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.

Doing Justice With A Compassionate Heart

Love never failsThe Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown commissioned six new Associates for the feast of St. Angela Merici in 2013. General superior Sister Nancy Dawson offered this reflection:

“I am positive that the words St. Angela has for us this night are these: “I am always in your midst.”

This is a night that all of our Ursuline Sisters and all of our men and women Associates really treasure – not only because it fulfills her promise, “I will always be in your midst,” but because on this night we are assured that the charism of Saint Angela Merici and her gifts will continue through each of these Associates – these six new Associates who are formally commissioned tonight. What a promise.

If we do justice, we are promised – and this is a famous saying in scripture that the Ursulines really like – if we engage in justice we are promised in scripture that all of us who instruct and do justice will shine as stars for all eternity. Let we Ursuline Sisters and Associates light up the skies, not in eternity but in the present, as we brilliantly shine with other stars of the past illuminating compassionate hearts and a spirited justice and action for the common good. Let that be our prayer at Mass tonight.

God bless you on this wonderful occasion, wonderful night, wonderful continuation of Angela’s charism.”

Saint Angela Merici Parish Prepares To Celebrate Patronal Feast

angela-F-Nones-236x3004When we hear the title “Saint” precede a name, we often envision a tragic figure in a Gothic painting or stained glass window. But say the name St. Angela Merici and a living, thriving ministry right here in the Mahoning Valley comes to mind. The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown are tirelessly working as our founder St. Angela instructed us – comforting the ill, aiding the poor, connecting those who have gifts to share with those who have very little.
In 2012, the combined parishes of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Conception in city-center Youngstown changed their name to St. Angela Merici Parish to honor the work of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and the saint who founded the Ursuline order. And for the nine Wednesdays preceding St. Angela’s feast day – Jan. 27 – a novena is being offered her honor.
SMA-20061-238x3004Following the 10-minute novena prayer said Jan. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the parish, 400 Lincoln Park Dr., Youngstown, Ohio, 44506, a presentation on St. Angela’s life and ministry will be offered by Ursuline Sister of Youngstown Mary Alyce Koval. Sister Mary Alyce is on the Ursulines’ leadership team and also is the Education Director for Beatitude House, Youngstown.
linda-millerOn Jan. 16, new Ursuline Associate Dr. Linda Lucarell Miller will present following the novena prayer. Dr. Miller is a member of the Religious Education faculty at Ursuline High School, Youngstown, and completed her Doctor of Ministry project on the Charism of St. Angela Merici at the school (founded by the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown) and how it effects the thriving of adolescents there. Her presentation at St. Angela Merici Parish will focus on living out the Merician Charism.

What Makes an Ursuline Sister Different From Other Sisters?

Welcome to our “Ask a Nun” series. Today, Sister Norma discusses what makes an Ursuline Sister different from other sisters.

All Catholic Orders of Nuns are structured in the same way according to the requirements of the Catholic Church. Each group however is unique because of the time and place and reason for why the community was founded.

Ursuline Sisters have St. Angela Merici as our founder. She gathered a group of women in 1535 in Brescia, Italy and formed a group of women under the name of St. Ursula. St. Angela believed that women could live holy lives expressed in service to those in need without living in convents. Although the women did not live together they gathered regularly as a community. This model of community still prospers today as the Company of St. Ursula, a Secular Institute in the Church.

A parallel model soon emerged in Italy when St. Charles Borromeo, was bishop in Milan. The Ursulines, known as the Order of St. Ursula, became an official religious order in the Church, similar to all other orders. Although the Youngstown Ursulines serve mainly in Northeast Ohio there are women who have their origins in St. Angela all over the world today.