“We are reminded that to go on a pilgrimage in Angela’s time was a long and difficult undertaking. Travel was slow and hard, either by foot or by animal, or by boat on the sea. Pilgrims were in constant danger from sickness, bad weather, or wars that were going on. And yet Angela’s conviction and dedication to the pilgrim call were so compelling that she was willing to take whatever risks were involved. Perhaps we can also see in her pilgrimages an outer expression of her own inner journey, a journey of the heart, a journey of faith, as she sought to listen to and follow where God’s Spirit was leading in her own life.”
Angela’s pilgrim spirit will be the subject of reflection in our next few issues of “Heartbeats,” our monthly publication that explores St. Angela’s charism and spirit, and how we are called to live them in the reality of our own lives today.
Read the September issue.
Our latest issue of Laurels is now online, with features on Sister Mary Jacqueline Pratt and spiritual direction, Sister Elisa Ryan and prison ministry, Sister Carolyn Marie Brockland and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Sister Madeline Kelly and icons, and more. You can read about the Ursuline Sisters’ mission and ministries here.
If you would like to help support our sisters and their many ministries, please Donate Now.
Sister Mary Ursula McGann died peacefully June 27, 2018, at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. She is remembered as a favorite high school teacher, remarkable person and wonderful role model.
The daughter of Robert Allan and Mary McNamara McGann, Sister Ursula was born Dec. 30, 1931, in Electra, Texas. She entered the Ursuline Sisters in July 1954, professing her vows in January 1957.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a master’s degree in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
A beloved teacher, Sister Ursula taught many years at Ursuline academies in Galveston and San Antonio, Texas, and at Villa Maria Academy in Frontenac, Minnesota. She also served in finance in many capacities for the Central Province. She was bursar for Springfield College in Springfield, Illinois, and treasurer for many Ursuline communities including those in Jennings, Missouri; San Antonio and Dallas, Texas; and the Ursuline Interprovincial Novitiate Community in Chicago, Illinois.
Among her many ministries, she was a catechist for Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Mary, Missouri; registrar for Cardinal Ritter Preparatory High School in Jennings, Missouri; and bookkeeper for the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. She also served on the Ursuline leadership team at the Ursuline Provincialate in Crystal City, Missouri.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 5, at St. Peter Church in Kirkwood, Missouri. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Burial will be at St. Peter Cemetery
As members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the Roman Union Ursuline leadership teams and members in the United States endorse LCWR’s June 27 statement expressing disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s Muslim ban:
The Leadership Conference of Woman Religious is deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of President Donald J. Trump v. State of Hawaii that challenged the legality of the Trump Administration’s third attempt at a Muslim ban. The court’s flawed ruling adds to the climate of fear and anti-Muslim sentiment in this country and threatens the values upon which our national community is built.
As women of faith, as Catholic sisters, we believe that all people are created in God’s image, all are worthy of respect, and all are entitled to the protection of their human rights and religious liberty. We strongly object to President Trump’s continued attempts to use his authority to create policy by fiat, particularly when that policy is used to deny access to our Muslim sisters and brothers because of their religion. Such discrimination violates our deeply held faith beliefs and is inimical to the principles upon which this nation was founded.
LCWR joined other faith-based groups in filing amicus briefs in this case challenging the government-imposed anti-Muslim discrimination. When religious-based discrimination is permitted, especially when sanctioned by those at the highest levels of government, the free-exercise of religion by members of all faiths is threatened.
We will stand with the Muslim community and all who are subjected to the deeply troubling discriminatory policies of this administration. We call on Congress to exercise its power to challenge the President’s offensive and dangerous policy and ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are upheld.
We concur with Justice Sotomayor’s dissent:
The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns.
St, Angela Merici, our foundress, encourages us to, “Love them all because they are God’s children…Welcome them and bear with all of them impartially.”
Roman Union United States Provinces
Statement on Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy
June 20, 2018
On World Refugee Day, June 20, 2018, the Roman Union Ursulines in the United States join with countless others in decrying the actions of our government in the zero-tolerance immigration policy being implemented at our southern border. A policy that cruelly divides families desperately seeking refuge cannot be considered just. A desire for increased border security cannot justify separation of children from their parents. Actions such as these may cause irreparable damage to young children – children who are our future.
We join with the U.S. Catholic Bishops in expressing our concern about changing asylum policy which Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has expressed:
The attorney general’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially
strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable
women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their
home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided
protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision
will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve
asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy
makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum seekers to
preserve and protect the right to life.
We recognize and affirm: Nations have the right to control immigration and an obligation to provide safety for citizens, but they do not have the right to close borders to all refugees and asylum seekers who are in need.
Our General Chapter 2013 statement urges us, “in solidarity and compelled by the Gospel, we open our hearts to the cries of our earth and its people.” We are particularly mindful of refugees, immigrants especially women and children. St. Angela Merici, our foundress, reminds us to “love them all…because they are God’s children…Welcome them and bear with all of them impartially.”
Sister Carla Maria Crabtree, also known as Sister Charles Marie or “Charlie,” died peacefully on May 27, 2018, at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The daughter of Charles H. Crabtree and Josephine Gomez Palacio, she was born March 5, 1928, in Ciudad Lerdo, Durango, Mexico, and baptized Josefina Teresa.
Sister Carla Maria was the oldest of 11 children. She was preceded in death by five brothers: Henry I, Jose Francisco, Edwardo, Jorge and Henry II, and is survived by three sisters: Enriqueta, Maria Concepcion (Conchita), and Maria and two brothers: Carlos and Jaime.
Her parents felt it was important to learn English so they enrolled the oldest girls in Ursuline Academy boarding school in Laredo, Texas. She entered the Ursuline community in 1948 and professed her vows in January 1950.
Sister Carla Maria earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas. Later she earned two master’s degrees, one in Spanish at the University of Houston and one in theology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
From 1950 ̶ 1967, she taught junior high students at Sacred Heart (Falfurrias), Guadalupe, St. Peter and Ursuline Academy in Laredo, Texas, and was also principal during four of these years. She then taught at O’Connell High School in Galveston, Texas, and was principal at St. Teresa’s High School in Decatur, Illinois.
Sister Carla Maria began a long history of life and ministry in the Galveston/Houston Diocese in 1983, where she was Director of Hispanic Ministry until 1992. Through this office she opened centers for recreation and set up classes in religious education for adults and youth. From 1992 ̶ 2012 she continued Hispanic ministry in Brazoria County/Deanery, St. Rafael parish, and Holy Trinity parish in Angleton. In her desire to help people learn about the Scriptures and use the Bible for prayer, she began to distribute thousands of booklets in Spanish and English called Cinco Minutos (5 Minutes) to the communities in the Diocese. In 2000 she organized a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Sister Carla Maria retired to the Ursuline Queen of Peace Healthcare Center in Alton, Illinois, in 2012 and then moved to Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in 2014, where she was in close connection with the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Rev. Leo Nicoll, SJ, at 11 a.m. on June 2 in Our Lady of Wisdom Chapel, 5600 General DeGaulle Blvd. in New Orleans. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
Memorials may be sent to the Ursuline Sisters’ Retirement Fund, 353 S. Sappington Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122.
St. Louis area Catholic Sisters are hosting an event for young adults and teens on Saturday, April 7, at Saints Teresa and Bridget Catholic Church. The Ursulines will be there! Come join us for a fun evening that will include dinner, a panel discussion, time for prayer and reflection, and adoration.
For more information or to make a reservation, contact Sister Clare Bass at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saint Louis Public Library, in conjunction with the Communicators for St. Louis Sisters, will host a special exhibit, Catholic Sisters: The Spirit of St. Louis, in conjunction with National Catholic Sisters Week, which runs from March 8 to 14.
The exhibit, which celebrates 200 years of Catholic Sisters’ presence in the St. Louis area, is on display Saturday, March 3, through Saturday, April 28 at Central Library, 1301 Olive Street. The free exhibit is open to the public Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Photos, artifacts, books and memorabilia will be on display.
This exhibit offers a wonderful opportunity for the people of metropolitan St. Louis to celebrate with the Catholic Sisters 200 years of presence, as well as to recall memories and the influence Sisters have had on their lives, say Sister Judy Bell of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “For those not familiar with Catholic Sisters, the exhibit provides an educational forum that shows the impact women religious have had in the greater St. Louis area, meeting the needs of many people throughout these 200 years.”
Catholic Sisters first arrived in the St. Louis area some 200 years ago. Over the past two centuries Sisters have devoted their lives to God through a host of ministries. Some 56 congregations of women religious are currently present in the St Louis area. This exhibit represents the 15 communities that are a part of the St. Louis Catholic Sisters group.
A Spirit of Healing
Some have brought healing and care to the sick regardless of their ability to pay. Sisters have built many of our area hospitals and care centers and have been responsible for amazing advances in technology and healthcare. Serving as administrators, doctors, nurses, educators, laboratory technologists, researchers, dietitians, physical therapists, etc., Sisters have combined expertise with presence and compassion to take healthcare to new levels.
A Spirit of Teaching
Some Sisters came to St. Louis to teach, opening schools and universities, providing a quality education for girls as well as boys, for immigrants and those who could not afford an education as well as for those who could. They often staffed public schools in rural areas, teaching religion before or after regular classes. Committed to learning, they have often spent summers and Saturdays working on advanced degrees.
A Spirit of Serving
Sisters have sponsored soup kitchens, food pantries, orphanages, daycare centers, safe shelters for those in danger, wise counsel for those needing guidance. Some are lawyers and advocates. And even now, though you may not find them in the traditional places or in their traditional garb, they continue to live out their call to be the hand and feet, heart and face of Jesus in our world, in whatever new directions the call of the Spirit takes them.
Come find out more about these women of spirit ̶ Visit Catholic Sisters: The Spirit of St. Louis.
The Roman Union Ursuline Sisters in the United States are united in prayer for those in Parkland, Florida – the victims, their families and the countless others whose sense of safety and security have been shattered.
We stand with all those, especially the young people, who are crying out that prayer alone is not enough – We must do something. Now is an acceptable time to act – to be the change we wish to see in the world. This is what our Chapter mission statement challenges us to be.
As Ursulines we commit ourselves to nonviolence and peacemaking. This is the acceptable time to speak and act for reasonable gun control and support services to identify and address the real needs of those who suffer from emotional, psychological and mental challenges.
As our commitment to young people, the future of our nation, we too will raise our voice to speak out against any legislation, the gun lobby, industry and organization that perpetuate a culture of hate and violence. We stand in solidarity with all who have the courage to speak out and act for the common good of our nation.
St. Angela, our foundress, urges us to seek peace and harmony wherever we are. Like countless others who stand in the Christian tradition, we affirm the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus, to our vibrant tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and to our vocation of being healers and reconcilers for our earth and its people.
February 19, 2018
This year 14 of our sisters have reached new milestones in ministry, celebrating jubilees ranging from 50th to 75th for a combined 850 years of service in God’s name.
See our jubilarians
Sister Elisa Ryan shares the following reflection in honor of the Feast of St. Angela.
Angela Merici: Here Today
How often have we longed for assurance that loved ones who have died are still with us? We need their presence. I sometimes “talk” to family and friends who I believe live on in a new way after death. Relationships with them are still real and very meaningful, though I can no longer see them.
“Understand that now I am more alive than I was when I lived on earth. . . . and now, even more, I want and am able to help you.” – Angela Merici
When St. Angela, foundress of the Ursulines, said in the 1500s that she would be “more alive” after her death, she certainly already knew God intimately. It’s this faith and complete trust, her kindness and pleasantness (“piacevolezza” in Italian), her passion and courage to respond to God and lead other women in the process, that makes me love her and believe she is with us today. For her feast which is Saturday, January 27, talk to her a bit about how you’d like her help. She’s alive and wants to do good for us.
Icon of Angela Merici by Regina Testoni. Used with permission.
We Ursulines stand with all members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in strongly denouncing “the cruel decision by the Trump administration to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 200,000 Salvadorans.
“El Salvador is the fourth country whose citizens have been stripped of their right to protection by President Trump’s administration. Rescinding TPS from human beings under continuing threat of violence of all types is inconsistent with the values and traditions of this nation and with our belief in the dignity of all persons.
“The TPS program is designed to protect people from being returned to harm. That is precisely what Salvadorans will face if they are deported. El Salvador is the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere and continues to suffer from endemic poverty, lack of access to quality education, and healthcare.
“TPS holders are our neighbors and friends. They have been contributing members of our communities for decades. Rescinding TPS protection for citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan and threatening Hondurans with the same, places us all at risk. Ending their protection will tear families apart, fragment our communities, and disrupt local economies.
“Catholic sisters will continue to heed the scriptural command to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. We urge the Trump administrations to reconsider its decisions and we call on Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to develop legislative solutions to protect vulnerable people.” -- LCWR