The Archdiocese of New York Honors Dominican
Sisters of Sparkill’s Catholic Education Ministry
On October 18, during a Mass at St. Frances de Chantal Church in the Bronx, the Archdiocese of New York honored the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill for their more than a century of dedicated service in the ministry of Catholic Education. Father Arthur Mastrolia, who celebrated the Mass, praised the Sparkill Dominicans for their long-standing ministerial leadership in Catholic education.
Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York, presented the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill with a 2019-2020 scholarship to be awarded in their name to a student in one of the Archdiocese’s schools. He remarked that the Sparkill Dominicans’ commitment to education began in 1876, when Alice Mary Thorpe founded the Dominican Congregation of our Lady of the Rosary (Sparkill Dominicans) to meet the needs of immigrant women and children in New York City. “In the spirit of St. Dominic,” he said, “the joyful, itinerant preachers of the early years accepted and gave witness to the preaching and teaching ministry of the Church.”
Superintendent Deegan noted that, through many trials and challenges, the Sparkill Dominicans grew in number as they continued to minister to orphaned children in New York, first at Holy Rosary Convent in Manhattan, and later at St. Agnes Home and School in Sparkill and St. Benedict Home in Rye. In the late 1800s, the mission of Catholic education took them to St. John School in Piermont, and St. Ann School in Nyack.
Since the early 1900s, the Sparkill Dominicans accepted missions in numerous other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York, covering Staten Island, Yonkers, Nanuet, Valley Cottage, Suffern, Monroe, Middletown, Carmel, White Plains, Bardonia, and The Bronx, where they opened their first congregational high school, Aquinas Hall, now Aquinas High School.
The Sparkill Dominicans have also accepted education missions in the dioceses of Albany, Brooklyn, Rockville Centre, and Syracuse in New York State, as well as schools in Missouri and in Pakistan. They also sponsor One to One Learning, a ministry founded to meet the educational needs of new immigrants in Rockland County.
Sister Eileen Gannon, OP, member of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill Executive Team, accepted the award on behalf of their president, Sister Mary Murray, who was in Pakistan, where Sparkill Dominicans have taught Christian and Muslim children for more than 60 years.
As she thanked Superintendent Michael Deegan and Sister June Clare Tracy, OP, Executive Director for the Office of Catholic Identity, for the recognition, Sister Eileen acknowledged that the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill had joined many other members of religious congregations, women and men who devoted their lives, their spirit, and their love of God and God’s children to the education of these children and young adults. Sister Eileen referenced the US Bishops publication “To Teach as Jesus Did,” noting that “our Sisters took it to heart, and in conversation and prayer worked together to apply the principles in this publication to their teaching in both elementary and secondary schools. We knew that we were to teach an important message—that all children, all people are created equal and loved by God; that we were to build community which included and not excluded; we were to serve others."
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