Congregation History

Over 3,200 Have Professed Vows as Sinsinawa Dominicans!

Sr. Emily Power, born in Waterford County, Ireland, became Mother General in 1867 at age 23.Sr. Emily Power, born in Waterford County,  Ireland, became Mother General in 1867 at age 23. During her 42 years of leadership, most of the facilities at Sinsinawa Mound were built, and the Congregation grew from  about 50 Sisters to over 400.

Sinsinawa Mound has been called the “Hill of Grace” for good reason. Since 1847, over 3,200 women have ascended its slopes to take their vows as Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters—then departed, inspired, to preach and teach the Gospel in the United States and throughout the world. Today, the Mound still serves as the Motherhouse for more than 400 Sisters. About 230 Associates stand committed to the Congregation’s ideals.

It all started on Aug. 4, 1847, when pioneer priest Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, founded the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation with two women, Sisters Seraphina and Ermeline. Two more women joined the fledgling community in December 1847. At the time of Fr. Samuel’s death in 1864, the number had increased to 23, and by the mid-1870s, there were 100 Sisters staffing schools in five dioceses.

By the end of the 19th century, 389 professed Sisters served in 30 locations throughout the Midwest. New missions proliferated, a pattern that would continue into the 20th century. Five academies were founded, and parish grade schools were assigned to the Congregation in Chicago and Milwaukee. There were also new missions in small towns of northern Illinois and as far west as Denver.

To accommodate the growing community, Mother Emily Power aggressively expanded the Mound facilities, including a new Academy building in 1882 and the four-story convent and novitiate building in 1900.

In 1901, Mother Emily accepted five Sisters of the Holy Ghost to the Congregation after their community in Rockwell, IA, disbanded. This set a pattern for similar arrangements later. In 1995, 36 new names were added to the membership rolls with the merger of the Sinsinawa Dominicans and the Spokane Dominicans.

Mother Emily laid a strong foundation for the Congregation between 1867 and 1909. After her, Mother Samuel Coughlin built it into one of the largest Congregations in the United States. During her 40-year tenure, the Congregation grew annually in number of members, in places served, and in gradual diversification of ministry—although teaching remained the primary ministry. More than 1,450 Sisters made profession to her. Membership increased from 617 in 1910 to 1,547 in 1949, and the number of new schools increased from 41 to 102. The 1950s and 1960s saw continued growth and expansion to accommodate the educational needs of the baby boom generation. Membership peaked at 1,983 in 1966, and declined to 1,606 by 1973. Today, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters continue preaching and teaching the Gospel in word and deed around the world.

 

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