The Ursulines of the Central Province installed a new leadership team during a blessing ceremony held June 2 in the provincial offices in St. Louis. Team members are Sister Rita Ann Bregenhorn, provincial; Sister Maria Teresa de Llano, councilor; and Sister Jean Hopman, councilor. Sister Rita Ann is beginning her second term as provincial after having served as a councilor for six years. Sister Jean is beginning her second three-year term on the council, and Sister Maria Teresa is a new member of the team.
We ask for your prayers for these three women who have answered the call from their sisters to serve the Central Province for the next three years.
Sisters Maria Teresa de Llano, Rita Ann Bregenhorn and Jean Hopman
June 2, 2017
The Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union in the United States endorse the letter from the Catholic Climate Covenant responding to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and his decision to stop all future payments to the Green Climate Fund.
The letter states:
”Catholic teaching insists that climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitments: to protect human life, health, dignity, and security; to exercise a preferential option for the poor; to promote the common good of which the climate is part; to live in solidarity with future generations; to realize peace; and to care for God’s good gift of creation. These arguments have been made by Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, bishops from every continent and, most recently, Pope Francis.
“The Catholic Church recognizes that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. It has repeatedly called for and supported international climate change agreements including by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Pope Francis wrote and released his ecological encyclical, Laudato Si’, in part to influence the Paris Agreement stressing that ‘its implementation will require unanimous commitment and generous dedication by everyone.’ In Laudato Si’, he emphasized that ‘continuity is essential, because policies related to climate change and environmental protection cannot be altered with every change of government’ (no. 181).”
The Ursuline Sisters agree with the members of Catholic Climate Covenant that there is no justification for this decision and we implore President Trump to reconsider this path. We commit ourselves to continue to raise our voices against climate policies that harm the planet and people, while we will advocate for policies that respond to “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’ no. 49, emphasis in original).
Exciting things are going on around the province, and the Spring 2017 issue of our magazine, Laurels, tells you about many of them. This 12-page issue features stories on our sisters’ ministries in Laredo, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis and more. There’s also news about the academies and the ways in which we are reimagining Angela in the 21st century.
St. Louis Catholic sisters are reaching out to St. Louisans with the message "We have faith in you, St. Louis," which they are spreading through billboards, Metro bus ads and parish bulletins.
This simple message was first featured on billboards in March 2016 as part of a campaign that coincided with National Catholic Sisters Week, held March 8-14 every year. These sisters, whose congregations have been a part of St. Louis for generations, are convinced that area residents are up to the task of being more loving, less violent and better neighbors.
Fast forward to 2017 and the message hasn't changed, the sisters say, because it rings just as true as it did 365 days ago. In a world that's always changing, the sisters offer a consistent message: that they love all of God's children, and pray for them every day.
They pray for violence and hunger to be eliminated for those in the St. Louis region and beyond. They pray for the poor to be lifted out of poverty, for those afflicted with disease to be healed and for the stranger to be welcomed among us. No matter who holds local, state or federal offices, the sisters pray for their wise leadership and that the leaders will advocate for social and environmental causes.
St. Louis continues to make headlines with high rates of crime against persons. Racial issues here still garner national attention. Despite all of this, the sisters have faith that St. Louisans will continue to see the good in one another and work for a bright future in a city that has been so abundantly blessed.
You can learn more about St. Louis Catholic Sisters at www.stlouiscatholicsisters.org.
This billboard is part of the St. Louis Catholic Sisters' "We have faith in you, St. Louis" campaign centered around National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14.
February 9, 2017
As members of an international community we celebrate the gift and beauty of our diversity and as citizens of the United States honor our immigrant heritage. It is important that we engage in dialogue concerning President Trump’s executive order staying the acceptance of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. We share the concern with so many that this action demonstrates discrimination against people because of religion. We believe that there is already a process in place to exclude those who would threaten our safety. There may be need for adjustment, but not for radical shutdown.
The constitutionality/legality of the executive order is now in the hands of the federal courts and a decision could be coming shortly. But the question is not moot. It is important that as citizens we speak for justice and most especially speak for justice for those whose voices are silenced. It is important that we stand with our brothers and sisters whose voices are silenced.
Hebrew Scriptures call us to protect the “the widow, the orphan and the alien”; Jesus encourages us to consider “Who is my neighbor?” In the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to be merciful, to seek justice and be peacemakers. St. Angela tells us “Be kind and compassionate to one another” and “Always act out of charity, with faith and hope in God” and “Never fail to render your neighbor the services that may depend on you.”
Pope Francis in his 2017 Message for the World Day of Peace writes: “An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue”.
As Ursulines we recognize our call to be both a peaceful presence and encouragers of dialogue in our world. We invite each person to prayer and to seek the best way you can be a compassionate support for immigrants and refugees during this time.
Yours in Angela,
Sister Rita Ann Bregenhorn, OSU
Sister Mary Ann Dooling, OSU Sister Ann Barrett, OSU
Sister Julie Hicks, OSU Sister Jean Hopman, OSU
This year 14 of our sisters have reached new milestones in ministry, celebrating jubilees ranging from 50th to 70th for a combined 845 years of service in God's name.
See our jubilarians.
Sister Donna Hyndman celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on Jan. 15 at Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans.
An excellent teacher, Sister Donna has served throughout the Central Province and beyond, including 24 years at the Ursuline Generalate in Rome. Today she volunteers in many areas, including at Our Lady of Prompt Succor and an adult education/GED program in New Orleans.
Following the morning Mass at Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans hosted a reception in the chapel lobby.
The Ursuline Sisters are offering a weeklong service opportunity in San Antonio, Texas, this summer for women ages 18-30. From July 9-16, participants will be sharing service, community and prayer with the Ursulines.
The group will provide a variety of services for persons experiencing homelessness at Haven for Hope, including engaging in conversation, painting, washing mats, and others. Haven for Hope is a housing and homeless shelter that assists homeless individuals and families with services that help them become independent and find a permanent home.
Participants also will learn about the root causes of homelessness and the struggles and successes of homeless persons.
Opportunities to enjoy the culture and sites of San Antonio will be part of the experience.
For more information or to sign up, contact Sister Elisa Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed applications are due March 1.
The Intercommunity Ecological Council (IEC) in December celebrated its 15th anniversary at the Loretto Center in St. Louis. About 25 past and present members gathered to reflect on the IEC’s simple beginnings and subsequent accomplishments while also looking to future endeavors.
The IEC was founded in 2001 by Ursuline Sister Mary Lapping, Sister of Mercy Corlita Bonnarens and Sister of Loretto Nancy Wittwer. It comprises representatives from 15 congregations of women religious, representatives from one male congregation, and an ecozoic center.
According to the group’s founders, “IEC collaborative ministry flows from a commitment to eco-spirituality that sees all creation as sacred. Members are called to act individually and communally with justice to promote a sustainable, healthy environment for all species.”
The 15th anniversary celebration also was inspired by Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si, which calls for all of humankind to understand and address the destruction that is being rendered to the environment.
Sister Marysia Weber, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Consecrated Life, joined the group for the occasion. The program, which opened in prayer and closed in song, included stories and remembrances of the past 15 years and a candle-lighting ceremony honoring the members who have died since the group’s inception. A reception was held following the program.
Ursuline Sister Mary Lapping visits with Sister Marysia Weber, director of the St. Louis archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life, at the IEC’s 15th anniversary celebration.
The Ursuline Sisters invite you to join with us in prayer for the people of Syria and for an end to the violence and destruction there:
Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.
O God of hope and of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
The leadership teams of our three USA Roman Union provinces, who met the week of Nov. 8 in Chicago, have issued this statement:
During this critical post-election time, the USA Roman Union Ursuline Leadership teams invite our sisters and collaborators to commit ourselves to engage in prayer, reflection and compassionate responses to the needs of our world, our nation and our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Angela invites us: “always act out of charity, with faith and hope in God."
Pope Francis tells us: - “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love
who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.” (The
Joy of the Gospel)
Our Chapter call: “Be the change you wish to see” compels us through the word and deed
to act in God’s name who accompanies us in light and darkness.
Today, on St. Ursula’s Feast Day, we share the following from Sister Jean Hopman’s blog post:
“Tomorrow (Oct. 21) is St. Ursula’s Feast Day. Our foundress St. Angela chose her as patroness for her new group of brave young women. She wanted to place Ursula before her daughters who were embarking on a new life, beginning something unknown in Brescia at the time. My imagination goes wild as I consider the life-lessons Ursula has to share not just with Ursulines, but with all who resonate with the spirit and charism of Angela Merici.
“This is the Ursula whom my heart knows: a young woman of deep faith, conscious of who she was (a princess!) and ready to take uncommon risks for the sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel…a leader, a woman in whom others recognized skills and passion and were eager companions …a dreamer, who didn’t fear to think big and invite others to trust their dreams…God-centered, holding nothing back, entrusting herself and her companions into the loving hands of God…a courageous witness to the power of God at work in her (and each of us!) transforming lives and society through the experience and leadership of women everywhere since the 4th century.”
Sister Regina Marie Fronmüller was one of five volunteers recently honored by SBP (formerly St. Bernard Project) at their annual fundraiser. The event raised funds to support rebuilding homes for families impacted by this summer’s devastating floods in South Louisiana and continue rebuilding for families still displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
“Sister Regina Marie, known to many as ‘SRM’, is truly devoted to service and rebuilding the city that has been home to the Ursuline Sisters for 300 years,” SBP said in announcing the award. “As a leader in the Ursuline school community, SRM has facilitated numerous service trips for students all over the world. This year, SRM raised $25,000 to sponsor a house and give the gift of home to Ms. Lisa Dregory and her three sons. Thanks to SRM’s tenacity and enthusiasm, Ms. Lisa finally moved back into her newly rebuilt home on September 30, 2016 after being displaced for more than 11 years are Katrina.”
Sister Regina Marie poses with homeowner Lisa Dregory and SBP workers at the October homecoming celebration.
A homecoming celebration at the Ursuline Sponsored House will soon be underway as Lisa Dregory and her family move back to the newly restored house they were forced to abandon after Katrina struck 11 years ago.
In this Year of Mercy, the Ursuline Sisters chose to undertake this project to restore a house in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans and bring a family home. Coordinated by Sister Regina Maria Fronmuller and the St. Bernard Project, volunteers including teachers and students from Ursuline schools around the country and abroad have worked throughout the summer to make the Dregory family’s dream a reality.
Watch the progress and hear their stories: https://youtu.be/AzZlA9hzoU0
The annual “North American Ursuline Experience” week, led by Sister Rosemary Meiman, was held July 18-25 at the Ursuline Centre in Great Falls, Montana. The week, based on Sister Irene Mahoney’s book, Lady Blackrobes, recounts the events in the life of Mother Amadeus Dunne. An Ursuline from Toledo, Ohio, Mother Amadeus was the foundress of the missions that were established for the Native Americans in Montana.
The week included studying about the various missions, traveling to several locations founded by Mother Amadeus where the Ursulines have served, learning of the customs and ceremonies of the Native Americans, and visiting museums and other places of interest. Toward the end of the week the participants gave short presentations on topics of interest for the group.
Among the 28 participants were Ursuline Sisters from Dallas, Texas; Great Falls, Montana; Louisville and Maple Mount, Kentucky; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Associates, teachers and staff members came from Cincinnati, Ohio; Dedham, Massachusetts; New Orleans and Toledo; and students from Dallas and New Orleans also participated.
The dates for the 2017 “Ursuline Experience” have been set for July 17-24. More information on this program will be available in early January.
Members of the "Ursuline Experince" at the burial site of Mother Amadeus Dunne in the cemetery at St. Ignatius, Montana.
A letter signed by more than 5,650 Catholic Sisters was delivered Aug. 8 to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, their running mates and party chairs, asking the U.S. presidential candidates “to engage in political dialogue that reflects the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.”
Written by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the letter asks that the candidates refrain from rhetoric that stokes the fires of fear and engage in constructive dialogue during this campaign season. The 5,671 signers of the letter are Catholic sisters from across the country who serve persons in need through education, health care, and other pastoral and social services.
The letter to the presidential candidates reads as follows:
“On behalf of the 5671 Catholic Sisters across the United States who have signed this letter, we ask you to join us in calling for civility in our discourse and decency in our political interaction that promotes the common good, reaches out to others, engages in constructive dialogue, and seeks together the way forward. We ask you to join us in promising to engage in political dialogue that reflects the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.
“In his September 24, 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis reminded all who seek to serve that, ‘You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.’
“Unfortunately, we live in a time when our politics is too often marked by self interest and demeaning rhetoric. We seem to be caught in a political system paralyzed by ideological extremism and hyper-partisanship. Those on all sides of the growing political divide too often appeal to our basest instincts and stoke the fires of fear that tear at the fabric of our nation. We cannot let the voices of hatred and fear carry the day.
“We need courageous leaders willing to speak the truth. We simply ask that all who seek to lead refrain from language that disrespects, dehumanizes, or demonizes another. We pray that all who seek to influence public opinion will be mindful of the common good and respectful of the dignity of each and every person.
“Citizens of this pluralistic nation form a diverse polity characterized by a wide variety of beliefs, experiences, and interests. Our differences have the potential to challenge all of us to abandon easy certainty and seek a fuller truth. The problem is not our differences. It is how those disagreements are handled that spells the difference between building the common good and destroying the bonds that bind us.
“We urge you to join us in pledging to engage in careful listening and honest dialogue that honors the dignity of those with whom we disagree and treats all with the respect that is their God-given right. Please join us in promising to seek the common good, to desire only good for all others, and to offer our own truth with equal measures of conviction and humility.
“We know that you offer yourself in service of the people of the United States at great cost to yourself and your family. We promise you our prayers in the weeks and months ahead.”
In response to the recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas, North American Ursuline Sisters, associates, colleagues and collaborators affirmed the following Statement on Non-Violence and Compassion at their July convocation:
The North American Ursuline Sisters, Associates and Collaborators meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, July 7-10, 2016, are shocked and saddened by the continuing violence in our country. We call for respect for each individual person. Our differences are not a cause for violence among us, but an opportunity for dialogue and finding solutions in this challenging era.
Our foundress, St. Angela Merici, calls us to:
- “Live in harmony, united in one heart and one will.” (9th Counsel)
- “Be bound together by the bonds of charity, respecting one another, helping one
another, supporting one another.” (9th Counsel)
- “Build community wherever we go.” (5th Counsel)
We pledge to live the call of non-violence and compassion through our prayer, our thoughts, words and deeds, and to participate in dialogue and actions in our local areas which will contribute to reconciliation and understanding.
Twelve sisters from the Central Province were among the 180 participants who represented Ursuline Sisters and ministries in Canada, Mexico and the United States at the tri-annual convocation.
Keynote presenters Sister Sandra Schneiders, IHM, and Father Michael Crosby, OFM, challenged participants to a renewal of the vision and spirit of Ursuline foundress St. Angela Merici, in the light of our contemporary world and its many needs. Break-out sessions included presentations on human trafficking, gun violence, compassionate cities, insights from the new cosmology, Ursuline Associates, and international exchanges among Ursuline schools.
Twelve Central Province Ursulines participated in North American Ursuline Convocation 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Included in this photo are Sisters Madonna O’Hara, Thomas More Daly, Lois Castillon, Diane Fulgenzi, Marilyn Burkemper, Rita Ann Bregenhorn, Carla Dolce, Donna Hyndman and Mary Ann Dooling.
Give STL Day starts at midnight and we’re delighted to be part of it!
Give STL Day—Tuesday, May 3—is an online fundraising initiative created to raise awareness and dollars for local nonprofits—including the Ursuline Sisters of the Central Province.
Give STL Day runs around the clock! From midnight to midnight on Tuesday, May 3, supporters can make a gift to the Ursuline Sisters online through www.GiveSTLDay.org and help us continue to live our mission now and carry it into the future. We hope you will consider a gift to the Ursulines and encourage your friends and families to do so as well.
Give STL Day is an online giving event organized by The Greater St. Louis Community Foundation to grow philanthropy in the St. Louis metropolitan area. It’s also an opportunity for more people to get to know about the Ursuline Sisters and for us to develop new relationships while continuing those we have always treasured.
Our page is up at https://givestlday.org/npo/ursuline-sisters-of-the-central-province now and will go live for donations at midnight. Please consider making a gift.
A big button for a big day!
St. Louis Catholic Sisters have launched a media campaign across metropolitan St. Louis featuring billboards with the message, “We Have Faith in You, St. Louis.” The campaign, which coincides with National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, is aimed at instilling pride in the community and a desire to work for its betterment.
The sisters, who for generations have taught and shaped the character of so many St. Louisans, know that St. Louis-area residents are up to the task of being more loving, less violent and better neighbors.
Sister Mary Ann Dooling, OSU, says, “I have worked here over the last 20-some years with people of such diverse backgrounds and experiences and faith traditions. What I’ve found is a deep commitment to family and to community, even if that is sometimes challenging and difficult. Mostly, I have found this commitment to be an outgrowth of faith and recognition of God’s call to grace. We are far more the same than we are different. We need to celebrate the differences and remain rooted in our common humanity.”
National Catholic Sisters Week is an annual celebration of the nation’s Catholic women religious that encompasses events and stories to share the lives of Catholic Sisters. National Catholic Sisters Week is supported by a $3.3 million grant from the Conrad H. Hilton Foundation.
The Ursulines are one of 14 communities comprising the St. Louis Catholic Sisters group. You can read sisters’ stories of faith in St. Louis at http://www.stlcatholicsisters.org/sister-stories.
St. Louis Catholic Sisters have placed 24 billboards throughout St. Louis to emphasize all that is good in the city and show their faith in St. Louisans. The campaign coincides with National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14.
This year 17 of our sisters have reached new milestones in ministry, celebrating jubilees ranging from 50th to 70th for a combined 1,170 years of service in God’s name.
See our jubilarians.
Sister Mary Peter Bachand, Sister Joan Ann Springman, Sister Kathleen Barnes, Sister Anne Therese Mayol
The Ursuline Sisters will close Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Frontenac, Minn., on June 30. Villa Maria is owned by the Ursuline Sisters of the Central Province and governed by a board composed of local residents and Ursulines.
“Like many retreat centers in the U.S., Villa Maria has been struggling financially, despite valiant efforts by the staff and board,” says Sister Rita Ann Bregenhorn, Ursuline provincial leader. “The Ursuline leadership has come to the difficult decision that we must close Villa Maria in order to remain good stewards of our resources.”
The 124-acre property originally was home to Villa Maria Academy, a boarding school established by the Ursulines in1891. The sisters arrived in Lake City, Minn., in 1877 and three years later established Our Lady of the Lake, a girls' school in Lake City. By 1883, enrollment exceeded capacity, and the Ursulines built the larger Villa Maria Academy in Frontenac. In 1969 a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed the four-story structure and forced the academy to close.
In 1970 the Ursulines established an ecumenical retreat center on the property. For 45 years Villa Maria has remained an interfaith retreat and conference center sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters to help people, organizations and groups in their spiritual and personal growth.
“Villa Maria has always been known as a place where God is center and the world is welcome,” Sister Rita Ann says. “We cherish our many years in this community and look forward to maintaining our relationship with the many wonderful people we’ve come to know as students, coworkers and volunteers serving alongside us, and all who have supported our ministry here in ways too numerous to describe.”
Plans are being made to put the property up for sale.
Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center was established in 1970 on the property that originally was home to Villa Maria Academy, a boarding school the Ursulines established in 1891.
“The feast of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters, is celebrated on January 27, and is always an invitation to reflect on how we are being called to enflesh her spirit in our lives today. My thoughts this year turn to the invitation to live with a more compassionate heart,” writes Sister Diane Fulgenzi in a new reflection.
The Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union in the United States join the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in welcoming President Barack Obama’s decision to use his constitutional authority to address the brokenness of our immigration system; alleviate the suffering of many immigrant families; and begin to heal our national community.
The president’s executive action will provide temporary relief to millions of our neighbors, including mothers and fathers living in fear of deportation and children who worry that their parents could be taken from them at any moment. These measures will serve to stabilize families, communities, and economies and reaffirm the values upon which this nation was founded.
Catholic sisters have a long history of accompanying the immigrant community. We continue to minister to those aspiring citizens in schools, hospitals, and service agencies along the southern border and across the country. We see the devastating effects of the current immigration system every day in our families and our border communities.
While we celebrate the President’s bold action, we know that it is limited. We remember that some seven million of our brothers and sisters will continue to be relegated to life in the shadows. We are disappointed that the President failed to recognize the difficulties caused by the increased militarization of border communities. We know that the only permanent solution lies in comprehensive Congressional action.
Our sisters will continue to press Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that protects the dignity and human rights of all people; creates an achievable pathway to citizenship; fixes the immigration visa system and reunites families; protects the rights of all workers; promotes the full integration of newcomers; respects the special needs of the most vulnerable; and addresses the violence, persecution, and poverty that force migrants from their homes.
The Ursuline Leadership stand with Sr. Janet Mock, CSJ, Executive Director of LCWR in her statement: “We remain committed to seeing just and compassionate immigration reform enacted by Congress and look forward to working with people of faith and good will to ensure that the standards upon which our immigration law is built reflect Catholic social principles and the values of our nation.”
The Ursuline Sisters are part of the nearly 1400 members of LCWR, an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists it's members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.