Go Deeper! Are You Serious Jesus?

As a child growing up around Lake Erie, there were many occasions to set out early in the morning on one of the many fishing boats. And as may be there were times when we sat out all morning with nothing to show for our efforts. Professionals we were not. And as we came to shore we were exhausted for our efforts. None of us would even think about going out again that day!

In our Gospel today, we find Jesus sitting in Simon Peter’s boat after the crowds have gone. Jesus knows that Peter is exhausted from his own efforts at fishing all night. He knows that he has caught nothing, but even still he turns to Peter and invites him to do something. “Go out into the deep water,” he says, “and there let down your nets.” It sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? But is it really? What is Jesus really asking here?

Jesus  is asking Simon Peter to trust him. To trust him so much that Peter would be willing to leave the shallow places in his life and in his work and begin to explore the depths. To go to the limits of what he thinks is possible, not only for him but for those all around him. “Go out into the deep water,” says Jesus, “trust me and see what happens.” [Living Liturgy 2019]

Peter becomes a model for discipleship. It happens in the moment when Peter responds to Jesus’ call and says, “but, if you say so.” Then off he goes—perhaps reluctantly—out into the deep water and there he finds abundance like he has never imagined.

Jesus doesn’t call Peter to be anything other than who he is. He doesn’t call Peter to be a rabbi like him, or even to a career in carpentry. Jesus calls Peter to live in the depths of his own life, not to try to live out Jesus’ life. Peter remains at heart a fisherman who has a heart for Jesus and for the humanity that Jesus serves.

For most of us, Jesus does not come in dramatic ways.  Rather, he comes in the ordinary events of the day. Our ordinary daily living can be a radical response to Jesus. The Good News is that God calls us as precisely we are and works through our humanity.

Adapted Renew International Year C

What’s In A Word?

There’s an old story about a couple that was walking out of church one Sunday: The wife asked the husband, “Did you see the strange hat Mrs. O’Brien was wearing?”

“No, I didn’t,” replied the husband.

“Bill Smith badly needs a hair cut, doesn’t he?” commented the wife.

“Sorry, but I didn’t notice,” her husband said.

“You know, John,” said the wife impatiently,” sometimes I wonder if
you get anything at all out of going to church.”

People get different things out of going to church, depending, it would seem, on what they expect to get when they go there. 

Today’s Gospel reading begins by telling us that when Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, that he went up to Nazareth – his home town – and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. 

What an interesting statement. He went into the synagogue, on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. 

Jesus grew up attended the synagogue in his home town it was his habit, his practice, his custom, to worship there on the Sabbath day and here he is, after his baptism and anointing with the Holy Spirit, here he is, after already having demonstrated his power and his righteousness, here he is, after showing through healings and teachings his connectedness to God attending weekly worship in the synagogue in his home town. [Living :Liturgy 2019]

Why? What did he expect to find there in that experience? Surely he knew it all already? What did he get out of it? Why did he go? 

I think that there are several reasons. 

The first and most basic of these is that Jesus attended the worship held each Sabbath day because it is part of what it means to keep the Sabbath Day – because it is part of what God commands us to do in the ten commandments. 

Second, I believe that Jesus went to the synagogue to hear the Word of God to be reminded of the Word of God and to be recreated by the Word of God this even though he was the Word of God made flesh! 

I believe that is because Jesus knew that the Word gives life no matter what container pours it out – just as water from a chipped and dented mug is as good as water from the finest crystal. 

Which brings me to another reason: the Word feeds us. The people of Israel in our first reading, and Jesus by his example today in the gospel reading, call us today to pay attention to the God who addresses us -it really means the difference between a life of exile or a life of, meaning and community; it means the difference between being fed and not being fed. 

Jesus went up to Nazareth – and on the Sabbath day, he entered the synagogue – as was his custom. 

I think he did this for many reasons – he did it so he might have fellowship with God; he did it to keep the commandments of God; he did it so he might be fed – so that he might be instructed and counseled. 

He did it too because it made him a part of God’s people, a people who were not only defined by the name they took and the law they obeyed but by the fact that they gathered together to hear and to pray to the one who named them. The one who said that they would be his people and that he would be their God, 

Today the scripture is fulfilled in our hearing as well. 

Our ministry? Transpose Jesus’ teachings from words on a page to a way of living. Who are the poor, the captives, the sightless in our midst? Who needs the glad tidings of God’s mercy and presence preached to them? Do our lives bear out our certainty of the Word enfleshed in us? 

Christian living is none other than taking God’s Word and making it concrete by the way we live. Our daily living is the Word made flesh among us.

Adapted from Renew International

In My Name

Read the Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Gospel Summary

The struggles in our Gospel today is about power. Bishop Barron says, if you want power be holy .. The real power is in its holiness. Bishop Barron cites Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Therese as examples. They were powerful women.

,Jesus taught his disciples two different things in today’s gospel. First, when John came to him saying that someone, not one of them, was exorcizing demons in Jesus’ name, Jesus explained that anyone who was not against them was with them. If the person acted in Jesus’ name, he would not be capable of speaking out against him. The second teaching involved the way a person should respond to temptation. Not that Jesus proposed that people inflict wounds on themselves, but to make his point clearly, he suggested ridding ourselves of the parts of our bodies that lead us to sinfulness. Rather than commit sinful acts using our hands, eyes, feet, or ears, it would be better to enter heaven without those body parts than to use them sinfully and live in eternal damnation.


Love is one of those things that grows in itself. The more you give, the more it grows. There probably is no scientific way to measure why love works that way, but we just know it does. The same is true with acts of kindness—which in a way are the same thing as love. Like the person exorcizing demons in Jesus’ name, the more the better. That’s how Jesus saw it, even though the disciples in their human jealousy and desire for ownership thought the person was an intruder. Parents see this in their own lives and try to pass it on to our children. It’s hard to be mean to someone who just said, “I love you,” or gave you a hug, or climbed up on your lap. As we try to get along with each other and teach each other to get along with siblings, friends, and classmates, we will make significant progress by acting and reacting in kindness and love.

Bringing the Gospel into Your Family

Share your ideas with one another about who some of the people are in our society that give of themselves and their resources to further God’s Kingdom. It will probably be easy to come up with wealthy people who give large sums of money to charities, but what about the people who give other resources like time, energy, talent? Ask yourselves if there is more you can do as a family to bring kindness into someone else’s life.

Ministry of Jesus

This Sunday’s Gospel concludes the paradigmatic ‘day’ of Jesus ministry. He heals one individual – Simon’s mother-in-law – then at dusk, after the Sabbath has ended, the place is flooded with people bringing their sick and possessed. “Immediately”, “straightaway”, “all” – these words are repeatedly used in these few verses and underline the vibrancy of Jesus’ ministry and how readily he drew people in their need.

The response of Simon’s mother-in-law is an example for all followers. The verb for her service is a significant one for Mark: it is used of the angels who served Jesus (1:13), the women who stood beneath his cross (15: 41) and of the service of the Son of Man (10:45) both in his living and dying. This story is not just a homely little miracle but offers a paradigm of the proper response to the Good News of Jesus.

After this extraordinary day, Jesus makes a concerted effort to get away and pray. Having burst on the religious scene in such a manner and having had such an overwhelming response from the people to his power, he goes away to commune with his Father. When Peter and his companions ‘hunt’ him down – yes that element of desperation is in the text- he responds with calm decisiveness. He knows why he has come and he will not allow the short term demands of people to deflect him from it. [Aapted Rev Kyme Himes]

Friend, We Have A Better Place For You!

Jesus often had confrontations with some of the religious leaders about meals or the Sabbath. He was sure to be tested in the circumstances of today’s Gospel since he was eating a meal with the religious leaders on the Sabbath! At the meal, Jesus noticed that the guests hurried to recline at the place of honor. He taught them that when they were invited to a wedding feast, they should sit at the lowest place. If they sat at the highest place and someone higher than they came in, their host would approach the lower guest and ask him to move down. This, of course, would be a source of humiliation. Instead, if the guest took the lower seat, the host would come to him as a friend and invite him to take a higher seat. Then, all would look on this person with great admiration. Jesus also advised them on giving a dinner. Instead of inviting close friends and relatives and all the people who might repay the invitation, Jesus encouraged his listeners to invite those who could never reciprocate. Jesus explained that by doing this the host’s place would be insured at the heavenly banquet.

At Jesus’ “wedding banquet” all who hear and heed Jesus’ admonition to humility, inclusivity, and generosity sit in the one “place of honor.” There is one “place of honor” because we are all one Body in Christ. There needs to be only one place near our Host, symbolizing our unity and strength in his one Body. Further, we can never exhaust the gift of this “place of honor.” It is a share in the very Life and ministry of our Host. This “place of honor,” therefore, is not a limited space, a single seat, a physical arrangement of host and guests one to another. It is a spacious relationship of all of us to the risen Jesus that is a share in his divine Life. This “place of honor” is given to “the righteous,” all of us who have chosen to live and act as Jesus the Host. How blessed are we! [Benzinger, Lectionary Resources]

To be invited to the one “place of honor” means that we must let go of anything that limits our relationship to our Host and to each other. If we wish God to raise us up (“repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”), then we must live our lives raising others up. We must build strong relationships of unity. We must forget about seeking our own paltry honor and instead give ourselves over to the “place of honor” to which our Host invites us.

Each Sunday we are invited to God’s banquet table. We ourselves are nourished at the same time that we are called to share the abundance of God’s Life by reaching out to others in need. We eat and drink in order to be gracious to others. This is the most profound blessedness!

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Cycle C

An Expression of Gratitude

Our own Brigid Kennedy, president of Ursuline Ministries and longtime employee and volunteer with our ministries, was an official nominee for the 2019 ATHENA Award, bestowed by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. This prestigious award honors women of the Mahoning Valley “who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment; women who excel in their chosen field, have devoted time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and also open doors so that others may follow in their path.”

While Brigid wasn’t chosen the for the highest honor, we are very proud of all she has accomplished on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged locally, and honored to minister alongside her.

Following is the letter she wrote after the May 16 event:


While I didn’t bring home the trophy, I was honored to be among the company of last night’s Athena nominees and the many who have come before us, including three of the women in our group! I am humbled by the support and commitment of the incredible Ursuline Ministries leadership team who nominated me and with whom I have the privilege of serving every day.

The application and follow up questions, on paper and video (!), were daunting, but gave me a chance to think about not just what I’ve done so far in my life, but who I am, what and who have formed me, and how much lies ahead to do and become. The poet Mary Oliver famously asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The women honored last night are answering that question well. They are making a difference in education, health care, finance, small business, social services, community development… Mary Oliver says elsewhere, “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world,” and there’s no danger of that for these women.

My own story is no more remarkable than that of so many of the people who have influenced and inspired me, including the Ursuline Sisters and Associates who have mentored me, the boards and staff who work alongside me, and my family and friends who have always supported me.

These people—and so many of you were in attendance—have brought me to this moment. God’s movement in my life, while not always clear to me at the time, has been through these relationships, through the abundance of love I have received, and through those we serve and love in turn. And that movement, those gifts, that love… will continue.

“Love… deeply and without patience,” says Oliver. “Let God and the world know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.” I am grateful that the committee asked us each to take the time to think about our “one wild and precious life.” I’m grateful that so many came to celebrate our answers. I’m grateful for the answers that, together, we will continue to give. And I am grateful “that the gift has been given.”

Thank you,


Members of the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry with Brigid Kennedy, nominee and president of Ursuline Ministries, at the ATHENA Award banquet May 16, 2019. From left are Sister Kathleen Minchin, one of the ministry’s founders and its longtime director, Dan Wakefield, current director, Brigid, Terry Mitchell, clinic nurse, Kathy Austrino, volunteer, Linda Titus, children’s and family program director, Donna Bellino, secretary, Kevan Sullivan, cafe and pantries director, and Lauren Handwork, housing director.

Rejoice Together, and Together Encourage One Another!

In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week, we’re hosting an event for single Catholic women ages 18-40. “Rejoice Together, and Together Encourage One Another!”   Those words of wisdom come to us from our founder, St. Angela Merici, whose charism guides our lives.

Come meet the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, get to know Angela, and learn about the opportunities we offer for Gospel service and lives filled with joy. Spend time in prayer and ministry with like-minded women.

The event begins the evening of Thursday, March 7 and runs through noon on Sunday  March 10. Call Sister Norma Raupple to make sure you’re part of this wonderful event: 330.261.4729.

Who Is The Greatest? 25th Sunday_Sept. 23, 2018

What happens when we are caught with our hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Our face turns red, our heads drop, our eyes are cast down and we are silent. So we can easily identify with the disciple’ silence in the face of Jesus’ asking them what they are discussing.

Twice in this Gospel the disciples are reduced to silence. First, they are afraid to ask Jesus about his teaching that he must die and rise. Second, they are afraid to tell him that they have been arguing about who among them is the greatest. The first silence indicates a stubborn resistance to accept the demands of what they hear; the second silence indicates that they intuitively understand how far they have strayed from what Jesus is teaching them. The disciples spend the rest of their lives coming to understand what it means to follow Jesus and serve him through the least among us.

By dying to self and serving the least among us, we rise to new and great life. Dying to self doesn’t simply mean we write a check to our favorite charity or bring non perishables to St Vincent de Paul Society [as good as these gestures may be]. It means surrendering our very selves for others – all others- not just those of our own picking and choosing. It means reaching out to the least among us.

Like the disciples, Jesus gives us the room we need to grow and come to deeper understanding of what it means to be a faithful disciple serving others.

Adapted from Renew International

Who Do You Say I Am?_24th Sunday in Ordinary Time_Sept. 16, 2018

I don’t know exactly how many times in the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament Jesus asks other people to follow him. But it’s well more than 20. The whole question of “Who is willing to follow Jesus Christ?” is pretty much the defining question of Christianity.

Some may ask it personally of you : “You mean you believe all of this stuff about forgiveness, and loving enemies, and this resurrection from the dead?” However it’s worded, the whole matter of following Jesus is central to living the Christian faith.

The question becomes, “What does it actually mean to follow Jesus, especially in modern times, or in middle- or upper-middle class North America?” If you’re going to take the words of Jesus seriously – those ones about “losing your life for his sake” and “denying yourself” – well, what’s your life going to look like?

What does it mean to follow Jesus in your life, and in these times? In our Gospel, Peter recoils at Jesus’ revelation that as “the Christ” he must “suffer greatly…be rejected…be killed, and rise after three days.” Peter is so aghast at the words of Jesus about suffering and death that he fails to hear the most important part of the revelation about who Jesus is and what he is to accomplish. He fails to grasp that through death Jesus will be raised to new life.

Today, Jesus asks us “Who do you say I am?” We may quickly answer, “You are the Christ.” However, we may hesitate when we hear Jesus say, “Take up your cross and follow me.” We must lose our life for the sake of others. this is the difficult lesson to be learned. We cannot avoid dying to self if we wish to rise to new life with Jesus.

How do we die to self? We must die to our way of thinking [taking the easy way of self-interest,] and embrace how God thinks [carrying the cross of goodness, justice, integrity]. Or we must empty ourselves for the good of another even when we are tired or frustrated or don’t like the other person in need.

On our own, living the paschal mystery would be just about impossible. Why we can embrace te dying is because Jesus has already shown us the way. The only way to follow Jesus is to die to self.

Adapted from Renew International

AmeriCorps Volunteers Give, Gain Much

Laura, Emily, Janie

Guest Contributor: Rachel Gobep

For some it’s money. For others prestige. For Emily Anne Martin, the best motivation to work hard comes from helping others.

“Happiness is truly not found by making a lot of money, but instead by making a difference,” Martin comments.

Through the federal AmeriCorps program, Martin is one of three women performing post-college service with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. The AmeriCorps program provides opportunities for college graduates to perform anywhere from six months to two years of service with a nonprofit, school, public agency, or community and faith-based organization. Communities gain valuable service and the participants gain valuable experience toward their future careers.

Martin was pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at Kent State University, when “I realized that before I graduated, I should gain some real world experience in a nonprofit setting. Not to mention I was ready to move on and do something more meaningful.”

Martin serves as a Nonprofit Management Specialist at Beatitude House, Youngstown, where she interned while earning her baccalaureate. The Ursuline Sisters’ ministry helps homeless women and their children break the cycle of generational poverty through housing, education and other assistance.

“I help with developing a system for tracking volunteers, assist in creating marketing materials, plan and volunteer at events, sort donations and work with other homeless social service agencies in the area,” she says.

Martin and her fellow AmeriCorps participants have contributed 1.4 billion hours since 1993 toward making the world a better place through volunteering, engaging with the community and improving people’s lives, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

It’s a concept that seems simple. But according to participants like Laura Roch, the benefits are complex and unexpected.

“Not only have I learned a lot about myself through my service experience,” she says, “I have learned more about my hometown than I would have ever known had I not taken advantage of this amazing opportunity.”

Roch is serving as a Nonprofit Management Specialist for the Ursuline Sisters. Initially she planned to pursue a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling after graduating from KSU in 2016, but a former instructor of hers from Ursuline High School recommended the AmeriCorps position with the Ursulines.

Through her work with the Ursuline Sisters’ ministries, Roch’s opportunities have ranged from tutoring youth from disadvantaged and privileged homes to helping Spanish and Arabic-speaking women learning English to working with the incarcerated at a local prison – and more. Her work experience at Huntington was a big advantage.

“I’ve learned how to better serve individuals of different races, socioeconomic status, and personalities,” she observes. “I’ve learned how to lesson plan, empower individuals, and run meetings about different topics and projects I’m working on. I have become much more aware of the environment around me, rather than being so naive of things going on in the town where I’ve spent 23 years.”

Roch says her work with the Ursuline Sisters has brought her closer to God because she sees the struggles that others go through daily.

“After seeing the issues and things people right down the street from me deal with, I have not been able to turn a blind eye,” she states. “I know that prayers will be answered and these people will be helped soon.”

Janie Rosko serves as an Education Specialist for the Ursuline Sisters. While in college, she volunteered several years at Potter’s Wheel, the Sisters’ immigrant education program in Youngstown. After graduating from Youngstown State University in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology, Rosko decided to wait before pursuing graduate studies.

“I decided to take this [AmeriCorps] opportunity because I wanted to gain experience serving all varieties of people in all types of situations,” she states.

Among her many on-the-job experiences, Rosko co-teaches an English Language class to immigrant women, serves as a tutor and mentor for children at Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten, Canfield, the Potter’s Wheel and Casa Madre, Youngstown, the Ursuline Sisters’ HIV/AIDS Ministry providing mentoring and other assistance to children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Serving various kinds of people can be challenging at times,” Rosko observes, “but I’m gaining so much knowledge and feel right where I need to be at this moment in time.”

Sister Norma Raupple, Director of the Young Adult Outreach Ministry for the Ursuline Sisters, says Martin, Roch and Rosko “perform a great service by bringing their education and enthusiasm to the Sisters’ ministries and make a positive impact on the lives of those served.

“The women involved with us through AmeriCorps grow by developing their abilities in taking initiative and honing their leadership skills,” she continues. “They become more confident, relate well to the children they work with and become good role models.”

Martin, Roch and Rosko all highly recommend AmeriCorps to anyone considering their career after graduating college.

“It is immensely rewarding and there is much more to learn than one may originally believe,” Rosko posits.

AmeriCorps participants must be 21 years or older. In exchange for working full time, they receive a twice-monthly stipend and are eligible for health benefits and housing. Upon completion of their contract, they earn an education award they can use toward future studies or for paying off student loan debt.

Rachel Gobep is majoring in Journalism at Youngstown State University and interning as a Strategic Communications Specialist with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

Sister Brendan Sherlock: A Life of Giving

Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer and social activist (1856-1950)

BrendanWhile quite a few Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown are of Irish descent, Sister Brendan is unique in that she emigrated from Ireland. She faced discrimination when she first arrived in the United States, but her faith in God was a source of strength that empowered her through life’s challenges.

Sister Brendan came from a large Irish family. Growing up in poverty, in the 1920s and 30s, her family worked hard to make ends meet. She was the third of ten children, and because she was considered the strongest of her siblings, often helped her father around the farm.

At age 19, after working in a Dublin restaurant, Sister Brendan traveled to England, where she learned English from a priest (she’d only spoken Gaelic), and the world opened up before her. With her mother’s encouragement, Sister Brendan left her family’s farm and immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s to pursue a religious vocation.

As an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown, Sister Brendan has ministered in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and beyond. Wherever she goes, she has been a witness of God’s unconditional love. “She makes everyone feel special,” Ursuline Sister Kathleen Minchin says. “That’s what God does for us, makes us feel special. People see that reflected in her.”

Sister Brendan’s ministry began in the field of education. She spent 20 years teaching grades 1-5. After that, she began working at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, supervising the housekeeping staff.

More recently, Sister Brendan served as a pastoral minister at St. Michael Parish in Canfield. She ministered to the home bound as well as those in hospitals and nursing homes. She looks back on those 13 years with particular fondness. She enjoyed getting to know the families of the parish and working alongside the pastor, Father Terry Hazel. With a beaming smile, she remembers, “I liked Terry since the first day I saw him. But if he gave you work to do, he expected to find you working.” The two have remained close friends.

Sister Brendan’s adventurous spirit led her to new places and experiences. She found a kindred spirit in fellow Ursuline Sister Virginia McDermott, a friend who shared Sister Brendan’s sense of adventure until her passing a few years ago. Sister Brendan also incorporated her passion for driving into her ministry. When she visited St. Michael’s parishioners in their homes, she bought a GPS to help her navigate the different neighborhoods. She was one of the first among the Ursuline community to have a GPS and she quickly learned how to use it, first gauging the distance on a map, and then following the GPS’s directions.

“She loved visiting people,” Ursuline Associate Rosemary Yaniglos says. “She’d tell me how she would encourage them and pray with them and give them hope, and how in turn they gave her hope—and wisdom, too.”

During Sister Brendan’s years with St. Michael Parish, she made monthly visits to Paisley House, an assisted living facility in Youngstown for women, where she prayed with the residents and distributed communion to them. Sister Brendan’s visits united people of different faiths, and she made everyone feel welcomed and loved.

Though retired, Sister Brendan remains active, drawing energy from the company of others as she has her whole life. During the week, she participates in activities such as crafts, exercise, and bingo at the Antonine Sisters’ center in North Jackson. She enjoys talking with the other seniors there and seeing the delight in their eyes when they win bingo prizes. “That thrills them, you know,” Sister Brendan observes. “And they’d say: I’m taking this home to my aunt, I’m taking this home to my sister… It’s a nice thing to give them.”

For women discerning a religious vocation, Sister Brendan offers these words of encouragement: “Go for it. You’ll make it. I’ll tell you that. Even with hardships—you overlook those, because they have meaning.”

Through joys and hardships, Sister Brendan’s good-hearted nature touches all those she meets, and Rosemary Yaniglos admires her spirit and strength. “Somehow she grows with it, and, those of us who love her, we grow with her. She makes us stronger,” Rosemary says.

Sister Brendan enjoys community life and is grateful for the friendships she’s formed with the other members of the Ursuline community. “They’re helpful, in every way that they can,” she says of the Sisters. “There’s a lot of joy to have women together.”

Working Together For ‘God’s Thirsty Children’

Our Youngstown Associates recently adopted “Water With Blessings” as a project. They raised $3,000 to buy water filtration kits (pictured above) for families living at the Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Mexico border in need of clean water.
image002In December, I traveled to the border with six college women and met up with Sister Larraine Lauter, a Kentucky Ursuline who founded the program, for what was a beautiful and enriching experience. Not only was our goal to help people in desperate need of clean water, but also to give the young women (such as Lynne, at right) an opportunity for an international immersion/reflection experience with the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.
Sister Larraine trained “Water Teachers” from among Ursuline Associates at the border. Our local group brought the clean water to 50 young mothers during the training sessions. These “Water Women” agreed to share their filters with four other families. Thus, “God’s Thirsty Children” received the gift of clean water for Christmas.
Advent Scripture readings provided a focus for our morning prayer and reflection, while participating in “Las Posadas” filled three of our evenings. We walked with local families through the neighborhood, singing and praying, while “seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph.”
image011We shared a meal with immigrants at La Posada de Providencia in San Benito, Texas, who are housed with several Sisters of Providence while waiting for their immigration cases to be processed. Their stories were both sad and hopeful.
The week ended with an enjoyable day at the beach at South Padre Island. Carly Conklin (center in photo at left), one of our Companions in Mission who made the trip, says, “Such an amazing project! I’m so blessed to have been included in this first group to work with U. S. women. Thank you for this life enriching opportunity to see God’s loving hand at work.”
I was inspired by the prayerfulness and generosity of the six beautiful young women who made the trip with me.
We’re planning another trip to the border in December 2014. If you or your group would like to sponsor a “Water Woman,” the kits are $60. You can view a short slideshow of the experience.image009

Vaya Con Dios

Picture 076Imagine if our water wasn’t safe to drink, safe to bathe in, or safe to wash the dishes with.  Many people who live near the Mexican Border are living with that reality.  Our own Sister Norma Raupple is heading there to help through a program called Water with Blessings.
Sister Norma, Sister Larraine Lauter, an Ursuline Sister from Kentucky, and six college students/volunteers with ties to the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown set out for a 7-day service trip to Brownsville,Texas, Dec.14.
Ursuline Associates in Youngstown have agreed to be partners in this endeavor. With the help of a few others, they have raised $3,000 to purchase water purification systems and materials ($60 each).
Ursuline Associates from Texas and Mexico are doing the groundwork by purchasing buckets for the systems and inviting 50  young mothers to participate in the project. ). Each mother will in turn help four other families. That means 250 families will soon be able to enjoy safe water.
Sr. LarraineWater with Blessings is a nonprofit organization started by Sister Larraine.
Be sure to follow our Social Media pages in the next few days. Our group will send photos and highlights of their trip which we’ll post.
Click here for more information on the Youngstown Project.

Aimee Morrison, Ursuline Associate, Honored As Distinguished Alumni

The Feast of Saint Ursula Liturgy was celebrated October 21,2013 at Ursulie High Scool and the 25th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented.
aimee-morrisonEach year, this award is given to graduates of Ursuline High School who have distinguished themselves by dedicated service to our school and to the community at large. This year’s recipients were Aimee Amendolara Morrison (’79) and Thomas Murray (’72).
Aimee Amendolara Morrison graduated from Saint Christine School. She was a member of the Ursuline High School Class of 1979. She attended Bowling Green State University and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education majoring in American Studies. Following graduation in 1983 she worked at Laurel High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania in the Social Studies department. In 1986, Aimee married Peter Morrison, a member of the Ursuline Class of 1978. They have two children: David, Ursuline Class of 2007, and Megan, Class of 2009. The Morrison’s are members of Saint Charles Parish where Aimee has taught CCD, worked on the Festival committee and was a member of the St. Charles Home and School Board. Aimee owned and operated “Aim to Please,” a gift basket company until she returned to teaching at her Alma Mater in 1997.
She is a very active participant in many activities and committees at Ursuline. She has long served the Auction Committee lending her expertise making gifts baskets. She is the faculty representative to the Youngstown Diocese Confederation of Teachers Executive Board. Aimee is also the faculty liaison to the Ursuline Home and School Association and served as a mentor teacher in the Resident Educator program. She also served as the Sophomore Class Advisor for 14 years and created the Pen Pal Project between third graders at the elementary feeder schools and the tenth graders at Ursuline.
In 1998, Aimee created the Students of Stewardship (S.O.S.) Club and had done most of her community service through S.O.S. Locally, S.O.S. participants have served dinner at the Rescue Mission and the Dorothy Day House, helped at the Casa Madre House and Habitat for Humanity as well as carried signs at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Aimee has planned, organized and traveled on nine mission trips: five to Matamoros, Mexico to help the Ursuline Sisters build houses, two trips to Appalachia with “Young People Who Care” and two trips to El Salvador with Epilogos Charities building houses. She is currently planning a third trip to El Salvador in Spring of 2014.
Aimee became an Ursuline Associate for the Ursuline Sisters this year. She was the recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching Award in 2003 and the Outstanding Educator Award by the Industrial Information Institute for Education in 2006.
Read Aimee’s acceptance speech: Distinguished Alumna Award

Increase Our Faith

the-parable-of-the-mustard-seed[1]Sometimes we have a smidgen of an idea, and when we respond to the prompting of the idea it begins to grow and become something concrete and practical. For example, redecorating a room might begin with a choice of color and grow from there. a birthday party might begin with an idea for a theme cake and grow from there. A garden plot might begin with one seed and grow from there. What begins small might end up quite large!
Jesus tells the disciples that even a smidgen of faith can achieve great things. How do we increase our faith? Faith increases through decisive obedience to what is commanded. How do we measure this kind of faith? We measure our faith by measuring our faithfulness. The faithful disciple of Jesus is never finished serving. The faith of a disciple is never finished increasing.
Faith is a way of life. Thus, the important thing to remember here is that faith is more a verb than a noun! Faith is expressed in the way we act. Faith is faithfulness. Faith is truly extraordinary, not in the acts we might do for God and others, but in terms of the consistent and enduring choices we make daily to act humbly, mercifully and justly, as well as being forgiving and reconciling. Faith is a way of living, a way of expressing our true selves such that we act toward others like Jesus has acted toward us. What increases our faith is faithfulness.
What is being faithful? Being servant of all. Faithfulness is confidence that God will fulfill God’s promise to us of salvation. Being faithful here and now is already living what heaven will be.

Companion in Mission

The following reflection was written by Mary Ann,a  Companion in Mission

When I was in elementary school, I remember my PSR (CCD) teacher once saying that faith is not something that you can pick up when you go to mass on Sunday and then forget about the rest of the week.  While I had found occasional ways of integrating my faith into the course of a week, I was still locked into the routine of distinguishing Sunday from the days when I did not attend mass.  As a part of the faith community at the Motherhouse, however, the routine of a faith-filled life gives me the feel that every day is a Sunday, and time itself seems to take on a different rhythm.

When I reached the one-week mark of my stay, I had a hard time trying to conceptualize the amount of time I’d spent here.  In some aspects, I couldn’t believe that a full week had passed.  Between spending time with the sisters, fulfilling the commitments of my internship, and taking time for personal reflection, I lost track of the time slipping away beneath me.  In other aspects, I felt as though I had been here much longer than a week.  I was surprised by how quickly I fell into the routine and became familiar with the sisters and staff at the Motherhouse and the other volunteers and students I worked with off-site.
I enjoy the group of children that I work with at Potter’s Wheel on Tuesday and Wednesday and at Villa Maria on Thursday.  When I first met the children on a Thursday morning, I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the new faces in the room and all of the names I would have to learn.  I walked over to a group of them, knelt down at their level, and began talking to them.  I asked them their names and ages and told them a little about myself, and at that point, one girl came up to me and said, “I want to help you.”  There wasn’t any particular task at hand, but it was good to be reminded of that sense of cooperation between the kids and the counselors.  They all had stories they wanted to share with me, and between the initial drop-off and the van ride to Villa Maria, I did my best to just listen.  By the end of the day, another one of the girls gave me a kiss on the cheek.
Since I have such a passion for the natural world, I have enjoyed watching that same passion emerge within the kids at GROW Camp.  On the second Thursday at GROW Camp, we spent the morning visiting the various farm animals.  The sheep weren’t outside when we first sat down outside of their gate, but they began filtering out when they heard our voices.  One of the staff members suggested that we sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for the sheep, so I joined along in their chorus.  As soon as we finished the song—as if on cue—the little white lamb hopped out of the barn and stood by its mother.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came for my first Tuesday at Potter’s Wheel.  At Grow Camp, I was their counselor, but here, I’d be their teacher.  On the first day, I had the challenge of trying to figure out their skill levels, so the lessons I had prepared didn’t go as smoothly as planned.  The older children carried out the lesson well, but I hadn’t adapted it well enough to the younger children.  I faced the same challenge when I went to the Beatitude House apartments later that afternoon.  I hadn’t quite adapted my lesson plans to their level, and when they thanked me at the end, I wondered whether I had actually taught them anything and whether I deserved their appreciation.
I ended the day feeling discouraged, but when I came back to the Motherhouse, Tessa the cat came running over to greet me.  I don’t know how she knew I needed some animal therapy, but I was grateful for her affection.  We spent some time sitting on the bench (she even put her front two paws on my legs for a little while), and by then I was ready to put the day behind me and start the next day fresh.
Wednesday did, in fact, go much more smoothly.  One of the mothers came to teach the children Spanish, and I enjoyed learning along with them.  At the end of the day, we gave the children time to read, which was a good way to unwind after a busy—and hot—day.  One of the boys came over to read to me, and even though he’d struggled with some of the other activities, I was impressed by his ability to read.  He insisted on reading one book after another, and he always made sure to pause at the end of each page to make sure that I had seen the picture, which he must have learned from one of his teachers.  I enjoyed being able to lose myself in the moment and share his passion for reading, but I felt bad cutting him when we reached the end of the class.
My time at the Motherhouse has also been filled with stories—that is, in the sisters’ willingness to share their stories with me.  After helping Sisters Gertrude and Germaine sort through their closets one morning, Sister Germaine invited me back to her room to give me a “tour of music land.”  She showed me the photo albums of her former piano students, and as I listened to her talk about them, I could feel the pride that she still had for her students.  Above all, she emphasized that she’s had a wonderful life, and if she could do it all over again, she would do it exactly the same, mistakes and all, “because that’s how you learn!”
The sisters have been understanding of me and my current position in life, and I am so grateful for their willingness to share their experience and wisdom with me.  As a recent college graduate, I have so many options and opportunities before me, but I’m not sure which path I want to take.  Sister Mary Ann shared with me her belief in the Spirit, and she talked about various moments in her life when she felt the Spirit working within her.  She stressed the importance of listening to God’s will, and she also told me about the importance of responding to the needs of the time, which is what the Ursuline Sisters have done in their own ministry.  Sister Julia and I had an opportunity to chat one Sunday afternoon.  As we sat on the bench out front, I admitted that I was still trying to figure out where my life was headed.  She reassured me that you can’t push it; all you can do is knock on doors and wait for God to open one for you.
I also had an opportunity to reflect on my future when I attended a Theology on Tap meeting with one of my fellow volunteers, Mary Rizzo.  The guest speaker for the evening was Bishop Murray, and he gave a wonderful talk about discernment.  I had never heard of that term before, but he defined it as a strategy of making any directional “life” choices where you not only consider what you want to do but also what God wants you to do.  I had never thought about it from that perspective, and since the question of “What do you want to do with your life?” has always felt so isolating and intimidating, I liked the idea of sharing part of the burden with a force greater than my own.  While I listened to the bishop’s words, I looked around the room at everyone who had come for this event.  They were all young adults facing decisions about college or careers, and it was comforting to know that they all had the same concerns and questions that I did.
Here at the Motherhouse, there is always someone to be with.  The sisters have introduced me to Handel’s ice-cream, and with the hot weather we’ve had this summer, it’s been a real treat.  Most evenings, Sister Dorothy and I enjoy going on bike rides and walks together, and she has even invited me to pray with her, which no one else has ever invited me to do.  Sister Julia and I have gotten together a few times and played Scrabble, which is one of my favorite games and I’m glad to have found a companion.  On my first Saturday morning here, Sister Norma invited me to go bird-watching with her and a group of adults at the Mill Creek Park.  I have found so many ways to connect with the sisters through our various shared passions, and I feel as though they have become my friends.
I hadn’t realized how deep the connection had become until I attended the funeral of Sister Marie-Helene.  It was my first chance to meet the sisters who live off site and be together with everyone, and as I walked into the chapel with them, I felt so moved by their sense of community.  I hadn’t expected to feel the loss as strongly as I did.  While Sister Marie-Helene was ill, I accompanied our Faith-Sharing prayer group to say the Our Father with her.  I had never had the opportunity to meet her personally, but though our one shared prayer, I met her spiritually, and I felt the pull of that bond deep within me during the service.
Even though my experience at the funeral moved me to tears, I shared many good laughs during my time here as well.  Sister Bridget has given me a nickname, Lady Long Legs, and she has taught me the nicknames she’s given to some of the other sisters as well.  As Sister Dorothy put it, Sister Bridget  has her own special language, and I feel honored to be a part of her vocabulary.  I love the feeling of walking through the halls and eating my meals at the Motherhouse because wherever I go, I pass smiling faces who greet me by name, or I hear a familiar voice call out, “Hey, Legs!

Golden Jubilee – 50 Years an Ursuline – Sr. Darla

Our Sister Darla Vogelsang is celebrating 50 years as a nun in the Ursulines of Youngstsown.  Sr. Darla entered the Ursulines in September 1960 after having graduated from Ursuline High School.  She entered the novitiate in August 1961, which is the date for which we mark Jubilee.


Sister Darla has had a variety of ministries during her 50 years as an Ursuline:  as a teacher at St. Patrick, Youngstown and teacher and principal at Immaculate Conception elementary schools in Youngstown, as a parish minister at Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart in Youngstown, St. Paul, Canton, and St. Patrick, Hubbard, in service to the Ursulines of Youngstown as a member of the Leadership Team, on the Liturgy Committee and the Retreat Committee.


Most recently Sr. Darla was certified as a Catholic Chaplain.  It is a kind of “encore career.”  She now serves as chaplain for HMHP at St. Elizabeth, Boardman and St.Joseph, Warren.


Sister Darla says that “a 50th anniversary for anyone is a hallmark year.  It is also an opportunity in prayer, gratitude and celebration to look back at the people and the opportunities that have formed me in religious life.  And it’s a celebration of the Ursuline Sisters as well, an opportunity for the community to celebrate the gift of Religious Life in the church.”


Congratulations Sister Darla!  Ad multos annos.


Be Ready for Big Surprises!

The following quote from the Hobbit describes my Journey as an Ursuline Sister.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

(The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkiein) p.300

I started traveling this road when I was in the 4th grade in St. Dominic’s school in Youngstown. The moment wasn’t dramatic. It came to me one day as I sat in the 4th grade classroom that someday I would become a nun. It was a feeling deep inside of me. Yes. I was positively sure that I would be a nun. My parents didn’t know about this until I was in high school. My mother was very unhappy. My father liked the idea. After much discussion my parents and I reached a compromise. My mother said, if I would go to the Ursulines in Youngstown where our family lived, then I could go tomorrow. I took that as a sign from God that I was doing the right thing. God was really calling me to become a nun and live my life as a religious.

June 1956 I graduated from Ursuline High School in Youngstown. September 9, 1956 I entered the Ursuline Sisters in Youngstown. In 2007,  I celebrated 50 years as an Ursuline Sister.

When I was in high school I knew that I wanted to be a classroom teacher. Perhaps an English teacher. I wasn’t surprised when those of us who entered together started right away going to Youngstown State University for education courses. I thought that was natural. I didn’t realize that teaching is what we did as our Ministry. Ursulines were known to be teachers. Many people at that time put entering a religious community and teaching in the same category. Living religious life is a Way of Life/Teaching is a career choice. If I was married I would be living out the gospel message as a married woman.

Teaching would be my career.

Entering religious life wasn’t too different from living at home. The authority in my life switched from parents to a superior. Instead of two sisters I had 200. My days were divided between prayer, study for college courses and learning what it meant to live as and become an Ursuline Sister in a religious community. Time passed quickly and then it was 1959 and I was taking the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. That year marked the first time that I lived the life of a vowed religious. It was also the year that I began teaching and ministry in the church. This September of 2011 I celebrate 52 years of service to the church.

During the next 30 years I taught everything from 2nd grade through Senior in High School. I received a BS in Ed from Youngstown State, and an M.A. in Education with a specialization in Reading from Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Later on I received state certification from Ohio to teach English by taking courses at Youngstown State. While teaching at Ursuline High School I took courses from Ursuline College in Cleveland that helped me to update my faith. I was certified to teach religion in the Youngstown Diocese. It laid the foundation for my work here at St. Hilary as a Pastoral Minister.These words from St. Angela, the founder of our community began to speak to me:

Do Something…Get Moving… Be Confident… Risk new things… Stick with it… Get on your knees…

Then be ready for Big Surprises!

After my mother died in 1982 I found myself getting drawn into parish work at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown. Bringing the Eucharist to my mother while she was sick helped me to feel comfortable ministering to the elderly. On Easter Sunday in 1982 she told me that I was her Easter Sunday. The associate pastor at the Cathedral asked me if I would teach some classes to the RCIA. I did and found that I could still build the kingdom but in a different way: working with adults who were the parents of children.



I taught for 30 years; 15 in grade schools and 15 in high school. In 1990 I decided to hang up the role of teaching in a classroom; I went to Loyola University in Chicago on a Sabbatical to prepare for work as a Pastoral Minister. The professors remarked, 30 years of teaching, what a resource for becoming a pastoral minister.

Do Something…Get Moving… Be Confident… Risk new things… Stick with it… Get on your knees…

Then be ready for Big Surprises!

While in Chicago I started to look for a job and to make a long story short through Fr. Koegel who was the pastor of St. Hilary, I came here to Akron. I began my journey here at St. Hilary in August of 1991. I have grown into many roles. I’ve learned things that they don’t teach in college courses or text books.

I began as a volunteer coordinator for parish groups. This grew through the years to being a Spiritual Director for the Joy Renewal; coordinator for baptisms, which includes teaching the parent classes, contact person for Stewardship weekend, coordinating the efforts of the Eucharistic ministers to the Homebound parishioners in 8 nursing homes and residences and in private homes. All of my life experience as well as the opportunities for education has become a resource for the ministries I am involved with at St. Hilary. In 2005, the Lord asked me to take on my own family ministry; my sister Loretta was diagnosed with front lobe dementia. Ministry to families was part of the ministry of St. Angela.



My community, the Ursuline Sisters in Youngstown is comprised of 52 people. If you think of that number as a total then it seems very small. But consider this…at one time our community served the Youngstown Diocese as teachers in the parish schools. Today we still have this ministry; but we’ve expanded into a program for mothers who are struggling to get off welfare, an aids ministry, a prison ministry: yes some are pastoral ministers and directors of religious education. The ministries have brought us into contact with many people who are on many different journeys. Faith and the call to build the kingdom came in the Sacrament of Baptism. Call to all ministry comes from the sacrament of baptism; we are anointed for service. There will always be people who are called to make the building of the kingdom by walking with the Lord as the central focus of their lives. It is a grace.



Matthew says it this way in Chapter 19 vs. 11-12, This teaching does not apply to everyone, but only to those to whom God had given it. For there are different reasons why someone cannot marry; some, because they were born that way; others because someone made them that way; and others do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. This is the passage where I found myself when I was 25 years in religious life.


When I think of religious life I think of an overgrown plant or bush. Throughout the experiences of Vatican II; cultural experiences, and just plain changes in society; it got pruned. Plants that are cut back are not destroyed but come back being much stronger. They have a richer color. Yes, religious life has changed since the 1950’s; it lost some of it’s old leaves but new ones are growing in its place. You and I; the prayers we pray for vocations are the water which the plant needs. The call is out there; just pray that the people who receive the call to live a vowed life will respond with a yes. Thus they will become a new branch on the plant.

Do Something…Get Moving… Be Confident… Risk new things… Stick with it… Get on your knees…

Then be ready for Big Surprises!

An Annual Celebration of Community

Ursuline Sisters, Members of the Company of St. Ursula and Associates throughout the world remember their “Mother” and Founder, St. Angela Merici on January 27th each year. In Youngstown, Ohio, the Spirit was alive and well as the entire Community of Sisters and Associates gathered for Mass and Dinner. After Sister Nancy Dawson’s challenging words to us, seven men and women came forward to enthusiastically announce their decision to be associated with the Ursuline Community. The Sisters proudly responded by expressing their intent to share their lives, their prayer and their ministries with the Associates. Angela was among us as we enjoyed each other with hospitality,encouragement and renewed energy.

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.”

How to Get to Know a Religious Community

Welcome to our “Ask The Nun” series of informal videos. Sister Mary McCormick offers some questions to think about when searching for a Religious Community.

Sometimes when people think about becoming a nun they are familiar with one or more religious communities. Other times, people feel called, but don’t even know any nuns.

I suggest that you do a little thinking and a little exploring when you want to begin to enter into the process more deeply.

If you were dating someone, you might liken it to the “getting to know you phase.”

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you interested in serving the church in an area close to where you currently live?
  • Or, would you prefer to be part of a group that serves all over the country and maybe all over the world?
  • Are you interested in a small group?
  • Or would you like to be part of a large group?
  • Do you have a special ministry in mind? If so, you might seek out a community that specializes in that service? Or,
  • Are you open to a variety of ways to serve God’s people?

I encourage you to do some investigation – on line and in person by visiting some communities.

Good luck with the process

Please submit your questions to [email protected]

Does Life in the Convent Ever Become Boring?

Welcome to our “Ask The Nun” series of informal videos. Today’s questioner wonders if life is ever boring for a nun. Sister Norma Raupple shares her answer.

I speak for myself in saying that I have never been bored with convent  life. Most of us have to decide how we are going to get everything done that we have planned to do. There is always something going on… something to do… somewhere  to go … someone to help…

I sometimes  decide to stay home and take  some quiet time for myself instead of filling up my week with activity.

Please submit your questions to [email protected]

How I Proclaim the Gospel

Each year the Ursuline Sisters commit themselves to ministry, the Youngstown Ursuline’s do this around the feast of St. Angela in January of each year.  The following is a reflection written about the importance of ministry as it is connected to Jesus’ teaching.

“Home,” the poet Robert Frost wrote “‘is where when you go there, they have to take you in.”  As Ursulines, we would say that our home is in the “heart of God.” When we live there, we are unconditionally embraced by love and acceptance.

However, God’s home is within each of us and among us. So there is ongoing communication between our home and God’s home; our heart and God’s heart.


I have always thought of ministry as a call from the heart of God, a call to share what I have received from God’s heart. For me, ministry is always, where God is asking me to create a “home,” a space where others can recognize and continue to be attracted to God.

However, I also firmly believe that ministry, is God’s work. God is asking for my heart to be so open, so transparent, like a clear pane of glass, that God’s light can shine through me and reflect God’s love.

So how then, do I, as a minister, proclaim this “Good News of God’s Love in Canfield Ohio in 2010 ?

I also believe that in the New Testament Jesus teaches us how to minister – we are asked to watch Jesus and imitate him:

1. Jesus was first and foremost a presence to others, so I need to be with “the other” as a presence, as a companion on the journey.

2. I find when others were with Jesus, they felt “at home.” So in ministry I need to be attentive to creating community so that others can also be “at home.”

3. Jesus nourished others, he taught the importance of being fed. So I am called to provide nourishment for others, in a vast variety of ways.

4. Any reading of the gospel uncovers the generosity of Jesus, always the abundance, whether in the story of the loaves and fishes, or the wedding feast at Cana. So I too am called to reflect this sense of abundance, always the more in ministry.

5. Finally, Jesus gave his life for the people; he gave of himself in Eucharist.  So I am called too, to empty myself, to give, and give some more, to go the extra mile and not count the cost.

Obviously, all of this is done in very human situations, in the simple here and now.

The poster that was created for the 400th anniversary of the Ursulines entitled “Angela: A Woman For All Times” hangs several places in the Motherhouse and is a reminder when I read the two lines of writing on it that it is always the wedding of contemplation and action – prayer and apostolic ministry that results in proclaiming the good news of God’s love in this contemporary church.

Another poet, this time an anonymous one, uses different images and metaphors to express how to proclaim the gospel. The poet writes:.

“The most visible creators I know of are those artists whose medium is life itself.They neither paint nor sculpt- their medium is being. Whatever their presence touches has increased life. They are the artists of being alive.”

We Ursulines know how to make others “feel at home” we are the “artists of being alive” and we have learned all this at the feet of the master.

Happy 15th Anniversary of the Cafe

The Ursuline Sisters Ministry to people with HIV/AIDS began in 1993 with a monthly support group.  The following year we started to distribute pantry bags on the 3rd Saturday of the month, and in 1995 we decided we needed to bring people together for a longer period of time to have an opportunity to talk and share and visit in a safe environment.  At that same time, one of our volunteers suggested that we feed people since not many of them were cooking on a regular basis.  That was the impetus for launching the monthly Café which soon became a monthly community.

In February of 1995 we held our first Café where the volunteers served dinner to our 25 guests!  In November of 1995 we provided each of our Café guests with a complete Thanksgiving dinner, and have done holiday basket food distribution for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter from then on.  The Café has served 180 meals since 1995; we have never missed a month and the number of guests continues to grow.  We now provide bags to an average of 65 households, and a sit-down meal to 130 men, women and children.  In the last fifteen years we have been blessed with wonderful volunteers who work hard to provide the food, cook it and get the auditorium and the bags ready, as well as many groups, churches and individuals who have gifted us with food and a variety of donations that we distribute each month.