Sisters serving alone hope to spread Ursuline seeds

The below story was featured in the Spring 2014 edition of Ursulines Alive. To view an online version of Ursulines Alive, click here. To join our mailing list and start receiving your own copy of Ursulines Alive free of charge, please email April Ray at april.ray@maplemount.org.

Poppies and hollyhocks are two examples of flowers whose seeds can be planted in the fall and bloom in the spring. Some Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph are planting their own “Ursuline seeds” where they minister because they are the only sister in the community.

Sister Marcella Schrant, center, looks over the newspaper with two of her companions at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence, Kan. At left is Peter Haack, a musician who also prepares the bulletin, and at right is Nicki Daneke, who works with Catholic Charities.

“I share stories, experiences and publications regarding info on the Ursuline charism with parishioners in Lawrence and Victoria, Kan.,” said Sister Marcella Schrant, an office assistant at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence. “I also share my stories and love for our mission with people in the community. I often talk about the Ursulines and let everyone know about special feast days.”

As the only Ursuline Sister serving in Lawrence, Sister Marcella knows her influence may be the main way someone she encounters learns about the Ursuline community.

“I have many dear people who love to share our stories,” she said. “A number of people from our parish have gone to the picnic in Maple Mount and many because of my presence, maybe, have contributed to the Ursulines. I hope that my being here has been a positive reflection of an Ursuline Sister and that I’ll be remembered as one who was a happy person and who loved being an Ursuline.”

Sister Rose Karen shares some encouraging words with Deborah Legrand after saying the Lord’s Prayer with her.

When Sister Rose Karen Johnson moved to Muhlenberg County, Ky., in 1995, she was introduced to the highly Protestant area by two young boys on her doorstep who told her, “I guess you know you’re not wanted here.” Her response was to wave to everyone she met and smile. “Now they wave to me,” she said.

Sister Rose Karen was joined by her sister, Sister Rose Theresa, from 1999 until her death in 2012, and since then she has continued her ministry as pastoral associate at St. Joseph Pastoral Center on her own. In those early days she purposely went out to spread the Ursuline charism.

“I invited people to become associates,” and they learned about what it means to be an Ursuline through their formation, she said. Since she arrived in 1995, 24 Ursuline Associates have been added from Muhlenberg County.

“They’ve got the spirit, they’ve got the leadership,” Sister Rose Karen said. “They run the meetings, I share prayer.”

Much of her ministry involves visiting with people of Protestant faiths or those who never go to church. She makes weekly hospital visits and drops in to see people scheduled for surgery or in long-term care, asking if she can say the Lord’s Prayer with them. Wherever she goes, she says she witnesses her faith to others.

She also remains vigilant in looking for new Ursuline Associates. She noticed a couple who come to St. Joseph Church, but who leave shortly after Mass. “I thought it would be wonderful to have them as associates and for them to have us,” she said.

Sister Michael Marie Friedman has been principal of St. James School in Elizabethtown, Ky. since 1990.

Two sisters who are educators hope their presence among students is modeling their role as Ursulines.

“Students and parents see me daily,” said Sister Michael Marie Friedman, who is principal of St. James Catholic Regional School in Elizabethtown, Ky. “They see me involved in many school activities. I can’t say that my presence is uniquely Ursuline, but more of a presence of the state of religious life. The simplicity of religious life is what I hear as comments from students and adults, and I do think that simplicity is a very Ursuline charism.

“I hope I plant seeds every day in and out of the classroom with the students that will follow them as they grow older and follow the vocation that God has in store for them,” Sister Michael Marie said.