Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Message

The following message is found on the Christmas card from our Province Leadership. It touched me so I wanted to share it with everyone.

The living God is
unimaginably near,
pouring out merciful love
in the midst of our
darkness, injustice,
sin, and death.

May God's gift to you
this Christmas
be renewed faith
that trusts
this is true.

Prayers and Blessings to All!!
Sr. Jeannie

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I know I haven't updated this blog recently. But quite honestly, I am unsure of what to say right now. Through one of my ministries, I have come up close to the issue of homelessness. One of our children, her mother and sister were kicked out of a cousin's house recently and went to live in a shelter. They just found out they were not approved to stay there and had to leave again. I really don't understand the system or honestly know much about it. All that keeps going through my mind is that it stinks and I wish I could do more for this family and the countless others who are affected too.

This Advent season, my community is Journeying with a Companion-this means we each have taken a figurine from the creche scene and are asked to pray with this "person", "animal" or "object". I happened to pick a shepherd who is playing bagpipes. I keep praying with him daily and thinking of this family.

Jesus was in a sense "homeless" when he was born. Joseph had to ask for a place for his family to stay. The innkeeper had no room, but offered him the barn. That's where Jesus was born and then he was laid in a manger. What a poignant scene that I look at every year.

However do I really reflect on it. What is this simple action saying to us today? How are we receiving the homeless people right in front of us?

St Angela says to us "For in these troubled times, you will no other refuge than at the feet of Jesus Christ".

Jesus, I'm turning to you right now asking what to do and how to best help this family. Plus teach me how to live more gratefully with all that I have and not to complain or want more.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Building homes in New Orleans are Phyllis Kemper, (4th from left), a Brown County Ursuline from Cincinnati, and Stephanie, (1st on the left), a friend/former student of Regina Marie Fronmuller (last on the right. Regina Marie is an Ursuline from New Orleans. The rest are Ursulines (Teresa Byrne, Marie-Ce Miranda, Terry Eppridge, Carole Marie Keaney, and Dee Yanshak) from the New York area.

New Orleans was abuzz two weeks ago as approximately 87 sisters and lay colleagues, took part in Nuns’ Build under the aegis of the St. Bernard Project.

Our Ursuline group of seven was assigned to the same two houses throughout. The first was a real challenge, large (five bedrooms), dark, filled with dry wall waiting to be put up. Fortunately sisters of other communities there were with us. The second house, where we were for only one day, was a joy, small and bright with plenty of indoor room. We specialized in insulation this year, and by the end of the week all of us were quite adept in measuring, cutting, and installing.

Beyond the building skills is the sense of community this work engenders, along with the conviction that we are truly assisting in getting someone or a family “home.” Particularly touching was our encounter with Robin who with her daughter has lost three homes in the last five years: one to Katrina, one to Gustav, and one to fire.

The St. Bernard Project is making every effort to get them and others “home for the holidays.”

The time in NOLA was not all work. Several were able to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, beautiful, yet with painful reminders of the oil spill as well as Katrina. And no visit to New Orleans is complete without time in the French Quarter. Sunday was highlighted by a wonderful Mass near Basin Street complete with music, song, impassioned preaching, and great spirit, as well as a visit to St. Jude’s Community Center, an amazing multi-faceted outreach facility across the street.

Finally, we went on a Swamp Tour. There are pictures of several of us holding an alligator to prove it!

Sr. Teresa Byrne, OSU
Malone, NY

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Advent Acrostic

All creation is waiting and

Desiring a sign of hope

Voices are raised in prayer

Excitement is building for the

News that will be good and soon

The wait will be over as a baby is born.
Sr. Jeannie

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy First Sunday of Advent

Today marks the day we begin the Church's new liturgical year. We celebrate the First Sunday of Advent! It is hard to believe how quickly time is flying by. The Advent Season is the time when we await the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ on Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word for an"arrival" or a "coming." It is an especially joyful time with the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations. The radio began to remind us before Thanksgiving that Christmas was coming soon. Yet we need to remain in the moment -- we need to stay focused on the real meaning of the season. The real meaning is the coming of Jesus Christ into our hearts, homes and lives.

As we look on the Advent wreath let us remember that each candle symbolizes one of the four Sundays of Advent. Three of the candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles symbolize prayer, penance and preparation and the rose one symbolizes rejoicing. Each week we light a candle to remind us of the journey to Christ's coming. Each day try and remember to take some time to "prepare the way of the Lord!"
Sr. Pat

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thankgiving ( a day early)

This year of 2010, Thanksgiving is falling on November 25th. That is very meaningful to all Ursulines around the world. On that day 475 years ago, St. Angela Merici and her company of St. Ursula gathered to sign the book and dedicate their lives to good. So it the 475th Anniversary of our Founding!!!! We definitely have many blessings to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day and Ursuline Anniversary Day.
I look at the two pictures above-Angela and her woman gathered together and the Disney characters are gathering together. Then I reflect and think about how many of us will be gathering with others to celebrate life, share our blessings and show gratitude to God and others for our wonderful lives. The importance of Gathering was present in 1535 and is present today in 2010. Enjoy your Gatherings!!!!

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Future and A Hope

Right now, I have a lot going in with my three ministries-supervising teachers of students with special needs, teaching a graduate course titled Children's Literature at Fordham University, and working on my dissertation in Language, Literacy and Learning.

I keep coming back to the following quote that my novice director, Sr. Alice Moran, osu shared with me when I was received into the Ursuline community in September 1997.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord-plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

What is my future, dear Jesus?? I can't wait to see the hope and goodness.

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kindness and Generous Love of God

But when the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy.....
These words come from today's Scripture Reading- Titus 3:1-7. They immediately spoke to me. First of all, I need to remember that there is the kindness and generous love of God. It is out there for me to grab hold of and experience. However, it doesn't happen no matter how good I am or what I do, accomplish, write, or speak. It comes to me because of God's mercy. How powerful and wonderful that is! I must remember that as I try to "do it all" today. Getting it all done correctly doesn't matter. Last week, Sister Ellie quoted words she once received from her spiritual director-You don't always have to give it your best-you sometimes just have to do it!!!
I'm going to try to remember all this today as I get ready for school and a meeting of fellow high school alums tonight.
Sr. Jeannie

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Right above my desk is a poster picture about Peace. The following words are found all over it in different fonts and colors.

For all the children, peace is possible,
grow it (create plans for peace at home, school, workplace)
BE IT (Live in peace with everyone)
picture it (focus on a vision of God's peace)

Shouldn't somebody be doing something about the violence in our world? Are there options beyond fight or flight to the violence-the emotional verbal or physical behavior that dominates, diminishes and destroys us and other. Yes, there is purpose and belief.

It is a great poster to be looking at everyday and it's the reason I work so hard at all I do. I want the world to be a better place for children.

Let's keep working to have Peace in our homes, streets, neighborhoods and hearts.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

On Friday night, October 29th, I went to the Great Pumpkin Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, in Croton on Hudson, NY. I went with my friend Kyra's Girl Scout Troop. Kyra's mom, grandmother and I were the drivers and adult chaperones. It was great fun. We picked up the girls at 2:30p.m. from school and went right up the Sprain River Pkwy. We needed to be there by 3:30 p.m. so the girls could work on a community service project. We had the job of lightening many of the pumpkins for the great festivities that would begin in the dark. It was hard work. Many of the pumpkins are carved to show great designs. They are beautiful and it's a great experience. However, I never thought till that afternoon as we were kneeling on the ground, moving pumpkins, throwing away old candles, putting in new ones and working against the wind to light candles how much work it takes to put on such a fantastic presentation. I was reminded of the need to be thankful for workers of all kinds. Everyone's talent and task helped make the night a great one!!!
Sr. Jeannie

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well Said-Children's Words of Wisdom

The title for today's blog entry is also a title for a little book written by one of our Ursulines, Sr. Bridget Haase, osu, who currently lives in Dedham, Massachusetts. It is a little book which contains many delightful quotes and humorous sayings from children around the globe-Mexico, Appalachia, inner-city and suburban United States, Senegal,and Sudan. Sr. Bridget came across these children through her many years of teaching. Thanks to this book, you catch a glimpse what children might be seeing, thinking, feeling, and wondering.

I just love it!!! Here are some great excerpts from it:

"Sometimes life's confusing. Like getting called on to read out loud. You think you know where people are, but you really lost the place." - Leon, 9

"Life's one thing you can't do alone." - Loretta Mary, 11

"Loving costs, but it pays a lot, too." - Berwyn, 10

"Do you think my daddy could be God's little brother? He's real good to me, and I think he learned it from God." - Seraph, 6

"Sometimes my heart's words become a song to God. That's called prayer." - Estelle 11

This wonderful book is put out by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Check it out if you can.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Feast of St. Ursula

Yesterday we celebrated the life of Sr. Mary Patrick Levis, a wonderful faithful daughter of St. Angela who went home to God on Sunday. There were so many wonderful words spoken about her and it was a truly joyful celebration of a life well lived.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ursula for who the Ursuline Community was named. The story of St. Ursula is a legend and provides a portrait of a young girls love for God.

St Ursula was the daughter of a 5th Century Christian King in Britain. She was a beautiful, intelligent, outgoing and friendly girl. Ursula was a spiritual girl and at an early age had dedicated herself to God and had decided to remain a virgin because of her love of Christ.

At that time young girls did not choose their own husbands, their parents decided whom they would marry. A powerful pagan king requested of Ursula's father that she would marry his son Ethereus. Ursula, inspired by God agreed to the marriage but only on certain conditions. Each king should put at her disposal ten girls.
Each girl was to be accompanied by another thousand girls. The kings were to provide ships for a journey. Ursula was to be granted three years to dedicate herself to God. The young prince was to receive Christian instruction for baptism.
Ursula actually thought the proposal would be withdrawn on these conditions - but no, the king agreed and Ursula's demands were carried out immediately.

They moved on to Rome and Pope Cyriacus was delighted to see them since he himself came from Britain and he had many relations among Ursula's travelling companions. That night an angel told the Pope that he too along with Ursula and her companions would gain the crown of martyrdom. In the next few days Pope Cyriacus asked to join Ursula's group. He put another Pope in his place called Ametos. Pope Cyriacus, Ursula and her companions set out to return to Cologne.

The Huns were afraid that Christianity would become popular and that many people would become Christians. They gathered an army and plotted to kill Ursula and all her companions on their arrival back in Cologne.

When Ursula and her companions arrived in Cologne they met the Huns who were only interested in women for pleasure. Ursula and her young girls resisted this violation. Julius, leader of the Huns, instructed his army to kill them all, including Etherius and the ex-pope Cyriacus. Julius decided not to kill Ursula as he thought she was so beautiful he wanted to marry her. Ursula firmly refused his proposal because she wanted to keep the promise she had made to God to remain a virgin. Julius was so enraged he threw an arrow towards her, which pierced her heart and killed her. And so Ursula and her companions were martyred in Cologne.

Angela Merici founded the Ursulines in 1535 in Italy. At that time the story of Ursula was very popular and people would have heard it and prayed to Ursula. Angela was calling young women to live a life of virginity and to be of service to others. She choose Ursula as a role model for herself and her companions and so still today we are known as Ursulines. Just as God called Angela and her companions he still invites women of today to say yes to the call to dedicate their lives to Him in the spirit of St. Angela Merici.

Happy feast of St. Ursula to all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Religious Life Friends.

One of the best parts of being a women religious right now for me is the opportunity to get to know other women trying to live the Gospel life just like me.

I belong to a group-Giving Voice that is for Younger Women Religious Under 50( Usually each congregation has a few members in this age group. So this group gathers us from all around for conversations and gatherings.

Later today, I will be on a Skype conference call with Jessi, a Presentation Sister and Susan, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace ( We'll be planning a gathering of women religious in their 20s and 30s in Phoenix, Arizona from January 14th to 16th. All women religious in that age group are welcome and so are women considering religious life. It will be nice to be chatting with each other and thinking about what we can do together that weekend.

Plus I just was on Facebook and saw my friend Sarah, a Francisican sister in Texas and we're in the process of setting up a phone chat for Saturday.

Thank God for ways to keep communicating with each other. It is a great gift to me!!

Sr. Jeannie

Monday, October 18, 2010


On Saturday night, I attended a part of an AA evening with other Ursuline Sisters. One of our sisters was in a play on The Slogans. They were putting on little skits based on different AA slogans- Turn it over, We are only as sick as aour secret. They will get you drunk quicker than you can get them sober, and Honesty, Willingness and Openness.

The skits were very cleverly written and performed. I was so touched by the different slogans and how meaningful and applicable they are to everyone's life. I also was touched by the community spirit present in that room and the way everyone there was so supportive to each other. I admire their willingness to fight their demons and addictions. It made me think about myself and how I need to start handling some issues that are keeping me trapped from living my own life to the fullest.

I know many people whose lives have improved due to them joining AA and living the life. Thank God for it!!!

Sr. Jeannie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Celebrating 155 Years of Education

Today the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula will celebrate 155 years of educating young women! What a wonderful achievement! MSU as it is fondly referred to by generations of alums is the oldest Catholic girls' high school in New York State, the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula was founded in 1855 in East Morrisania, New York City by Ursuline Sisters who came from St. Louis, Missouri. It was chartered in 1868 and has been located at Bedford Park Boulevard and Bainbridge Avenue since 1892. Owned and operated by the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union, Mount Saint Ursula is an independent, Catholic, college-preparatory school for girls. The total program is based on unchanging moral and spiritual values actualized in a curriculum and co-curriculum designed to meet the needs of today's students. Throughout its long history, the Mount's family spirit has always fostered deep interpersonal bonds among students, faculty, parents, and alumnae.

I have so many fond memories of MSU and friendships that began in high school continue to be a special part of my life today. There were many Ursulines who were my teachers who have become my friends in later years -- I am especially grateful for the gift of Marie Therese, Betty, Brenda, Beth -- who journeyed with me in high school and who continue to be a source of inspiration for me now.

Tonight 46 former Ursuline educators will be inducted into the AMSU Hall of Fame -- what a wonderful tribute to the women who continued the dream began 155 years ago! Thank you for your inspiration and for the countless young women you educated. May God continue to bless and keep you always!

To the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula -- Ad multos annos!

You can check out the 155 Anniversary video on It is a beautiful tribute to all that has been.

Sr. Pat

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seeing the Work of God

I just left the community room where the television is and one can watch parts of the Chilean miners' rescue. What an inspiring story!!! It so amazing to think that all those miners survived underground like that for 69 days. Yikes!! Seeing some of them being rescued is just wonderful. Hearing how they turned to God and used a fellow miner as a spiritual guide just reminds me of how powerful God is!! I also keep thinking of the brain power that went into the building of the capsule to rescue them. All the thinking of the people who had a role in that.

Thank you God!!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Motivation and Falling in Love

Today I spent the day at Fordham University/Lincoln Center attempting to work on my dissertation for a PhD in Language, Literacy and Learning. My dissertation is going to deal with the topics of students' motivation and the types of questions asked when reading. Therefore I spent some time researching motivation and looking at different assessment measures regarding motivation. I have to admit I began to get frustrated and wondered if I will ever write this paper and finish this degree. Then I started praying and reflecting on what motivated me to get this degree. I thought about all the children I have taught and.or teach now and how their education and learning process is so important to me. It's what got me interested in going on for a higher degree and what will keep my butt in a chair typing and researching. I decided to take a mental break and write a piece for our Ursuline Blog and when I was thinking of what to do, the following poem came to mind. It sure speaks volumes. Enjoy!!
Falling In Love With God

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you
out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you will spend your weekends
what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you
with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
~ Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Friday, October 1, 2010

Standing on the Shoulders

One of my favorite songs is one by Earth Mama - "Standing on the Shoulders". It talks about how we are standing on the shoulders of the ones who went before us and we are grateful for their vision and for their toiling on this earth. It is what helps us celebrate today and be so blessed. Therefore we will work a little harder to make our shoulders stronger for the ones who will follow us.

Tomorrow, (October 1st) my province - Ursulines of the Roman Union-Eastern Province, US is celebrating the 475th anniversary of the starting and founding of the Ursulines by St. Angela Merici. We are gathering at Beckwithe Pointe in New Rochelle with our many associates, colleagues, families, friends, former students and ourselves. It should be a great day of celebration, honoring, blessing and being together.

As we prepare for it I think of the women who have gone before me-Angela, Marie of the Incarnation, Mother Dominic Weiss, Mother Irene Gill, Mother Stanislaus, Mother Amadeus Dunne, Sr. Catherine Marie Jordan, Sr. Jerome Murray, Sr. Regina, Sr. Bea, my grandmother Mary Welby and my mom Angela Humphries- I am grateful for all they have given me and done to make this world a better place for me.

I also think of the women who are on this journey with me- the many Ursulines and friends who support me, particularly Mary, Ellie, Mary, Maureen, Pat, KM, Mo, Ann, Alice, Helene, Christina and so on-I am grateful for their presence and collaborative efforts to make this world more peaceful and just today.

Plus I think of the many who will follow me hopefully and be continuously touched by Angela's spirit - Kyra, Charlotte, Penelope, Shannan, Frankie, Emily, Abby and so on-All my efforts will hopefuly make their future a little brighter.

I feel so blessed and loved. Thank you, God and thank you Earth Mama for a song which touches my heart in such a deep way.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I have to admit I am a real city girl-born and raised in the Bronx- lived in apartments till I entered the convent. I always traveled by bus, subway, cab and foot. During my adult years, I was always in my car. Now I'm living in Soho, Manhattan and traveling via subway to work, school and home.

During today's prayer time, I came across the following quote:

Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth's greenings. Now, think What delight God gives to humankind with all these things. All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without it, we can not survive.
- St. Hildegard of Bingen

I began to realize when I reflected how I take nature for granted and don't always take time to sit in the grass, smell the flowers and enjoy the cool breezes from the water. I need to start doing that more so I can survive my busy year of dissertation writing and teaching.

Sr. Jeannie

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jesus, Women, Travel and Resources

Today's Gospel- Luke 8: 1-3 says the following: "Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources."

Upon first reading it and hearing that the women had to be cured of evil spirits and infirmities angered me. What are women the only ones suffering? Who decided their spirits were evil? I'm sure some of the Twelve suffered too.

But then I reread the Gospel again and saw the line and many others who provided for them out of their resources and was touched by the generosity. How wonderful!!

Plus I was struck by the lines Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another. Today I'm off on various tasks for the weekend. I will travel toand from the following places: SoHo, Hartsdale, New Rochelle, Hastings on Hudson, Bronx, Croton-on Hudson, Yonkers and that's all I know of right now. However, I must remember that Jesus also traveled and when he did-he preached and proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. I might not be a preacher but I can be kind and generous to all those I meet in my travels.

How can you be like Jesus in your travels?

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Friday, September 10, 2010

A 3 Minute Online Retreat

My Ursuline Sisters of the Eastern Province of the United States Roman Union Ursulines is in the process of reconfiguring with 3 other provinces to become a new single province in the United States. Each member is involved in Self-Organizing Groups on topics related to our life and how we want them to be in our new "life". Some sisters are also involved in Deep Dive Groups where we are being asked to look deeply and closely at certain topics.

I am involved in the New Membership Deep Dive with 3 other sisters. The other day, on an email, one of the sisters Mary Beth Read, osu was thanking Jean Hopman, osu for information on Loyola Press 3 Minute Retreats. Mary Beth is currently in parish work at St. John the Baptist in Yonkers, NY and Jean works as an editor for Loyola Press. Jean had been sharing with Mary Beth some information about how Loyola Press could help her with resources for her ministry. One resource she shared was the 3 Minute Online Retreats that Loyola Press offers daily. So I decided to look it up and now have that sent to my email each day. So I start my day off with this prayer, look at it throughout the day again and look again once before I go to bed. I love it.

Please check out Go to Online Community and scroll down to 3 Minute Retreat.

This program has enriched my prayer life. I hope you will experience the same.

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Great Quote

"If you want to be always in God's company, you must pray regularly and read the Scriptures regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us."
St. Isidore of Seville

I found this quote when I opened up my missalette a few minutes ago for prayer. I always talk to God during prayer but don't honestly always read reflectively and look at it as God talking to us. To me prayer is always about conversation, but sometimes I forget it needs to be two way. I must read the Scriptures more so I hear God's voice more clearly.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Friday, September 3, 2010

Being Present

Last night,as I was sitting in the air-conditioned community room, I flipped through September 2010 edition of Redbook magazine.

I came across the editor's notebook page on which the question What advice do you live by? was posed to many people. Tim Gunn happened to be one of responders. His advice began with "Give 100 percent of your attention to the person you're with."

So often I find myself multi-tasking in life, checking email while listening to music, eating while watching television, printing out a paper while making my bed etc.. At times I even find myself multi-tasking when someone is talking to me. Often it involves me listening to the person talk and I'm staring and working on my computer whether it's reading or writing email or a paper. I don't even sometimes look up at the person. That is not good.

This week during PD workshops, I saw so many people (myself included) looking through our phones and other keeping in touch tools instead of fully listening. A bad habit that I want to work on ending.

I think I'll take Tim Gunn's advice and start really paying attention to the person I'm with. I know I like it when people pay attention to me. So why shouldn't I do the same. After all as the Gospel message says "Treat others as you would like to me treated."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Caring and Writing

Today I presented with a fellow colleague from the Cooke Center for Learning and Development. We presented to some Bronx Catholic School teachers a workshop dealing with The Writer's Notebook. This is teaching technique/program that encourages children to write. It involves having a notebook for you to write down your ideas, thoughts, observations, favorite lines of poetry, dreams etc..

During the workshop we discussed a writing strategy called "Mapping Your Heart". This involves drawing a heart and then putting it into sections and labeling each section with a topic or interest of yours. What takes space up in your heart? Families, friends, God, pets, chocolate (or other favorite food), and reading (0r another hobby) were found on many people's hearts.

One person at the workshop mentioned how this exercise reminded her of how important caring and feeling is. Not only were we talking about writing, but also we were discussing and thinking about what makes us human. That to me is true education.

If you were going to map your heart, what would you place in there?

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mothers and Children

I woke up early this morning and have to admit instead of praying, I turned on the television. I ended up watching a Law and Order. That show always seems to be on some channel all the time..

This particular episode dealt with a young mom and her two young sons. One of the boys was shot and ended up being murdered at the hospital by the man who claimed to be the mom's boyfriend. He was a major drug dealer and had terrorized the mom and young boys. She was totally trapped in the situation. At the funeral of her son, the man shot her again even though she was surrounded by 6 police officers. She ended up then shooting her "boyfriend" and then had to move far away in order not to get arrested and or attacked by one of the boyfriend's connections.

Such a scary life, one that I know is shared by many. Through it all you observed her fierce love and dedication to her sons. Plus you saw in her surviving son, the love and desire he had to protect his mom. All I could think of during the show was how many women in my Bronx neighborhood struggle like this.

My mind also turned to a Danielle Steel book I'm reading that is about a young girls who suffered horrific physical abuse at the hands of her mother.

I ended up praying for all mothers and children. Many mothers are in tough situations. The decisions on how to handle them affects their children in so many ways. I always have a fierce desire to protect and care for children. They are our future and one of God's greatest gifts to our world. In my prayer today, I saw all the children that I have taught through the years and all my friends' children. I am so proud of what wonderful mothers so many of my friends have grown up to be. It's great to see the love and care.

Loving and Gracious God, please protect families. Help those who are suffering and give them wisdom to make good decisions. Please let children feel love and care. It is so important to their self- confidence, self-worth and self-esteem.

Sr. Jeannie

Saturday, August 14, 2010

70+ years of Religious Life

Today we celebrated the life of Sr. Marie Paul Denesha, osu. She was almost 92. Her funeral Mass took place at our Province Center in New Rochelle.

She was a magnificent 1st grade teacher in various places, Malone, NY, Wilmington, DE, Bethseda, MD, Springfield, MA and New Rochelle, NY. She was an expert in the Montessori method. In her later years, she was know for making rosary beads for so many. Sr. Marie Paul, osu really wanted to bring Jesus to all. All spoke so highly of her.

I remember best her calligraphy welcome signs to Malone whenever I came to visit and the hundreds of rosaries she sent me to give to my students.

Thank you Marie Paul for sharing your life with us. We will miss you but we know you're up there watching down on us. Please remember us in your prayers.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happiness is Spending the Day with Friends

Today, I spent most of my day at Zoom Flume Waterpark in East Durham, NY-Catskills Mountain Area.

I went with my friend Christina and her daughter Kyra. They belong to an Irish bungalow colony, Four Green Fields, in Accord, NY. About 40 people went from the colony from 5 year olds up to those in their 60s. It was great spending time together out in nature. The park is surrounded by mountains and it was beautiful to swim in the wave pool and look out.

I was also very touched by how the children in the colony looked out for each other and praised one another when they were brave and tried a new ride. Also how they made sure no one was left alone and grouped together to go on the rides. I was so nice to see.

The park was not too crowded and everyone there was pleasant and appeared to be enjoying themselves. It was nice to see families and friends together.

Angela stressed the importance of values within family life and the importance of the mother's role. Today, all the mothers at the park definitely were teaching their children's values of kindness, enjoyment and simple fun by being together at the park.

I'm so glad I went and I truly am so lucky to have great friends.

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Visiting my Sisters and Friends

For the past few days, I have been up in Malone, New York spending some quiet time with myself, seeing 3 of my Ursuline Sisters and a good friend and her family. It has been wonderful.

Malone is in rural upstate New York very close to the Canadian border. I ministered there at Flanders Elementary School as a reading specialist for grades 3-5 for four years. It was one of the most meaningful ministries of my life. My time was so well spent up here. I made numerous friends, saw a different part of our state and learned lots about life. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

I remember moving up here and being very nervous because I only knew the Ursulines and had to find a job and all that. But it turned out to be spectacular. I must remember that as I look into taking other steps and moves in life. It was a risk but one that turned out well.

What moves and changes have helped you grow?

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Special Book Signing

Today, Sr Anne Marie Kelleher came to Andrus on Hudson to present and read from her new book, entitled "And No One Saw Your Footprints." Her book captures a wonderful life and recalls special people she met along her life journey and how they influenced her life and her relationship with God. Sr. Anne Marie read to the residents and guests exerpts from her book to the delight of all. Copies were available for purchase and all enjoyed refreshments after. This event was planned by Sr. Madeline Welch. Thank you for sharing the special gift of your life with us.

Sr. Pat

Saturday, July 3, 2010

North American Ursuline Convocation

We are still in Cleveland having a great time with all the Ursulines and followers of Angela.

We have the wonderful opportunity to hear Professor Querciolo Mazzonis speak of Angela Merici and her emphasis on the primacy of our relationship with God and desire to help women come into their own and be the best they can be spiritually and mentally.

Last night, many sisters went to see the Women and Spirit exhibit about the great work women religious have accomplished in the United States. Check it out at

We have heard a panel of women speak about personal experiences of human trafficking and ways we can work together to stop it.

Tonight we will travel to the Ursuline motherhouse in Cleveland for a liturgy together.

Check out our schedule at

It is great to be one of Angela's daughters.

Sr. Jeannie, osu

Thursday, July 1, 2010

North American Ursuline Convocation

Almost 300 followers of Angela are gathered in Cleveland to celebrate and be together for prayer, conversation and fun. We will be celebrating our 475th anniversary of our founding in November 2010. At our gathering, we have Ursuline sisters, associates and friends from Canada (Prelate and Chatham), the United States (New York, Delaware, Montana, California, Ohio, Kansas, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisana, Texas and many others). It is so exciting to see us all together. Angela advised us to gather from time to time and that is what we are doing over the next few days. I'll write more as the time goes on.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Great Woman

Just finished catching up on my blog reading.

Over on the blog A Nun’s Life ( written by an internet friend Julie, an IHM sister, she discusses one of our Ursuline sisters Claire O’Mara and the great cycling trip across the United States her nephew David is taking in honor of her. What an amazing story!!

Read what he says on his website Following Claire. (

Have you ever come to a point in your life when you wanted to do more? More to help out those in need, more to develop yourself and most of all….more to make a difference? Well. that time is now for me.

My name is David O’Mara and I am just your average guy looking to make a change. I have spent years volunteering for one of the best philanthropic organizations in the United States, Real Options for City Kids, otherwise known as R.O.C.K. This is an organization that works tirelessly to help create physical and educational development programs for underprivileged kids in San Francisco. They have changed the lives of many young boys and girls and are about to help change mine. (

I grew up in Modesto, CA and had the privilege of knowing someone who committed her entire life to helping others. My Aunt was an educator, a missionary and most of all a wonderful role model for me and my family. She has spent her entire life working to better the lives of others. It is in her honor that I have the decision to embark on this two month journey. I have left my job and will be riding by bike across America to raise money to support the R.O.C.K. cause. Am I seasoned cyclist you ask? No. Have I done this before? No. Am I little bit nuts? Probably. This is my chance, however to make a change. I realized that I have the capacity to do something that could truly change the lives of others. Yes, it will be a challenge. And yes, it is a big risk – but, if Aunt Claire taught me anything, it is that the joy you get from enriching the life of someone else is worth every sacrifice that comes with it. Wish me luck!! Here’s to you Aunt Claire… David O’Mara

Meet Aunt Claire
Sister Claire O’Mara (pictured in yellow) is Dave’s great aunt. She is an Ursuline nun who, at 88, now lives in a retirement community in Hastings on Hudson, N.Y. For most of her adult life, she was an educator and missionary in Latin America and in the Bronx. She dedicated herself to working with the poor and less fortunate wherever she was. She was always steadfast in her commitment to her beliefs and values. In 1995, New Rochelle College honored her, along with Rosa Parks, as a “Woman of Conscience.”

Aunt Claire visited Dave and his mother every few years. They both found her to be funny and always exciting. She was interested in Dave’s social life, his education and sports. She encouraged him to follow his dreams, do good work and try to have fun. Once, prior to a school dance, she attempted to bring him up to speed on ballroom dancing (it was fun for both, but he still has 2 left feet). She continues to be one of Dave’s biggest supporters.

Sister Claire through her kindness, delight in adventure and willingness to take risks, has been the inspiration for Dave’s decision to undertake this road trip.

Claire is one of the many great women in our community. Today when I’m up at Andrus visiting our sisters, I’m going to stop and ask her about David and hear her thoughts on this wonderful adventure. I can see her smiling with pride and see the glint in her eye showing that sense of adventure and risk-taking that inspired her nephew David.

Please check out his website to find our ways you can support his great cause and effort. (

Best of Luck David and know that the Ursulines are behind you in prayer. Contact us if we can be of any help to you. Your Aunt Claire has followed St. Angela’s spirit of risk-taking and now we see it again in the next generation. Blessings!!!

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

You can follow Dave on the following sites:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!!!!

Today in the United States, we are celebrating Father's Day.

From what we have learned about Angela, we know her father was the one who read to her from the Bible and the Lives of the Saints each evening. He read to his four children: two sons and two daughters. Hearing those stories most likely had a great influence on her faith. We also know that she and her siblings used to eat the fruit from their neighbor's yard and I'm sure her father had to apologize and "pay" for his children's mischief.

However her father died when she was quite young and Angela went to live with her uncle. He took her into his home and raised her along with his children too. What a kind man!!

There are many fathers out there trying to take care of their children the best they can and provide a good life for them. I'm sure too there are many brothers, uncles, friends, neigbors who are also stepping in and acting as dads to children who need them just like Angela's uncle did.

Angela's father provided her with a belief system and her uncle helped her to live it out.

Thanks to them Angela was able to start the Company of St. Ursula almost 475 years ago!!

So thanks to all the dads and men who take over that role when neeeded. The Ursulines are thankful for Angela's Dad and Uncle!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Invitation

Hi Everyone,

Just want to let you know that the Ursuline Sisters are hosting an afternoon of prayer and conversation this Sunday, June 13th at the Ursuline Provincialate 1338 North Avenue New Rochelle, NY from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will be tending to our inner spiritual lives and talking about the deeper meaning of life. If you'd like to join us, please contact We would love to have you there.


Sr. Jeannie and Sr. Pat.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Today we celebrate Memorial Day the traditional opening of the summer season. Memorial Day always marks holiday barbecues, going to the beach, visiting with friends and family. But it means so much more. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Over the years the celebrations have grown and taken on new meaning. One of the flowers I always associate with Memorial Day is the poppy. When I was reading about Memorial Day I came upon the poem which inspired the use of this flower. I share this poem with you.

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

When I read this powerful poem I thought about the many lives that have been affected by war. Perhaps today is a good day for us to pray in gratitude to all those who served and all those who continue to serve today. May they always know our gratitude and support as they continue the struggle for peace, life and liberty.

Sr. Pat

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reflection on an Ursuline Education

Today we celebrate St. Philip Neri! As I prayed this morning I could not help but think back on my education at St. Philip Neri school in the Bronx. Memories of those days on the Grand Concourse flooded my mind. As I looked back on those days I was reminded of the great teachers I had and how they influenced my life. I also recalled my friends and classmates. Many of us who were educated at SPNS(during my time)have fond memories of Srs. Annunciata, Catherine Marie, Julia, Clare, Maura,and Josephine. We owe a great deal to these women who set us on the right path for life. May we always make them proud!

Sr. Pat

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Our Church!!!

Happy Pentecost!!

Today is the day we celebrate the apostles receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is when they started going out and spreading the Good News of Jesus to all the people. In as sense, it is the start of the Church.

I have always been taught that Pentecost is the Church's birthday. When I was a child, my grandmother, mother and I would celebrated by having an ice cream cake or special treat and talking about the Holy Spirit's gifts. These gifts include Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage, Knowledge, Prayerfulness and Wonder. What awesome gifts. I am so thankful for these gifts and want to use them to better the world. Right now I especially need Courage for some of the life changes and transitions I need to undergo. I'm especially thankful for the gift of Wonder because it keeps joy in my life.

Which gift of the Holy Spirit do you especially need now?
Which gift of the Holy Spirit are you especially thankful for?

Enjoy the Church's Birthday Celebration!!! I hope the Spirit visits you in a new energizing way.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Schools Unite for a Cause

On Saturday, May 15 2010 Ursuline’s Breast Cancer Awareness Club joined forces once again with Iona Prep for the 3rd annual “Paws for the Cause” walk to raise awareness and money for the Think Pink scholarship fund and for various cancer organizations. The event will took place on the Iona Prep track and was joined this year by the S.A.D.D. clubs from both schools. The S.A.D.D. club also raises funds for various support groups and works diligently to raise awareness about the dangers of destructive decisions.

The Pause Walk kept its old traditions and add some new ones. The clubs sold merchandise including tee-shirts, bracelets, sweatshirts, magnets, etc. Pink ribbon cookies were baked and generously donated and delivered by Zeppieri’s Bakery will be on sale again this year. Grace Ann Accocella Pensiero, class of ’89 and a breast cancer survivor prepared chocolate treats for the event. For the first time the walk was held in the evening. Registration was at 5:00pm and the walk began at 6:00pm. Candles were lit in memory of those who have suffered or who have passed on from breast cancer or drunk driving.

Another first for the Paws for the Cause Walk was “team-making.” The purpose of the teams was to have people get together with their friends and come up with a catchy or meaningful name for their team. Ursuline’s co-presidents, Katherine Valentino, Katie Manfredo, and Julia Nasti, came up with the name “Presidents in Pink” for their team. Each team was encouraged to raise at least fifty dollars to support and raise awareness for breast cancer. This was a fun way to get people involved in this stride against a disease which plagues one in eight people in our society. Yes, men do get breast cancer!

The Breast Cancer Awareness Club members along with the help of club moderator, Mrs. Joan Brescia, have worked really hard to create an event that underscores two high schools coming together to make something right. A great time was had by all with a DJ, bands, food and a leisurely stroll. The Ursuline Cheerleaders kicked off the walk with a BEAT CANCER Cheer and warm-up. Thanks to all who donated their time, money and effort to making this year’s walk a really fantastic and successful one!

By Katie Manfredo
Co-president BCAC

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An Amazing School Production

On Tuesday of this past week, I attended a school production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". It was put on by the Cooke Center Academy students in SoHo, NY. All of these high school students have special learning needs. However, that is not what you noticed during the production. Rather you saw enthusiasm, enjoyment, smiles and well-learned lines and dances on all the students' faces. What a great show and accomplishment!!!

It was so wonderful to see the children performing. That was due to the hard work of dedicated teachers who encouraged, assisted children with learning lines, movements, dances, songs and creating the set design. There are so many good people connected with this place and I'm glad to be working for the organization. Check us out at

What great work of dedication do you see in your lives??

Sr. Jeannie

Monday, May 10, 2010

Celebrating 365 years of Religious Profession!

On Saturday, May 8th five of our sisters celebrated the anniversary of their religious profession. Three were celebrating 75 years and two were celebrating 70 years. The celebration took place at Andrus on Hudson, a nursing home where twenty six of our sisters live. These five women have served in many different ministries. From teacher, to missionary, principal, advocacy for the poor, and even a travel agent.

It was wonderful to gather as a province and celebrate with a liturgy and luncheon. The witness of these women over the years has been an inspiration to many people. They continue to minister to others through their ministry of prayer. We wish them all Ad Multos Annos.

Sr. Pat

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our Lady's Garden

On April 22nd, the day before Earth Day, students from Mount St, Ursula and residents of Serviam Gardens met to weed, cultivate and plant in Our Lady’s Garden which lies between the school and Serviam Gardens. There are beautiful plants now that enhance this special space and are signs of all that flowered in the shared conversation and activity that day.

Led by Dr. Tiwari, Chairperson of the Science Department, students and residents together cleared the land and planted a small tree and many flowers. Each person was able to chose a special flower to plant and students and residents hope to tend their own part of the garden in the days to come.

When asked what they had learned, the freshmen remarked
• about realizing that “weeds grow faster than plants” ,
• that it was enjoyable to “learn about different ethnicities and cultures by working with our Senior Citizen neighbors.”
• that, “even though we worked hard, it helps our school look pretty and we have a memory and can look forward to coming back in years to come for alumnae reunions and finding our plants and trees still here.

Dr. Tiwari, chairperson of the Science Department, directed this whole effort and students said that he made it educational and entertaining at the same time.
Written By Sr. Alice Marie Giordano, osu

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Felix Cinco De Mayo

Greetings to all!! Best wishes for a spectacular day!! Thinking of our sisters in Mexico and hope they are celebrating Cinco de Mayo in grand style. How will you celebrate today???

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Catholic Writers: Their Life and Faith

Are you looking for a good book to get you thinking about your life and faith? Try this one.

The Life You Save May Be Your Own By Paul Elie

This book is a biography of four Catholic writers in mid-century America.

The four Catholic writers are:

Mary Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) was from Georgia. A Catholic by birth, Mary used her writings to explore the spirituality of the people around her.

Thomas Merton, (1915-1968) was a convert to Catholicism and a Trappist Monk who wrote “The Seven Storey Mountain”.

Walker Percy, (1916-1990) was a convert to Catholicism, a southerner, and a doctor who gave it up to become a writer.

Dorothy Day, (1897-1980) was also a convert and the founder of Catholic Worker.

What did Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Mary Flannery O’Connor have in common? All these writers struggled not only with identity but religious faith as well.

The conversion stories for Day, Merton and Percy are interesting. It is a journey in which life and faith come together. It was in literature books that they found religious experience. Inspired by books they read, they set out to have the experiences they read about. Day with the Catholic Worker strove to embody the Gospel story on the streets of the lower east side. Merton left the modern world and joined a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. Percy left medicine and saw himself as a searcher after life’s meaning. O’Connor who was raised a Catholic among Protestants used her writings to explore the spirituality of the lives of the people around her.

I enjoyed this book very much. What I really like is that Paul Elie shows all four writers from a human point of view.

Perhaps the words might inspire you to start thinking and reflecting in a new and different way.

Sr. Nancy Arroyo, OSU

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Madeleva Meeting" on Earth Day Celebrations

Last Friday, a group of us gathered at the Province Center, as we do every six weeks or so, for a “Madeleva meeting” -- a time for pizza and conversation and prayer about social justice. It was the day after Earth Day, so we talked about ways in which we and others celebrated the day. It seems to be getting more and more widespread. Someone mentioned a conference in Bolivia of Native American people from around the world, for instance -- concerned about what is happening to Mother Earth and making decisions about what to do.

We also talked about some of the decisions we’ve made over the past few years – not to use bottled water at our Province meetings, for example. And we talked about how we’re growing in our own way of being in relationship to one another and to Earth – more conscious about our mutuality, our oneness in the universe.

The prayer we used expressed some of that – a quote from an ecofeminist,
“… stardust is not just fairy-tale magic; it’s what we are really made of…” and another from Black Elk, a Sioux: “Great Spirit,…. Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is …”

I always look forward to the Madeleva meetings. I come away enriched and thoughtful – and feeling connected. The meetings are open, by the way. If you’re interested, let us know!
Mary Dowd, OSU

Friday, April 23, 2010

Serviam in Action

Today I had the pleasure of accompanying one hundred and seventy-nine juniors on their service trip. For the past five years the junior class has participated in "Project Nicaragua." Since January they have been collecting clothing,shoes, sports equipment, school supplies, medical supplies, hygiene kits and toys and putting it in a "pod" behind our school. Today was the day we brought the materials collected up to Bridgeport, Ct to sort and pack it into boxes in preparation for the eighteen wheeler truck that will be packed for the drive to Nicaragua. The supplies will be distributed to several locations.

The initial scene was one of complete (but organized) chaos. The girls were eager to get to work but had to practice patience as we organized them. Each group had a different colored shirt so we were able to identify our groups more easily. My group was to make boxes and when they were packed they were placed on shelves. For most of the morning two of my group members were sitting on the top of the third shelf receiving boxes as they were passed up. Another teacher and I sat on the second shelf and kept passing the boxes up. It was a real sight as there were girls everywhere trying to help out. As always the miracle occurred and all the boxes were packed and put in place.

Our day concluded with a brief prayer outside and the singing of the girls favorite song -- Jesus, Give Us Your Peace. The words of the refrain truly summarized the day for me: Jesus give us your peace, bring us together, let all the fighting cease, gather all our hearts of stone, make us a heart for love alone! Their hearts were full of love, peace, happiness and a real sense of a job well done!

For all it was a great day!

Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!!!

The Ursuline Sisters would like to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day. Just think of all we receive from the Earth and how much we depend on it for our life and well-being!!

The nice weather we have been having lately reminds me of how important "the outdoors" is to my mental well being. After taking a walk and getting some fresh air, sun and seeing grass and flower, I always feel better and more energized. It's important to remember this as I go about my daily life's activities and try to use our resources more wisely and not add to our world's pollution and waste.

Right now, I am thinking of how the small random acts of kindness make such a difference in people's lives. Therefore, I am going to work on trying to do random acts of Earth care such as picking up a piece of litter off the street, walking sometimes or carpooling instead of driving my car, planning ahead so I'm doing 2 or 3 errands when out driving, and using less plastic and paper.

What random acts of Earth care can you add to your lifestyle?

Sr. Jeannie

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Ursuline Schools

On Saturday, April 17th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. about 55 board members and school administrators from our 3 high schools, Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx, The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, NY and Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. It was so energizing to see all these groups in the same room sharing the same passion and interest in Ursuline Education. We discussed how our schools are alike and looked at our Core Values. At each of our schools, we are so fortunate to have some great lay people and Ursuline Sisters working together.

The Ursuline Education Core Values include: Spirituality & Faith, Community, Peacemaking, Openness to Change, Excellence in Education, Serviam ("I will serve"), and History and Angela's Heritage.

It was great to see how all those involved in each school agreed upon these and how each school is working within its own student population to live and promote Angela's mission and ministry.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freedom of Religion

As part of my ministry in education, I work with children with special needs through The Cooke Center for Learning and Development (

Yesterday, I was in one of our schools and the teacher was teaching the students about why the Pilgrims left England to come to America. She kept stressing to them the religious freedom piece. The children then each shared a bit about their religions.

As I got off the subway and waited for the bus, I was struck by all the different religions I saw walking by me. There was an Orthodox Jewish family with the men and boys wearing yarmulkes and girls wearing long black skirts, a Muslim woman and her 3 daughers with their head scarfs, 2 nuns in habits and a man on the corner standing on a box stating Come Be Saved By the Lord. Then I was there in my professional work clothes. It was just so alive with everyone!!!

How do you experience the freedom of religion offered by our country?

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Visit with Friends

For the past week, we have had two women visiting us from Germany. One of the women, Linda has been connected to my local living community for over twenty years. She studied Pastoral Counseling with one of our sisters. Linda brought along her friend Andrea. It's been nice having them with us and last night they cooked us a delicious dinner of potato pancakes - so delicious and yummy.

We have sat around our dinner table practically each night sharing stories for at least an hour or so. One story that they shared with us deals with a Lutheran women bishop in Germany. She was just recently appointed to the job and people were happy with what she was doing. However, one night she was out at a dinner with friends and ended up drinking a bit too much. On her way home, she was stopped by police for drinking while intoxicated. Of course, it was all over the papers and news in Germany. This woman then went the next day and resigned from her work because she did not believe that she should hold such a worthy title considering what had happened.

People's reactions to this were mixed. Some were very happy and supportive; but others upset because they felt her resignation was not needed. Some even expressed statements that her resignation was accepted simply because she was a woman and that she was being held to a higher standard than a man would be.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a 6th grade boy name William, one of the students I taught at St. Ignatius in Hunts Point in the Bronx. ( One day he mentioned that his 16 year old cousin was pregnant and there was a family shower going on that weekend. William wanted to know why if being pregant at a young age and unmarried wasn't too wise-why was the family having a shower? I explained that yes it can be difficult to be pregnant at 16, but a new life is coming so you want to make sure the baby has what he or she needs.

William then turned to me and said oh I guess this is what a moral dilemma is. I feel the same way about the Lutheran woman bishop in Germany.

What type of moral dilemmas have you come across in your life?

Sr. Jeannie

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rebirth, Renewal and Rejoice

On Easter Sunday, I received an e-card from a friend and the message was all about those three words mentioned above-Rebirth, Renewal and Rejoice. Seeing those words together made me realize how important it is to constantly have hope and energy about life.

Every day is a new beginning and with this wonderful weather we have been having, I definitely feel a sense of renewal. I just have to start living out of that mode too. That can be hard to do with all the sad and difficult issues going on in our world, but I belive God is among that too.

What ways do you try to live a Life of Hope filled with Rebirth, Renewal and Rejoicing?

I think of all the good things happening and all the great people in my life. Plus I just look at a little child's smile and it energizes me right away!!

Sr. Jeannie

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

The Ursuline Sisters wish all a happy and blessed Easter!
May the Risen Christ dwell in your hearts and homes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

As I begin to write these words I am very aware that perhaps the only appropriate stance before the mystery of this day is silence. Words seem so inadequate. There was so much noise on Calvary that first Good Friday; the shouting of the crowds, the agonized cries of those being nailed to crosses, the sounds of the hammers. Only Mary, Magdalen and John were silent. And Jesus spoke only a few words. So we also may want to stand before the scene first, in an attitude of silence.

In the silence the question may arise in our hearts, “Why?” Why did God let this happen to God’s beloved one? In fact, why has God let this happen to innocent ones down through the ages? Where is God as Jesus dies on the cross? Where is God as innocent children die in war zones, in earthquakes, in famine?

A response of God is suggested in our scriptures. We have as high priest “one who has in every way been tested as we are”. This high priest, Jesus, took on our humanity in its completeness. He took on all the consequences of being human; human joy and human pain, human fear and human desire, human freedom and human choice. And in this human condition Jesus was given a mission as God’s servant, to reveal to humankind who God is; a God who respects human freedom, a God of love, who forgives human sinfulness; a God who also can “sympathize with our weakness”, who, in fact, chooses the weak, rather than the strong. Jesus was faithful to his mission to reveal this God, and he met with fierce opposition from those who understood their task as preserving God’s position, and their own, as a God of the righteous, the law abiding, the powerful. In the face of this opposition Jesus remained faithful and determined. And he was killed for that stance. God did not intervene to prevent from happening to Jesus what was the consequence of Jesus’ being human, free and faithful.

Nor does God intervene to prevent from happening to us what are the consequences of our being human, free and finite. Our choices often bring to ourselves and others pain and suffering, not as part of God’s design but as a result of human weakness, selfishness and sin. To this condition of ours the suffering of Jesus brings new meaning. He made a promise to those who follow him. “I will be with you.” No matter what we suffer, whether we be innocent or guilty, the promise remains. Suffering and death no longer are the last word because Jesus has transformed them by taking them on. His life, death and resurrection has given us a way of transforming them as well. We are not alone for he is with us, remaining ever faithful to his promise.

As Jesus dies on the cross, John’s Gospel records, “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” That spirit of faithful love, was poured out on those who stood at the foot of the cross and on all those through the centuries who have taken up their vigil there, revealing again the God who is love. We also, stand there, silently watching, silently receiving.

Miriam Cleary, OSU

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday – a day to remember, to celebrate and to believe. This day we commemorate the day that Jesus gathered with his friends to celebrate the Passover Meal. It is also at this meal that Jesus instituted the Eucharist. At this meal Jesus performed a dramatic gesture when he stood up, took a towel and basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples. This humble gesture recalls for me what we are called to do. We are called to be of service to one another. The Ursuline motto of “Serviam” – I will serve -- echoes this for students all over the world. We are called to give of ourselves in whatever way we can. Let us always take Jesus for our model and be of service to one another.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Sr. Bernadete Mackay shares a view from her corner of creation...

Affectionately they call me Sister Bernie. Mission is my life. I spend most of my time living and working with marginalized communities in the Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic. Life is simple there.. There is no electricity. Water flows about twice a week. Roads! What are these we ask? But yes, it is a blessed place. Spectacular views of mountains, plains, hydro-electric dams, grazing animals, freshly planted beans etc. etc. where between God and I there is only the clouds. What more can I ask for? This place has been home to me for almost twenty years. Your visit would be welcomed! When I am not in ‘paradise’ I live in Orlando, Florida. I am happy to be part of the wonderful family of Ursuline, whose vision and scope allows us all to embrace the world from wherever we are planted.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Importance of Reading

Last night before I went to bed, I picked up the March 22nd edition of America Magazine which is published by the Jesuits of the United States. Always on the back cover of the magazine, there is a commentary titled “Of Many Things” and one of the editors discusses a concern, issue or story.

This time, Karen Sue Smith discusses reading. She speaks about her love of reading and the fact that she received that enduring gift from a teacher. In the commentary, she mentions how teachers used to read aloud to her in school. Plus she describes how reading changed her life because it sparked her interest and involvement in issues and helped her be aware of a bigger world.

That made me reflect again on how important literacy is in our society. We must work harder to make sure more people in our society can read and write. It is so necessary.

I am teaching a course at Fordham University titled Children’s Literature in Multicultural Classrooms. Each week I meet with undergraduate and graduate students and we discuss the importance of good literature and how it can help expand a child’s mind and expose him or her to other realities and make connections to his or her life. I think I’ll share this commentary with them next time we meet as a way to encourage them to keep working toward their goal of being a teacher.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Visit to Washington DC

Yesterday, Sunday, March 21, 2010, I traveled to Washington DC from Wilmington DE. I wanted to be present as the historic vote on health care reform took place. My brother Peter, a congressman from Vermont, promised me a place in the gallery.

The day was far more than I dreamed. I have a kaleidoscope of images. Arriving early I hopped on the metro at Union Station to have a brief visit with my nephew Ed, his wife and young baby. Edison was so alert and responsive, no longer the quiet newborn at my last visit.

Again I traveled by metro to the Smithsonian. This time the metro was filled with those attending the immigration rally on the Mall - one man with an American flag draped around his body; many others with signs and placards, all were making their way to that gathering.

At the Smithsonian I visited the “Women in Spirit” exhibit. This is a wonderful display of the story of women religious in the United States. More on that at another time but what I carried with me was the line. “We came to work with those on the margins…”
And I walked out of the exhibit to witness the thousands living on the margins now rallying together for immigration reform.

Another metro ride this time to the capitol. I sat next to a man from New York who had participated in the rally along with family and friends. Each had a sticker, “Faith needed for immigration reform.”

Outside, the capitol was raucous with shouting – those not supporting the health care bill and those who did. I managed to connect with Peter and spent time just shadowing him, listening to his news conferences, meeting his colleagues and experience close up what is happening behind the scenes during this historic day. Peter delighted in sharing that I was a sister and in return so many thanked us for the LCWR position. I was in the gallery listening as the debate on the bill finally began, after all those on procedure. A congresswoman from California began by thanking the religious sisters in the United States for their support. Later Peter introduced me to her and she said quietly, “We are all the Body of Christ.”

Finally it was time to leave. The taxi driver asked me if the bill had passed. I replied not yet, but they did have the votes. We talked about health care and as I got out at Union Station he thanked me for caring about people like him and health care - the people at the margins teaching me.

I arrived home in Wilmington in time to watch the actual vote. My prayer that night was Angela’s: may God who has begun this work bring it to completion.

Sr. Maureen Welch, osu

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"You're the one who receives the new life."

Most of my Ursuline life has been spent as a practicing midwife, and mostly in New York City Hospitals and clinics in the Bronx. It has been a wonderful life of caring for women and their children, delivering their babies, watching their families grow, sharing in their struggles as new immigrants, striving to find their way in a strange culture.

Midwifery is a wonderful profession. It can be practiced in a large, state-of-the-art hospital or in a dirt hut in a third world country. ( I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to do both.) Babies come the same way everywhere – and believe it or not they even come if we’re not there to help them (and the mother) along!

One of my most memorable moments was with an African woman whom I was caring for in Lincoln Hospital. “Oh,” she said in a way I will never forget. “You’re the one who receives the new life.” ‘Yes,” I said, almost blown away by the concept. I don’t deliver the baby; I receive the new life. And that has been my vision of my work for the many years since that wisdom was imparted to me, woman to woman, bonded in the empowering act of giving birth.

After a life time of working in packed clinics, managing busy labor floors and learning to say “push” in a variety of languages I have stepped back from the day to day of midwifery practice. I now go out from the hospital in a mobile van, offering free services to uninsured woman.

Three days a week we rumble through the street of the Bronx, most often to sites that have booked us for mammograms, but sometimes just parked on busy streets, like the merchants, hawking our wares. Women climb on the van, most weary, all happy to get the health care that has become so costly without insurance.

As I welcome the women on the van, it seems I have seen their faces all my life. And as I look, I keep looking for that one special face that so many years ago helped me to know what it means to be a midwife.

Sr. Maureen McCarthy, osu

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Ursulines want to wish all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

May the luck of the Irish be with you now and always.

Beannachtaí na Féile Páraic oraibh!

"Blessings of St. Patrick's Day upon ye!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Go beyond your border"

At our last General Chapter, Roman Union Ursulines throughout the world were encouraged to “go beyond their borders”; i.e., to be agents of reconciliation and communion in our often embattled and divided world.

For many years my work has been pastoral care of the sick and dying, with Board Certification in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. But what about the broader world of Pastoral Care of the Sick? Was there an invitation for me to enlarge my view, to cross a border even in some small way?

With that thought in mind, I spent an evening at Tibet House in Manhattan with a group of people who were engaged either professionally or non-professionally in caring for the sick, the elderly, the dying, and the physically and mentally challenged. They were all associated in some way with a recently formed Buddhist Group, the Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

We prayed silently together; the leader of the group gave a short conference or “teaching”; and then we spoke with one another, sharing our experience and seeking one another’s support and help. We closed with a brief prayer and ritual, wishing one another well until our next meeting.

As I rode the subway home, I was certain that St. Angela would have been very much at home at Tibet House!

Sr. Pascal Conforti

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Snow Day

Everytime it is predicted that we will have a bad storm, I remember a comment made by one of my 10 year old students.

It was a Tuesday and the school district had just made an announcement that school was going to be closed tomorrow because they say there's going to be bad weather tomorrow and all should stay off the road. A little girl then turned to me and commented, "Who are they? You always ask us to give names when we tell stories. Why didn't the principal say a name?"

I laughed but it made me realize how important it is that I do what I say because little ears are listening and little eyes are watching. One's example is surely more important than one's speeches.

Sr. Jeannie

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sharing our story, home and hearts

Being part of an international order such as the Ursulines of the Roman Union provides us with the opportunity to meet and share our lives and ministries with our sisters from around the world.

It is a great way for us to “cross borders”, get to know others’ stories, and share ours too. It is an enriching experience for us all.

On February 13th, a sister from Mexico came to live in one of our communities in New York and help out in a learning center.

In Mexico, she works with sisters in formation and on school curriculum. Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and French, she is looking forward to improving her English and visiting other Ursuline communities.


Sr. Nancy

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Human Trafficking

Recently I went down to an informative and inspiring Orientation Day at the United Nations in Manhattan. This day was offered by the NGO-Partnership for Global Justice. Present at my workshop were students, faculty members from colleges/universities and workers and interns for various organizations from around the world in places such as Peru, Kenya, Albania, Missouri and Philadelphia. Ages ranged from early 20s to 50s. We learned about Disarmament, Sustainability, Human Trafficking, and had a mission visit to Kenya. Seeing and listening to all the people working toward peace and justice was so powerful.

The presentation on human trafficking really moved me. To think that in today’s world human beings are being taken out of their own countries and placed into sex slavery and abusive situations is just awful. We were shown a picture of three young boys of about 10 years old out on the street being paraded around as prostitutes and it just tore my heart up. That image was in my mind as I left to go home.

When I got on the subway, I realized that there was some type of gang advertisement or enticement going on. On both sides of the train were 2 young men (18-21) from different gangs and with them each were about 5 or 6 young boys ranging 11-15 years of age. Each crowd was holding some type of pornographic video or picture and they were having loud discussions with nasty sexual language and curse word across the subway. All on the crowded subway train kept their eyes to the ground.

A few days later, on the subway again, I saw an older Asian man selling for $5 current movie DVDs. A man said he would buy one if it worked so he took a DVD from the Asian man’s hands and popped it into his DVD player. The look of fear on the Asian man’s face was so intense and he kept saying you owe me $5. The movie ended up not working and the DVD was placed back in its wrapper. This Asian man then jumped off our subway car at the next stop. He looked so exhausted and scared.

I was so struck that right after hearing about human trafficking in a global sense; I
came across it right in my own backyard. We must work to stop this!!!!!! It is a horrible happening in our society. We, Ursulines, have made trafficking a central issue. We advocate for legislation against it and work toward providing safe housing for trafficked women.

Sr. Jeannie

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. Today we are invited to look at our lives and make the choice to embrace life in a new way. We are called to give up old ways and embrace new attitudes, turn toward rather than away and follow the call to be our best selves. Lent means "spring" -- the time for planting new seeds and nurturing growth. Let us use this time well to prepare ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually to celebrate joyfully the Easter season.

Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prayer Day Part Two

The memories of our prayer day linger on as the snow gently falls in our midst. Snow - another manifestation of God’s great love.

Sr. Nancy writes that we immediately bonded and felt a safe and trusting environment where we were able to share our stories and ask questions about faith, spirituality and our personal relationships with God. We sat in a circle, we introduced ourselves and each person was asked to bring someone, could be a friend, family member into our prayer so that we could all, pray for them.

Then we all read a line from Audrey Hepburn’s poem “Beauty Tips” for women.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your own arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

We had time for reflection. Then we all came together. We all shared how this Gospel spoke to us.

It was a wonderful experience to share our life experiences together. Sr. Madeline Welch remarked that “Angela Merici with her companions experienced the same concerns we as women of today are experiencing.”

Sr. Nancy Arroyo, OSU