They are surely the‚ wise virgins’ of the Gospel. The Ursuline Sisters seek to ‘light our lamps from the love of Christ and so bring light to the lives of those around us’. They do this especially through teaching and education.

So we read on the website of the congregation, which is now almost 500 years old. For the past 60 years it has also been present and active in India. Now the diocese of Meerut in the underdeveloped state of Uttar Pradesh is asking the sisters to perform similar works of mercy there through their teaching and educational work. ‘Instructing the ignorant’ – this, according to Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, is indeed one of the most important of the spiritual works of mercy.

Such education is an essential part of our Faith, and the two together lead inevitably to greater social justice and welfare. The sisters will be more than welcome in Meerut, where 70% of the menfolk and 80% of the women are illiterate. Many of them would love to be able to read the sacred Scriptures.

But where and how are the sisters to live? Bishop Francis Kalist has promised to provide them with a small convent, but he is still short by a substantial amount. That is not much to ask to create the conditions for entire generations of children to benefit from this spiritual work of mercy. Who will help us to bring about this work?

In Rwanda the Pallottine Sisters are already teaching in the kindergartens. And they go out and bring in the children off the streets, children who no longer go to school because they have no homes anymore or cannot afford to pay even the modest school fees. In doing this they have already saved many children from going off the rails.

But it is the religious education that they see as their great challenge. In all nine dioceses of Rwanda they go, in twos or threes, into the schools in order to awaken the children’s interest in the Faith and the Sacraments, and they have been ‘very astonished’ at just what fertile soil the seed of the Good News has fallen into.

One of the fruits has been the new vocations. The number of their novices is growing. But all this work, and the many other works of mercy they perform, would not be possible without your generous help.

This article can be found in Mirror 0216.