Saint Angela and the Ursulines

The following is a reflection that Sister Mary Jo Gramig, OSU, gave to the Sacred Heart Model School students on January 27, 2020, at their Mass celebrating the feast day of Saint Angela Merici. Sacred Heart Model School is a coeducational Catholic school for children from Kindergarten through Eighth grade and is sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville.

I thank Father Burke for asking me to say a few words about why I became an Ursuline Sister.

When I was growing up I attended Holy Spirit Grade School in Louisville, where the Ursuline Sisters taught us. Being around the Sisters was very much a part of my school experience. We knew the sisters as our teachers, but also as people, who really cared about us and knew our families and friends.

They were there to teach us to be good students, to know our faith and to be strong Catholic Christians, striving to love God and others as Jesus did. Just like your teachers here at SHMS. They help you to be the best students you can be and also to learn about our faith, about Jesus’ special love for each person and how we are called to love and serve God each day, especially as we strive to live the Ursuline Core Values: Leadership, Community, Reverence and Service.”

I was in 2nd grade when I started to think about being a Sister. It was the example of the Ursuline Sisters who taught me which inspired me to think about Religious Life. The Sisters’ life of prayer, living in community and serving others is what led me to want to become an Ursuline Sister. I always loved young children, which is why I became a teacher and taught preschool and primary grades for many years.

As Ursuline Sisters we follow in the footsteps of Saint Angela Merici, the foundress of our community, whose feast day we celebrate today. Angela listened to the voice of God who spoke to her heart. Both her parents and her sister died when she was a young teen. The grief and loss drew her close to the sufferings of Christ, which inspired her to give her life to God in loving service.

Angela lived in Brescia, Italy where many children, especially girls, didn’t have an opportunity to learn about their faith. Angela was deeply concerned about this and decided then to dedicate herself to the education of children. Eventually Angela gathered some companions and young girls to go into the homes of the children in hopes of helping families come to know and love God.

In 1535 many of these women became the first members of her Religious Community, the Company of Saint Ursula. Angela chose to name her community after Saint Ursula who was a popular saint at that time.

Angela continues to call us as Ursuline sisters to a deep life of prayer and service in meeting the needs of others.

Ursuline Sisters today, besides being teachers, follow their call to service in many other areas as well—as Church leaders, providing social services to the poor and immigrants, mission work in Peru, health care, hospital ministry, retreat work and spiritual direction, to name just a few ministries.

Angela had a deep trust in God, a love of scripture and a love of the Church.  She also had the gift of inspiring the Sisters to live in unity, charity and joy.

As we honor Saint Angela on her feast day, may we pray for the grace to listen to the Holy Spirit as we follow God’s call in our lives each day, “Being Glory to the Only God,” which is the meaning of the Latin words, SOLI DEO GLORIA that is engraved on the cross we wear …which means, “Do everything for the Glory of God.”                                                                                       

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