Do something, get moving, risk new things, stick with it. Then, be ready for big surprises.
Ursulines worldwide are committed to education, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. Inspired by the life and charism of St. Angela Merici and Father John Lambertz, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk have devoted our lives to the mission of the Universal Church. Making God known and loved, our ministries continue to meet the changing needs of God’s people.
Today, February 8th, is the birthday of our Congregational Founder, Father John Lambertz. The Mass for our Prayer Enrollment Intentions was celebrated this morning at St. William the Abbot Church in Seaford, NY. We also wish a very happy birthday to Sr. Mary Lou Tressy, OSU.
We are blessed to share with you this reflection on the birthday of Father John Lambertz by Sr. Laurentine Morgan, OSU:
Father John Lambertz
Founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk
In January we celebrated the feast of Saint Angela Merici, our beloved “Madre”, founder of the Order of Saint Ursula, also known as Ursulines, in 1535 Brescia, Italy. On February 8, one Congregation of Sisters within the great family of the Ursuline Order celebrates the birthday of the Reverend John Lambertz, founder of the Ursuline Sisters of the Congregation of Tildonk.
John Cornelius Martin Lambertz was born in Hoogstraten, a town in the province of Antwerp, on February 8, 1785. At the time, the place we now know as Belgium was not yet a country, but a territory under the authority of Holland. This was a turbulent time leading to hostilities, great financial burdens, religious persecutions, deep hatreds, and great moral decay, a result of the aftermath of the French Revolution that permeated much of Europe.
In 1812, as a newly ordained priest, John Lambertz was appointed as the parochial vicar at the Tildonk parish of Saint John the Baptist. Thus began his lifelong journey of service, not only to the local people of the village of Tildonk, but in time stretching across the neighboring countries of Holland, Germany, England and eventually across the globe.
As a priest, John Lambertz was an exemplary example of simplicity, humility, and kindness with unfailing faith, qualities that attracted others to him and therefore to his mission – to make God known and loved. This became his life’s work. Recognizing the extreme effects that this tumultuous time had on his parishioners, Father Lambertz set about helping to improve the conditions that touched their lives. He started simply. The needs of the parish were such that he discerned it would be best to begin by doing something for the youth of the parish who were badly in need of both nutritional and spiritual nourishment. With the simple, humble assistance of three young women, Father Lambertz embarked on a mission to nourish the young members of the parish with what was needed for the health of both body and soul: providing food and spiritual instruction to assist them in moving forward with their lives. Thus, the embryo of what was to develop into the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk was conceived.
John Lambertz was a man with a contemplative heart. He searched for God by seeking him through his prayer, through his work and through his relationships with others. His spirituality founded on “Love” grounded in simplicity, humility, and kindness while energized by prayer, fasting and sacrifice was profoundly genuine. His personal experience of coming to know God as “Love” generated an inner desire to share that experience with others. This compelled him to spend his entire priesthood in maintaining his union with God, while the divine energy of that union carried the experience of God’s love to others. This became his life’s mission – making God known and loved as he had come to know and love God.
Father John Lambertz, after laboring untiringly for more than 50 years as a priest and pastor of his little parish, died May 12, 1869 in Tildonk, Belgium. His life, spirituality and charism continue to inspire, influence and challenge who we are as Ursuline Sisters and Associates of Tildonk today.
Laurentine Morgan, osu
Feb. 8, 2021
Thank you to all who celebrated Mass with us today, on the Feast of St. Angela (founder of the Ursulines), January 27 at 1p.m., at St. William the Abbot Church, Seaford. During this Mass, we prayed especially for our Prayer Enrollment Intentions. You can view the pre-recorded Live Stream of the Mass here:
Below is a Reflection on the spirituality of St. Angela Merici by Sister Catherine Talia, O.S.U. Her written reflection is included under the video.
Saint Angela, Woman of Love
A Reflection on the History and Spirituality of St. Angela
For the Feast of St. Angela Merici – January 27, 2021
By Sr. Catherine Talia, O.S.U.
Angela Merici was born around 1474 in Desenzano on Lake Garda in northern Italy. She began her life in a loving, pious family but at a young age she and her brother were left orphaned and sent to live with an uncle in Salo. We might assume that her parents and sister died of the plague that was afflicting Italy at the time. After the death of her sister, Angela had a vision while at prayer of a ladder going to heaven with many virgins ascending the ladder. The vision showed her that she would one day gather a group of virgins in Brescia. This was the foundational moment for the creation of the company of Saint Ursula many years later in Brescia.
Let’s put Angela Merici’s life in the context of her own history and culture.—Renaissance Italy was at a time of political upheaval, experiencing growing respect for the glory of humanity together with increasing moral decay. Religious life as well as families seemed to be falling apart, regional wars were common and brutal. Disease destroyed both human dignity and the bonds of community. It was a time of war, violence, disease, political rivalry, and inequality—not unlike our own. Angela lived in the midst of this and spent most of her life trying to respond to it in a relational, loving, bold and just way. While in Salo, Angela became a Third Order Franciscan. This led her to accept an assignment in Brescia to console a wealthy woman, Caterina Pentagoli, who had lost her husband to war. During almost 40 years Angela was a pilgrim to many holy sites, Venice, Milan, Rome, the Holy Land and Varalo while working with the poor, sick and needy in Brescia especially women and children. Angela saw a need and responded to it. In the Prologue to her Counsels, the words she directed to her local leaders of the Company, she writes, “Act, move, believe, strive, hope, cry out to God with all your heart, for without doubt you will see marvelous things, if you direct everything to the praise and glory of God’s majesty and the good of souls.” One of the key words all through her life was “harmony”. In her Last Counsel she says “My last word to you, by which I implore you even with my blood, is that you live in harmony, united together, all of one heart and one will. Be bound to one another by the bond of charity, esteeming each other, helping each other, bearing with each other in Jesus Christ. Imagine what our world would be like today if we strived to put these words into practice in our own local circumstances.
Angela’s spirituality reflected a great openness to the inspirations of the Spirit, which guided her life and her work. In chapter 8 of her Rule she states, “And above all: to obey the counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit unceasingly sends into our hearts, the Spirit whose voice we shall hear all the more clearly as we have our own conscience more purified and clean. For the Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us all truth.” Angela’s open personality attracted people to her. She was like a piazza. If you have ever been to Mexico or to Italy you know that a piazza is where people gather to share life. Angela was that piazza to all who came into her life. In her Second Legacy she writes, “And it will be impossible for you not to cherish them day and night, and to have them all engraved in your heart, one by one, for this is how real love acts and works.” She encouraged everyone to be a piazza. Several years ago, reflecting on this aspect of Angela as a piazza I wrote this:
Engraved on her heart
Each one—the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the well, the incurable.
How large a heart and hospitable a woman
Respect in her heart
For each one—the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the well, the incurable
How receptive a heart.
Fire in her heart.
For each one—the rich, the poor, the educated, the well, the incurable.
How loving a heart.
Am I willing today to allow life’s circumstances to keep stretching my heart, so that my love might expand beyond my present circle to include people that I don’t especially like? Those who have hurt me. How broad is my capacity to love? Can I be open to all who step into my space? Angela’s life was totally relational—to God, to the members of her Company and to all people and circumstances that came into her life. She spent her night in prayer in relationship with her Spouse and her days in acts of love to people. In the Seventh Counsel Angela offers this timely advice, “For in these perilous and pestilential times, you will find no other recourse than to take refuge at the feet of Jesus Christ. Because if he directs and teaches you, you will be well taught….”
Today, we, the Ursuline Sisters and Associates of Tildonk, in our Vision Statement, say that we are dedicated to radical gospel living. Energized by the spirit and example of St. Angela, we dare to effect change in ourselves, our church and in our society by standing with the economically poor, especially women and children. We have done this in the US for 96 years. Our numbers may be small, but our spirit is great. Our world still needs us, perhaps more than ever, and we look to our mother, Angela, for continued guidance. Her parting words to us were, “So persevere faithfully and joyfully in the work you have begun. And take care, take care I say not to lose your fervor, for every promise that I make to you will be fulfilled for you beyond measure.” Happy Feast day!
Sr. Catherine Talia is a former Provincial of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk. She had the opportunity to spend extended time in Brescia and Desenzano over the years studying the history and spirituality of St. Angela. She currently volunteers with Pronto, a community service agency in North Bay Shore, and is community liaison for the Ursuline Sisters who reside at Maria Regina Residence.
History and Spirituality of St. Angela Merici
In 1535, Saint Angela Merici, a spiritual leader in Brescia, Italy, founded the Company of Saint Ursula, which later became the first teaching order of Sisters in the Church. Under the guidance of St. Angela, a group of 12 women worked to raise the standards of society by the example of their lives and the practice of spiritual values. Ursulines draw spiritual nourishment from St. Angela’s rule, counsels, and legacies.
Here are some quotes from St. Angela for reflection and inspiration:
“Learn from our Lord, who…was as a servant, obeying the Eternal Father even unto death.”
– Saint Angela Merici (from the first Counsel)
“Let them have Jesus Christ for their only treasure, for there also will be love.”
– Saint Angela Merici (from the 5th Counsel)
“Always let your principal recourse be to gather at the feet of Jesus Christ and…Jesus Christ will be in your midst.”
– Saint Angela Merici (from the last Legacy)
“Be bound to one another by the bond of charity, esteeming each other, helping each other, bearing with each other.”
– Saint Angela Merici (from the last Counsel)
“Above all, obey the counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit continually sends into the heart.”
-Saint Angela Merici (from the Rule Chapter 8)
St. Angela, Pray for Us
This September the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province congratulate our 2020 Jubilarians, honoring these women for their lifetime of service dedicated to God.
Celebrating 70 Years
Sr. Teresita Catalano, OSU
Sr. Mary James Fox, OSU
Sr. Mary Grace Hodnett, OSU
Celebrating 60 Years
Sr. Denise Farrands, OSU
Sr. Bridget Olwell, OSU
Sr. Janet Schreiner, OSU
Sr. Alice Traynor, OSU
Please click here to read more about our 2020 Jubilarians.
We invite you to join us in wishing a happy anniversary to these extraordinary women. If you would like to send a card to any of the Sisters you may do so through our Province Office: 8115 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11432.
September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Ursuline Sisters have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows dating back to when our Founder, Father John Lambertz, enrolled the first women of the Congregation in the Society of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. He encouraged the women to pray for Our Blessed Mother Mary’s intercession in the opening of the first convent/school in Tildonk, Belgium, after a government decree had stopped its construction. On March 20th, 1823, the Thursday of Passion Week, the Curé of Tildonk received government approval to resume building. Father Lambertz was able to complete the construction that had been started, and reopen the classes. With gratitude to God and to Mother Mary invoked under the title of her Seven Sorrows he announced: “May thanks and devotion to Our Lady of Seven Sorrows be forever preserved and perpetuated in our society!”Our Lady suffered deeply as the Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we seek her consolation for all who are suffering due to the worldwide Coronavirus tragedy. Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we ask our Blessed Mother for intercessory help yet again. We ask Mary to intercede on our behalf to her son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray for healing for all those suffering from the worldwide Coronavirus tragedy and an end to all this suffering.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
St. Angela Merici, pray for us.
Father John Lambertz, pray for us.
U.S. Province Celebrates 96th Anniversary!
Today the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk joyfully celebrate 96 years of ministry in the United States. In 1924 Mother Stanislaus and her Sisters, who had been ministering in Canada, accepted the challenge of a new mission in New York. On September 8th of that year they arrived at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ozone Park. The following year the Sisters also began teaching at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, and from there branched out to Long Island, Connecticut and beyond, even so far as Africa.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since we held our 95th anniversary celebration. It was a wonderful day celebrated with family and friends who gathered to be with us. Looking back at how the world has changed so much since then, we are even more grateful that we had this opportunity to be together.
Anniversaries give us the opportunity to look to the past with gratitude, live in the present moment and plan for the future with hope and joy. We know there are challenges in our nation, our world, and our church, but we move ahead doing what we can, at this time in the life of our Province. Our Sisters in active ministry continue to provide hope and love as they serve those in need, while our retired Sisters continue to pray for you and your intentions, as well as for peace in our world.
We are deeply grateful to all of you who have supported our ministries and supported our retired Sisters. We hope we’ve made a difference in your lives through the witness of our life profoundly rooted in God, as we strive to make God known and loved each day. We will continue to adapt to the needs of the times and be messengers of joy, peace and hope. We hope you will continue to walk with us in our mission!
“Act, move, believe, strive, hope, cry out to Him with all your heart, for without doubt, you will see marvelous things.” – St. Angela Merici
Ursulines throughout the world trace their roots to St. Angela Merici. In 1535, Angela Merici, a spiritual leader in Brescia, Italy founded the Company of St. Ursula. Angela gathered a circle of twelve women who shared her vocation and dedication to helping the poor, visiting the sick and instructing young women in family values. An independent thinker, Angela created an alternative future for young women for whom a patriarchal society offered only marriage or monastic life. Later, St. Angela’s foundation became the first teaching order of Sisters in the Church. Angela Merici died on January 27, 1540 and was canonized St. Angela in 1807.
In 1818, Father John Lambertz, the parish priest in Tildonk, Belgium, founded a new branch, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk. From Belgium, the Ursulines of Tildonk expanded into parts of Europe and Indonesia. Today, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk minister in Belgium, India, Canada, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire and most recently, Guyana.
In 1924, the pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ozone Park, New York, visited the tomb of St. Angela in Brescia, Italy and prayed for Sisters to staff his school. Shortly after, four Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk and two lay women traveled from Canada to the United States. On September 8, 1924, they arrived in Ozone Park for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Soon after, convents in New York and Connecticut began to open for the Sisters who taught in elementary and high schools. With the changes in the Church and the challenges of Vatican II, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk expanded their ministries beyond education to social justice, social work and pastoral ministries.
In 1935, the Sisters purchased the Joseph Senger estate in Blue Point, New York and relocated the novitiate, previously in Ozone Park, to this new site. When the original building was destroyed by fire in 1980, the Province erected a new convent. On January 3, 1983, St. Ursula Center was dedicated as a retirement home for the Sisters and a retreat center for spiritual development. In 2016, due to financial stress, the congregation decided it was necessary to sell the St. Ursula Center. In early 2019, St. Ursula Center was sold to the Bayport/Blue Point Library.
From the beginning, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk have moved from Italy to Belgium, Canada, the United States, India, Congo and Guyana to meet the changing needs of God’s people. Our physical location has always been secondary to our commitment to serve society’s most vulnerable. With 32 Sisters in the U.S. Province, most of our Sisters are above the traditional retirement age. A self-supporting religious community with little financial support from the Catholic Church, we are preparing to face the financial challenges of an uncertain future. With a deep and abiding faith in God, we remain confident that as we stay true to our mission, our next chapter will unfold with joy and hope.