Growing Associate program continues
to advance the Sisters’ mission
On Wednesday evening, November 29, 2017 during the Sparkill Congregation’s monthly Peace Prayer Service, a ceremony was held honoring the commitment of five lay women as Sparkill Associates. Ann Hagopian, Susan O’Brien, and Susan O’Neill, all residents of Rockland County, NY, made their initial 1-year commitment and two others, Diane Dunne and Margaret Hayes, renewed their commitments for a second year. “The commitment ceremony was truly beautiful and moving,” shared new Associate, Susan O’Brien. “I was surrounded by the warmth, love, and well wishes of my new extended family. I am very proud to be a member of the Dominican Family.”
Associates and Sisters at the November 29th commitment ceremony. From L-R: Sr. Pat Hogan - Co-Director of Associate program in NY, Margaret Hayes, Mary Ryan - Co-Director of Associate program in NY, Sr. Mary Murray - President of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, Susan O'Brien, Diane Dunne, Susan O'Neill, and Ann Hagopian.
Who are the Associates?
In 1980, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill embraced the opportunity to invite the laity to share in their living of the gospel values by establishing the Associate program. Sparkill Dominican Associates are Christian women and men who wish to live out the charism and mission of the Sparkill Congregation within their own lifestyles as single, married, or ordained individuals. Associates participate in the life of the congregation through their involvement in prayer, study, service, and presence, each making a unique, non-vowed commitment based upon her/his lifestyle, geographical location, work, etc. (Read more about the Associate program here.)
Sister Pat Hogan, Co-Director of the Sparkill Associate program in the New York area, shared her excitement about the growth of the group. “Our Sparkill Dominican family is blessed to have these five individuals commit/recommit to living our congregational mission statement of being joyful people ‘of prayer and compassion who proclaim the reign of God through ministry for justice and reverence for all creation.’ The Associates’ commitments to and relationships within the congregation are critical components in advancing our mission today. Our Associates journey with us as partners and, through their participation, follow in the footsteps of our Foundress, Alice Mary Thorpe, by bringing the Word to life!”
What draws women and men to become Associates?
People are drawn to the Dominican Associate experience for a variety of reasons that typically include spiritual growth, enjoying opportunities to get to better know the Sisters and their history, and standing with others to work for good in the world. Sparkill’s three new Associates shared their thoughts on this question:
“As a child, I was blessed to have many Dominican Sisters of Sparkill as teachers in elementary school. They nurtured my faith and I was truly moved and inspired by their example of love and commitment to God and compassionate service to others. Becoming an Associate of the Dominican Sisters will help me to serve and praise God more fully, learn more about Dominican Spirituality, deepen my relationship with God, and enrich my faith and prayer life within this vibrant, supportive, and responsive faith-filled community.” ~ Susan O’Neill
“I saw the ‘Women Making a Difference’ sign out front of Dominican Convent in Sparkill and wondered about it. One day I decided to walk in and asked how I could make a difference and help the Sisters. I started volunteering with the infirmed Sisters in Siena Hall and eventually learned about the Associate program: how we meet once a month to pray, learn about the Sparkill Congregation’s history, go on retreats, and more. It sounded like something I wanted to be a part of!” ~ Ann Hagopian
“I was looking at becoming more active in my local parish and felt it was time to start giving back for all the gifts God has given me. I looked at the many ministries available within my parish and was amazed at the number supported and run by one Sparkill Sister, (Pat Hogan,) truly a ‘woman making a difference’. This year, Sr. Pat asked if I would be interested in becoming a Dominican Associate. I was honored to be considered and after reading, sharing, and prayer I said ‘yes’ to a new leg of my journey. I realize that in my own small way, I too can utilize the talents God has given me to become a woman making a difference.” ~ Susan O’Brien
The Associate Experience
The Associates’ spiritual, ministerial, and social gatherings occur throughout each year in both Sparkill and St. Louis, MO where concentrations of Sparkill Associates live. These women and men speak fondly of the sense of warmth and welcome within their community, and of the feelings of strong connection and belonging among themselves, the Sisters, and the larger Dominican Family. Upon renewing their commitments to the congregation, Margaret Hayes shared that she feels “…more involved, like I’m a part of everything here: the people, the programs that are offered, etc.,” and Diane Dunne stated, “as a Dominican Associate, I feel as if I have come home - not only as an Aquinas High School alumna but also as a former Sister. What a blessing getting to know the Sisters and being called by name as I walk through the hallways amidst all the smiling faces!”
Margaret Hayes (L) and Diane Dunne before
making their recommitments to the Congregation.
Whether brand new to the group or a more than 30-year member, Sparkill Associates agree that the friendship, personal growth, and connectedness they enjoy as part of this special group are the most treasured aspects of the Associate experience.
If you are interested in exploring the Sparkill Associate program, please email Sr. Margaret Palliser, OP.
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