Real Ursuline Connections

Young people often ask what it is I like most about being Ursuline. One thing that’s highest on my list is our internationality. When there are urgent needs in other countries, I often know real people affected or involved in response efforts.  To me, that’s an awesome thing.  Here are a few examples from just the last few months:

From an Ursuline in Austria helping refugees:  “I am sending photos so you can see what our schools have done with the money your schools sent. There is one of a mother and her children in bed. This is because the girl got completely ‘new legs’. She had to learn how to walk with them. During her time in Syria her school was bombed and she lost her legs. She started in our school last September. With the gift money, they bought the most important things for school: bags, books, pencils . . . ”

From Peru, where our sisters are working with flood victims: “Peru is facing one of the strongest devastations seen in recent decades.  Rains, floods and landslides have affected 20 of the country’s 25 regions.  These have left families homeless or with damaged houses, isolated cities, damaged or destroyed roads, lost cultivation areas and crops. It is a continuous storm that makes its way through our cities, destroying or damaging everything in its path.  It seems as if Jesus is asleep and His disciples try to stay on course.”

And from Venezuela, where Ursulines live among an oppressed people: “The Venezuelan opposition continues to reject the rupture of the constitutional order and the national constituent assembly. Since the middle of April, violence and repression have increased considerably; 95 deaths have been registered in 80 days of conflict; more than 3,000 have been injured by various means – by shooting, water cannon and asphyxiation by tear gas.  At least 250 civilians have been processed through military courts, violating due process and international standards of human rights.”

Jesus is not asleep, my Sisters.  He is in the boat with you, and we are, too!





Pray for Refugees

Today is World Refugee Day. Did you know that every minute 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror? Join the global Ursuline community and people around the world #WithRefugees

I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return—only our support in their time of greatest need.    -U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres





Visits That Encourage

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.


Post-It Wisdom

These words of advice are coming alive for me in new ways. I’m going through a period of transition in my ministry — from 2 part-time positions to full-time leadership for our province. Some of the other Sisters in our office are also experiencing transition. It’s part and parcel of our lives. Just today as I’m trying to write, desk top computers are being switched, Sisters are boxing up books and files and readying their offices for the next occupants, the vacuum is running, and somehow all that still needs to get done gets done. With any transition there are unknowns. This post-it reminds me that I don’t have to have everything figured out today. Or even tomorrow! I recall what Jesus told his disciples: “Seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” Mt. 6:34

A Pilgrimage of Trust

Taizé St Louis was billed as a year-long initiative to build trust in the St. Louis area, culminating in a Memorial Day weekend of prayer, conversation, friendship, and pilgrimage. At the invitation of Archbishop Robert Carlson, hundreds of young adults (and some of us not so young) came together from throughout North America to focus on healing divisions. Several Taizé Brothers from France had already been present in the city for many months of preparation.

The weekend bonded us first by hours of prayer together in the style of the Taizé community. Song, Scripture, and silence united us, and we seemed to breathe in unison the chant, “The Kingdom of God is justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.” Workshops invited us to look at how to be servant leaders in times of racial bias, to offer healing and learn the art of forgiveness, and to recognize the wisdom of persons like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Brother Roger, founder of Taizé.

Walking the streets of St. Louis together on Sunday was greatly enriched by the variety of colors and creeds.  As I introduced myself as “Sr. Elisa” to several women in hijabs, they smilingly told me that they, too, are “sisters”. I was pleased to promise them prayer for their time of Ramadan.

The brothers of Taizé have a unique charism of ecumenism and reconciliation that promotes authentic encounter. This was very evident here.  May these recent events be a sign of improved healing in our troubled city and world.