I am Sister Ursula Horan. At present I am the Parish Sister in St. Dominic’s Priory Church in London having worked in St. Cuthbert Mayne School, St. Michael’s School in Garston and St. Richard’s in Bexhill. The Parish in which I work, St. Dominic’s ,is very varied. We work in teams with many devoted parishioners. We visit the sick in their homes, help with groups in the schools, and have Catechetical sessions for Baptisms, First Communion, for children attending non Catholic schools, Confirmation and R.C.I.A. We have Jumble sales to raise funds for the maintenance of the Church. These Jumble Sales are also places where people can meet over a cup of tea and buy all sorts of goods at reasonable prices. We have a Children’s Liturgy at the 10.am Mass each Sunday. This is run by parents and Dominicans who meet to plan each session. The children come early for Mass and practice the Role play and prayers etc. Sometimes the children with the help of Parents host the Liturgy. The Children’s Liturgy covers what is going on in the Church but at the children’s level. We have special Liturgies for special occasions. I go to Pastoral Meetings, Deanery Meetings and any other Meetings to do with the Parish.
How I became a Dominican
When I was in Secondary School I decided I would like to become a Missionary. One of the Sisters in my Secondary School., St. Vincent’s Convent in Cork City, was a great inspiration to me. She encouraged us to help the Missions by decorating cards, selling them and giving the money to the Missions. There was a doll beautifully dressed which was on a pedestal in the entrance to the Dominican Church. There was a box with a slit in it into which we put our pennies. The fascinating thing for us was that when we put in our pennies the doll nodded her head as if to say “Thank you”. We loved this and made our way to the Church when any one of us had a penny we were willing to part with. The whole exercise made us aware of the Church in other countries that needed help. To become a missionary was fine as long as I did not have to do anything about it! As time went by the thought of becoming a missionary pestered me a lot so I felt that I had to do something about it. It did not suit me. I would have preferred if the thought had gone away. I was quite happy the way I was. I remember going into St. Mary’s Dominican Church in the city and kneeling in the last seat hoping God would not hear me! It was the summer of 1953. I told God I would do all I could to go to a convent but if I was not gone by September I would not give it a second thought ever again. I now had to push myself and I was not very keen. It scared me.
My first cousin Brendan had gone the year before to Tallaght to become a Dominican. I wrote to him for advice. He wrote back ‘Be a Dominican’. He told me to go to St. Mary’s and see a Dominican. This I did and he sent me to what we called in Cork ‘Blair’s Castle’ which was our house in Cork. Here I met Sister Vianney and Sr. Dominic Walsh who were going to Rosary Priory. I entered Rosary Priory with them on 8th September 1953. My mother never really liked the idea of me becoming a sister but my father was quite happy about it.
I found entering religious life very difficult. It was so different to the life I had left at home. I felt it was God’s work and not mine and I struggled with this for a long time. I sometimes wonder whether some personalities are more suited to religious life than others. However here I am still living a Dominican life.
What gives me Joy and Hope?
Joy and Hope in my life have to do with people. I have met some wonderful people in my life. People who are generous to a fault; people suffering dreadful hurts and tragedies with patience and forgiveness; old people coming to Mass when they can barely walk and thanking God for the privilege of getting there; little children’s faces as they come up for a Blessing during the distribution of Holy Communion; teenagers who are as good as gold; the Faith and conviction of people who come to the R.C.I.A programme full of awe at their calling; people who pray constantly and firmly believe that God loves them and listens to them; the silent people who work in churches and elsewhere for others silently and faithfully; people who keep going in spite of all the odds against them ; people who never give up doing good. All these people give me hope and joy and show me repeatedly that God is always at work in this world of ours.