On a really busy day, Casa Ursulina might hold 150 people . . . that’s the number of available chairs and plastic stools. On Orientation Day – March 14– there was standing room only, not in the house, but in the side yard in the shade of the grape arbor. Five days of enrollment the previous week brought 194 women ready to begin work in 15 classes. Orientation brings them all together to meet their teachers and – especially for those who are new – to enter into the spirit of Casa Ursulina.
It’s a spirit of solidarity and respect. As Sister Mimi explains, “this means that we treat one another as who we are . . . all daughters of God.”
As always, this year’s group is a mix of long-term members of the Casa Ursulina community and women who are here for the first time. Extending a special welcome to newcomers are the women of the Coordination Team – volunteers who assist Sister Mimi in the organization of the house and its programs.
After talking with the entire group about the spirit of the house, Sister Mimi introduced the teachers, who then met with their classes to discuss the rules of the house and the basic requirements for classes. The rules include such things as punctuality, taking turns with clean-up, respecting the property of the house, avoiding gossip, greeting everyone when entering and leaving the house. And finally: “Be generous with your time and your talents!”
Classes this year include knitting and crochet, tatting, home decoration, sewing, spinning and weaving, together with baking, yoga, oil painting, sculpture painting, and English. All the monitoras, or teachers, are volunteers, many of whom have developed their talents at Casa Ursulina.
In addition to classes, there’s the “Voluntary Workshop,” a dedicated group of women who for many years have created colorful comforters for their elderly and bedfast neighbors from used and donated materials.
The picture gallery below shows some of the highlights of Orientation 2016 at Casa Ursulina.