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.
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. The St. Ursula Center is in contract to sell the center 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 36 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.