The Educational Legacy of the Ursuline Sisters Continues at The Chatfield Edge

January 22, 2024

Just over a year ago, Chatfield College transitioned from a being a private liberal arts college to a nonprofit agency, The Chatfield Edge. The new organization focuses on supporting first-generation and non-traditional students as they pursue secondary education including college, trade school, and certificate programs. Sr. Patricia Homan, Congregational Minister of the Ursulines of Brown County Ohio, and member of Chatfield’s board, recently reflected on her own journey as an Ursuline and the first year of The Chatfield Edge.

“The transition from the college to The Chatfield Edge was a major undertaking and a way to continue the educational legacy and the heart of the Ursulines,” she said. “I think the vision that was set out in 1845 is still true today and I am grateful for the work that has allowed it to be maintained.”

Sr. Patricia’s history with the Ursuline’s began in fourth grade when she attended the newly opened St. Louis School in Owensville, Ohio. “I was hooked early,” she said. The fourth of nine children, she felt known and supported by the Ursuline Sisters. As a high school student at McNicholas, she was overwhelmed by the big school and would often go back to talk to the sisters who taught her in elementary school. “It was my safe place,” she said.

During her junior year she decided to become a teacher and said it made sense to join the Ursuline community. “I wanted to be the best teacher and they certainly were,” she said. She entered the community in 1966 at the age of 18 and embarked on a career that would span nearly six decades as an educator including teaching home economics, serving in administration, and working in student services in Cleveland, Springfield, and Cincinnati.

In 2003, Sr. Patricia was elected Congregational Minister of the Ursulines of Brown County Ohio at a time when the community was asking critical questions about the future. “We knew we couldn’t continue to maintain our schools ourselves and needed to be intentional about passing on our legacy in order to preserve our mission,” she said.

The community’s ability to look to the future stems from the example set by St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines, who was aware of life’s bleak realities but was not defined by them. Infused in the DNA of 178-year-old educational legacy of the Ursulines, her outlook is now one of the building blocks of The Chatfield Edge.

As a mentor with The Chatfield Edge, Sr. Patricia sees the legacy growing. “I chose to serve as a mentor because as an Ursuline and a board member, it’s a way I can be involved, understand the needs and values, and see how the legacy continues,” she commented. She believes that mentoring provides an opportunity to walk with a person and look at the gifts that are being ignored which requires more listening than talking and a lot of affirming.

Looking back at the first year of The Chatfield Edge, Sr. Patricia is deeply grateful that the legacy of the Ursulines is not just continuing but growing and hopes the organization continues to reach more students who need help. “My hope is that students understand the legacy they are now a part of” she said. “My dream is that we can build it out so students themselves have a sense of why we do what we do, take it into themselves, and spread that word.”

Sr. Patricia believes that if St. Angela Merici were alive today, she would listen to students and be a true champion of an individual’s desire to be the best they can be.

If you are or know a first generation or non-traditional student who is looking for support or if you would like to become a mentor with The Chatfield Edge, please contact David Hesson at david.hesson@chatfieldedge.org or 513-875-3344 ext. 115. Find out more at chatfieldedge.org.