Emmaus House Healing Ministry Celebrates 35th Anniversary

A life-restoring ministry at the New Jersey shore just celebrated a tremendous milestone. On April 7, 2018, a large group of friends and supporters, including many Sparkill Dominicans, gathered in Long Branch, NJ to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Emmaus House, a ministry the Sparkill congregation is very proud of. 

In 1983, Sr. Patricia Mary Walsh, OP, of Sparkill, along with Sr. Doris Wiswell, RSM, a Religious Sister of Mercy, and Sr. Augustine (Gussie) O’Donnell, OP, a Dominican Sister of Caldwell, founded Emmaus House in response to a need they saw among women religious. Emmaus House is a holistic residential treatment facility that offers a community of healing, welcome, and safety where Sisters are supported as they recuperate from serious problems and issues. With an extremely high rate of recovery upon completing the program, 96.7% according to a 2004 study, patients experience deep healing and gain the ability to live more focused, healthy lives.

The Emmaus House property in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

For 35 years now, Sr. Patricia Walsh has lovingly crafted this healing environment with her staff, which currently totals 21 members and includes two other Sparkill Dominicans: Sr. Patricia Anne Murtha and Sr. Mary Margaret Grey. Together they challenge everyone around them to view vulnerability and brokenness in a new light, which has enabled many individuals to live their lives anew. Emmaus House provides its outstanding care through holistic programs that address the physical, emotional, spiritual, and other needs of patients, as well as non-treatment-related workshops and retreats. The specifics of the treatment program vary by individual and need, but what remains consistent is that participants see other people getting well and want that for themselves. The impact of this ministry is far-reaching: over 3,500 Sisters have gone through Emmaus treatment programs and 5,000 overall have participated in retreats, special programming, and/or treatment. 

The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill who minister at Emmaus House. From L-R: Sisters Mary Margaret Grey, Patricia Walsh, and Patricia Anne Murtha. 

When asked what makes this ministry unique, Sr. Patricia Anne Murtha shared, “Whereas Sisters generally serve the public, at Emmaus House women religious are working with women religious.” Sister Patricia Anne has ministered part-time at Emmaus House since its beginning and has worked there full-time in food services for the last 20 years. She makes sure patients spend time studying nutrition and works to make meals as pleasant and delicious as possible. “In my role I don’t do treatment work, but I, like all staff members, feel very connected to Emmaus’s mission of rehabilitating our patients and their lives,” she shared. 

The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill congratulate the Emmaus House staff on their dedication to building a community of welcome and care, and on their 35 years of loving, open-hearted service to women in need! To learn more about Emmaus House, please visit their website

Above and below: The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill who attended the 35th Anniversary celebration of Emmaus House.

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