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Our Faith Journey

Welcome to “Our Faith Journey” Blog.

This blog is an opportunity to share with our Ursuline School community that which is most important to us -- our faith journey. Each of us is on a journey and we hope that you enjoy reading the reflections of our faculty, staff and students.

Papal Audience

Today our Honors Choir had their Papal Audience with Pope Francis.  At this audience Pope Francis spoke about the third Beatitude, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land."   He said, “Those who are meek are patient, gentle and merciful, drawing people together and salvaging relationships.  Meekness entails tenaciously holding onto one's trust in and relationship with God and protectively guarding his gifts of peace, mercy and fraternity. It seems strange that meekness and inheriting land are somehow related, the pope said.

But, he said, it is rooted in Psalm 37:3-11, which tells believers to trust in the Lord, refrain from anger, be patient and "make your righteousness shine" for then shall they "inherit the earth" and "delight in great prosperity."  The "land" the psalm refers to is something greater than some earthly territory, which is so often a source of conflict, war and aggression, the pope said.  "That land is a promise and a gift for the people of God," he said. It is heaven – that "new earth" that God has made for his children.

"Therefore, the meek are those who 'inherit' the most sublime of territories," Francis said. "They are not cowards, weak, looking for some fallback moral principle in order to steer clear of trouble. Far from it!"  Whether a person is meek is seen during moments of conflict, crisis or pressure, he said, since it's easy to seem meek when life goes smoothly.  "You see it in how they react to a hostile situation," when they are attacked or offended, he said.

Meekness is what Jesus displayed during his passion since, according to St. Peter, Jesus returned no insult, did not threaten and instead, "handed himself over to the one who judges justly."  The meek are those who know and trust in what God has offered and they do not want to lose it, the pope said. "The meek are not people-pleasers but are Christ's disciples who have learned to defend a whole other land," he said. "They defend their peace, they defend their relationship with God and God's gifts, guarding mercy, fraternity, trust, hope." "People who are meek are people who are merciful, fraternal, trusting and hopeful," he said. 

To talk about meekness, the pope said, it is important also to talk about the sin of wrath.  "A moment of anger can destroy so many things; you lose control and you don't evaluate what is really important and you can ruin a relationship" with someone, sometimes irreparably, he said.  How many family members, he added, no longer speak with each other or are cold with each other because of anger, which always divides, while meekness, "gathers together."

"Meekness conquers many things. Meekness is able to win over hearts, salvage friendships and much more," he said.  It's natural to get angry, he said, but then people should "calm down, rethink it and get back on track and this is how you can rebuild with meekness."

"There is no earth more beautiful than the heart of another person," he said, "no land more wonderful to win over than that peace" reestablished with another, and this is the land the meek shall inherit. 

I am sure that our young women heard Pope Francis’ message in a very different way as they were in his presence.  May we hear Pope Francis’ message with open ears and hearts.

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday February 19
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Random Acts of Kindness Week

Sometime during the early 1970’s there was a movement to conserve fuel oil by closing schools during President’s Week in February.  The idea was to conserve fuel which was difficult to procure at the time.  Now the fuel crisis has ended but the week off still remains for many students and teachers.  Now it seems we have replaced this week with observing Random Act of Kindness Week.  The observance began in 1995 and now has grown into a weeklong activity.  National Random Acts of Kindness Week has grown in popularity each year. It is celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations, nationwide, to encourage acts of kindness. It is a favorite day to many, as people everywhere are enjoying doing these acts of kindness.

The winter doldrums have set in for us so the thought of changing someone’s outlook by simply doing something kind is most appealing.  The goal of Random Act of Kindness Week is to change schools, the workplace, families, and society through kindness.

Psychiatrists say there are benefits for practicing Random Acts of Kindness:

Fuels personal energy and self-esteem

Makes you happier.

Good for your heart.

Helps you live longer.

Decreases the harmful chemicals in your body

Whatever you decide to do take time these days to participate in Random Acts of Kindness as you never know the impact a small gift you give has on another person.  Give freely, give generously and give what truly matters most – the gift of love.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday February 18
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One Step at a Time

There is a story of a coach who challenged his runners to run in a marathon.  As they trained each day they were encouraged to push themselves just a little bit further each day.  Soon several dropped out so that there were six runners and their coach left to run the marathon.  After six months of training the day for their marathon arrived.  All completed the thirteen mile marathon with their best times ever.  Recounting their success they attributed it to the fact that their coach had encouraged them to run further then they had the day before.

Our Scriptures today challenge us to go a step further.  Each of our readings call us to look deep within.  For the past two Sundays we have listened to the Sermon on the Mount that calls us to look long and hard at how we are living our lives.  As we pray this day let us all look deep into our hearts and see where we can go one step further, where we can grow closer to our God.  We are called to look beneath the surface and examine our hearts how we are living our lives.  May we always make the choice to choose life and make more room for God in our lives – moving closer to God one step more each day.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday February 16
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Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine, officially known as Saint Valentine of Rome, is a third-century Roman saint widely celebrated on February 14 and commonly associated with "courtly love." Although not much of St. Valentine's life is reliably known, and whether or not the stories involve two different saints by the same name is also not officially decided, it is highly agreed that St. Valentine was martyred and then buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome.

In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar, because so little is known about him. However, the church still recognizes him as a saint, listing him in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrology.  Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole in his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini.

The romantic nature of Valentine's Day may have derived during the Middle Ages, when it was believed that birds paired couples in mid-February. According to English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, Valentine's Day was most likely created to overpower the pagan holiday, Lupercalia. Although the exact origin of the holiday is not widely agreed upon, it is widely recognized as a day for love, devotion and romance.

Whoever he was, Valentine did really exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

Today we celebrate with flowers, chocolates, special dinners and cards.  However you celebrate take some time to thank God for all the wonderful people you have in your life who show you love.  May we always remember to be grateful for the many ways our God has blessed us with those who care so much for us.

Posted by schifinp on Friday February 14
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Hospitality

The following is from the Ursuline Sisters Heartbeats publication.

Hospitality – Creating Free and Welcoming Spaces

 “Hospitality means the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. Hospitality is the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God their way. The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover their own songs, speak their own language, dance their own dances, free also to leave and follow their own vocations.” These words from the late Henri Nouwen describe the spirit of hospitality with which Angela Merici lived. They describe as well how those who share her charism and spirit are about lives of hospitality today. We are happy to share some of those stories in this issue of Heartbeats.

La Hospitalidad

Sr. Karen Schwane spends one morning a week at the Greyhound Bus station in San Antonio offering hospitality and assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

St. Angela Merici, a woman of hospitality, is my model and companion when volunteering with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) at the Greyhound Bus station in downtown San Antonio. I began volunteering in February 2019, after an intense orientation followed by “on the job training” with a wonderful veteran coordinator and an alumna of Ursuline Academy in San Antonio. The migrants or asylum seekers we serve, mainly from Central America, have been detained mostly at Centers in the Texas cities of Dilley (moms and children) and Karnes (dads and children), and sometimes from towns close to the border with Mexico.

Upon arrival at the terminal, we greet them with warm smiles and lead them to the ticket counter to procure the ticket purchased by a family member or sponsor. We then guide them to a section reserved for them and decipher for them their complex bus ticket, copying pertinent info onto an 8 X 10 paper: listing cities for bus changes, departure and arrival times, and circling the locations on the map of the U.S.A. on the back. This paper with our explanations gives them a sense of security. We give each family a backpack with travel aides, a blanket, water bottle, snacks, stuffed animal, coloring book and food for the trip. They are so grateful for these tokens of care and concern. The anxiety that we can see at the beginning gradually disappears and turns to smiles, realizing their trip will be manageable and soon they will be “home.”

—Karen Schwane, OSU

 

Posted by schifinp on Thursday February 13
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St. Scholastica

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Scholastica.  St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, consecrated her life to God from her earliest youth. After her brother went to Monte Cassino, where he established his famous monastery, she took up her abode in the neighborhood at Plombariola, where she founded and governed a monastery of nuns, about five miles from that of St. Benedict, who, it appears, also directed his sister and her nuns. She visited her brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went in company with some of his brethren to meet her at a house some distance away. These visits were spent in conferring together on spiritual matters. On one occasion they had passed the time as usual in prayer and pious conversation and in the evening they sat down to take their reflection.

Scholastica realizing that her time on earth was coming to an end begged her brother to remain until the next day. St. Benedict refused to spend the night outside his monastery. She had recourse to prayer and a furious thunderstorm burst so that neither St. Benedict nor any of his companions could return home. They spent the night in spiritual conferences. The next morning they parted to meet no more on earth. Three days later St. Scholastica died, and her holy brother beheld her soul in a vision as it ascended into heaven. He sent his brethren to bring her body to his monastery and laid it in the tomb he had prepared for himself. She died about the year 543, and St. Benedict followed her soon after.

She is a model of faith for us even today.  Each one of us is called to be Christ to one another as Scholastica was to others.  Let us live each day following her model.

Posted by schifinp on Monday February 10
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Salt and Light

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”             (Mt. 5: 13 - 16)

Today’s Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorites.  In this story Jesus states clearly what we are called to do in life.  As luck would have it I attended two liturgies today one with our Ursuline sisters and the other at a local parish where our Honor’s Choir was signing.  The homilies the priest shared today were inspiring. 

The first one shared the story of a young boy who was living in a residential treatment facility in the 1960’s.  Each week the children would earn an “allowance” where they could use the money to buy some candy in the facilities store.  Week after week the young boy never received his “allowance” because of his behavior.  After several weeks he finally was going to receive it and was excited throughout the day.  Finally the moment arrived for him to go purchase his two Hershey candy bars.  After his purchase he went outside and noticed a boy who had just arrived.  He went over to the other boy and handed him his two prized Hershey bars.  When asked why he did this he simply responded, “Because he needed them more than I did.”  What an incredible statement and gift of sharing.

The second story was one about a young man who had lived in a homeless shelter and after he got back on his feet was hired to help out.  He did so with great enthusiasm.  His job was to clean the sidewalk outside the shelter.  While doing his job he always greeted those who passed him by.  Year after year he did his job well with pride and joy.  Ultimately he succumbed to AIDS and his funeral gathering scattered onto the street.  He died serving others and never felt sorry for himself.  The priest ended the homily with the statement, “He was Christ to all who he encountered.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same could be said of us?”  Another profound statement.

As I reflected this afternoon on these homilies I realized that today was a true gift for me.  As I prayed I could feel the impact of the words I had heard earlier.  May we always remember to be Christ for one another.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday February 9
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Saint Josephine Bakhita

Today as we read and reflect on Saint Josephine Bakhita’s story let us pray for all who are victims of human trafficking.  Let us pray this day for an end to this terrible reality that continually effects men, women and children.  May all work to the abolition of human slavery.

For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed.  Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was resold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.

Two years later, he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.

When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.

Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the local citizens. She once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”

The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000.

Josephine’s body was mutilated by those who enslaved her, but they could not touch her spirit. Her Baptism set her on an eventual path toward asserting her civic freedom and then service to God’s people as a Canossian Sister.  She who worked under many “masters” was finally happy to address God as “master” and carry out everything that she believed to be God’s will for her.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday February 8
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Love God

Virtue is God’s big, bright blinking neon sign pointing to the best version of yourself saying:  Happiness is this way!

I read this quote today just before we left for our sixth grade retreat day.  Today was the day when our youngest Koalas had their class retreat day.  This day was given by our junior and senior peer ministers and was wonderful. We began our day with a Liturgy celebrated by the President of Salesian High School.  During the homily Father asked the students about the Ten Commandments and the two Great Commandments.  He told them how the most important thing is life is to “Love God, love oneself and love one’s neighbor.”  In doing this they will be doing exactly what God wants for them.  He invited them around the altar during the consecration.  It was an amazing sight to see them gathered around and learning more about the meaning of the Eucharist.  As he spoke to them he reminded them that no matter what they do in life they need to remember that God loves them and only wants what is best for them. 

The goal of the sixth grade retreat was to strengthen the bonds the students have with each other and God. They learned that their faith is an important part of being a student at Ursuline and how their faith will help them throughout the rest of their middle school experience and beyond. The sixth grade is well on their way to making bonds with their classmates that are inclusive and positive.  Let us all learn from their experience and make every effort to love God, love oneself, and love our neighbor.

Posted by schifinp on Friday February 7
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Open Unto Me

Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me

Open unto me, light for my darkness
Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair
Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow
Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness
Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself
Lord, Lord, open unto me!


- Howard Thurman, from "Meditations of the Heart"
Thurman who was born in 1899 and raised in the segregated South. He is recognized as one of the great spiritual leaders of the 20th century renowned for his reflections on humanity and our relationship with God. Thurman was a prolific author (writing at least 20 books); perhaps the most famous is Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), which deeply influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Thurman was the first black person 
to be a tenured Dean at a PWI (Boston U). He also cofounded the first interracially pastored, intercultural church in the US.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday February 6
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World Cancer Day

Today is World Cancer Day.  World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.  This World Cancer Day, we recognize that our commitment to act will lead to powerful progress in reducing the global impact of cancer.  On February 4th we are encouraged to do a concrete action to rebuild.

2020 marks the midway point of the 3-year ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign. ‘I Am and I Will’ is an empowering call-to-action urging for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.  World Cancer Day is a campaign built to resonate, inspire change and mobilize action long after the day has passed.

A multi-year campaign offers a chance to create long-lasting impact by increasing public-facing exposure and engagement, more opportunities to build global awareness and impact-driven action.  Today we are encouraged to reach out to those who are struggling with cancer.  We are called to be Christ for one another and to reach out to our brothers and sisters in love and compassion.  May we one day see a world that is “Cancer free!”

 

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday February 4
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Feast of St. Blaise

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Blaise, who was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia in the fourth century. Before being martyred, he is said to have healed a boy who was choking. Since the eighth century, Saint Blaise has been venerated as the patron of those who suffer from diseases of the throat. We pray in a special way today for protection from afflictions of the throat and from other illnesses. The blessing of Saint Blaise is a sign of our faith in God's protection and- love for us and for the sick.

Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness.

Posted by schifinp on Monday February 3
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Feast of the Presentation

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy.  It is also referred to as the "Purification of Mary." This is known as a "Christmas feast" since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. Many Catholics practice the tradition of keeping out the Nativity creche or other Christmas decorations until this feast.

This feast commemorates how Jesus, as a baby, was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. This presentation finds its complete and perfect fulfillment in the mystery of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the child to God in the Temple.  It is also known as the Feast of the Purification of Mary, and the Feast of Candlemas. It is also called the Feast of Encounter because the New Testament, represented by the baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna. Joseph offered two pigeons in the Temple as sacrifice for the purification of Mary after her childbirth and for the presentation and redemption ceremonies performed for baby Jesus.

As Simeon raised the child in blessing he did so because the child belonged to God.  He fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament.  May we be willing this day and every day to give ourselves over to God.  Our God continues to love us unconditionally and only wants what is best for us.  Let us always respond with the joy of Simeon.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday February 2
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Seeing With Eyes of Faith

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.  And other boats were with him.  A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.  Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.  They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”  The wind ceased and there was great calm.  Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”  They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”  (Mark 4: 35 – 41)

I find this Gospel so prevalent to our current times.  We are God’s children, holy and beloved, we are precious in the eyes of God and have so much to offer.  As children of God we are called to trust with the eyes of faith.  When you observe a small child you can see how they respond to others when they are loved and feel secure.  This week we have seen and heard of some pretty bad parenting and abuse of others.

In Mark’s Gospel today, Jesus is with His disciples at sea when a violent storm comes up. Fearing for their lives, the disciples ask Jesus to help them.  They are scared and respond out of fear.  Questioning Jesus they sound like indignant children who are not getting their way.  Jesus reacts first by rebuking the wind and the sea, then He questions them about their faith. Seeing the calm sea, the disciples are in awe and begin to understand that Jesus is much more than just a man who is their teacher, but in fact, the Son of God.

Seeing with the eyes of faith the disciples were able to have a clearer picture of Jesus.  When we respond out of love and care we, too, have a clearer picture of how Jesus wants us to act.  May we always be willing to see with the eyes of faith so that we may be true disciples.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday February 1
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Let Your Light Shine

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?  For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.  Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”  He also told them, “Take care what you hear.  The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.  To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4: 21-25)

In today’s gospel passage, Jesus uses the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live out what Jesus has taught them. Because they had been given the gift of faith, Jesus’ disciples had an obligation to share the Good News with others. Their faith was not to be hidden, but instead shine brightly like a lamp in the darkness, illuminating the way for others to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and thus come to know God. They were to be light-bearers of Christ.

We are called to be like the disciples and let our light shine before all others.  Letting our light shine before others is the gift we are to give back to Jesus who encourages us to let our light shine brightly before all.  Our world can be rather dark these days and we are called all the more to allow ourselves to be the light in the darkness.  Let us always strive to be bearers of the light and reach out to those places most in need of healing.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday January 30
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Doing God's Will

As we continue the celebration of Catholic Schools Week today we celebrate our students.  My educational experiences at have led me to a career dedicated to Catholic education.  For the past thirty eight years I have taught in Catholic Schools.  My career began in the elementary level and then moved to the high school level.  I strive to instill in my students the importance and values of a Catholic Education.  The years have certainly been blessed for me as I have encountered many students and have worked with wonderful colleagues.  As a result I have built up some wonderful relationships and am so grateful for the many opportunities I have had. 

Today’s Gospel speaks of the importance of doing the will of God.  We are continually called to be disciples and go out and share the Good News with others.  The call is to be an active participant in the collaboration of all believers.

If we continue to work on being stewards of God’s creation and strive to live an authentic life based on our faith, Jesus will see us in the same light that he saw those who were sitting around him in this Gospel: as being united union with one another and with him. While these are still high expectations, not unlike what Jesus asked of his first apostles, today’s Gospel is a realistic reminder of how to think about discipleship.  We should be heartened that our efforts toward these goals are seen favorably by the Lord.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday January 28
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Feast of St. Angela

Good morning!  Today as a school community we celebrate the Feast of St. Angela Merici.  Some 485 years ago St. Angela founded the Ursuline sisters.  Angela was a woman of her time and was deeply committed to personal prayer, helping all people and being a reconciling presence.

For the past 485 years, Ursulines throughout the world have sought to model Angela in their own reality.  Today we welcome to our celebration members of our Board of Trustees, Ursuline sisters, alumnae and parents. 

St. Angela reminds us, “persevere faithfully and joyfully in the work you have begun.  And take care, not to lose your fervor, for every promise that I make to you will be fulfilled for you beyond measure.” 

Angela calls us to be women and men of faith, hope and love.  She continually encourages us to go beyond our borders and help those in need.  May this spirit prevail, and may we be the change we wish to see.

St. Angela promised her daughters to be united with them for all time.  In her promise to always be with us, Angela gives us the courage and strength to begin anew, to continue the journey.

Happy Feast Day to all!

Posted by schifinp on Monday January 27
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Catholic Schools Week 2020

Each year the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) marks the last week of January as "National Catholic Schools Week."  The theme is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." This theme encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. Not only are we teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities, we, as educators, are growing with them. In Catholic schools, we are all learners, servants and leaders. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed. We will celebrate the daily themes with prayer and different activities.

The daily themes are: 

Sunday, Celebrating our Parish

Monday, Celebrating our Community

Tuesday, Celebrating our Students

Wednesday, Celebrating our Nation

Thursday, Celebrating Vocations

Friday, Celebrating our Faculty and Staff

Saturday, Celebrating our Families

Let us pray:  Loving God, we give you thanks for the gift of Catholic Schools.  As we begin to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, help us to be always aware of the blessing of your community and the chance for each of us to be members of it.  We thank you for the opportunity to attend a school where we can live out your Gospel, and be shaped as your disciples.  Amen

Take some time this week to look back over your Catholic education and thank a teacher who has had an impact on your life.  Cherish the memories that made your education great and pray for those who are receiving it today that their experience will be as rich as yours was.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday January 26
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Conversion of St. Paul

Celebrating the Conversion of St. Paul today: "Paul was not one of the original 12. He wasn’t there when Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” But he absorbed those words as surely as if they had been initially addressed to him – as we also must do."  Our world is deeply divided: politically, economically, culturally, and yes, spiritually. But this is not God's plan for humanity. Jesus Christ is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Not of the people who look like me. Not of the people who think like me. But of the world.

Today, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes to a close with the celebration of the Conversion of St. Paul. He was "called by the Gospel" and then sent for the Gospel. We have also been called by that same Gospel and sent for the same purpose.  Let us take some time today to pray for the unity of all peoples.  Let us in our daily living seek to be peacemakers and recall the words of the song Let There Be Peace on Earth. May we always seek peace in all we do.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday January 25
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Celebrating the Life of Sr. Marjorie Stumpf, OSU

Sr. Marjorie Stumpf, a beloved member of the Ursuline Community died peacefully January 22, 2020 at Andrus-on-Hudson, Hastings, NY.…

Sr. Marjorie was born in New York City to Ellen and Arthur Stumpf in 1931. She was predeceased by her parents and her sister, Theresa Richards. Her sister, Jean Boulger survives along with several nieces and nephews.

Sr. Marjorie entered the Ursulines shortly after graduating from the College of New Rochelle in 1952. As Mother David Marie, she began a half-century ministry in Education. Sr. Marjorie taught at elementary and secondary Ursuline Schools in the Bronx, New Rochelle, and Malone, NY; in Wilmington, DE and Dedham, Mass as well as Chiengmai and Bangkok, Thailand. She also taught at Mater Dei College, Ogdensburg, NY. Sr. Marjorie returned to school to earn an MA in Religious Studies from Providence College, followed by an MLS from Queens College, and subsequently served as a librarian at St Saviour High School and St. Philip Neri in the Bronx.

In later years Sr. Marjorie gave her time and talent as volunteer: as a gifted seamstress and gardener in the community, ESL teacher to Ursuline Outreach projects in New Rochelle, and after completing training at the New York Botanical Garden, as a docent there for 13 years.

A wake will be held at the Ursuline Province Center, New Rochelle, NY, on Friday, January 24 from 3:00 -4:30pm with a prayer service at 3:45 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Province Center Chapel on Saturday, January 25 at 10:00am.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday January 23
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St. Agnes

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Agnes who was a virgin and martyr at the young age of thirteen. She was a wonderful and beautiful woman of God who was courted by many men. Her simple and pointed response to their advances was ‘Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.’ She set an amazing example of holiness at such a young age.  Saint Agnes reminds us that just one encounter with Jesus Christ is enough to set our hearts on fire to the point of complete rejection of earthly pursuits. She was given the opportunity to save herself by denying God, but she answered back ‘I would offend my Spouse if I were to try to please you.’ What an amazing statement for someone so young?  We need to model her resolve in all we do. 

As we reflect on the short life of Saint Agnes today, let us pray for the courage and the faith to act as boldly as she did in standing up for the teachings of Christ. Our whole purpose and goal here on earth is to serve God and so merit heaven and eternal happiness for ourselves and as many others as we can. Living a life as a true Catholic is no easier today than in the day of Saint Agnes, we will be called out by many. While we may not be called to give our very lives up as Saint Agnes did, we will undoubtedly be called to daily ‘martyrdom’ of our worldly image in great and small ways. Today let us pray for the grace to not shy away from our faith, let us reach out to others and be willing to take risks to be the best that we can be.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday January 21
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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

For the past twenty-five years people have used this day as a day of service and giving back to the community.  Many organizations utilize this day to make a special effort to instill the value of service on all.  As we celebrate this day may we always remember and live his words, “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Posted by schifinp on Monday January 20
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Jesus Lamb of God

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’  I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.”  John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.  I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” John 1: 29 – 34

In some way, our gospel today is a continuation of last Sunday’s when Jesus was baptized. It begins, ‘The next day, (John) saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…I saw the Spirit descending on him like a dove.’ He finishes the gospel with this great proclamation; ‘I myself have seen and testify (that) this is the Chosen One of God.’

John announces Jesus’ presence and fulfills his role as a herald by doing so.  He gives Jesus two titles -- the Lamb of God and Chosen One of God. They are not just names, they are what Jesus does and who He is. They describe His identity and His mission. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world because He is the Chosen One of God.

Pope Francis reminds us of this when he says; ‘Because of their baptism, all members of the People of God have now become missionary disciples…. We no longer say that we are missionaries or that we are disciples. But rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’. (The Joy of the Gospel: 120).

Our vocation as disciples of Jesus is twofold; firstly to hear the word of God that He speaks to us and then secondly to live this word in our daily lives as His witnesses in the world. It is through the quality of our lives that we give witness to Jesus. It is said that we live our faith more through our actions and what we do rather than what we say.

On this Sunday let us reflect and ask ourselves what do my actions and the quality of my daily life tell and show others about my relationship with Jesus?

Posted by schifinp on Sunday January 19
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Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Sister Julia Dennehy, OSU, also known as Mother Daniel Joseph, beloved member of the Ursuline Community, died peacefully Jan. 17th at Andrus, Hastings on Hudson, NY.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she was the daughter of Anna Morrissey Dennehy and Philip Dennehy. Sister Julia entered the Ursuline Order in Beacon, NY in 1946 and professed her vows in January 1949.

Sister Julia is predeceased by her parents and brothers Daniel, Edward and Philip. She is survived by her loving Ursuline Community, her devoted sister-in-law Mona Dennehy, nieces Sheila Conneely, Diane O’Hare and many grandnieces and grandnephews.

Sister Julia earned a BA in Latin from the College of New Rochelle and an MA in Classics from Fordham University. She served as a teacher at Our Lady of Mercy and the Academy of Mount St. Ursula both in the Bronx. In the early 60s Sister Julia responded to a call for missionaries to Greece where her teaching and administrative skills were used at the Ursuline Greek High School, Psychico, and in the establishment of the Greek American School, Amaroussion.

On her return from Greece, Sister taught at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula and later became Principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Pelham, NY.

In addition, Sister Julia’s gifts were used in various administrative roles within in the Ursuline Community. Her broad experience and language skills made her a valuable asset at the Ursuline Generalate in Rome where she served for many years.

Visitation will be Tuesday, January 21st from 3:00 – 5:00pm at the Ursuline Province Center, 1338 North Ave, New Rochelle, NY, 10804. There will be a prayer service at 4:00 pm.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, January 22nd at 10:15 am in the Ursuline Province Chapel followed by burial at St. Raymond’s Cemetery.

May she rest in peace knowing that she served many people in many places.  We rejoice as she hears, “Well done, good and faithful servant, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”

Posted by schifinp on Saturday January 18
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St. Anthony of Egypt

Today we commemorate the memorial of St. Anthony "the Great", the "Father of Monks", ranks with those saints whose life exercised a profound influence upon succeeding generations. He was born in Middle Egypt (about 250) of distinguished parents. After their untimely deaths, he dedicated himself wholly to acts of mortification.

St. Anthony was led to sell all he had and give it to the poor and then we went to the desert.  He fasted and prayed daily eating only bread and water.  Spending many nights in prayer he became one of the greatest models of prayer for people.  He learned to speak to God in his heart and listened to what he heard there. 

St. Anthony lived in solitude for about twenty years. "His was a perfectly purified soul. No pain could annoy him, no pleasure bind him. In him was neither laughter nor sadness. The sight of the crowd did not trouble him, and the warm greetings of so many men did not move him. 

Prayer to St. Anthony the Abbot

O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As we look at his life today let us remember to take time to spend time with Jesus in our hearts so that our minds may be focused on the important aspects of life.

Posted by schifinp on Friday January 17
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