YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Anyone experiencing upper respiratory symptoms must mask at Ursuline Sisters Mission sites and masks are always required in the sisters’ motherhouse.
Also, those with symptoms are asked to test for COVID-19.
“That’s a new normal for our ministry sites,” says Brigid Kennedy, president and CEO of Ursuline Sisters Mission. “Likewise, if anyone has close contacts who are sick, we ask they watch for symptoms and consider masking to protect others.”
Offering COVID-vaccine booster and flu shot clinics also is standard.
“Since people we serve experience compromised health, low access to health care and nutritious food, or are elderly, it’s important that our employees and volunteers don’t compound threats to their well being,” Kennedy says.
Ursuline Sisters Mission was created by the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown in 2016 to oversee and strengthen their ministries and provide support in the Mahoning Valley long into the future.
Major ministries include Beatitude House, with sites in Youngstown and Ashtabula, Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry, with sites in Youngstown and Canfield, Ursuline Education & Wellness Center, Ursuline Sisters Senior Living and Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten, all at the Shields Road campus in Canfield.
“We’ve undergone major and complicated restructuring recently. But our goals remain simple – to better meet the needs of people we serve and to continue the vitality of our ministries,” Kennedy says.
Ursuline Sisters Mission now contains shared services teams for finance, human resources, development, and mission/equity/resilience.
“Instead of each ministry managing those functions separately, these teams now share resources, working across all ministries,” Kennedy says. “USM also absorbed several [education outreach] programs. These include Ursuline Sisters Scholars and Immigrant Outreach, formerly under Beatitude House, as well as the children’s programs of the HIV/AIDS Ministry and Beatitude House.”
Beatitude House is more focused on permanent supportive housing sites, a three-bedroom emergency shelter and furniture warehouse in Mahoning County, and transitional housing in Ashtabula, Kennedy says.
“Merici Housing, formerly part of our HIV/AIDS ministry, moved under Beatitude House to better coordinate services for clients with housing needs,” she adds.
New this year, Kennedy says, are plans to add assisted living to the independent senior housing program.
“Our draft plan involves converting the sisters’ current living space plus some other areas in the motherhouse to assisted living suites for the sisters and others, generating important supportive income,” she says. “This will allow the sisters to remain at home at the motherhouse longer, expand staffing, and keep the building available for the sisters and ministries.”
Ursuline Sisters Mission has more than 100 employees and dozens of volunteers. They join 28 Ursuline sisters and nearly 100 Ursuline associates in service, especially to the poor and disadvantaged.
Investments to service sites include more than $100,000 in repairs and upgrades to the motherhouse pool in 2022, according to Sister Mary McCormick, general superior.
“Our pool is used almost daily, with hundreds of local people visiting each month,” McCormick says. “We offer exercise classes. It’s used by a physical therapy office. We also have private swim lessons.”
A fire-suppression system is being installed at the Canfield campus this year.
2023 brings several milestones for the organization. In January the HIV ministry marked its 30th anniversary and the senior living program its 10th. A yearlong celebration to commemorate the Sisters’ 150th anniversary in the Mahoning Valley begins in September.
“Local author Tom Welsh is writing a book about all the good Ursuline Sisters have accomplished locally since our 1874 founding,” McCormick says. “We’ve signed a contract with History Press, which looks to publish the book late in 2023.”