Times and Circumstances

“If, according to times and circumstances, the need arises to make new rules or do something differently, do it prudently and with good advice…,” St. Angela told the Company’s leaders in her last Legacy. Her words ring in my
21st-century ears.

Angela modified her plans in response to a need that had arisen. On March 19, 1537, she gathered 59 daughters in her kitchen (really, really crowded!). Her friend Girolamo Patengola had recently died and left them a bequest. But the new Company’s Rule did not provide for anyone who could legally represent them to receive it. Angela must have realized that further needs for a designated representative would also arise.

She and her daughters must have followed the process outlined in that Last Legacy with prudence and good advice… “always let your principal recourse be to gather at the feet of Jesus Christ, and there, all of you, with all your daughters, offer most fervent prayers.” Next step: election. They unanimously elected Angela “Mother, minister, and treasurer for life.”

In her Testament we find more clues about Angela’s responsiveness to emerging needs, such as what to do when a member goes astray or when one leaves the Company and wishes to re-enter.

Ursulines of Tildonk in India

For 480 years, in changing times and circumstances, her daughters have drawn on her wisdom with creative adaptations: living together in Milan to care for girls at risk, adopting monastic religious life as educators in France, launching apostolic missions in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Local Italian Companies reconfigured themselves into today’s global Federation.

And the 21st century? The Company is growing most vigorously in Africa. Some Italian members have inspired me by saying, “St. Angela is going to new parts of the world.” What needs will arise and call us to “do something differently”?

Company of St. Ursula of Congo. 2016

With prudence and good advice, together in prayer at the feet of Jesus Christ, we try to respond creatively to the Company’s experiences in Kenya, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Madagascar….


Leave a Reply