past and present good works locally are the founding of and continuing educational endeavors at Ursuline High School, Youngstown Community School and Millcreek Children’s Center, Youngstown, and The Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten, Canfield. Some of the sisters teach other schools and in higher education. They founded Beatitude House, with locations in Youngstown and Warren, which aids women and children who are often fleeing abusive situations. Its educational arm, The Potter’s Wheel, Youngstown, helps disadvantaged women succeed in educational and employment opportunities.

The Sisters also offer HIV/AIDS and Prayer Shawl ministries, work in Social Work and as Chaplains in area healthcare, rehabilitation and nursing-home facilities, and offer Spiritual Direction. The Sisters’ Ursuline Center hosts numerous activities and classes; swimming and water-aerobics classes are offered at the Ursuline Pool. Both facilities adjoin the Motherhouse.

But as much as the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown minister to the needs of others, they are currently struggling with a need of their own. The Sisters are aging, with their membership declining to fewer than 60. If their good and vital works in our community are to continue, the Ursuline Sisters need new members to build on their heritage.

“I think the challenge is for young people or middle-aged people to just know us,” Sister Norma posits, “to come and volunteer with us in our huge variety of ministries, or to come and pray with us.”

One such opportunity is Wednesday evenings during Advent, where all are invited to Evening Prayer with the Community at 6:30 p.m. in the Motherhouse Chapel, 4250 Shields Rd.

The Ursuline Sisters also are utilizing social media. They blog. They’re on Facebook and post videos  online. Soon, video profiles on this Web site will tell the stories of many of the Sisters and how each is answering her call to serve God.

In addition, a service group for young women in high school and college is in the works.

Sister Norma, who ministers with immigrant mothers, says she was drawn to life as an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown because “they appeared to me to be happy and lead meaningful lives. I wanted to be part of something bigger and make a difference, put my life in with a group of other women.

“I wanted to build my life and continue to grow in my longing for God and my relationship with God. This way of life gives you the support that helps you to do that,” she continues.

Sister Mary agrees that her life has been enriched by being an Ursuline Sister. The vocation has helped her receive her education and introduced her to numerous people locally and nationally.

“Most of all, I’ve come to see so many things in my life as a great blessing, and I think that’s really rooted in prayer,” Sister Mary states. “That’s one of the blessings of community life — you get to see those blessings over and over and over again.”

Through outreach efforts, the Sisters hope women thinking about a religious vocation will consider life as an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown.

“If our lives have made a difference in our local church and local community,” Sister Mary says, “then we hope other people will join us to continue to make a difference.”

Sister Norma says the next generation of Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown could “build on history, build on our heritage, build on the vision of St. Angela, but then to create it and establish it for their time.”

At What Age Can a Woman Become a Nun?

Welcome to our “Ask The Nun” series of informal videos. Today’s question focuses on the age requirement for becoming a nun. Sister Norma Raupple shares her answer.

A woman needs to be  least 18 years old before applying to join the discernment process.  It’s good to have some life experience as a young adult… either going to college or working at a job for a while. During these years  there are many ways to be in contact with Sisters.  There are opportunities to get to know a group of Sisters and for the Sisters to get to know you… before you actually become a member of the community.     Women today are finding that they are attracted to becoming a nun later in life. One can become a nun at almost any age.

Please submit your questions to [email protected]