Ursulines of North America
Company of St. Ursula of Canada
History of the Company of St. Ursula of Canada
Company of St. Ursula of Canada
209-340 Chemin Ste-Foy
Québec QC G1S 2J3
Tel & Fax: 418-681-4345
The Company of St. Ursula of Canada celebrated its 45th anniversary of foundation on May 23, 2012. It exists in Canada, the United States, and the Philippines. The Company belongs to the Federation, Company of St. Ursula, Secular Institute of St. Angela Merici.
After seventeen years in the Order of St. Ursula, established in Quebec in 1639 by Marie of the Incarnation, in 1965 the Canadian foundress, Jacqueline Morin of Rimouski, Province of Quebec, requested and received a transfer to the Company of St. Ursula of Brescia, Italy. The Company is the original form of Ursuline life.
Bishop Luigi Morstabilini, then bishop of Brescia as well as the ecclesiastical authority for the mother Company there, gave her, when she returned to Canada, the mission of beginning a group of the Company, which was approved by Rome in 1967. In October 1967, a religious of the Holy Cross from Montreal, whom she had met in Rome, became the ecclesiastical assistant with the permission of his superior. With his help, the foundress could now receive members.
The first person to join was a young woman of Montmagny, whom the foundress had met during an educators’ conference in Quebec. She was admitted in the spring of 1968. That summer, after a Better World retreat, the Company joyfully welcomed two members of the Auxiliaries of the Clergy of Montreal. Another of their group followed them to the Company in 1969. The same year, an Ursuline of Rimouski arrived, transferring from the Order to the Company. By the end of 1969, the Company had five members, plus the foundress.
At Christmastime 1968, a request reached Rimouski, the place of the Canadian Company’s foundation (made under the authority of Auxiliary Bishop Louis Lévesque), from a young Sicilian Ursuline who had made perpetual consecration and had emigrated with her family to Buffalo, New York. With the permission of her Sicilian directress, she was integrated into the Canadian group on February 3, 1972.
A year later, a former religious of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary presented herself in turn in 1973.
In 1974, an Italian member of a Company in Italy, who had emigrated to the United States, was presented by her Italian superior. She was then living alone. It was a great joy to her to receive us in her apartment in Rochester, New York, not far from Buffalo. “It’s Saint Angela coming to me!” she exclaimed as she welcomed me. On April 24, 1974, another Italian, also an emigrant who had come with her family to Toronto, Canada, joined the Company, bringing the number of members to eight living in Canada or the USA, plus the foundress.
Little by little, new members joined in Quebec; several have died since. Then an Ursuline of Bruno, Saskatchewan, transferred to Brescia and settled in Toronto on her return home. With Angela Alaimo, the Italian who was already in Toronto, and the members who joined them, she gave birth to a group in this city. Until the present, Quebec has remained the official center of the secular Ursulines in Canada and the United States.
They live the original formula of St. Angela’s daughters, specifically: There is no central house. Each one lives alone or with family members or with friends. Therefore, there is no common life, a setting that has sometimes been a bridge into religious life; certain existing congregations began as Ursulines in the world. Like every ordinary lay person, each one receives a salary for her work or a pension if she has retired, funds which she uses for her own support while also making a monthly contribution to the Institute.
According to the tradition of our institute, our first apostolate is helping our families. At the same time, we serve in our local parishes.
With the arrival of a woman from California and an Ursuline of Cincinnati, the United States of America could now form a true group, with an Italian already living there (the older one having already died) and two members who had entered in 1983 and 2003, respectively. Two newer arrivals include a young Haitian who lives with her relatives in New York six months of the year.
Later, a Filipina came to Toronto to spend time with her daughter there and was invited by the local leader to meet the Company. She was deeply interested in introducing our Institute to her country. With permission granted, a good group of members already form the first foreign mission of the Company of St. Ursula of Canada.
The Company maintains frequent contacts with a certain number of Italian Companies, principally by an exchange of bulletins, including the bulletin for recollection and continuing formation prepared by the vice-directress and issued monthly, October to May, in French and in English, or by visits during travels in Italy.
In Canada, we participate in meetings of the Canadian Conference of Secular Institutes and in gatherings organized for institutes of consecrated life.
To be in touch with the people around us, for 25 years we have maintained a bond in the form of a monthly bulletin titled The Friends of Saint Angela Merici. Based on these bulletins, we have published two books, one in French (Angela Merici: A Saint of Yesterday for Today) and the other in Italian (With Angela in the Footsteps of Jesus).
And now we are en route to our 50th anniversary. Several of us will surely not see that day. But the successors who advance enthusiastically on the path of Saint Angela and her Company, which they have chosen in response to their call, will know how to celebrate it, we trust, with the numerous new secular Ursulines still to come.
Countries where the Company is present
Canada, USA, Philippines
1 gennaio 2012