Why Sinsinawa?

by Christa Cunningham, OP

Crispin Curley, OP (1929–2004), was my camp counselor at a Catholic girls’ camp in Shawano, WI, when I was young, and she was a student at Rosary College before she entered the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation. Even at that young age, I knew “Miss Lou” was a special woman. When I was a freshman at Newman High School, Wausau, WI, she was my science teacher. Though never spoken, I knew that somehow she was the Miss Lou I had known. Crispin was a fabulous teacher who respected her students and did all she could to help us succeed. When I became a postulant, she finally admitted to me that she had indeed been my favorite camp counselor, Miss Lou, the boating instructor.

When I pursued theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology, Hyde Park, Chicago, I was blessed to live in community with Crispin at St. Thomas the Apostle Convent. She was a community-minded person and was always finding ways to see that the common good was served, and always this was done in a quiet and unobtrusive way.

Crispin served the Congregation as the provincial of the western province from 1968 to 1972. Years later, she was grocery shopping for her father and had a stroke that paralyzed her and left her mute for the rest of her life. Living in community at St. Dominic Villa from 1989 until her death in 2004, though silent, she was an inspiration for all who came to visit her and be in her holy presence.

If anyone asked me today why I am a Sinsinawa Dominican, I would say because I had the privilege of having my life touched by Crispin Curley and the beauty of the way she lived Dominican life.

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