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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reflection and Sharing

Yesterday 11 women (some Ursuline sisters, some married women, and some single women) gathered together to pray and share conversation about life, God’s place in it and being women today. We focused on Luke’s Gospel story of The Penitent Woman. Sr. Pat presented a reflection on this story. Then all were given quiet time to reflect on how they connected to that story and where they felt God was calling them. We ended up discussing how we need to be women of strength, courage and empowerment so we can continue to serve those in need, especially women. Some great sharing took place. Wonderful songs were played- Christ, Be our Light by Bernadette Farrell, Standing on the Shoulders by Earth Mama and Go, Light Your World by Kathy Troccoli. It was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

And to top it off, we were home for the Superbowl. Congratulations to the Saints and New Orleans!!!!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Response of our young people

Since the tragic earthquake in Haiti the young people in our schools have been brainstorming on how to help their brothers and sisters in Haiti. Each school provided the opportunity for a true Serviam (I will serve) experience. Fundraisers include: Haiti ribbons, bake sales, dress down days, penny wars, and a Shake the Quake dance and tee shirts.

In preparation for Catholic Schools Week, the Office of Development/Alumnae Relations and Student Council of the Academy of Mount St. Ursula organized a “Change Wars” student fundraiser. Beginning on January 11th, each class was challenged to fill up a water jug with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to raise money for the school. They had one week to collect more coins than their peers, win bragging rights and receive two class dress down days – a coveted prize for any Catholic school student. There was a catch, however; if any bills were inserted into the jug the amount would be subtracted from the class total. During this time, news of the tragedy in Haiti hit the hearts of the students, faculty and staff at MSU. Almost instantly the student body and administration decided that the money raised would be sent to Haiti.

At Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware the Student Council has organized several events. They will sell Haiti ribbons for $1, sell baked goods at lunch, have a dress-down day where students will bring in $3.00 to be out of uniform, and students will sell t-shirts for the "Shake the Quake" event that can be worn during the coveted dress-down day. The students will also have a "Shake the Quake" dance.

At The Ursuline School in New Rochelle a dress down day was held, a bake sale and coin wars took place. The competition was set between the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades combined and the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders to fill water jugs with any amount of money. In the end the sixth, seventh and eighth graders won and will receive a pizza party and a free dress down day. The spirit generated was wonderful and all were focused on helping Haiti in any way they could.

To date over $5,000 has been sent to the American Red Cross and $1,000 to Catholic Relief Services. Students are planning additional fundraising efforts in order to provide ongoing support for the people of Haiti. They recognize that the need will continue to grow as the country begins the slow process of rebuilding its infrastructure and spirit.

Our young people are truly a wonderful inspiration for us!

Sr. Pat

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

People's Goodness in Haiti

One reason I love living in community with other sisters is the fact that they keep me so abreast of news events in our world. Also the different connections one has makes issues very realistic and meaningful for me. The devastation in Haiti right now is just heart-wrenching to see, hear, and read about each day. But you also hear about some goodness because of all the kind people going down there to help the people in any way they can.

Over the weekend, Sr. Maureen who works at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx pointed out an article in the Daily News about 3 brothers who were born in Haiti, raised in Brooklyn and become doctors who went down to their homeland and provided medical skills and compassion to their fellow country people. Each of the brothers has a different medical speciality.One is an anesthesiologist, the other a pulmonologist, and the third, chief of surgery. These men were able to help the people by providing sedation, amputation, removal of fluid in a person's lungs. But most of all, they were also able to provide loving compassion to people in their native language of Creole. Maureen knows Dr. Billy Ford, the chief anesthesiologist at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. They have worked together. Read all about these great men by clicking on the following link:

Sr. Maureen also mentioned that a Haitian midwife went down there to help her family and neighbors. Her mom died in the earthquake devastation and her father is seriously injured. As the midwife waits to be able to her mom's body home and bring her father to the US to live with her; she is delivering babies and helping the pregnant women in need.

A ministry of one of our Ursuline Sisters is to work with teams of lay people to bring medical supplies and education from Florida to the Dominican Republic. But right after the earthquake catastrophe in Haiti, her team worked to see what they could either bring in themselves or send to Haiti as a way to provide assistance to those in need. She and her team were trying very hard to get into Haiti to minister and help in any way possible.

It is wonderful to see the goodness of people as they use their training, skills, and life experience to help others. God's work is taking place!!!! Amen!!!!!

Sr. Jeannie

Monday, February 1, 2010

Looking for a good book to read??????

As a way to relax and learn, we Ursulines turn to reading good novels. Here is an example of one.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
This novel is about immigrants from India who move to Cambridge, Massachusetts to start a new life.

The story begins when Ashima and Ashoke go through an arranged marriage. Soon after, they leave their country to create a new life in Cambridge. The reason they left India was because Ashoke was offered a teaching job and the opportunity to attain his PhD in electrical engineering. Ashima and Ashoke hardly knew each other when they moved to Cambridge. Ashima is left alone during the day while her husband works and studies. She is very lonely and misses her family in India.

Soon after Ashima and Ashoke are expecting a baby boy. Whilein the hospital, the parents come to realize that the law in the U.S. does not allow them to wait for a "Good Name" to arrive from India. The custom in India is when a child is born it takes weeks for the child to be given a name. Ashima asked her grandmother in India to send a name for her son. Ashoke names their son "Gogol", thinking it is only temporary, until the "Good Name" arrives. Well, it doesn't and Ashoke and Ashima have no choice, but to put the name Gogol on the birth certificate

Gogol grows up as a first generation American. He attends Yale and changes his name to Nikhil. While at Yale, Gogol tries his best to leave his family's way of life behind. He tries to reinvent himself, but not even a name change allows Gogol to leave his own identity.

Towards the end, Gogol comes to appreciate his parent's struglles when they first arrived in Cambridge, the world they left behin, and the new one they created in Cambridge.

Sr. Nancy