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 polices 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 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 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 Jean Hopman, OSU
Sister Julie Hickey, OSU Sister Ann Barrett, 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 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 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 for 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 after 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 more 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 Marie Fronmüller 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/AzZIA9hzoU
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. This 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 Experience" at the burial site of Mother Amadeus Dunne in the cemetery at St. Ignatius, Montana.
A letter signed by more than 5650 Catholic Sisters was delivered Aug. 8 to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, 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 5671 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
“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
“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 joined 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, supporterscan 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/sisterstories/.
St. Louis Catholic Sisters have placed 24 billboards throughout St. Louis to emphasize all that is good and instill pride in the city. 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 cause by the increase 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 of visa system and reunites families; protects the rights of all workers; promotes the full integration 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 1,400 members of LCWR, an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religions in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in todays’ world.
Sister Mary Ann Dooling , a theology teacher and member of the leadership team, recently took 10 students from Ursuline Academy in St. Louis to Appalachia, Ky., for a three-day service project. The students, also accompanied by faculty members Nicki Westin and Jay Harkey, joined up with two students from an Ursuline school in Kentucky to do construction work on three houses in Auxier, Ky.
The students and faculty divided into three groups to tackle the jobs. At one house they did roofing, at another they did plumbing. At the third house they tore out an old floor and replaced it with a new vinyl one. “The girls were also encouraged to be in conversation with the families during their time there, and they really enjoyed that,” Sister Mary Ann says.
Sister Mary Ann, who taught in the Appalachian region for two years in the eighties, has a great love for the area. “The people and culture are wonderful,” she says. “It’s been over 15 years since we had a school trip there. We’ve been wanting to make this trip to Auxier for a while but this is the first time it came together.
“Our young women did wonderful work,” she says. “They were open to whatever was happening. It was a really positive experience for everyone involved.”
Sister Mary Ann Dooling and a student put their carpentry skills to use.
Country Roads magazine has just published an article about the Ursulines titled “The Unsinkable Ursulines.” Subtitled “It took twelve ‘good gray sisters’ to tame the devil’s empire: colonial New Orleans, the article offers great insight and interesting details about “Nouvelle Orléans” and the young Ursulines who left the cloister in France, journeying five months across the Atlantic to minister in the New World.
Sister Rosemary Meiman and Mary Lee Harris, who work in the Ursulines’ archive in New Orleans, provided access to photos, annals, letters and other materials for this article.
Ursuline nuns gather on the lawn, between the river and the main building, at their second convent in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. (Photograph taken sometime in the late 1800s by Mother St. Croix.)
The leadership of Ursuline-sponsored ministries in the Central Province met March 3-5 in New Orleans to “plan for the future of Ursuline education and receive input on being mission-focused schools,” says Sister Madonna O’Hara, director of sponsored ministries for the Central Province. The annual event—attended by school presidents, principals, board members, mission effectiveness personnel and Central Province leaders—also promotes collaborative working relationships by enabling participants from different Ursuline-sponsored schools get to know each other better, Sister Madonna says.
Ursuline-sponsored ministries in the Central Province include Ursuline Academy, Dallas, Texas; Ursuline Academy, Dedham, Mass.; Ursuline Academy, New Orleans, La.; Ursuline Academy, St. Louis, Mo.; and Mount Merici Academy, Waterville, Maine.
At the closing session, Sister Rita Ann Bregenhorn, provincial, says a blessing for the meeting participants seated with her: Gretchan Kane, president, and Andi Shurley, principal, Ursuline Academy of Dallas; Karen McNay, president, Ursuline Academy of New Orleans; and Tina Reichardt, president, and Mark Michalski, principal, Ursuline Academy of St. Louis.
Eleven of our sisters are celebrating milestone religious anniversaries this year. We rejoice with our 2015 jubilarians: Sisters Mary Margaret Prenger, Wilma Wittman, Carla Maria Crabtree, Kevin Ritterbusch, Maria Goretti Hotop, Maria Goretti Bernier, Marcella Savoie, Paula Hartwig, Chabanel Mathison, Elisa Ryan and Magdalita Roussel. With years professed ranging from 50 to 70, these Ursulines have given more than 575 combined years of service to God’s people.
Sister Mary Margaret Prenger is celebrating her 70th year as and Ursuline.
"The Ursuline Sisters Museum recently was featured in The New Orleans Advocate. "What we have here is a treasure trove of historical items and documents," said Mary Lee Harris, curator of the collection, who along with Sisters Rosemary Meiman and Carla Dolce were quoted in the article. "It is, in effect, the history of New Orleans and Louisiana in our city and state's dealing over the centuries with the British, the French, the Spanish and finally the government of the United States," she added.
Curator Mary Lee Harris, pictured here with Ursuline Academy students, frequently gives tours of the Ursuline Sisters Museum.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and the Bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans.
On this day, Jan. 8, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans, commemorates a wonderful miracle in the history of New Orleans and the United States during the War of 1812. During this bicentennial year, the celebrations in New Orleans extend throughout the weekend.
On Jan. 8, 1815, Gen. Andrew Jackson—greatly outnumbered by highly trained and better- equipped British troops—faced enormous (and some said 'impossible') odds on a swamp-like battlefield just to the east of New Orleans.
However, seven miles away, at their convent in the French Quarter, a small group of Ursuline nuns joined with faithful laity and prayed throughout the night for victory. Early the next morning, as Mass was being celebrated at the convent, a messenger arrived, excitedly telling everyone in the chapel of Gen. Jackson's victory over the British.
For hearing their prayers and responding, the Ursuline nuns promised to honor the Blessed Mother with a Mass celebrated at their convent each year. This year the Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, D.D., archbishop of New Orleans, is presiding.
For 200 years now, under her title of "Our Lady of Prompt Succor,” our Blessed Mother has been placing the prayers and petitions of the faithful before her Son...and answering them. The intercession of our Blessed Mother shows itself in the lives of countless thousands of men, women, and children around the world each day.
In the spirit of Angela Merici, peacemaker, Ursulines worldwide are committed to working toward Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation with courage in the face of challenges of the globalized world. As part of this commitment, the four U.S. provinces of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union have collaborated to initiate a virtual national office of Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. Areas of focus include the environment, immigration and human trafficking.
A new Website for the JPIC virtual office will be a clearinghouse of information to educate and inspire. Visit now.
The Ursuline Sisters 2013 Project Africa brought piped water to many villages, including this one in Senegal.
On Oct. 21 the Ursuline Sisters celebrate the Feast of St. Ursula. The following is adapted with permission from Mary-Cabrini Durkin’s book, “Angela Merici’s Journey of the Heart: The Rule, the Way.”
St. Ursula was chosen by St. Angela as the patroness of the Company she founded in 1535. Today it is only through legend, sacred art and institutions dedicated under Ursula’s patronage that we know something of this Christian woman, virgin and martyr of the 4th century, and the spirit she engendered.
The basic outline of the legend of Ursula and her companions is this: Ursula was the only child of a Christian king and queen in Britain. She dedicated her life to Christ at an early age. A neighboring pagan ruler sought to annex her parents’ realm by forcing marriage between Ursula and his son. Inspired in a dream, Ursula offered a creative plan: delay the marriage three years while she and her young women companions make a voyage to Rome, with Ursula as their leader in faith. Ursula saw this as an opportunity to lead them all, including the suitor, to Christ.
So powerful was the witness of the women’s zeal and faith, that two wicked commanders in the Roman army were afraid that the women would influence many men and women to join them. These commanders plotted to ambush the returning pilgrims at Cologne. All of the women by Ursula were massacred, as witnesses to faith in Christ. The chief spared Ursula so that she could become his wife. When she rejected his offer, he shot her with an arrow.
Heroic adventures of the Middle Ages ordinarily have masculine protagonists; Ursula’s story stands almost alone as a woman‘s journey of discovery and courage. Ursula was seen in a leadership role that the cultural circumstances of the time would not allow for women.
Ursula was a natural leader, who evoked faith and encouraged her companions to greatness. She stood among them, not above them. Her authority flowed form her holiness and zeal. Influenced by Ursula, her companions too had committed themselves to Christ. Following in Ursula’s footsteps, Angela entrusted to her daughters and collaborators this same spirit of leadership.
Sr. Rosemary Meiman
led 18 women on the North American Ursuline Experience in Montana this summer, visiting the missions and exploring the history of the Ursulines out West that began in 1884 when Mother Amadeus Dunne left Toledo, Ohio, for the Montana territory to help open missionary schools for Native American tribes.
This was Sr. Rosemary’s eighth year leading this expedition. As a teacher and an administrator in schools and convents in Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota, she developed an interest and love for things historical. Indeed, she has just retired from 17 years of service as the St. Louis archivist for the Central Province. She says her interest in the Ursulines of Montana stems from hearing about St. Ignatius Mission while she was a student at Ursuline Academy in New Orleans and from learning about the lives of the missionaries in the early northwest of the 1800s.
Among those accompanying her on the weeklong trip were five Ursulines Sisters, including Sr. Lois Castillon and Sr. Karen Schwane of the Central Province, two Ursuline Sisters of Toledo, Ohio, and one Ursuline Sister of Tildonk in New York. The other participants were Ursuline students and their mothers, teachers, faculty and associates.
Sr. Rosemary says people participate in the Experience because they are interested in learning about the Native Americans, the history of the Ursulines, how the West was settled and what role the Ursulines played in history. “I think they learn much about our early sisters in the West, the trials they faced and how they overcame them, and what impact their lives had on those whom they served. And they are happy to see the good work that has continued at the Ursuline Centre
in Great Falls and at the missions founded by Mother Amadeus.”
Clearly the Experience touches her companions in many ways. One participant wrote, “Thank you so much for everything you have done this week to make the Ursuline Experience one I will never forget and cherish forever. Your amazing facts and stories about the Ursuline Sisters and their missions opened my mind to a whole new world of Ursuline Serviam (I will serve)
And what inspires Sr. Rosemary to lead another group on this expedition each year? “The thrill of seeing participants learn and appreciate all that our ‘foremothers’ did for the Native Americans in Montana” is one joy that I cherish," she says. “Another is sharing this history with others so that they, in turn, can pass it on for future generations.”
While visiting St. Ignatius Mission, Sr. Rosemary and companions cleaned Mother Amadeus Dunn's tombstone and tended to the grave sites of the other sisters buried there.
In response to the surge
of undocumented immigrants being released in Laredo, Catholic Social Services has joined with other non-profit agencies and interfaith volunteer groups to create the Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team. This team has created a coordinated effort to assist Central American families—and children traveling alone—who are being bused into Laredo from the Brownsville/McAllen area and dropped off at the Greyhound bus station without any resources.
The Bethany House, the Holding Institute and Catholic Social Services have formed a system to ensure that those traveling a long way en route to family members in the United States have the essentials to get there, including food, clothing and basic hygiene items.
The Diocese of Laredo and Catholic Social Services are using their mini buses to transport the undocumented immigrants to the different stations where the volunteer groups provide essential services, sometimes making 20-30 trips in a day.
At the Catholic Social Services Senior Center, Sr. Carmel Rangel and Sr. Karen Schwane have enlisted the help of center participants in this humanitarian effort. The group is making sandwiches for the travelers—60 a day, three days a week.
Sr. Karen and Sr. Carmel get the sandwich-making process started.
Senior center members make humanitarian relief a group activity.
The Ursuline academies in Dallas, New Orleans and St. Louis connected with sister schools worldwide this summer as representatives from Ursuline schools across the globe came together for the first Ursuline Educational Services (UES) Global Conference in New Rochelle, N.Y. UES is a network of Ursuline Schools in the United States and Canada.
Three Ursulines from the Central Province—Sr. Madonna O’Hara, Sr. Lois Castillon and Sr. Elisa Ryan-- participated in this unique opportunity for collaboration among Ursuline educators from various cultures. Sr. Madonna, director of sponsored ministries, is on the UES board and was one of the conference organizers. St. Elisa organized breakout sessions, and Sr. Lois was a representative of Ursuline Academy of Dallas, where she serves as director of mission and heritage.
Participants came from Ursuline schools in Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Venezuela.
UES was established by the Ursuline Sisters in the United States in 1987 to enhance Ursuline education and ensure its continued success in educating young women and men in the Ursuline tradition. The global conference allowed participants to celebrate their common heritage as followers of St. Angela Merici and to discover together how they can enhance the charism of St. Angela in Ursuline schools in the 21st century.
Sr. Lois Castillon at the closing Mass.
The Marquette Catholic High School Foundation hosted a celebration of thanksgiving this spring for the Ursuline Sisters, who have served in Alton since 1959. A Mass was held at the Ursuline Convent, with a reception afterward. Attending were friends, family members, alumni of schools and members of parishes throughout the region who have been served by the Ursulines.
Said Bill Kessler, president of the foundation: “For all of us, our profound thanks for helping us to grow in the knowledge and love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. You, as St. Angela encouraged, empowered us in our own faith and gave us the skills to become more like those women and men that God intended us to be.”
When the Alton Convent and Queen of Peace close later this year, a smaller community of Ursulines remain in Alton while others are relocating to St. Louis and New Orleans.
Sisters Mary Ann Luth, Maria Goretti Hotop and Nancy Fearon mingle with well-wishers at the Marquette Catholic High School Foundation’s celebration in honor of the Ursulines.
Hands-On Summer Art Camp in New Orleans with Sr. Regina Marie Fronmüller is off to a great start. This week Sr. Regina and her volunteers, including Sr. Elisa Ryan from St. Louis, are working with neighborhood 5- to 10-year-olds on a variety of artistic endeavors including painting, papier mâché, jewelry making, sketching in the French Quarter and a field trip to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Next week, kids age 9-13 get their opportunity to explore the world of art with the Ursulines.
Sr. Elisa has documented the week with the "lively little artists" on a video on the Ursulines' blog. See it now.
Sr. Regina Marie Fronmuller (far right with yellow cap) with her young artists.
Sr. Maria Teresa de Llano is one of several adults who just finished a week of art lessons with Ursuline artist Sr. Regina Marie Fronmüller at the sisters’ Valence Street community in New Orleans. Sr. Regina planned the week of classes at the request of Sr. Maria Teresa, who wanted to learn to draw, and invited Ursulines and others who have asked her about art classes. The budding artists plan to continue developing their talents by incorporating drawing into prayer and retreats, attending an art school in New Orleans, and pursing this gift in retirement.
Sr. Maria Teresa de Llano applies what's she's learned in Sr. Regina Marie Fronmuller's art class.
“You have more need to serve others than to be served.” – St. Angela Merici
This year URSULINE LINKS—a volunteer program led by the Ursuline Sisters for students in our Ursuline Schools—will take place June 30 – July 12, 2014. Six students from Ursuline Academy in St. Louis will be participating in social justice programs in England.
URSULINE LINKS, now in its third year, provides an opportunity for students to work together for others, linking prayer with service and learning about another culture. The students meet other Ursuline students and Ursuline Sisters in the areas where they are doing service.
Sr. Ginger Cirone will accompany the six girls from Ursuline Academy in St. Lous to London, meeting up with Sr. Regina Fronmuller, who will arrive a few days earlier to help with preparations. The two Central Province Ursuline Sisters and St. Louis students will Join Ursuline Sisters and students in London in doing social justice projects at food banks, homeless shelters, refugee centers and support cafes in London and Kent. They also will help Ursuline Sisters living at the Ursuline Care Home at Westgate-on-Sea in northwest Kent.
Ursuline Academy of New Orleans students with children at an art camp during a previous URSULINE LINKS program in London.
The Ursuline Sisters are grateful to be among the thousands of women religious past and present being recognized for their contributions to society during the inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2014. The celebratory week, which is part of Women’s History Month, is intended to increase awareness and visibility of their faithful service as an integral part of American History.
National Catholic Sisters Week is the first project of a larger, three-year effort to increase vocations. Called SisterStory, this project is made possible by a $3.3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
“The Hilton Foundation’s vision is to create a movement that ignites national awareness around the lives and profound contributions of sisters, inspiring girls and women to be open to a potential call to religious life, Sr. Rosemarie Nassif, SSND, Hilton’s Catholic Sisters Initiative program director, said in a press release. “Launching National Catholic Sisters Week in conjunction with Women’s History Month will leverage the respect of an already nationally recognized campaign to highlight a unique and spirited band of women.”
The Ursuline Sisters have a new video, “Angela Alive Today,” which Sr. Elisa Ryan prepared in celebration of the Jan. 27, Feast Day of Ursuline foundress, St. Angela Merici. Click here to view it now.
Happy 100th birthday, Sr. Marie!
Sr. Marie McCloskey, OSU, celebrated her 100th on Feb. 17. Born in New Orleans, she professed her religious vows 73 years ago and spent her many decades in active ministry as a well-known and much-loved teacher and principal in New Orleans; Galveston, San Antonio and Laredo, Texas; Decatur and Alton, Ill.; and Frontenac, Minn.
Now retired in Alton, she is wished birthday blessings by her Ursuline community, friends, former students and family.
Ursulines were among the Catholic sisters in New Orleans who last fall sponsored a rally in support of immigration reform. Each order of sisters told about their own arrival in New Orleans and expressed their support for the immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate but not yet passed by the House. This bill includes a path to citizenship. Many sisters spoke about the hardships sufffered by the immigrants who are deported, causing families to be separated, as well as the negative and unwelcoming spirit existing toward the poorer immigrants in New Orleans at this time.
Ursuline Sisters Ginger Cirone, Mary Anne Holmes, Regina Marie Fronmüller, Carla Dolce and Donna Hyndman were among the Catholic sisters rallying in support of immigration reform.
The Ursuline Convent Auxiliary in Alton, Ill., in early December hosted its annual Christmas Coffee at the Alton Convent for the sisters who live there. The morning was filled with joy and laughter as everyone enjoyed a buffet of Christmas goodies and caught up with friends. A solo vocal performance and visit from Santa added to the festive mood. The auxiliary, which has been fundraising in support of the Ursulines for more than 90 years, presented the sisters with a check representing the proceeds of the many fundraising events it held throughout the year.
Ursulines sisters ministering in the Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., diocese recently were featured in its biweekly publication, The Mirror, in November 2013. Srs. Theresa Davey, Marianne Mullen, Mary Ellen Neeves and Ann Marie Owen were profiled in November in the “Women in our Midst” series that highlights a congregation of women serving in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau each month. The series offers a glimpse into the vocation, life and ministry of each sister.
The Ursulines of the Central Province have a rich history of service in southern Missouri. Beginning in the early 1900s, they were sent out from the Kirkwood, Mo., convent to staff parochial schools in rural parishes. Through the decades, Ursulines have served in Arcadia, Cabool, Cape Girardeau, Caruthersville, Charleston, Fredericktown, Graniteville, Ironton, Jackson, Joplin, Kennett, Malden, Mansfield, Mountain Grove, New Haven, Ozark, Pilot Knob, Poplar Bluff, Portageville, Shell Knob, Sikeston, Springfield, Verona, Webb City and White Church.
Read more about Sr. Theresa Davey, Sr. Marianne Mullen, Sr. Mary Ellen Neeves and Sr. Ann Marie Owen in our “Sister Stories.”
Sr. Marianne Mullen visits with a resident of the Chateau Terraces in Cape Girardeau.
A group of 25 eighth-grade students from Ursuline Academy in New Orleans visited the Ursuline Sisters at their convent on the academy campus Nov. 6, 2013, for a pizza lunch and conversation. The sisters remain active in the mission of the school but are no longer teaching there. The students were eager for the opportunity to get to know them and hear about the ways in which they continue to serve.
Before their visit, the eighth-graders submitted questions for the sisters. After splitting up into three groups, Srs. Carolyn Marie Brockland, Carla Dolce and Regina Marie Fronmüller circulated among them to answer their questions. The event ended with a raffle for a t-shirt with a quote from St. Angela Merici, and everyone took home a vocation prayer card, Ursuline brochure and button with the words, BELIEVE. HOPE. ACT.
During the next couple of weeks, all members of the eighth-grade class will have the opportunity to visit with the sisters in groups.
Students from Ursuline Academy in New Orleans visit with Sr. Carla Dolce.
Members of the Catholic Social Services Senior Center in Laredo, Texas, are participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month October 2013 by remembering and praying for cancer victims and survivors among their membership, families and friends.
Sr. Carmel Rangel, director, and Sr. Karen Schwane have ministered at the senior center since it opened in September 2009. Observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month with remembrance and prayer is one of the ways in which the center helps provide members opportunities for spiritual, emotional and psychological fulfillment in a social environment.
Sr. Karen Schwane, holding the sign at right, with members of the Catholic Social Services Senior Center in Laredo, Texas.
Six Central Province Ursulines are among the 74 Roman Union Ursulines from around the world who have gathered in Rome this October for five weeks for a General Chapter, an international meeting that happens every six years. The agenda for their days of meeting includes sharing about the present reality of each province or region of the Roman Union, setting priorities, and electing the general leadership team for the next six years. The six Central Province Ursulines participating in the meeting are Srs. Maria Teresa de Llano and Mary Anne Holmes, who are currently living and serving in Rome; Srs. Diane Fulgenzi, Rita Ann Bregenhorn and Mary Lapping, Central Province delegates to the Chapter; and Sr. Adele Brennan, part of the secretarial staff for this international meeting. The Chapter will conclude on Oct. 12, 2013.
Ursuline Sisters of the Central Province currently in Rome are, from left, Srs. Mary Lappng, Maria Teresa deLlano, Adele Brennan, Mary Anne Holmes, Rita Ann Bregenhorn and Diane Fulgenzi.
The Ursuline Sisters are marking the fifth anniversary of the Adult Basic Education and GED program they co-sponsor with St. Jude’s Community Center in New Orleans. Sr. Marianne Mullen established the program in 2007 along with St. Jude’s, a parish center that provides multiple services to the poor and homeless. The Adult Basic Education/GED program was begun as part of the Ursuline Sisters’ commitment to form a new community in New Orleans in response to the needs of the poor and underserved people following Hurricane Katrina.
The adult education program offers an individualized approach to instruction for adults who have not completed their high school education. Sr. Ginger Cirone is director of the program, carrying on the work begun by Sr. Marianne, who now ministers in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Sr. Ginger, along with Sr. Donna Hyndman, Sr. Carolyn Marie Brockland and two lay volunteers, provide tutoring and individual attention to the students, currently ranging in age from 19 to 56.
Grants and donations enabled the program to open and have helped support it during the past five years, allowing for the purchase of textbooks geared specifically for GED programs, computers and software that provide opportunities for the students to experience success without the need to compete with other students.
Sr. Ginger Cirone offers individual attention to a student at St. Jude's Community Center in New Orleans.
Alice Reyes and Dolores Ornelas, alumnae of the Ursuline Academy of San Antonio class of ’66, traveled to the Midwest this fall to visit with former teachers and other Ursulines in Springfield and Alton, Ill. They also visited the Central Province offices and toured Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, Mo.
The academy in San Antonio closed in 1992 but the alumnae have maintained strong connections with the sisters and each other.
Sr. Madonna O’Hara, center, former president of Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, gave visiting San Antonio alums Dolores Ornelas and Alice Reyes a tour of the school during their visit.
September has been a month of celebrations for the Catholic Social Services Senior Center in Laredo, which is directed by Sr. Carmel Rangel with much assistance from Sr. Karen Schwane.
On Sept. 6, 2013, the center celebrated its fourth anniversary. Sr. Carmel prepared a special meal, and Bishop James Tamayo joined the celebration and helped serve the seniors. The local TV station interviewed Sr. Carmel for the evening news.
The group also celebrated Mexico’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, a big day for all those of Mexican heritage because it is their “4th of July.” The staff and participants were invited to a fiesta at the Hamilton Center and had the opportunity to sell homemade treats there as a fundraiser for their outings.
Sr. Karen Schwane (standing far left) Sr. Carmel Rangel (standing third from right) and Catholic Social Services Senior Center participants dressed for the occasion on Mexico’s independence day.
Ursuline Sisters living in Alton, Ill, were treated to a special mid-July visit from alumnae of Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, Mo. A caravan of alums crossed the Mississippi July 13 to spend the afternoon with 22 elderly and retired sisters—including some of their former teachers—living at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center.
Alumnae were paired one-to-one with sisters to share memories, conversation and root beer floats. Smiles and laughter also were in abundance.
Sr. Mary Anthony Breuhan, Sr. Collette Jokerst, Sr. Mary Helen Archibald and an Ursuline alumna allow a photographer to capture their joy in the day.
Congratulations to Sr. Carla Dolce, whom New Orleans Magazine has named one of its Top Female Achievers of 2013. She was one of 15 women selected by the editorial staff based on independent research and recommendations.
In announcing the 2013 list, the editors’ wrote: “Our list isn’t necessarily claiming to present the best of the year, rather these are people who have been doing good works year after year and for whom, as far as we know, the best may be yet to come. We will appreciate them then as we appreciate them now.”
The magazine’s profile of Sr. Carla reads in part:
At age 80, Sr. Carla Dolce has a resume that would put many business leaders to shame. A New Orleans native, Sister Dolce entered the order of Ursuline nuns at 21, and since then she’s worn a multitude of hats. "In the order, you go where you are sent, like the army,’” she said.
For her, that meant teaching and serving as principal and president of Ursuline academies in several states. She has also done mission work in a variety of neighborhoods, keeping in mind the importance of asking people what they thought their communities needed, then helping them achieve it. She worked with Cuban immigrants in the Parkchester neighborhood of New Orleans, and with other minorities who were having trouble getting their landlords to make necessary repairs.
All the while, she has lived by a simple motto: “The most important thing in life is that love is put into the world. Unconditional love, the way God loves us.” Helping other isn’t a matter of what we want to do, she says. “We need to serve and listen. We want to walk with them.”
Currently Sr. Carla is community leader of the Ursuline Sisters living in New Orleans and heads up the fundraising efforts to restore the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, which has served as a place of prayer and refuge for countless people since it was built in 1928.
A dozen Central Province Ursulines participated in the North American Ursuline Convocation July 4-7, 2013, in Cincinnati, Ohio. This convocation, held every three years since 1992, is a time for renewal of the vision of Ursuline foundress St. Angela Merici and celebration of the Ursuline identity in bringing the Gospel to the world.
Our 12 Central Province participants were among 200 Ursuline Sisters, associates and collaborators from Canada, Mexico and other parts of the United States. The theme of the gathering was “Angela’s Radical Gospel Vision: Expanding the Circles.” Key note presentations focused on the twofold aspect of this theme: Angela’s radical gospel vision and how we are being called to expand the circles of our life today. Sessions also focused on peacemaking, eco-spirituality, human trafficking, clean water, and living the spirit of Angela today.
Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill, OSU,
recently was honored by the Sisters of Charity and their foundation for her contributions to the history of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sr. Francis Marie served as president of the college from 1987 to 2007. She was one of 15 honorees to be recognized for their significant contributions during the past 50 years at the college’s April 24 Celebrating Milestones Scholarship Benefit. The evening featured tributes to these individuals “who have helped the Mount become the outstanding college it is today.”
When selected to lead the Mount in 1987, Sr. Francis Marie became only the fifth president of the college, which was founded in 1920.
Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill, right, with Mount St. Joseph alumna and former board member Eileen Ennis Mechley at the college’s scholarship benefit.
“A socially just world is a world in which, if you had to draw a lot, and it would put you anywhere in that society ... you knew whatever lot you drew would be a good lot ... Would you trade places? Well, if you wouldn’t trade places, then there’s work to be done.” —Van Jones, human rights activist
The Ursuline Sisters were among 14 congregations of sisters in the St. Louis area to collaborate on a booth at the 24th Annual Celebration of Earth Day in St. Louis in Forest Park. The theme of the sisters’ booth, “Trading Places around the World,” encouraged guests to put themselves in the place of another person and imagine walking in that person’s shoes for a day. It focused on five people around the world whose lives have been affected by environmental change and the sisters whose ministries are helping to improve their lives.
One of the projects featured was the Ursuline Sisters’ Project Africa, supported by Roman Union Ursuline Sisters throughout the world to help provide ready access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in four villages in three African countries.
Sr. Virginia Marie Killam and Mpumi Zondo, an Ursuline exchange student from South Africa, thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company when students from Ursuline Academy in St. Louis spent a late April afternoon with the sisters living at Queen of Peace in Alton, Ill. The visit was part of the academy’s day of serviam – “I will serve” – which is a cornerstone of the Ursuline tradition.
During the April 24 visit, each student and co-worker was matched to an Ursuline Sister to share stories, conversation and root beer floats. Each student had received a brief biography of the sister with whom she would be visiting, so conversations got rolling quickly.
The student visit to the retired sisters is an annual event made extra special this year by the inclusion of 10 students and two co-workers from Brescia House, an Ursuline school in Bryanston, South Africa. The South African students spent two weeks at Ursuline Academy as part of an exchange among Ursuline schools to provide opportunities for students to engage in global learning. Next year students at Ursuline Academy in St. Louis will travel to South Africa to continue the sharing of school experiences, culture and the Ursuline spirit.
Sr. Diane Fulgenzi (third from right) just returned from a 10-day visit in the Mexican Province of the Ursulines of the Roman Union. Her visit was part of her preparation for an international meeting of province leaders and representatives that takes place in Rome every six years.
Before this evaluation and planning meeting in Rome, the leader of each Roman Union province is asked to visit another province for immersion in the life and ministry of the Ursulines in a different cultural and environmental context and to share some aspects of her own province.
While in Mexico, Sr. Diane visited Ursuline communities in Mexico City, Puebla, Iguala and Tepotzlan. She visited ministry sites, joined in a Mexican Province meeting, and had an opportunity to interact with sisters in small community settings.
The international meeting will be held this fall.
Sr. Jill Jaeb, Sr. Lois Castillon and Sr. Karen Schwane recently celebrated their 50th jubilees in Dallas. They are among nine Central Province Ursulines celebrating a jubilee this year, with years of religious life ranging from 50 to 70. Click here to see all of our 2013 jubilarians.
New Orleanians gathered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Jan. 8 for the annual mass commemorating Andrew Jackson’s 1815 victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans. On the eve of that conflict, New Orleans residents joined the Ursuline Sisters in prayer at their convent, imploring the help of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Ursuline Sisters are stewards of the shrine, with on-site care and preservation efforts now led by Sr. Carla Dolce, prioress, and Sr. Donna Hyndman.
Read more about the Ursuline Sisters and the shrine here.
Sr. Carla Dolce in the Shrine of our Lady
of Prompt Succor
Sixty of our Central Province Ursulines were in White Plains, N.Y., Oct. 4-9 for a gathering of the Roman Union Ursulines in the United States. Associates and lay collaborators of the Ursulines also were invited to the gathering, which focused on ways of living the Ursuline mission in our 21st century world.
Following the gathering, the four regional provinces of the Ursulines in the United States each met separately for their province meetings, officially called “Chapters.” A Chapter is held every six years and provides the opportunity for the sisters to review the past six years and set priorities for the next six.
The Central Province Chapter concluded with the election of two sisters to join Sr. Diane Fulgenzi, our provincial leader, in participating in an international meeting, called a “General Chapter,” in Rome in the fall of 2013. Joining Sr. Diane in Rome will be Srs. Mary Lapping and Rita Ann Bregenhorn.
The Ursulines from the four U.S. provinces who will be attending the General Chapter in Rome next year are, from left, Srs. Josephine Aloralea (West), Rita Ann Bregenhorn (Central), Jane Finnerty (East), Diane Fulgenzi (Central), Bridget Haase (Northeast), Margaret Johnson (West), Angela Krippendorf (Northeast), Mary Lapping (Central), Ann Peterson (East) and Mary Sullivan (East).
The Ursuline Sisters are one of six congregations of women religious
in New Orleans featured in “We Shall Not Be Moved: Catholic Sisters of New Orleans,” a film documenting the sisters’ journey from the ruins of Katrina to recovery.
Using archival photos and materials, television footage of Katrina and the flood, and interviews with the sisters, the documentary chronicles the motivations, struggles, soul-searching and decisions that the six congregations made in the wake of the destruction of the 2005 hurricane and flooding. The story of the Ursulines, who arrived in New Orleans in 1727, tells of their receiving neighbors into their flooded convent and conducting daily prayer services by lantern- and candlelight in their blacked-out chapel.
Congratulations to Sr. Charlotte Sohovich,
who recently celebrated her 100th
birthday with family and friends at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.
Born on Sept. 23, 1912, Sr. Charlotte joins Sr. Lucy Spinner, 103, and Sr. Gertrude Becker, 101, in the elite group of centenarians living at Queen of Peace!
A celebration was held Sept. 10 to mark the third anniversary
of the blessing and formal opening of the Catholic Social Services Senior Center in Laredo, Texas. Under the direction of Sr. Carmel Rangel, the center has grown to serve between 35 and 45 seniors each day, with participants enjoying a wide range of activities that help them become more fulfilled socially, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, she says.
More than 60 guests—including center participants, the Bishop of Laredo, senior center and Catholic Social Services staff, board members and the local parish priest—attended the event. “We had a special meal prepared by Sr. Carmel with help from the participants,” says Sr. Karen Schwane, who is Sr. Carmel’s assistant. “Several ladies sliced 20 onions and 35 green, yellow and red peppers, while others wrapped the silverware and put on the white tablecloths.” The festivities included Mexican Bingo and a raffle fundraiser for the group’s next special outing.
Sr. Karen Schwane, Bishop James Tamayo and Sr. Carmel Rangel enjoy the anniversary celebration at the Catholic Social Services Senior Center.
Sr. Mary Beisiegel professed her final vows as an Ursuline Sister of the Roman Union Sunday, Aug. 12, in the chapel of Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, Mo. Fr. Thomas Wyrsch presided over the ceremony and celebrated Mass.
More than 150 sisters, friends and family members attended the ceremony, including Ursulines from throughout the United States and abroad. After the profession, a reception was held in Ursuline Academy.
The daughter of Melvin Beisiegel, Sr., and the late Helena Beisiegel, Sr. Mary was born in Belleville, Ill. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., and has served as an accountant for many religious communities. Following her first profession of religious vows in 2007, she moved from the Ursulines’ novitiate in Chicago to St. Louis, where she studied theology at Aquinas Institute.
Sr. Mary currently serves as assistant to the provincial treasurer for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in St. Louis.
Ursuline Sister Mary Beisiegel (left) receives her ring—signifying her commitment to God—from Ursuline leader Sr. Diane Fulgenzi.
Nine juniors from Ursuline Academy in New Orleans accompanied Sr. Regina Marie Fronmüller to London on July 9 to work with children of refugee families in a deprived area of London. They will be working alongside Sr. Kathleen Colmer of London and students of Ursuline schools there as part of Ursuline Links, a volunteer program begun by Sr. Regina and Sr. Kathleen.
The collaboration began when Sr. Kathleen came to the United States during her sabbatical for an international exchange that is part of Ursuline life. Sr. Regina quickly introduced her to the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rebuilding homes damaged during Hurricane Katrina. “I tell anyone who steps foot in this house, get your grubs on, we’re going to the 9th Ward,” Sr. Regina says. The two sisters then decided to join forces and share their experiences with their students by forming Ursuline Links.
Ursuline Links gives student in Ursuline schools opportunities to work together for the good of others, link prayer with service, learn about another culture, meet Ursulines and other religious from different locations, and have a good time. Ursuline students from London came to New Orleans in 2010 and 2011 to work on repairing houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and they will return to help out again in August.
While in London, the New Orleans students will be living and working alongside the Ursuline Sisters until their return on July 23. “Students don’t often meet religious,” says Sr. Kathleen. “Ursuline Links gives them insight on who we are and what we are about. It brings life…a two-way blessing. It is the spirit of St. Angela going beyond.”
Above: Ursuline students from London working with Sr. Regina at the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans.
The Ursulines are one of 16 congregations of Catholic Sisters in the St. Louis area that have launched a campaign supporting the rights of immigrants. In a statement, the sisters say: “We declare ourselves ‘Immigrant Welcoming Communities’ in affirmation of our Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person…. We invite other communities and people of faith to join us in becoming Immigrant Welcoming Communities through prayer, reflection, education and action.”
As part of the campaign, throughout the summer the sisters are sponsoring billboards across Missouri with the message “I was an immigrant and you welcomed me,” based on Jesus’ words from the Gospel of St. Matthew. The billboards will be seen in Hannibal, Joplin, Camdenton, Kirksville, Sedalia, Branson and St. Louis.
The congregations of women religious have a rich history of serving immigrants through their ministries of education, health care and social services, and they have long advocated for the rights of immigrants.
“Welcoming Communities” is sponsored by the collaborative ministry of Catholic Sisters Living in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area, under the sponsorship of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Region X.
For more information and list of all congregations of Catholic Sisters participating in this campaign, go to http://www.stlcatholicsisters.org/resources/.
Founded by the Ursuline Sisters in 1912, Ascension School in Oak Park, Ill., kicked off its Centennial with a three-day celebration the weekend of June 22. Enjoying the Centennial Mass, reunion and other festivities with the school community and alumni from many decades were 10 of the many Ursuline Sisters who served the school over the course of 74 years. All were delighted to have an opportunity to become reacquainted.
The Ascension community expressed gratitude to the Ursulines for the foundation they built and legacy they left behind. The sisters told stories about their time at Ascension and congratulated all for the way in which they have carried on the Ursuline tradition of service to others. The celebration was testament to the success of the Ursulines’ mission to “build community” wherever they are as directed by their foundress, St. Angela Merici.
A message in the Ascension School Centennial program ended with these words of gratitude: “The sisters have been gone for over twenty years yet the spirit of the Ursulines still sustains this community. The foundation they built has supported us for 100 years…. Ascension is a wonderful place to live and learn because of our ancestors in faith. Who does not benefit from a ‘Mother’s’ love. To all the mothers and sisters who shared their dedicated lives with us we are grateful.”
Above: Sr. Marian Pelikan engages in a lively conversation with an Ascension School alum.
Sr. Mary Ann Dooling and Sr. Peggy Moore
are among the group of seven teachers and other co-workers joining 36 juniors from Ursuline Academy St. Louis who are in New Orleans for a spring break service trip to help with the continued rebuilding projects, post-Katrina. This is the academy’s sixth year of serving with the people of New Orleans.
While working on several rebuilding projects, the group also has the opportunity to hear the stories of some who lived through Katrina. The group is working with lowernine.org and St. Bernard Project; their home base is the gym at Ursuline Academy New Orleans, which allows them some time to interact with the students there. In the evenings, they process their days through journaling, reflection and prayer.