MOUND CITY — This year’s St. Rose Philippine Duchesne award didn’t go to a single individual. R
ather, it went to a community of individuals: the Ursuline Sisters.
The Ursulines were recognized during a Mass on Nov. 22 celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City. The concelebrant was Father Reginald Saldanha, the pastor.
Members of St. Philip Neri Parish in Osawatomie and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in LaCygne were also present to honor the Sisters.
The archbishop congratulated the Sisters, saying Sacred Heart parishioners could not have made a better choice this year. He also noted how the Ursulines were instrumental in the Catholic education and faith formation of so many people in that area.
The connection between the Ursulines and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne dates back to 1818, when the saint spent two months with an Ursuline community when she arrived in Louisiana after leaving her native France.
Seventy-seven years later, an Ursuline community was founded in Paola, not too far from the area where St. Rose was a frontier missionary. After more than a century of service to Catholics in eastern Kansas, the Ursuline Sisters of Paola merged with the Ursulines of Mount St. Joseph in Maple Mount, Ky., this year.
The Ursulines of Paola fulfilled the saint’s vision of the expansion of Catholic education in east-central Kansas. At Sacred Heart and in other parishes, the Ursulines taught first Communion preparation, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes, and spent many summers conducting vacation Bible schools.
When Sacred Heart Church was built in 1940 after the beatification of the saint, the Ursulines painted murals and the Stations of the Cross.
“It is for this Duchesne spirit embodied in their service that we chose the Ursuline Sisters of Paola as the worthy recipients of the Duchesne Award,” said Father Saldanha.
“In gratitude for their tireless efforts in education in every part of this region and for the boundless love they have generously shared with the people,” he continued, “we joyfully recognize our beloved Sisters.”
A potluck dinner was held in the parish hall immediately following the Mass.