Wake Up The World

wakeuptheworldSince  the call of the first disciples, some followers of Jesus have sought a different way to live their faith. In the early church groups of widows gathered to dedicate themselves to prayer and good works. Others craved solitary prayer, so they fled to the desert to commune with God and guide others in the pursuit of holiness. Monasteries, cloisters, and religious houses eventually came into being, and religious life as we know it began to take shape.
Pope Francis has called for a special yearlong focus on consecrated life, asking the church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope
Consecrated life—in its diverse expressions around the globe—is a gift to the church
and world. Its prayer lifts the entire church. Likewise, good works and the pursuit of justice
shape society to more closely resemble the reign of God. A life of chastity, poverty, and obedience gives powerful witness to faith in Jesus without a word being uttered.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, religious communities of men and women rise up, serve a
purpose, thrive, and live on or come to an end. This ebb and flow has occurred for 2,000 years
and will continue for millennia to come as new members around the world take vows and join
their lives to communities to live out the gospel in radical ways.
The Ursuline Sisters have been around since our founding by Saint Angela Merici in 1535 in Brescia Italy. This year, The Ursuline Sisters in Youngstown are celebrating 140 years of service in the Mahoning Valley.  As part of our celebration, we are visiting various parish communities with an  invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.

“The monuments to the work of the Sisters in imitation of Jesus are not found in buildings or plaques,” observes Sister Mary McCormick, our General Superior. “They are found in the lives of people who have been taught by an Ursuline, who have been touched with a healing word or gesture, who have been comforted by prayer or silent presence, who have been strengthened by these determined women standing with them, advocating for their needs.”

While we remember our heritage with pride and sometimes a little nostalgia, we look to the future. This is indeed the focus of the Year of Consecrated Life.

Teaching Students to Live for the ‘Glory of God Alone

Walk into Ursuline High School and within minutes you’ll be greeted with smiles, offered coffee (likely more than once), and notice there’s something very different about this work and learning environment.

Sr. Regina & Students“The faculty and students do a great job of embodying St. Angela to all we meet,” says Sister Regina Rogers, an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown and assistant principal at the school. “We talk about the charisms of St. Angela. The first is hospitality – being hospitable to anyone who walks in this building, being hospitable to each other.”

While it’s nearly 500 years (Nov. 25, 1535) since St. Angela Merici, a diminutive Italian woman with grand faith, started her company of Ursulines, and nearly 110 years since the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown founded Ursuline High, the spirit of St Angela and her Ursulines are as much a part of the school as its bricks and mortar.

“We are so blessed here at Ursuline High School because we bear the name Ursuline and because we were founded by the Ursuline Sisters; our students know the history of the Ursuline Sisters, and we are able to help them get the best michigan state scholarships” Sister Regina continues. “You know you’re Ursuline when you’re here.”

What does being Ursuline mean? Living “Soli Deo Gloria,” or “For the glory of God alone.” How Sister Regina and other spiritual leaders at the school encourage the faculty, staff and students to manifest that witness is by embracing St. Angela’s charisms of hospitality and resilience.

“Resilience came from Angela’s ability to always find a third way of doing something,” Sister Regina explains. “We stress to the kids, ‘If things don’t work out this way, we need to look for something else, for another way.’”

These lessons are especially valuable for students in the service program, initiated in 1975 by Father Daniel Venglarik. “His philosophy was that our students here in a Catholic high school have to learn the importance of service throughout their lives,” Sister Regina states.

The students serve one hour, Monday through Thursday, in various locations, such as nursing homes, preschools and elementary schools, the St. Vincent DePaul dining hall, Rich Center for Autism, and the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown ministry The Potter’s Wheel.

“It gives them lots of life skills, but it also says, ‘This is what our religion expects of you’,” she observes. “It’s one of the programs the alumni talk about most.”

Sister Regina has ministered as an educator and/or administrator at Ursuline High School over 30 years. She counts herself blessed to be an Ursuline Sister and to minister with the young people at UHS.

“Especially as a religion teacher, I’m in awe of their own prayerfulness, their own closeness to God, their own joy in living,” Sister Regina says.

As St. Angela said, “You will witness wonderful things if you direct all to the praise and glory of God.”

The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown have further presence at the school through two associates, instructors Dr. Linda Miller, whose doctoral work was on St. Angela’s charisms, and Aimee Morrison.

Brigid Kennedy: Friend, Co-Worker, Inspiration

Each day, people of faith are inspired and strengthened by the spiritual presence of others. Here is one such story.
brigid kennedyBrigid Kennedy, Co-Director of the
Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown HIV/AIDS Ministry and an Ursuline Associate, offers her “witness” to living the Gospel through the charism of St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline Sisters:
I have been around Ursuline Sisters my whole life. My Aunt Betty Kerrigan (an Ursuline Sister), family friends, at St. Rose and at Ursuline High School. I learned to try to live values like charity, service and justice.
I had Sr. Pauline Dalpe as a teacher in 3rd grade, and we boycotted Nestle for unscrupulous business practices with infant formula and Third World mothers. I’m not sure how the rest of the 8-year-olds felt, but I was pretty sure that writing letters and giving up Nestle Crunch was pretty important stuff.
And of course I was raised Catholic; it was in my bones, almost genetic, and cultural in an everywhere-ness kind of way. But somehow, for me, those two streams, service and faith, didn’t really converge.
And then I began working in AIDS Ministry, and everything changed. Not long after I started as a volunteer, I remember asking Sr. Kathleen Minchin for something to read about service having a spiritual dimension, and I wasn’t even sure what words to use. I didn’t know then that I was being called and feeling being called to live the Gospel. And that it would change everything.
I have worked and sometimes lived with the community for over 16 years, much of my adult life. And I have been transformed by those experiences. As for living the Gospel, in some ways I have it easy, because the poor and the sick are always right in front of me at work, and I go home to children who’ve been wounded in terrible ways. But I often fail. I let doing the work get in the way of connecting with the people the work is supposed to help. I let ego or comfort or fear keep me from being open to loss and pain. Sometimes it’s just as simple as not being present to the ones I’m with. I’ve got to recommit to it every day sometimes many times in a day. So what the community gives me and many other Associates is the support to keep doing the hard work of the Gospel, the context to explore and articulate it, and the shelter in which to be vulnerable and transformed by it.
Recently, Jesuit Fr. James Martin offered as an evening reflection the following questions: What have I done for the poor? What am I doing for the poor? What am I going to do for the poor? 20 years of AIDS Ministry and so many other examples from this community answer the first two questions well. The third question, what will you do for the poor, is for the Ursuline Sisters to answer in the coming days. The Associates are along for the ride. And I am confident, to borrow from St. Angela, that we can all be ready for big surprises.

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.

The Ursuline Sisters Celebrate in Thanksgiving for 475 Years of Service

Here it is Thanksgiving Day and the 475th Anniversary of the Founding of the Ursuline Sisters.
We have much to be thankful for: our lives, our health, our family, our friends, our community. In a particular way this year we are grateful to God for this anniversary. There is no word that immediately comes to mind for a 475th anniversary. If you were to make one up from Latin roots, you might say we are celebrating our dodransquincentennial, a word that means 1/4 century less than 500 years. No matter what you call it, 475 is a long time.

People mark anniversaries for 2 reasons: to look back and to look ahead. What we remember is pretty well known to most of us…Sr Mary McCormick’s reflection for 475th Anniversary Nov 25 2010

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