Students who attend Saint Ursula Academy (SUA) are committed to building a better world through faith in action. Transforming students into women of faith, integrity, and courage is part of the school’s mission, and that mission is in full force as evidenced by the countless ways these values are put into practice.
“I feel that through COVID-19, our teens and adults have become much more resolute about having faith in action in our lives,” says SUA President Lelia Keefe Kramer. “I think much of it comes from a sense of loneliness and uncertainty because in those times is when we draw on our faith.”
The school offers several opportunities for the girls to get involved. Truly, there is something for everyone.
“What we are always challenged by is that many different girls have many different interests,” says Keefe Kramer. “Faith in action, done well, allows the girls to find something they are passionate about and attach themselves to it.”
As such, the school hosts a community service fair.
“It’s astounding how many of the girls sign up for community service. Most do it all four years,” says Keefe Kramer. “We had one student last year do more than 400 hours of community service! What we consistently find is the girls have all leaned into community service at one level or another.”
For instance, Bulldog Buddies has students tutoring younger children in math, science, spelling, and other subjects. The girls also help host the school’s annual Food Drive and Personal Care Drive.
“These community service opportunities become silver linings for our community. It not only helps from a spiritual standpoint to dig deep within our faith, but it also helps us from an emotional standpoint to recognize that whatever emotions we have within ourselves, it’s good to share them in a positive way with thosewho may be feeling the same,” says Keefe Kramer says Keefe Kramer. “Teens have a better grasp of that than adults do.”
Keefe Kramer and her staff enjoy watching their students play out faith in action in real time, recognizing the value of patience, positivity, and resilience—all things that play into faith.
“Our girls have an innate ability to recognize that brighter days are ahead,” says Keefe Kramer.
The pandemic has been hard on everybody but Keefe Kramer has been inspired to be in a community where students’ faith in action has spread to adults.
“When you’re having a bad day and you see a group of girls loading food into a car to take to someone who doesn’t have any, you feel a sense of hope,” says Keefe Kramer. “These girls are out there making the best of a rough situation by recognizing that there are those who have less than they do, and that’s a life lesson for all of us.”
Empty Bowls was created to raise money and awareness about combatting hunger in the region. Girls in art class craft beautiful pieces of pottery, then host a soup luncheon potluck in which students, families, faculty, and staff bring soup and bread. After everyone shares a meal, the empty bowls are sold, and the proceeds benefit a local nonprofit.
“It’s a great opportunity to see faith in action from the very beginning of the girls holding a piece of clay in their hands to the last step of nourishing someone’s body and soul,” says Keefe Kramer.
This year the school was awarded the Archdiocesan Laudato Si Award for its programs to care for the earth, specifically its school-wide recycling/composting/upcycling program. The school added shade sails to the East Quad to allow students a covered area to spend reflection time.
“That’s been the silver lining to COVID-19!” says Keefe Kramer. “You can’t believe how many girls don’t mind the cold weather when they have an opportunity to go outside and sit in fresh air!”
Living out faith in action in high school often translates to life-long service.
“I think that having organic opportunities of community service and faith in action speak volumes. When the girls are given an opportunity to do things that make others’ lives better, they always say ‘yes,” says Keefe Kramer. “When you have a faith compass in your life, you are naturally called to help others. And from a soul standpoint, you can’t help but feel great when you know that the life of someone else is being touched by the goodness of you.”
St. Ursula Academy is located at 1339 E. McMillan Street, Cincinnati, OH 45206. For more information, call 513-961-3410 or visit saintursula.org.