In Memory: Sister Marcia Welsh

The following reflection was written by Sister Nancy Dawson, OSU, General Superior
“Those who instruct others unto justice shall shine as stars for all eternity”-Daniel 12:3
Sister Marcia WelshWhat a beautiful summary of Sister Marcia Welsh’s life: Instruction/Justice. And she continued those values until the day she died on 9 October 2013 at her Motherhouse home. Throughout her stay in Intensive Care at the hospital, Marcia taught “math” day and night. On an earlier occasion, she was teaching sisters in formation or those in prison or maybe all of us. She repeated, “Read the Life of Christ so you can know Jesus”. But she kept saying, “a page is missing.” Perhaps she was teaching all of us who love her that we need to fill in the “missing pages” with our own lives of Gospel service.
No doubt, Sister Marcia [demanding and persistent at times] in her classroom teaching at Ursuline for 20 years, leaves a legacy of excellent performance to all her Ursuline math students as well as those at YSU in the 40s and 50s.
Sr. Marcia WelshMarcia’s years at S.O.M.E. [So Others Might Eat] in Washington, D.C., impacted not only the poor whom she served but added to the awareness of the entire Ursuline Community. And she did love discussing politics. Many mealtime conversations in family and community challenged each of us to action on social issues. As walking became more difficult, the sisters have a photograph of Marcia walking the “extra mile” to those in prison as they explored the Catholic faith.
Like St Angela, our Ursuline founder, Marcia modeled a love of family in her early years at Ursuline High School after teaching all day, Marcia walked to Windsor Nursing facility at the dinner hour to care for her mom and dad.
What we will miss are Marcia’s educational skills, her love of politics and encouragement to respond to injustices, her advocacy for those in prison and the poor. I am sure there were never enough mailboxes in Congress to accommodate her letters on behalf of the poor.
Indeed, as an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown, Marcia has lived Daniel 12:3 and Matthew 25:31-40. We are confident that she is “one of the stars” that “will shine” for us now and for all eternity. May we, family, community and friends continue her legacy.
At the heavenly banquet, there will be no “missing pages” as Sister Marcia dines with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all her family members and Ursuline Sisters.

Generation Now – WOW

Sr. Nancy @ UHSIf you run into any Ursuline High School students today and they’re signing “Blessed Be God”, don’t be surprised. When Sister Nancy Pawlen met with the UHS senior class today and led them in singing that hymn, their “joyful noise” filled the school’s auditorium with happiness.
Sister Nancy spoke to the students – who number around 100 – about the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and ways these vibrant young people can become involved in the Sisters’ ministries. She was joined by 2010 UHS Alumni and Youngstown State University student Ben Smith, who spoke about his experience volunteering with the Ursuline Sisters, and Michele Gatts, the Sisters’ Media, Public Relations & Development Coordinator, who spoke about the Ursuline Sisters many ministries.
Michele, along with Sister Nancy, Sister Norma Raupple, Sister Therese Ann Rich and Ray Novotny, form the Young Adult Outreach committee for the Ursuline Sisters
Sister Nancy taught the students about the history of all Ursuline Sisters and our founder, St. Angela Merici, as well as the history of Ursuline Sisters in Youngstown. “You know us mostly as educators,” she commented, “but in last 30 years our ministries have branched out. And in many cases, it was to help those who nobody was taking care of.”
In talking about what some of those ministries are, Michele said, “I love my job! And you can’t find many people who say that. The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown are so welcoming, in the tradition of St. Angela Merici. Also, what they accomplish is tremendous – working every day and succeeding at making our world a better place. It’s great, and an honor, to be part of that.”
“Volunteering with the Ursuline Sisters is a wonderful way to keep ties with the Ursuline family – the Ursuline Sisters, Ursuline High School,” Ben told his former classmates. “Having gone through it, it’s absolutely wonderful.”
Sister Nancy also is a Pastoral Associate at St. Rose Parish, Girard, where she formerly taught school.

Remembering Fr. William Petrunak

His students called him “Truke,” his colleagues at the high schools called him “Trunes,” his family and the people of Holy Trinity called him “Fr. Bill.”   Whatever name, Fr. William Petrunak was beloved.

I have been thinking about him a lot since I learned of his death (he died on Saturday Feburary 13, 2010).  He was a teacher at Ursuline High School when I was a student there in the early 1970s.  I taught with him on the faculty in the late 70s and into the 1980s.  In between my graduation and when I returned to the faculty he was one of the priests involved in our formation for Ursuline Religious Life.  He was always a promoter of vocations – for the priesthood and for nuns.  He prayed regularly for vocations and encouraged his students to consider becoming a nun or a priest.

So what do I remember most about Fr. Petrunak?  First of all, he loved the priesthood.  One of his favorite days was Holy Thursday when he joined with the other priests of the Diocese of Youngstown to renew and remember his ordination.  Second, he was devoted to high school age students.  Even before Catholics talked much about “youth ministry,” he was drawn to young people and they to him.  What is even more impressive is that he kept in touch with so many of his former students.  They would return to seek his counsel and his blessing when they got married, when they had their own children, and when they were in trouble, whatever it was.  Third, though he was committed to high schoolers, he was also a beloved pastor.  Just ask anyone at St. Mary, Orwell, Little Flower, Middlebranch, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Austintown, or his beloved Holy Trinity, Struthers, his home parish.  Last year when he celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination people from all of those places joined with his former students at Ursuline and JFK to celebrate with him.

I will miss him.  The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown will miss him.  He was always a good friend to us.

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.