Ursulines gather in Cincinnati
Two hundred Ursuline Sisters, their associates, friends and co-workers, along with members of the Companions of St. Angela (Merici, Ursuline foundress) from Chatham, Ontario, and members of the Company of St. Ursula gathered for the North American Ursuline Convocation July 4-7 in Cincinnati at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Ursulines from Mexico, India and Belgium joined them for four days of learning, reflection and celebration of the Ursuline charism. The participants embodied the theme of the 2013 convocation — “Angela’s Radical Gospel Vision: Expanding the Circles.”
“Originally envisioned as a gathering of Ursuline sisters, the triennial event has expanded since its beginning in 1992 to include co-workers, associates and friends of the Ursulines, reflecting the sisters’ awareness that these close associates are integral in identifying and carrying out the Ursuline vision for the future,” said Sister Margie Efkeman, general minister of the Ursulines of Cincinnati.
Featured speaker Ursuline Sister Sue Scharfenberger of Louisville cited the Hubble Telescope and the demolition of the Berlin Wall as teaching her how God’s energy continually expands the universe and challenges divisions. She challenged the audience to root themselves deeply in the Gospel and in the divine presence within each person and all creation.
School Sister of Notre Dame Catherine Bertrand challenged the participants to engage in raising questions that have power to “evoke a choice for accountability and commitment,” such as, “What is the commitment you hold that brought you into this room?” and “What are the crossroads you face at this stage of the game?”
Sister Catherine listed many “firsts” attributed to Ursulines in North America: the first woman pharmacist, first convent, first free school and retreat center for women among others. “The church and the world are waiting for you to offer more firsts,” she challenged.
A “visioning session” ended the convocation with participants reflecting on how the gift of Angela’s charism and the challenge of the Gospel are leading them to “expand the circle” and promote the common good.
The participants signed a letter of commendation for the Crowne Plaza Hotel to acknowledge the hotel’s commitment to support efforts directed at eliminating human trafficking. In addition, Congregation of Divine Providence Sister Alice Gerdeman, director of the Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace in Cincinnati, invited the participants to sign a petition to be delivered to the John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives urging him to proceed in reforming the broken immigration system based on God’s wisdom and compassion. The signed petition was delivered to the Boehner’s home office after being prominently displayed at a prayer vigil the evening of July 9, the eve of the day Boehner and the other House leaders were meeting to decide the process for considering immigration bills.
Sister Lucia Castillini, congregational minister for the Ursulines of Brown County, summed up the convocation: “I think all of us — Ursuline sisters, associates, companions, Company members, co-workers and friends — went away spiritually enriched from being together to pray, to renew friendships, and to enjoy a professional tour of Cincinnati or a baseball game at the Great American Ball Park, or the luxury of a quiet evening. We look forward to our next convocation in 2016.”