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.
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.