Founded in 2007, Ursuline Piazza addresses gaps in services for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Originally, clients included HIV-positive residents at St. Augustine Manor as well as former residents, family members, caregivers, and health care providers Ursuline Piazza services have now expanded to include individuals from throughout the Greater Cleveland community. Services provided include counseling, social services, transportation, and educational programming.
The program is a ministry of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, founded by St. Angela Merici in Italy in 1535 in order to improve the quality of life of all people. In 1850, four Ursuline Sisters arrived in Cleveland from France and became the first order of religious women to serve the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. For the past 150 years, their primary mission has been education, although today, the 174 Cleveland Ursulines serve in: 15 different non-profit entities, government agencies and social service providers; 28 educational institutions; 11 healthcare, hospice and retirement facilities; 27 Catholic parishes; 8 states across the country; and 2 foreign countries as missionaries.
Ursuline Piazza was founded and is directed by Ursuline Sister Susan Zion, and is also staffed by Ursuline Sister Jennifer Corlett, Ph.D., who provides licensed clinical counseling to program clientele.
The mission of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland is to transform society through contemplation, justice and compassion. They meet this mission through a commitment to serving the oppressed and exploited through actions that dignify and meet needs. In an attempt to embrace all of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, the term “Piazza” was specifically chosen for this program.
A piazza is an open, public area found in many Italian cities. Born in Brescia, Italy, Ursuline foundress St. Angela Merici directed her followers to be “living piazzas,” where all are welcome.
The Ursuline Piazza Program increases the likelihood that the HIV-positive client will remain compliant with their care regimens. The Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland partnered with the Manor in 2007 to serve HIV-positive adults from Cuyahoga County who are low-income (at or below the federal poverty level), chemically dependent, minority, from emerging sub-populations and suffering from mental health issues.