When St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines, put in writing her Rule for the members of her Company, she asked them to “be attentive, with great and eager hearts.” Today, 480 years since those beginnings, Ursulines continue to be attentive— to the same Spirit of God who led Angela to do amazing things, and to the signs of these times, very different from Angela’s world.
The changes in Ursuline life over the centuries have certainly been enormous. No longer do all sisters live with their families, or in the cloister, or in big convents. While for many years, almost all Ursulines were teachers, today there are Ursuline social workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and artists. The style of dress has changed from a uniform habit to a variety of options in the different countries where we are. Always, it is the attention of individuals and of the discerning body that leads us to make decisions about how to adapt and change our lives in order to more effectively share the Gospel of Jesus and the charism of Angela.
We, in collaboration with so many who share Angela’s spirit, do what we do with great and eager hearts. This gives us courage to move ahead in faith in these times. It’s why there’s a newly opened Ursuline Learning Center in Cambodia, and why the sport field at one of our schools in Jakarta, Indonesia, was shared with 700 homeless Muslims who needed a place to pray before Ramadan. And it’s the reason women and men around the globe are once again beginning a new school year in Ursuline schools that have served the young for hundreds of years. With great and eager hearts, carry on!