Sister Mimi Ballard is encouraged by the number of women returning to Casa Ursulina

When Ursuline Sister Mimi Ballard prepared for her fiber arts classes to begin at Casa Ursulina in March 2023, she expected the number of participants to be significantly down compared to the pre-Covid days. Church attendance in Chillán, Chile, hasn’t rebounded since Chile lifted their mask mandate in September 2022, and Sister Mimi thought there…

Sister Mimi’s ministry continues evolving at Casa Ursulina

Ursuline Sister Mimi Ballard has been organizing fiber arts classes for 26 years at Casa Ursulina, the Ursuline ministry in Chillán, Chile. And yet she never knows when she will be called to minister in a different way to people who come to her door. When the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020, Casa Ursulina…

Casa Ursulina Update 2020

Ursuline Sister Mary Elizabeth “Mimi” Ballard, director of Casa Ursulina (Dianna Ortiz Ursuline Center for Women) in Chillan, Chile, was home for a visit at Mount Saint Joseph in mid-January 2020. She gave a presentation to the Ursuline Sisters and others who could attend on Jan. 15. The talk was an overview of the Ursuline…

Casa Ursulina welcomes Haitian migrants

From its beginning more than 20 years ago, Casa Ursulina has always been a ministry on the move, reflecting the needs of its community of women, always reaching out to develop new projects to meet new needs of the women and their surrounding community. This year, a new need has challenged Sister Mimi and the women of…

Casa Ursulina Celebrates 20 Years of Welcome for Women

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!

more: Casa Ursulina Celebrates 20 Years of Welcome for Women

Casa Ursulina Trip

Sister Ruth Gehres and Sister Pam Mueller recently took a trip to Casa Ursulina in Chillán, Chile, and they brought back some wonderful photos with them. This was a very special trip because they helped Sister Mimi welcome 16 new Associates! Here are some photos from their trip:  

El Camino de la Cruz . . . the Way of the Cross in Chile

On Good Friday in Chile, the Way of the Cross is a solemn ritual that often involves an entire community. This happened last year on March 25, when the parishioners of the church of St. John of God followed a dramatization of the Stations through the streets of Chillán. St. John is the head church that includes…

Remembering the Joy of Holy Week in Chile

As the Church celebrates Holy Week again this year, Sister Ruth Gehres still remembers clearly her experience of this celebration just a year ago. When this most solemn week began on March 20, 2016, she was in the midst of a full month’s stay in Chillán, Chile. A surprise gift from good friends provided for her joyful reunion with Sister…

Casa Ursulina Enrollment Pushing 200

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…

¡Celebramos! It’s Independence Day at Casa Ursulina

At the end of the cold, wet winter, Chileans are eager to get out and have fun. The yearly festivities marking Independence Day come right on time -- on the 18th of September, at the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere.

Flags start flying early in the month, along with an outburst of fiestas with bright decorations, folk music and dancing, and all the fantastic cooking that Chile is famous for.

Everyone in our neighborhood knows about Casa Ursulina's annual peña -- a long-into-the-night fiesta that brings together our women and their families, along with friends and neighbors. It's our biggest fundraiser. Sister Mimi Ballard and a corps of volunteers -- mostly Casa Ursulina women -- work weeks ahead to get it all together. And then they kick back and enjoy it.

Luisa Espinosa, a long-time member of the Casa Ursulina community, sent us these bright photos of this year's celebration. Gracias, Luisa! more: ¡Celebramos! It’s Independence Day at Casa Ursulina