Dear Sisters, Associates and friends,

Last night, as I walked across the now-empty campus where our Motherhouse and Sacred Heart Schools sit, I pictured in my minds’ eye the little preschoolers, the jostling model school students on the playground, and the young women of the Academy dashing from one building to the next. It is so quiet on campus, you can only hear the birds and of course, the construction work that continues on the Motherhouse.

In addition to the schools on campus being closed, our Sisters have had to postpone a very important governance meeting that only takes place every six years. Workshops, retreats and meetings have also been cancelled, which has been disappointing, but necessary. All of this adds to the empty feeling on campus.

As I got in my vehicle to drive home, I was struck by how empty the streets are. None of the usual hustle and bustle of rush hour. I found myself praying for all of the now empty restaurants, shops and their employees, wondering how they will get through this crisis.

Yes, we are in crisis. This is a pandemic of unprecedented proportions in most of our memories. The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville do, however, have a history with pandemics. Along with many other religious communities, we served at Camp Taylor right here in Louisville in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed over 50 million people. We cared for the sick soldiers at great risk to our own health, with several of our number falling ill.

We did not give up hope then, and we will not give up hope now.

The season of Lent is a time of penance, of fasting, of being connected to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Through our prayers and actions, we connect with those on the margins, those who will be hit the hardest during this crisis. We pray for those infected, and the caregivers, as well as, those on the front lines battling this disease.

We ask our God to give us strength, to guide us through these dark days. We see the blossoms of spring and remember the beautiful children that will fill our campus again, and we have hope.

We remember our foundress, Saint Angela Merici, and her words, ‘Have faith and keep up your courage.’ We ask for her intercession, and we continue to keep all of you in prayer. Together, let us keep hope alive.

Sister Janet M. Peterworth, OSU
President, Ursuline Sisters of Louisville