In 1535, Saint Angela Merici, a spiritual leader in Brescia, Italy founded the Company of Saint Ursula. Under the guidance of Saint Angela, a group of twelve women worked to raise the standards of society by the example of their lives and the practice of spiritual values. They dedicated themselves to helping the poor, visiting the sick and instructing young women in family values. Later St. Angela's foundation became the first teaching order of Sisters in the Church. Ursulines draw spiritual nourishment from Saint Angela’s Rule, Counsels and Legacies.
The Beginning of the Ursulines of Tildonk
All Ursuline throughout the world trace their roots to Saint Angela Merici. In 1818 Reverend John Lambertz, the parish priest in Tildonk, Belgium, founded a new branch – the Ursulines of Tildonk. From Belgium the Ursulines of Tildonk expanded into other parts of Europe and Indonesia. Today they minister in Belgium, India, Canada, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire and most recently Guyana.
The Founding of the US Province
In 1924 the pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary located in Ozone Park, New York, visited the tomb of Saint 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. They arrived in Ozone Park for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, 1924. Over time, other convents in New York and Connecticut were opened and Sisters first taught in Elementary then high schools. With the changes in the church and the challenges of Vatican II the ministries of the sisters expanded beyond education to social justice, spirituality, social work and pastoral ministries.
The Blue Point Convent
The Sisters purchased the Joseph Senger estate in Blue Point, Long Island, New York in 1935 and relocated the novitiate, which had previously been 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, 1982, Saint Ursula Center was dedicated as a retirement home for the sisters and a retreat center for spiritual development. Today St. Ursula Center is primarily a place of retirement and care of our older sisters.