Homeward Bound: Answering God’s call as a secular Ursuline in the Company of St. Ursula

Marie Skwark of Melfort was received into the Company of St. Ursula as a consecrated secular Ursuline in November 2023. She says: "This form of consecration is perfect for me." (Submitted photo)

“My first and foremost desire has always been to follow Jesus and to give myself fully to him.”

Founded by St. Angela Merici in 1535, the Company of St. Ursula is a secular institute, a form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. Marie Skwark’s membership in the company was solemnized during a celebration in November 2023. This is her story.

By Marie Skwark, Company of St. Ursula

My name is Marie Skwark. I am 65 years old and live in Melfort, Saskatchewan, a city of about 6,000 people which is located in a farming community in western Canada.

My five siblings and I were raised on a farm south of Melfort.  My parents and one brother have since passed away. I have no husband and have never had children. I work at a local hotel as the night auditor, guest service agent. Throughout my life, I worked in various occupations including clerical positions for the federal government, legal secretary for many years, and as a caregiver serving elderly in private nursing homes. I enjoy writing, singing, cycling, visiting and serving elderly, and times of prayer, study and contemplation.

I was baptized in the Ukrainian Catholic Church as an infant.  My family attended church on occasion but eventually stopped. At a young age various factors caused me to experience a deep sadness which eventually led to despair.

When I was 13 years old, in desperation, I prayed, “if there is a God out there, please help me.” Immediately some sadness lifted, and I was aware of God’s presence. I knew there was a God and for the next two years I watched him working in my life. Some mornings I would wake up knowing that he had touched me in the night.  One morning, when I was 15 years old, I awoke with joy; the sadness was gone and my prayer had been answered.

I didn’t want to lose the beautiful presence of God and I felt that on my own I would not be able to live a very good life, so I asked Jesus to “run my life.” I surrendered my will to do his will and made him my Saviour and Lord.  Immediately I was filled with the Holy Spirit and experienced a spiritual rebirth. After my conversion I felt like I was “in the clouds” with great love for Jesus.

In the years following, I experienced spiritual and emotional highs and lows and suffered with various health issues. God was faithful and patient and lavished his great mercy on me by healing my body, mind, spirit and emotions. He has preserved my life and enabled me to function in society today. Over the years, the grace of God has continued to bring me more fully into the faith.

In my mid-twenties and early thirties I had a strong attraction to the poor and a desire in my heart to be a Religious Sister. I didn’t realize that God was speaking to me by putting that desire into my heart.

God continued to speak to me throughout the years and in March 2023 I was led to listen to an audio book by Catherine Whitney about an Order of Sisters, entitled “The Calling.”  When I realized that God was still calling me, I started looking for an Order that served the poor.

The word “poor” from the national vocation website commentary for the Ursulines of Jesus spoke to my heart and I knew that he was leading me to the Ursulines.

I contacted Sr. Gertrude Sopracolle who advised me that the Ursulines of Prelate in Saskatoon were no longer accepting applications and directed me to the Company of St. Ursula.

Throughout my meetings with Bernice Daratha, the formation guide for the Company, the Lord has provided sufficient confirmation that his call for me is with the Secular Institute of St. Angela Merici. This form of consecration is perfect for me!

Secular Ursulines Marie Skwark (left) and Bernice Daratha (Submitted photo)

On June 2, 2023 I awoke with peace and love in my heart for St. Ursula and was set free from things that could distract me from this call. I began my initial journey in this Secular Institute on Nov. 25, 2023.

With all that is happening in the world today, I believe that it is, and will be, imperative that we put our full trust in God and walk closely with God.

I believe in the power of prayer and desire healing and salvation for our nation and the world.  I want to become more effective in sharing Christ with others. I am honoured to participate in various ministries in the church. In thanksgiving for God’s love and saving grace, I focus on serving God daily and walking in the leading of the Spirit.

It brings me great joy to give, share, encourage, support and serve those around me. I pray for God’s grace and avail myself to be a vessel that God can use to continue his work on earth.

My first and foremost desire has always been to follow Jesus and to give myself fully to him.  There were times in my life when God blessed me so that I would be content as a single woman and not desire a husband. Now I rejoice that he has saved me for himself.  To God be all the glory, honour and praise!

RELATED: Bernice Daratha of Saskatoon is now a secular Ursuline, having joined the Company of St. Ursula – LINK.

RELATED: Company of St. Ursula website – LINK

Celebrating the reception of Marie Skwark into the Company of St. Ursula. (Submitted photo)



Who We Are – The Company of St. Ursula secular institute

Drawn by a deep inner call, we give ourselves to God by a firm and life-long commitment of celibate chastity, poverty, and obedience. We devote ourselves to:

  • Jesus Christ at our centre,
  • deep prayer,
  • Gospel values,
  • a contemplative quest to find God everywhere and reflect Christ to others,
  • regular gatherings for sisterly support in our vocation,
  • participation as lay Catholics in the Church’s life,
  • peace-making and justice-building in personal relationships and in society,
  • supporting ourselves as single persons in our chosen occupations and residences.

Founded by St. Angela Merici in 1535, the Company is a secular institute, a form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church.

Would you like to learn more? Please contact the Company of St. Ursula (LINK).