From the earliest years, the future of the Sparkill Dominican community has been in God's hands. Alice Mary Thorpe founded the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of the Rosary on May 6, 1876. The pioneer sisters, inspired by Mother Thorpe's example, followed her into a life of prayer, poverty, and sacrifice, serving sick and destitute women and children in squalid tenement neighborhoods of New York City. When Mother Thorpe died in 1879, the future looked bleak. The sisters were few in number and lacked the finances to be able to continue their works of mercy or even to sustain themselves.
Mother Dominic Dowling, the community's “second founder,” a visionary and pragmatic leader, rallied the sisters and greatly expanded their missionary work with orphans and impoverished homeless people. With the assistance of benefactors, Mother Dominic built Holy Rosary Convent in Manhattan and purchased land in Sparkill to create St. Agnes, a home for hundreds of orphans with a farm to provide food for all.
For 146 years with God's help, the Sparkill Dominicans have continued to overcome difficulties and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus by reaching out to the people of God in the U.S., Pakistan, and Latin America.
If Sparkill Dominicans treasure truth and beauty and are driven to bring them to others, if compassion moves us to serve the poor and marginalized, if for the sake of these ideals we are able to cope with change, setbacks, and an uncertain future, then we have truly accepted the legacy and challenge of our founder, Alice Mary Thorpe.
– Sister Mary Dunning, OP
Sister Mary has spent the last several years documenting the story of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill from 1950 to the present.