Joy and Responsibility

Yesterday, the graduating seniors of Ursuline Academy, St. Louis, were inducted into the school’s Alumnae Association.  It was my privilege to give a little reflection for that ceremony, so I used the opportunity to remind them of the worldwide Ursuline family they belong to. I emphasized both the joy and responsibility of this. It’s a joy because the Ursuline Cross, Serviam shield, and name “Ursuline” can be discovered all over the world and remind us of this international sisterhood.

It’s also a responsibility, because it means we live in solidarity with one another. When there is a tragedy, natural disaster, war or struggle elsewhere in our world, we have family in those places, and we must pray for them, care about them, find out what can be done to help them.

We Ursuline Sisters are preparing for a General Chapter in September in Rome.  Each geographical province of the Roman Union Ursulines has chosen sisters to attend that meeting, where the vision for our life and mission will be discussed.  Before they go, those who will participate have been invited to visit and get to know better another region where our Sisters are.  This, also, is an experience of the joy and responsibility of belonging to our world-wide Ursuline family.

Sr. Ita of Indonesia visiting St. Louis and our Central USA province

Pray for us, and pray for our students, that while we delight in the vastness of the Ursuline outreach, we may also really take to heart St. Angela’s words: “Be bound to one another by the bonds of charity, esteeming each other and helping each other.”

Sr. Jean visiting France


This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad, we pray over and over in Easter week. This is the day–today and every day–  Jesus, the Risen one, lives among us!

–as we pray in cathedrals, or mourn their burning,

–celebrate with family, or grieve with those who suffer for being Christian,

–enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life: hockey victories, blooming gardens, warmer days, a morning cup of coffee, the enthusiasm of young persons preparing to graduate. This is the day to meet the Risen Christ.  It’s time to smile and show how very glad we are that he is with us in it all!


Doing Something New

Spring has finally arrived—TODAY—and even though it’s only the 2nd week of Lent, Easter joy begins to seep into our souls. “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” we read in the Scriptures.

Aware of our need for repentance in this holy season, we must also listen to the God who makes all things new.  It’s good to consciously let go of shallow concerns and self-centered fears and recognize our creative God.  The signs of spring— in nature as well as in ourselves–show how God’s love brings renewal and growth, slowly but surely, like seeds that grow in the earth.

It’s spring!  Find your sacred space. Try new ways to pray. Reflect on what is changing in you that is life-giving and good.  Simply listen and be grateful. You will surely discover something new.




To Find You Again

An Ash Wednesday prayer by the Dutch priest/spiritual guide Henri Nouwen says: “O Lord, make this season different from the other ones.  Let me find you again.”  LET ME FIND YOU AGAIN!

Is God hidden from us?   In the Book of Isaiah it says, “Indeed, you are a hidden God.” This brings forth images of the sun behind dark clouds, a veiled painting,  or secret passageways in a castle. I don’t think God is like that.

Are we maybe the ones who hide?  Do we get buried under so much other “stuff” that we can’t recognize the God right before us?  In St. Angela’s own prayer, she says, “My Lord, light up the darkness of my heart. Strengthen my affections and senses so that they do not turn me away from that dazzling face of yours.” Perhaps it’s that we turn away.

In this new season of Lent, do we need to find God again–in the beauty of creation, the goodness of persons, or the grace of sacrament and celebration?  A gentle, prayerful look at what exhausts and consumes us might free us to find God in ways and places we least expect. May this holy season of Lent be a time of holy discovery!

Service–Not Just a High School Thing

Last week, I was in Wilmington, Delaware for workshops with the sophomores at Ursuline Academy.  What a lovely group of young women!  We talked about discernment, God’s gifts, and the call from Jesus to use what we’ve been given to make a difference in this world.  Serviam– “I will serve”–is not, we agreed, only for high school.  It’s for all our lives.

In that spirit, for those of you no longer in high school, here’s a great opportunity to serve. We, Ursuline Sisters, offer a week of service in McAllen, Texas, June 23-29, 2019 for women ages 18-30.  We will work with immigrant families at The Humanitarian Respite Center of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.  We’ll prepare and serve food, organize clothing and showers, help with transportation, and learn a lot about the struggles of immigrant people in the process. Housing will be at the San Juan Basilica Hotel.

For more information or an application form, contact me, Sr. Elisa Ryan (  It promises to be a great week of service, community and fun in the spirit of Serviam!