What it means to be a daughter of Saint Angela Merici

I grew up in a small community with the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters (where my Mother’s two sisters were members), within seven miles of my home. Some ten or eleven miles in the opposite direction is the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth where several cousins were members. Equally distant from my home, and nestled between (and a little south) of these is the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Loretto.
It was to none of these three communities that I was attracted, however, but rather to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph who had taught me from first grade through twelfth grade. These were the years when the Ursulines were teaching in public schools in Kentucky. I didn’t know anything about St. Angela at that time, but as I reflect back on those days, I am convinced that the decision to teach in those public schools was because St. Angela, seeing the need for educational opportunities in that little pocket of Catholicity in Kentucky, urged her daughters to “risk new things”. And it was there in the little hamlet of the “Burg” that I became acquainted with the spirit of St. Angela through the Sisters who taught me. I recall opportunities that were made available to me, not because of any obligation, but because the Sisters who taught me, inspired by the example of St. Angela, wanted to help me make the most of the talents God had given me. I recall Sr. Caroline Wathen, who taught me in 4th. and 5th. grades, and who, in the spirit of Angela, went the extra mile to learn how to teach phonics (a totally new subject area at the time) so she could teach it to us. To this day I still use the knowledge gained in that class. Recognizing that I had some artistic ability, she also gave me art lessons after school. I recall my 6th. grade teacher, Sr. Leona Willett, who challenged me with more advanced work when I had completed the assigned 6th. grade work. These, and so many other actions on the part of the Sisters who taught me I recognize as the spirit of Angela at work through them to help me be a better person.
If I was impressed by my observations of these Ursuline Sisters in the classroom, I was even more impressed by their dedication and faithfulness to their spiritual life. I offer one example: On any number of occasions, when I popped into Holy Trinity Church for a late afternoon short visit, I would observe the Sisters gathered in silent prayer. Even in the dead of winter, they were there, huddled near one of two coal stoves that were the only sources of heat for the church. The spirit of Angela was alive and well!
So what does it mean to me personally to be a Daughter of St. Angela? It means trying to live an authentic religious life and community life. It means doing what I can through my living and my teaching, to help others reach their full potential. It means doing the very best that I can in my teaching, going beyond the call of duty if someone needs credit in a course that isn’t being offered on the regular schedule, being a good listener when someone needs to talk things out, offering an encouraging word when someone is struggling, and trying to take the high road when myriad other things come up in the course of a day’s work. In short, to be a Daughter of St. Angela is to wholeheartedly live a Christian life.
Contributed by Sister Mary Diane Taylor, osu