The twenty-first century challenges people of faith to take the message of Jesus into society and the church. War, violence, and inequity have become commonplace in U.S. society. Ursulines have been part of this Christian commitment to influence society and the church since their founding by St. Angela Merici in 1535 who represents an icon of the independent and dedicated woman responding to unaddressed needs and scandals in her environment. She was respectful but unflinchingly realistic in responding to real needs of her time.
St. Angela envisioned a company of dedicated women rooted in their society, with a contemplative prayer life informing their action for others. The enthusiasm of her vision quickly spread beyond her lifetime to live and flourish to all continents up to the present day. Ursulines are St. Angela’s descendants, marked by her spirit, aspiring to be contemplatives in action. They are women religious, part of the larger community of men and women religious faithful to the Catholic Church and dedicated to adapting the mission of Jesus to the times.
Before universal public education, Ursulines were best known as educators specifically for girls responsible family life, citizenship, and loyalty to the faith. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, Ursulines in the United States rededicated themselves to education within parochial (parish) schools for boys and girls, private secondary schools, and colleges, as part of the U.S. Catholic school system.
More recently, Ursulines broadened their mission towards building a society of peace and justice and work for the integrity of creation. They seek to respond to the dynamic needs of society collaborating with others to create a better life for all people regardless of faith.
Ursulines are women who empower others through their vocation of service always seeking to equalize inequities of class and race. The simplicity of their lifestyle counters the prevailing secular materialism through witness of the church as a gathering of people faithful to Jesus.