Casa Ursulina Celebrates 20 Years of Welcome for Women

Joining Sister Mimi Ballard (center) at the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of Casa Ursulina are (from left) keynote speaker Father Raul ManrÍquez, Ursuline Council representative Sister Pam Mueller, Bishop of Chillán Carlos PellegrÍn Barrera, and Sister Ruth Gehres, who served at Casa Ursulina 2007-2013.

It was literally standing room only at Casa Ursulina as members and friends gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the The Dianna Ortiz Ursuline Center for Women, affectionately known as Casa Ursulina. The celebration took place on December 6, 2017, a bright spring day in Chillán, Chile.

Guests were welcomed by Sister Mary Elizabeth (Mimi) Ballard and a host of women who with “Madre Mimi” are the heart and soul of Casa Ursulina. The house began in 1997 as a nondescript “half duplex” with a couple of shacks out back. It has grown into an expanded, well-equipped center offering a myriad of opportunities for women of the surrounding población — that is, the neighborhood — and beyond.

Madre Mimi’s early team of seven Chilean women has also grown. Now over 200 women each year participate in programs at the center. Many of these women have become teachers and leaders in the thriving life of Casa Ursulina.

Those who traveled the farthest to the celebration were Sisters Pam Mueller and Sister Ruth Gehres from the Ursuline Motherhouse at Maple Mount, Ky. Sister Pam, a member of the Leadership Council, was the official representative of the Ursuline community. Sister Ruth, who served at Casa Ursulina from 2007 to 2013, came as a very willing companion to Sister Pam.

During the anniversary celebration, guests also had the opportunity to enjoy the annual Exposition of the work of the women of Casa Ursulina. The colorful display included wool work (spinning and weaving), oil painting, home decoration, baking, crochet, knitting and tatting. The women were on hand to explain their work and, if desired, to sell their creations.

The photos that accompany this story offer a glimpse of the excitement that filled every part of Casa Ursulina — inside and outside — for this inspiring celebration. Be sure to click on the photos to make them grow!






  1. Sister Catherine Barber

    Thanks to all who have helped in enriching the life of the Chilean women spiritually, artistically, and physically. Special thanks to all the Ursuline Sisters who have served in Chile over the years especially Madre Mimi.
    Gratefully with love and prayer,
    Sister Catherine Barber

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