Ursuline Sisters Begin 150th Year of Service

By Michele Ristich Gatts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Three important projects are keeping Ursuline Sisters Mission busy.

The sisters are commemorating their 150th anniversary in the Mahoning Valley. Celebrations include an exhibit at the Tyler History Center in Youngstown and a new book.

“We commissioned local author Thomas G. Welsh to write ‘The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown: Serving the Mahoning Valley since 1874,’” says Sister Mary McCormick, general superior. “It’ll be available March 11 and is doing well in presales on Amazon.”

Construction is underway to turn part of the motherhouse on Shields Road into an assisted living facility, where both sisters and lay residents can find compassionate care and a vibrant, life-giving senior community.

“We’re making major updates to the space, including the installation of a comprehensive fire suppression system and the repurposing of administrative offices and other space to create more residential suites,” says Brigid Kennedy, president and CEO of Ursuline Sisters Mission.

Other ministry sites are overdue for safety upgrades, she says.

“The full cost of these renovations will be $6 million, half of which Ursuline Sisters Mission hopes to raise through our major gift campaign,” Kennedy says.

The Fullness of Life, Future of Hope Campaign seeks to raise $10 million. “Supporters have given or pledged $3 million to date,” she says. Besides the assisted living, portions will provide for program support and care of the Ursuline Sisters.

“Since 1874, the Ursuline Sisters have poured themselves out in service to the local church and local community, with little or no compensation,” Kennedy says. “With a median age of 80, they need our help.”

The National Religious Retirement office estimates a shortfall of up to $10 million for the funds needed to care for the sisters as they age, she reports. “We hope to raise $4 million for care of the sisters,” she says.

Ursuline Sisters Mission is also celebrating success in terms of human impact in 2023. Among its accomplishments, its Permanent Supportive Housing program in Mahoning County provided ongoing, safe housing to 55 households, comprising 65 adults and 43 children.

Ursuline Sisters Mission’s Immigrant Outreach program served 36 families, comprising 61 adults and 61 children.

“Our English Language Learning adults spent 1,804 hours in tutoring sessions, and our children spent hundreds of hours in tutoring,” Kennedy says. “Volunteers, many YSU students, contributed nearly 1,200 hours to the programs.”

Families also received wraparound services such as basic medical and dental care and access to food and clothing donations.

The sisters established Ursuline Sisters Mission in 2017 to oversee and strengthen their ministries and continue to provide leadership and support in the region.

USM employs more than 80 people locally.

Its programs include Ursuline Sisters Senior Living, Ursuline Education & Wellness, Beatitude House, Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry, USM Scholars, Immigrant Outreach and the USM Children’s Program. Through these programs, USM offers housing, food, health care, education, wellness, spirituality, advocacy, prayer and presence.