Ursuline Academy recently celebrated their Class of 2023 graduates. Each year, a student is chosen to do the Reflection at the Baccalaureate Mass. This year, Ella Anderson had that honor. Her reflection captures the essence of an Ursuline Education and what makes Ursuline special as a community. She grounded her reflection in her faith. While we may sometimes wonder if our Catholic identity is apparent with the broader community, or what that means to some, Ella did a wonderful job of sharing the impact her faith and UA had on her journey.
We want to thank Ella for this beautiful reflection and for allowing us to share it with all of you.
"My whole life I have attended a Catholic school, but I wasn’t originally supposed to be in Catholic education. My parents enrolled me at IHM because they needed a full-time kindergarten, but the plan was to send me to public school after it. However, my parents quickly fell in love with the community, and the rest is history.
When my parents told me that story, I was always confused about what they meant by the community at a Catholic school, and how that was any different from other schools, private and public. It wasn’t until I got to Ursuline that I fully became aware of just how impactful a catholic education and community was to me. In grade school, while I was taught the Bible and the saints, I also was taught Catholic values, like love, service, respect, and gratitude.
At Ursuline, these Catholic values were also all around me. And while not everyone at my school was Catholic, we all chose this school because we share those values, and those values make our community. We are our best selves when we surround ourselves with people who share similar ideals and values, and that is exactly what Ursuline is. It’s a unique community filled with loving, giving, and supportive individuals. It is through the people at Ursuline that I have come to know God better. We see the goodness of God in the actions and lives of others. My classmates have shown me joy and spirit, through our grade activities like Spirit Week or the laughter we shared in the microp. My teammates have shown me the power of coming together and encouragement, and they’ve helped me believe I am capable. Through my teachers, I’ve been shown great love and support.
The entire community experiences a connection of faith too. We see the hands and feet of Jesus through our community ministries, in our service and retreats. Like most seniors, I had the opportunity to attend Kairos, and it was a life-changing experience for both my faith and my relationships with others. For the first time, I fully began to understand the beauty of everyone’s differing faith relationships with God and the true love and community we share with each other. I loved Kairos so much that I became a leader, and I once again learned more about myself and others.
The Ursuline education is rooted in the Catholic faith, but also in the values of Saint Angela. I have always thought Saint Angela was pretty cool, and I even chose her as my confirmation saint way before I decided to come to Ursuline. I guess it was a sign. Back then, I chose her as my confirmation saint, not just because of her emphasis on girls' education, but also her love and duty to serve the world around her. One of my favorite quotes by her is, "Be bound together by the bonds of charity, respecting one another, helping and supporting each other." This quote defines the values I try to live my life by, and I think it accurately describes the community of Ursuline.
As I prepare to leave Ursuline and embark on the next chapter of my life, I carry with me the gifts of faith and community. Ursuline has provided me with the tools to stay grounded in my beliefs and values, and I am forever grateful to have been a part of this amazing community."
—Ella Anderson, UA Class of 2023