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Pruning in Winter

by Ian on March 2, 2008

My wife attended an Ursuline school when she was growing up. The school is now closed, the sisters gone, the property sold.

The Ursulines were one of the orders that went nuts after Vatican II and to this day has a blind spot about the reasons for their demise.

For some reason we receive "Laurels" which is the newsletter of the central province of Ursuline sisters. Every issue features pictures of sisters, none of whom can possibly be younger than 60. There are usually a couple of very old sisters still in habits but for the most part the sisters dress like any other ladies in their sixties.

The latest issue features an article about the closing of the Ursuline center in Crystal City, MO. The front of the newsletter featured a picture of the closing Mass presided over by the Sisters' chaplain of 37 years. The plain table altar was set on a mat outside of the sanctuary which still featured a high altar and communion rail. In one corner of the sanctuary was a circle of six meeting room chairs which I assume were used by the sisters. Not one sister in habit was to be seen.

The telling quote came from a sister talking about the closing ritual:

It was very prayerful and fit well together - not only a remembering of the past but a thrust to the future. Now, it is time to move on, and our symbolic journey to these sites so full of memories has helped us to let go.

I am hard pressed to guess what they may be thrusting towards since there are no novices, no postulants, and a dwindling supply of locations for them to live. Usually you think of a thrust being a move forward but it appears that the Ursulines, like many other orders, are thrusting blindly towards a cliff while refusing to acknowledge that their compass is broken.

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