New Ministry for Sister Nancy Dawson

Sister Mary McCormick, general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, has appointed Sister Nancy Dawson as Executive Director of The Ursuline Center. Sister Nancy most recently served as General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown for six years. She is also a part-time instructor of World Religions at Youngstown State University.


“We are delighted to have Sister Nancy return as Executive Director of the Ursuline Center,” states Sister Mary. “Her experience and enthusiasm will enhance the many ministries and services of the Center. The Ursuline Center provides an opportunity for networking among various groups for the common good.”


“I welcome the opportunity to continue the mission and ministries of Ursuline founder St. Angela Merici, who responded to the needs of her times,” Sister Nancy says. “She was always a beacon of hope, hospitality, and inclusivity.


Sister Nancy will be assisted by 12 other Ursuline Sisters who serve in various capacities at the Center, along with lay people and Ursuline Associates.


Many ministries are offered at or through The Ursuline Center, such SilverSneakers®, Motherhouse Pool Ministry, adult enrichment classes, a labyrinth, Prison Ministry, pastoral and bereavement counseling, Prayer Shawl Ministry, Sister Jerome’s Poor, spiritual direction and retreats, The Ursuline Center Book Club and The Ursuline Center Spiritual Book Club. Also offered at the site are Walsh University Accelerated Program and Pymatuning Rehab Speech and Hearing Services.

Sr. Nancy Dawson

“Our Center Auditorium is available to use for reasonable donations,” Sister Nancy adds. “We welcome people to call us for such family-oriented gatherings as Baptism, First Communion and graduation parties, showers, and birthdays. The Center offers a fully equipped kitchen, classrooms, retreat bedroom space, and a beautiful chapel.”

New Leaders at UPSK


From left are Mary Ann Critell, Sister Mary Alyce Koval, and Sister Mary McCormick
From left are Mary Ann Critell, Sister Mary Alyce Koval, and Sister Mary McCormick

The Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten will begin its 51st year of educating children with new leadership at the helm.


Mary Ann Critell has been named Principal and Director. Mary Ann has worked at the school for 18 years, most recently as a kindergarten teacher and assistant principal. She also is an Ursuline Associate.


Ursuline Sister of Youngstown Mary Alyce Koval, Site Director for Beatitude House’s A House of Blessing Youngstown, has been named Minister of Ursuline Mission for UPSK.


Sister Mary McCormick, general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, says, “For 50 years, the Ursuline Sisters have provided the best in preschool education. With Mrs. Critell as Principal and Director and Sister Mary Alyce in the new position at Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten, we look forward to continuing that superb educational tradition and keeping the mission of the Ursuline Sisters strong for our children and families.”


“Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten is rooted in the tradition of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown’s ministry to joyfully educate children in faith, wisdom and understanding,” states Mrs. Critell. “It is here on this holy ground that we form a community nurtured by the children, their families, supportive staff and the presence of Ursuline Sisters. We continue to keep the words of St. Angela’s last legacy alive, ‘to persevere faithfully and joyfully in the work you have begun.’”


In addition to her administrative duties, Mrs. Critell will be active in educational programs, teaching special religion lessons and educational songs, and assisting with music programs during the year.


“I look forward to occasionally teaching special religion lessons throughout the year, and telling stories to the various ages. The children energize me!” Mrs. Critell adds.


“My education experience has come full circle,” Sister Mary Alyce says. “In my life as an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown, I spent 42 years in elementary school teaching and administration. The last five years have been helping women at Beatitude House pursue post-secondary education. Now I’m going back to where it all starts — preschool.”


There are limited spots still available for fall enrollment at the preschool and kindergarten, Mrs. Critell notes. A new program accepting families this year, she continues, will be Time for Two for two- to three year olds. “It’s for students not ready for preschool,” she explains. “The child attends a once a week for an hour session with an adult to share stories, an art activity and snack for a nominal fee.”


Learn more about UPSK by calling 330-792-4150 or visiting its website:

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.

What Did Your Parents Say When You Told Them You Wanted to Be A Nun?

In the latest installment of our continuing video series Ask A Nun, Sister Nancy Dawson, General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, answers the question “What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to enter the Convent?”

Sister Nancy Dawson:

I’m Sister Nancy Dawson, an Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, Ohio, and the question for today is: “What did my parents say when I told them I wanted to go to the Convent?

Well, I started to ask the question of myself with a spiritual director, Father Malone, and at that time I was only about 17 or 18, right after high school.

And when I asked my dad, who was not Catholic, if I could go — or should go — to the Convent, he said, “Well, why don’t you wait until you’re 21. Sometimes people don’t have a brain in their head until they get a little bit older.”

So at 21, I went back and said to my dad, “I think I really want to be a nun!” And my dad gave me his blessing. My mother, of course who was Catholic and my primary role model, she loved to say the rosary, and I think she was responsible for my entering the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

I would also say that the Sisters who taught me in grade school at Immaculate [Conception] and at Ursuline High School were an incredible influence on my life. They were always happy. They were always generous. They were compassion.

I was put out of school twice and they took me back, and I thought that was a miracle that they performed.

And so I’m very happy that I’m an Ursuline Sisters today. And I hope that God will continue to bless our community with young people who would come into our life, which is a really exciting and wonderful encounter with Jesus and with all those that we serve.

Contact the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown at [email protected] or 330-792-7636.

How Many Careers Have You Had As a Nun?

In our continuing video series Ask A Nun, Sister Nancy Dawson, General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, answers the question “How many careers have you had as a nun?”

Well, I can’t even count the number of careers that I’ve had. I entered when I was 21. I taught elementary school, high school, and now I teach at YSU (Youngstown State University) as a professor in the department of Philosophy and Religion.

I was a principal for a number of years. I also worked in a parish in a rural area, which was wonderful to be with the people at that time and in that place.

I’ve been in administration for a longer period of time than I would like to name, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to exercise leadership and to energize all of the other sisters for the many ministries that we perform in the diocese of Youngstown and beyond.

I worked at the Elkton Prison for a short period of time as a chaplain, and I’ve also been director of the Ursuline Center at Youngstown, where we have ministries of Walsh University campus, AIDS Ministry, adult education, and swimming lessons for children.

I’m back into administration at this time, and we’re doing some very exciting things as Ursulines in reconfiguring our life and our space and trying to figure out how we can show the world what it means to be nonviolent in our thoughts, words, and actions in a culture that deals with so much diversity. Thank you. Excellent question!

Contact the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown at [email protected] or 330-792-7636.

Roaming Around to Find the “Yes!”

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Ursuline Sisters Martha Reed knows well why it’s important.


Sister Martha holds a Master’s Degree in special education and ministers as an instructor at Potential Development, Youngstown, working with kindergarten-age children affected by Autism.


In this installment of Vocation Stories, Sister Martha shares what drew her to her ministry, and to her overall ministry as an Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

Sister Martha Reed:
Every one of us is God’s chosen ones, so we need to take the time to sit down, respect, and have compassion and understanding for one another – however that may be.


Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind 1 Corinthians
Today I am teaching at Potential Development School of Autism. I found that I can do more with working with young children, and helping with bringing out their goodness and showing their parents how good their children are and how good they are. Also, to improve life for their child in more of a one-on-one situation where they feel safe talking to me, without any type of judgment.


Roaming Around to Find the ‘Yes!’
I’d go out late at night walking, just roaming through the nights like Michael W. Smith’s song – “roaming through this world, trying to find my place in this world.”

One Sunday at mass – I can’t remember which reading it was – but it hit me, and it’s that God does have a plan for my life.


A Plan – and a Gift

What drew me to the Ursuline Sisters is they believe in family, staying strong and connected to family. Not only do I have a family of origin – where I came from – but I have a family of choice. My Sisters are my family. They’re my family. I can go to them in times of need, joyous times, happy times, sad times, whenever. You’re there for one another.


Another thing that drew me to them is the way that my Sisters go out and minister today. We’re not afraid to rub elbows with people that are different from us. We’re not afraid to sit down and listen to someone who just needs a listening ear. It’s a real privilege and honor to be with this group of women. I don’t need to roam anymore.


I’m Sister Martha Reed.