Sr. M. Ursulina Keller, 86, a Sister of the Redeemer for nearly 60 years, died January 25, 2021. Born Hildegard Maria Barbara Keller on August 15, 1934 in Würzburg, Germany, she was the daughter of the late Klara and Franz Keller. She is survived by two nieces and extended family in Germany. In 1945, she witnessed the pain and destruction of war when her village was bombed during World War II. Even as a child, it was an experience she would never forget.
Sr. Ursulina was schooled as a young girl by the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer in Würzburg, part of the same international Congregation she would later join in the United States. While studying home economics with the Sisters in the late 1950s, she learned of their Congregation in the United States. Her uncle, Fr. Keller, who had spent time in the United States, told her about the Sisters building a hospital and looking for young women to help. At the time, Sr. Ursulina did not feel the call to religious life but left her homeland to work with the Sisters because she saw America as “the land of opportunity.”
After arriving in October 1958 knowing only two English phrases—“good morning” and “good night,” Sr. Ursulina began working in the kitchen with the Sisters at St. Joseph Manor. She left the Manor in January 1960 to work at a dry cleaner, where she became a skilled seamstress. During this time, Sr. Ursulina felt God’s grace working in her, calling her back to the Sisters. She said, “God’s ways are not our ways. However, Jesus walks with us on our path of life and calls us from the shore of every sea.” She entered the Sisters of the Redeemer in October 1960 and was given the name Sr. Ursulina.
She lived a dedicated life of loving service as a Licensed Practical Nurse for many decades throughout what is now Holy Redeemer Health System—primarily at Holy Redeemer Hospital and St. Joseph Manor. She spent several years as the head Infirmarian in the former Provincialate, where she cared for many Sisters, including Sr. Wiltrudis Flittner, one of the first 12 Sisters of the Redeemer who arrived in the United States from Germany in 1924.
After leaving nursing in 1995, she served as a unit clerk at St. Joseph Manor. In her later years, she became a sponsor liaison for St. Joseph Manor and Redeemer Village, where she was a healing presence and a listening ear for the patients and residents.
Sr. Ursulina was known as a very giving person—both with her time and talents. She was a gifted seamstress known to transform seemingly simple or plain clothing and household items into new or updated pieces with her signature beautiful embellishments. A creative person at heart, she found and appreciated God’s beauty all around her. She greatly enjoyed writing poetry, painting watercolors, singing, gardening, doing calligraphy, and sending personally-decorated cards to others.
She was known as a very prayerful Sister, always faithful to both communal and personal prayer. Her prayers were readily put into action in many varied ways that gave witness to Christ’s healing presence. She notably demonstrated this in the care she provided, and shared her gentle, prayerful presence at the bedside of many dying people. She once said, “Now I have time to pray and do other things. You cannot wait until you are sick or old to pray extra. When you are really sick, you don’t feel like praying. It needs to be part of your life always.”
Sr. Ursulina spent her final years residing in the Sisters’ Magnificat Center, where her upbeat and prayerful presence was appreciated by all who knew her.
Sr. Ursulina’s life will be celebrated during a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday, January 29, at 10 a.m. in the Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions necessitate that the funeral Mass is private. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Sisters of the Redeemer Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sistersoftheredeemer Burial will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. A Memorial Mass will be scheduled at a later date.
Those wishing to honor the life of Sr. Ursulina with a memorial gift to the Sisters’ ministries may do so online (select Sisters of the Redeemer in the dropdown menu) or by mail (Sisters of the Redeemer, 1600 Huntingdon Pike, Meadowbrook, Pa. 19046).