The word “together,” in Italian, insieme, appears repeatedly in the writings of Angela Merici: “You must take care to have your daughters come together from time to time…so that together like this, they might also meet each other as loving sisters, and thus…rejoice together, and together encourage one another” (Eighth Legacy). It is a perfect word to convey the spirit of the Ursuline Associates of Malone.
We are a friendly, prayerful, hard-working group of twenty-six women, ranging in age from “just turned forty” to ninety-two. (Our ninety-two year old still skis!) Each month we come together, alternating between a Gathering and Evening Prayer. More basically, every day our members live the charism of Angela Merici: love of God, prayer, service of others, joy, respect for the individual person. We deepen Angela’s spirit through reflection on books on her charism, such as Journey of the Heart by M. Cabrini Durkin, Spirituality, Gender, and the Self in Renaissance Italy by Querciolo Mazzonis, and Joyce Rupp’s Open the Door.
Celebration of Angela’s feast is a highlight when we celebrate Mass together, followed by a festive dinner. Our Gatherings are held in the Community Room of a Senior Housing Development where one of our members resides. In alternate months, a smaller group prays Vespers together at the Ursuline Community house.
Over the years Associates seek a deepening spirituality. All our members are involved in good works of various kinds: hospital auxiliary, St. Vincent de Paul Store, soup kitchen, lunch for Habitat for Humanity volunteers, religious education, and liturgical ministries in our parishes.
Description of Ursuline Associate life in the North Country would not be complete without mention of our sister group in Witherbee, NY, about two hours south of Malone. We have seven wonderful, self-starting women in the Witherbee/Mineville/Port Henry area who imbibed Angela’s spirit during the years when Ursuline Sisters ministered in the area. The group, in which I serve as liaison, continues to meet on its own and occasionally for a Malone meeting.
The annual retreat day is an opportunity for both groups to be together in Plattsburgh, NY, at a beautiful facility on Lake Champlain. Members of both groups have made pilgrimages to the Ursuline Monastery in Quebec, where the spirit of Marie of the Incarnation and the early Ursuline missionaries is truly tangible.
We take part in the Coordinating Committee of Ursuline Associates, a group of Associates and Sisters who guide the overall Associate activities of the Province. In October 2011, we happily hosted the Coordinating Committee in Malone.
Reading the signs of the times, we are endeavoring to turn over increasing responsibility for the operation of Associate groups to Associates. In Malone a rotating Executive Committee of three advises and works with me in the planning the year’s program. As that time inevitably comes ever nearer for us here, may Angela inspire us and guide us in bringing forth lasting fruit a hundredfold.