Use Your Gifts

It was common in the time of Jesus for a master to leave some servants in charge of his affairs when he went on a journey. This master knew his servants well. He entrusted the savvier ones with greater responsibility. But even a less qualified servant might be left with some responsibility – as in the case Jesus describes in one of his parables.

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had receive the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back (Matthew 25: 19-26).

The master was risk taker. He didn’t just allow things to happen; he made them happen. Keeping his talent safe wasn’t good enough. Growth was the only option.
“His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten’” (Matthew 25: 26-28).

In their master’s absence, the successful servants acted just as the master would. For their accomplishments, the master rewarded them with more responsibility. The “wicked” servant did not follow his master’s example. He was punished by having his one talent taken away and then being thrown to the darkness outside.

Once we discover the talents we have been entrusted with, we must show gratitude to God for these gifts by nurturing them and putting them to good use. As members of the Body of Christ, we must use our talents to promote the values of God. When we do, we find our greatest success.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells this parable in the midst of other stories about the end times. As we wait for the second coming of the Son of Man, we must act as Jesus did. If we do so, we can be proud to present these accomplishments to God when we meet him face to face.

What gifts and talents have you discovered in yourself? How might you use them in ways that will build up the Body of Christ?

Adapted from, Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

Convocation Ends but Spirit Continues

Logo 2The cleverness of a good teacher never fails to amaze me. The gift of faith Ursuline Sisters carry into their ministries daily even more so.


At the 2013 North American Ursuline Convocation, we gathered in groups the afternoon of July 6 to consider questions and share ideas. An Ursuline Sister/educator shared this technique, which I unabashedly promised to steal and invited the 200 people gathered there to join me in doing.


Quote for the DayIn her morning announcements, this Sister from Dallas tells the high school students she just spoke with St. Angela Merici and offers a list of jobs the founder of the Ursuline order needs them to accomplish. Often there are specifics that “Mother Angela” has assigned for kids and the classes. They laugh. They joke. But they remember. And they do.


Counsels of St. Angela — one of which is to gather on occasion (this counsel and others were written on colorful banners around the hotel where we stayed) — are at the heart of how the Ursuline Sisters live. At this year’s convocation, (they happen every three) nuns from Canada, the United States and Mexico were present.


But the convocation is so much more than a gathering of women called to be nuns. So much more than an educational event for women and men – Sisters, Associates, Companions, co-workers and friends – who embrace the mission and ministry of St. Angela Merici and the Gospel. It’s a place to be renewed in the spirit of St. Angela and to realize that by embracing her charism and serving God’s people we make a meaningful, positive difference in the world.


Representing the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown were five Sisters and 12 lay people associated in some way with the community. There’s so much we experienced that I can’t fit it all here. But I asked the Youngstown crew some of their thoughts, and share them here:

Kathleen, Dave and Sr PatriciaUrsuline Associates Kathy and Dave S., and Sister Patricia McNicholas
“My husband, Dave, and I really felt privileged to be with women who’ve dedicated their lives to living the Gospel in our community, and to meet people from around the nation and the world who’ve done the same.


Also, to be able to share how we can grow together — how we… can further Gospel values and be responsive to changes in the world.”


Sister Patricia: “The convocation was inspiring. I’ve only been at programs for the homeless for a long time, so to get back thinking about values of religious life, particularly Ursuline life, and how do we expand our circles to really be more inclusive of others. I think we have a tendency sometimes to think of we and they, and this inspires us to think about how we can break out of that mentality that’s so easy to fall into.”


Norma and JanetJanet S., Friend of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and a Speaker at the Event (with Sister Norma Raupple)

“My talk was about how the values that I learned at Ursuline High School — specifically how the values of Angela — have manifested themselves in my life through service to the community.


One of the most important things for me to share is how much, as a young adult, I value spending time with Sisters. It’s really an inspiration. They value my being here and they are open and welcoming to me. I feel like that is something a lot of other young adults can benefit from as well and I’d like to see more of that.



Mary Ann and Sister Mary AlyceSister Mary Alyce Koval (with Mary Ann H., our Companion in Mission . Look for her blog about the event soon!)

“What’s exciting for me in this gathering of Ursulines from all over North America is the fact that we’re not alone in Youngstown doing this, that Angela’s mission is alive and well all over the world, really. And to see 200 Ursuline friends and Associates and Sisters witnessing to that spirit in their own lives and ministries is very energizing to me.”


Sister Marlene, Sean,Jackie and MicheleSister Marlene LoGrasso, Sean and Jackie F., Ursuline Associates (with yours truly)


Sister Marlene: “I’ve been coming to these since 1992. The speakers are all good, the program is good, the liturgies are wonderful. But for me, the most important thing is the circles, the tables. It’s at those tables all the wisdom that comes out in the discussions (about the speakers). You don’t have to stay at one table, you move around, and you hear wisdom throughout the day.”


Sean: “It’s inspiring to see and meet so many Sisters, see the inspirational things they have going on, hear their stories of Angela and how they are impacting people’s lives.”


Jackie: “ I’ve enjoyed getting to know people and hear about so many different perspectives and ministries. It’s made me want to learn more. I really like the perspectives that everyone is equal and active listening.”

DanDan W., Ursuline Associate and Employee

“I’ve seen that there isn’t another HIV/AIDS ministry, so the theme of inclusion and expanding circles is one that makes me proud of the ministry. A lot of people experiencing HIV/Aids have been shut out of the community, sometimes their family community, so creating that inclusion for them is so vital and important. And for moving forward, keeping in mind that we’re doing the right thing.”

PS: The Convocation logo, imprinted on the beautiful scarves you see most of us wearing in the photos, is of St. Angela and her followers and was designed by Sister Agatha Fitzgerald of the Ursulines of Brown County, Ohio. The picture above doesn’t do it justice.


Final evening of the Ursuline Convention–Mass at Ursuline Academy. Here is a clip from the opening song, “Sing the Circle,” written specifically for this year’s convention..Sr Dorothy, Associates Patricia and Sandy.