Some people think that becoming a Catholic Sister today is nonsense or irrelevant. But there are young women who choose this life, and find it filled with meaning and joy. Take a look at this story of Sr. Desiré Findlay, who discovered that her passion for dance and her African American heritage could be embraced and fulfilled in new and wonderful ways as a Sister.
Visiting Ursuline high schools is something I get to do each year, and for me it’s a perk of my service as vocation minister. Last week I was at Ursuline Academy of Dedham, Massachusetts, then the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx, NY. The girls were delightful, very animated and engaged, even though excited about upcoming pep rallies and Christmas preparations.
The workshop is centered on the conviction that each person is created by God with unique gifts, goodness and beauty and is invited to be and do something special for this world. “I have called you by your name; you are precious to me,” we read in Isaiah. I try to help students believe that. Each one has the ability to discover who she is, her strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, gifts and talents. There’s no need to make comparisons with others, because we are not meant to be duplicates.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, every person can believe in who she is and learn just how best to share her gifts with others. It’s called “vocation.” When found, it brings the deepest happiness. My hope is that these students are on the road to know their own unique passion and place in life, and that they will transform our world as well.
There’s something about the “Eternal City” that truly is beautiful! Yes, it’s noisy, sidewalks are not clean, traffic is crazy, and transportation on a city bus means stuffing in together with way too many people in one small space. But all that pales when one considers the grandeur of Rome.
I’m here to do some work at our Ursuline headquarters and, in my break times, out revisiting what I love. Here’s what is for me some of the unique loveliness of Roma.
- St. Peter’s Basilica: designed by Michelangelo, Bramante, Maderno, Bernini and others, how could it not be magnificent? Home of St. Peter and now Papa Francesco, I’m always moved to reflect more deeply here about the gift of being a follower of Jesus.
- The Italian people: lively and animated, in the piazza or at the market, always with a “buon giorno” as they offer the fruits of their labor.
- The mixture of sublime and amusing: street clowns and musicians, churches that guard the bodies of saints, people going about everyday life, tourists and refugees and lots of cats. There’s a little of everything here. What’s amazing to me is how they all seem to co-exist in relative peace. In this world of so much competition and fighting, maybe that’s what makes this city so special.
Back in the 1500’s, St. Angela urged her newly formed group of Ursulines to visit each other and encourage one another. “Please go often,” she said. I believe we do that well. On Saturday, I visited my former high school principal, Ursuline Sr. Mary Ann Luth, in the care center where she resides. She’s 97 now and facing health challenges, but we had a wonderful visit. I came away personally encouraged and amazed as always at her expansive heart and interest in happenings around the world.
Yesterday, there was another visit. A Holy Spirit Sister who had attended one of our Ursuline schools in Jakarta, Indonesia, brought 3 young women to learn about the Ursulines. We love to share about Angela’s charism and how it is alive today. There were great questions and lots of lively conversation.
Angela brings people together. Peace-maker, gentle listener, steeped in the wisdom of God’s Spirit, she encouraged and brought joy to those she met in her lifetime. We try to do the same today. It’s sure that the benefits are great, overflowing from one person to another.
As we savor the Easter season, I want to share with you a bit of culinary creativity that we savored on Easter Sunday. Two of the best Ursuline cooks in the St. Louis area are Sisters Marilyn and Mary. Not only are they good cooks, but they have an eye for fun and creativity. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes, not just our stomachs! On Easter Sunday 16 Ursulines in our local area gathered for a potluck supper. Much of the table contained delicious dishes you might expect—ham, potatoes, green beans, squash and jello salad. And then the fun began!
With the help of some clever knife work and some radishes, celery sticks and olives, the Sisters turned a plate of deviled eggs into a whole family of Easter bunnies! Even from the end of the line I could hear comments like “Oh, look!” and “How cute!” and “How did they do these?”
And just like the infomercials on TV say—but WAIT! At each place setting we had an individually wrapped cookie. Here’s a photo of mine. Some were Easter eggs and others were tulips. What FUN! So often people want to know what we Sisters do for fun. Well . . . some of us cook for fun, and many of us have fun sharing what they create!