Mother Ursula Frayne
A biography written by Ursula Gilbert rsm
Born in Dublin, Ursula entered in Baggot Street in 1834 and was trained by the foundress Mother Catherine - who was always stressing that the sisters "preserve union and charity".
She was professed in 1837 and in the same year went on the foundation to Carlow with M. Frances Warde. Later, she came to this charge of the House at Booterstown, where the sisters cared for the sick including Catherine's nephews, Robert and James.
When Catherine herself became ill Ursula went back to Baggot Street to help M. Vincent Whitty in caring for Catherine. Hers was the sad task of informing the Sisters of her death.
Bishop Fleming of Newfoundland had sent Sr. Frances Creedon to be trained and Ursula was asked by M. de Pazzi to lead the foundation there in 1842. Sr. Rose Lynch went too and it was a very difficult time for many reasons. The wisest thing seemed to be that Rose and Ursula should return to Dublin.
Bishop Brady of Perth came pleading for the "thousands of little children" in his vast diocese so again Ursula set off, with five companions. They called at Liverpool and then went on to London Where Bishop Brady said Mass for them and they began their five-month journey.
Many curious people gathered to witness their arrival including several of the "natives" who, as Ursula wrote to M. Cecilia Marmion, were standing "as if they felt they were lords of the soil. They seemed remarkably intelligent."
It was hard to learn that there was "nowhere to lay our heads" - but a kind Protestant woman gave the sisters shelter until they acquired a place of their own. Amidst all their difficulties they had to care for dear Sr. Catherine Gogarty who died a few months later. As for the "thousands of children" - there were at first only seven! But the sisters struggled on, doing their mercy work as best they could.
In 1850 Sr. Anne Xavier and Ursula returned to Ireland seeking supplies and more Sisters. They enjoyed meeting Florence Nightingale on the journey.
Their relationship with the Bishop continued to be strained and eventually, it seemed best for Ursula to accept the invitation of Bishop Goold to come to Melbourne - where they had further troubles of a different kind, including a mortgage of 2600 pounds on the house!
The sisters walked the streets, begging loans of 20 pounds. Fortunately, most made it a donation. The Bishop and Ursula had to struggle for justice for the many needs of the poor and for education. As the number of sisters increased, so did their works of mercy - even to trying to respond to Ned Kelly's request to visit him before he was hanged.
Ursula Frayne: A Woman of Mercy. Documentary (1996). Running Time: 45:36