Six years ago, Sisters Mary Murray, Irene Ellis, Eileen Gannon, Grace Anne Hogan, and Margaret Palliser generously answered a call from God and from the congregation to accept the ministry of congregational leadership. Like Saint Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Sister Alice Mary Thorpe, our foundress, and the innumerable Dominicans who have preceded them, these Sisters faced forward and embraced the journey, trusting in God to direct them.
On July 30, 2022, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill gathered for prayer in the Holy Rosary Chapel at Dominican Convent with those present live streaming to celebrate the transition to a new leadership team and to express gratitude to the previous members for their faithful and generous “Yes” to God and to the congregation. Those gathered affirmed the former Leadership Team for stewarding the enduring 800-year legacy of Dominicans in the world, proclaiming the Reign of God through preaching, teaching, healing, works of justice, and reverence for all God’s creation.
Responding to the signs of the times, the former Leadership Team encouraged and supported ways to address the needs of a suffering world, such as:
- Supporting the completion of Sister Mary Dunning’s book, We Walk by Faith, which enabled reflection on the congregation’s 146-year history of faith, courage, and determination of the Sisters throughout the years;
- Facilitating study and discussion of the 2015 encyclical, Laudato Sí, to set the stage for the seven-year platform proposed by Pope Francis;
- Offering members learning opportunities to reflect and act upon the important work remaining to be done for advancing racial justice;
- Assisting immigrants in the US through sponsorship of One to One Learning, while supporting Sisters to go to the US border to respond to the needs of migrant people, even as other Sisters traveled to Texas to welcome Afghan refugees; and
- Bringing hope to a world torn by violence by speaking out on the issue of gun violence and sending Sisters to Ukraine to show concern and solidarity for the women and children ravaged by that war.
The fruits of contemplation and prayerful experience reveal both answers and additional questions. Some questions that were carefully answered over the past six years include:
How can we continue our mission for the sake of the Gospel?
We can commit ourselves to collaborating with other Dominican congregations through OPSCC.
How will we respond to the pain of closing beloved ministries, such as Aquinas High School, Thorpe Senior Center, and Emmaus?
We will choose to celebrate the good work that was done through our long sponsorship of these ministries and remain connected as appropriate with those with whom we have shared our lives!
What should we do with our Upstate Property?
We will seek partners who will help us explore the best use of the land so others may be nurtured by this sacred space.
How do we help our Sisters transition from active ministry into retirement?
We can develop a program of person-centered care to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of our Sisters.
How do we let others know what is important to Sparkill Dominicans?
We will establish an Office of Mission Advancement and develop a dynamic website so that others may learn about the good work of our congregation.
The grounding for the congregation’s mission is the context of community—the ways people relate to and care for each other. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the priority of the leadership continued to be rooted in the core values of seeking truth and participating in prayer by ensuring a safe and caring community—even amidst the preparation for a General Chapter.
All who were gathered expressed their sincere appreciation to the members of the Team for their generous and tireless efforts on behalf of the congregation.