In the early 1500’s, the pace of change was quickening throughout the world. Developments in technology and travel were sweeping the globe and few were unaffected by the rapid change going on in many places. For example, the printing press was invented, sea travel to distant places was newly possible, new forms of government were popping up in some places, and so many other “developments” were witnessed for the first time.
One thing which accompanied all this change was new challenges to family-life. With people more mobile and demands on human labor ever-increasing, the stable, united family was becoming more and more threatened. In the midst of all of this, St. Angela Merici rose up and proposed a solution: educate young women who will become mothers and grandmothers one day. Her motivation was to shape and mold the minds and hearts of young women – because they would one day be entrusted with handing on faith, morals, and a concern for care to future generations.
Eventually, St. Angela and 12 other women began the Company of St. Ursula, named for a patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women. This constituted a new way of life: single women consecrated to Christ and living in the world rather than in a monastery. With St. Angela as their “mother,” Company members did not live in community, wore no special clothing, and made no formal vows. Most importantly, they gave their lives in service to the girls and young women entrusted to their care. The Ursuline Sisters are still active throughout the world and they still maintain their “education mission.” St. Angela herself often testified to the “great power of God – who does His work through us.”