Mrs. Joanne Kelly, Assistant Principal
Academy of Mount St. Ursula

As I sit in the midst of summer with a warm ocean breeze swirling around me, basking in the hot, summer sun, I am reminded of how our Lord asks us to bask in his love and to share it with all our community to glorify Him. This summer season is the perfect time to re-group, spend some quiet moments with the Lord in prayer, refreshing our souls and replenishing our minds. As we move into the fall, we can take what we have internalized and bring it to the communities we serve.

Many of us had an opportunity to come together to share and discuss our spirituality, our calling to the Ursuline communities we serve, and our desire to be faithful to that call in the future. In June, Ursuline school leaders came to the College of New Rochelle to celebrate our Ursuline heritage and to remind ourselves how important and needed that call is in our lives today.

At the Ursuline Educational Leadership Institute, administrators and teachers from the College of New Rochelle, the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, The Ursuline School and Ursuline Academy, Wilmington, as well as speakers from other Ursuline institutions, spent three days meeting each other, discussing life inside our schools, and exploring the service that we all share outside of our classrooms, offices, and buildings. Realizing how far-reaching our efforts are and how interconnected we are, can be an enormous revelation. Making new friends, re-establishing old connections, learning new ideas, and simply realizing how much we cherish those we have been called to be with; became an energizing “to-do list” for these days.

Do we take the time to appreciate God’s love and call in those we are with every day, or does familiarity breed frustration? Here, at the conference, we were able to spend time basking in our sense of “similarity.” In this time together we began to see the beauty in our shared mission. During these early summer days, we were able to find God’s love in each other as His hand gently guided our days together.

The presence of St. Angela in our everyday lives and the commonality of striving to bring the Ursuline heritage of Angela and Ursula to our individual teams and students is what initially drew us together. Somewhere in the mix, we discovered something more: a sense of who we are as a group and a deeper sense of our calling to be one family.

Somewhere in these three days, I felt a deeper sense of belonging not only to the Lord, but to the mission, and to those I am surrounded by each day. I felt too, the outstretched hand of those working in other schools that I may know only casually, but whose mission and call I share.
For me, this conference was a “spiritual day at the beach,” where I was able to soak in the love of God brought to me by those Ursuline leaders who sat with me each day. Bathing in the love of the Lord shining in those around me who share my mission was an unexpected grace. Yet it was freely given in love to each of us by God, through each other.

This fall, I will take the experience shared and the love experienced at the conference to my classroom where the mission continues each and every day. Where, together with the students, I can bring that love of mission that I have experienced this summer to fruition. There students will begin to feel it, to know it, and to understand the love of God and the mission of St. Angela on a daily basis.

Summer gives us the time to ruminate on what has happened during this school year. Like a seed, those experiences will germinate and blossom more strongly to support and strengthen the vine we cultivate, the vine given to us by God and planted by St. Angela. We each grow the vine entrusted to us in the same manner but in different schools. The vine grows not by the light of the sun but by the light of the Holy Spirit and the good soil given to us by St. Angela through her vision and wisdom. It is up to us to water and care for it. We are the vine, each school representing a branch.

We reflect and meditate on what God has given us this year and what God asks of us for next year. This summer is our time. A time to understand and to know the love of God so that we can bring that love with us in the fall to begin again and to create anew the mission entrusted to us.