Dowling tree in autumn

The leaves are finally beginning to show their fall colors on the Motherhouse grounds here in Sparkill and they dazzle! Many of us are blessed to be able to walk this property for exercise and reflection each day.

Last week, I attended the wedding in Sacred Heart Chapel of a young woman whose mother was a student at a high school where I taught for a brief amount of time. A few days later, students, faculty, board members and guests attended the inauguration of the ninth president of St. Thomas Aquinas College, which was founded by the Sparkill Dominicans almost 70 years ago. In both cases, the attendees were struck by the beauty and serenity of the chapel and the magnificent surroundings of nature at work outside.

After the Inauguration, we processed to the college and passed by Dominican Convent where many sisters were sitting outside, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery on this special occasion. They started to clap when President Daly walked by with the rest of us in tow. It was a festive scene against the background of a beautiful autumn day.

Our footprints here in Sparkill travel the same land once inhabited by the Lenape Indians. These native people had respect and knowledge of the land, river, and streams, and needed it for survival. The Lenape believed in a single creator and a series of gods who looked after both people and animals. They lived simply and used the resources well for the common good for generations to come.

We too believe in God as creator of all and that we are called to make decisions based on what is good for the land and people now and into the future.

Fall foliage on Dominican Sisters of Sparkill property
Scared Heart Chapel, at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

Over the years, we have repurposed parts of it the property to meet the needs of the times. Senior citizen housing that is safe and affordable was built on parts of the property that were once farmland and athletic fields for our former home and school for children. Housing and skill building programs for persons with special needs now exist in and around the building that once was a high school. Some of these folks help staff the kitchen at Dominican Convent.

May we continue to challenge ourselves to use this sacred gift of land to meet the needs of others and gently leave footprints that lead to the heart of our compassionate God.


- Sister Susan Dunn, OP

Sister Susan resides in Dominican Convent and is on the staff of Dowling Gardens in Sparkill.

Sr. Susan Dunn, OP
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