Plan for Future

Changing Landscape at Sinsinawa Mound

Aerial photo of Sinsinawa Mound complex.

The Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation held their annual “Community Days” gathering at Sinsinawa Mound July 24–28. Once nearly 2,000 Sisters in the mid-1960s, the congregation currently numbers 383 Sisters, and more than half live at Sinsinawa. Sisters continue to serve in 16 states and in Bolivia and Trinidad and Tobago. Due to their changing demographics, as well as changing demographics in the tri-state area, the Sisters are facing significant issues. During their annual gathering, the Sisters identified steps they need to take to respond. 

The Sisters were established at Sinsinawa in 1847 by Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP. They intend to continue to be present at Sinsinawa Mound into the future. However, the Sisters recognize that their current status quo is not sustainable. Given their desire to remain in Wisconsin and their long presence in Madison as well, the Sisters plan to transfer more than 120 Sisters needing assisted living support services to two facilities west and south of Madison over the next five years. Approximately 70 Sisters will remain at Sinsinawa Mound. The Sinsinawa Mound Center, with its mission to preach the Gospel, foster spirituality and the arts, and treasure the land will continue to operate. The 1846 Stone Building built by Father Mazzuchelli will be preserved. The Academy Apartments at Sinsinawa will also continue to provide apartment homes for senior citizens, and St. Dominic Villa will remain as a skilled nursing facility at Sinsinawa. The Sisters plan to eventually reduce the number of buildings at Sinsinawa through deconstruction. This may include the large, three-level rotunda housing the Queen of the Rosary Chapel unless Sisters can find a suitable partner to help finance the annual cost of operations.

“Sinsinawa Mound has been our congregation home for more than 170 years, and we wish to be a vital presence here into the future. We hope to build partnerships with like-minded organizations in the tri-states to respond to areas needs and to create a sustainable future at Sinsinawa Mound. Identifying strategies for continued employment of our many lay co-workers during these changes is a significant priority for us,” said Sinsinawa Dominican Prioress Toni Harris, OP. 

The Sinsinawa Dominicans are committed to joining others in creating awareness and action toward a more sustainable future by working for systemic change and promoting legislation to protect the environment and the community of life. Sisters have already invested in supporting the development of sustainable energies and advocated for more environmentally responsible corporate policies and practices. For example, the Sisters recently installed three solar arrays at Sinsinawa Mound which not only reduce annual utility costs but also reduce the amount of carbon released into the air annually by 300,000 pounds. By 2022, the Congregation hopes to restore most of the savanna ecosystem, convert 15 acres of manicured lawn to prairie, and restore and protect over 50 acres of forest, all at Sinsinawa where the Sisters also continue to expand their organic farm operation known as Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm. 

The Sinsinawa Dominicans are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For over 800 years, Dominicans have continued to preach the Gospel in word and deed. Today, thousands of sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world. 

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