Together in Mission
As Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, we live our mission to be joyful women of prayer and compassion who proclaim the reign of God through ministry for justice and reverence for all creation. In our life together as Sisters, we embrace a radical living of the gospel through prayer, contemplation, and action. Faithful to our heritage as followers of Saint Dominic, we are committed to the pursuit of truth to address more effectively the needs of our suffering world, bringing hope to the world by our peaceful presence of joy and compassion.
A Portrait of the Dominican Sister of Sparkill
The Dominican Sister of Sparkill is a woman of hope, a woman who embraces the future with joy and optimism rooted in her deep trust in the providence of God and in the goodness and commitment of her Sisters.
The Dominican Sister of Sparkill is a woman who is free for mission and always open to new possibilities. Her sense of purpose and her passion for justice impel her to a prophetic stance, taking risks for the sake of mission, especially in working towards justice and peace in our Church and our world. She is responsive to the stirrings of the Spirit, creative and courageous in the face of challenges, and willing to “let go” of anything that impedes the proclamation of the Gospel.
The Dominican Sister of Sparkill is a woman of prayer, a woman whose personal relationship with Jesus opens her eyes and heart to God’s presence in all of creation and, in a special way, in the poor and oppressed. This awareness leads her to know her “oneness” with all creation. With eyes opened, she reaches out in compassion, service, and love in ever-widening circles. She is committed to sharing her gospel values and her personal gifts through ministry that is marked by collaboration and inclusivity.
While a vocation to religious life is profoundly personal, it is essentially a communal vocation to a public life of prophetic witness—both in the Church and in society.
“To be a Catholic Sister is to belong to a body larger than one’s individual life—and even one’s individual congregation. It is to be connected to a community of Sisters immersed in the life of peoples throughout every continent on the globe. In a real sense, it is a sisterhood without borders—an invisible yet unifying thread that strengthens my personal commitment to life as a Sister.”
– Sister Mary Dempsey, OP
Living the Four Pillars of Dominican Life
As Dominicans, we build our life around what are known as “the four pillars” of Dominican life: prayer, study, community, and preaching.
Prayer is the source from which our Dominican life and ministry flows. Our communal prayer and our personal contemplative prayer give us “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” God’s voice speaking to us and through us.
Dominican contemplation stretches beyond the solitude of the chapel:
“To contemplate in the street is not to take a walk, distracted, in the midst of the crowd. It is to know how to look deeply at everything that one encounters on the way. It is to see persons beyond their clothing, their faces, their tired walking.... It is to know how to discover and guess what they lack, their suffering, their aspirations. It is to try to discover the significance of all of this for these people and also for God.”
– Vincent de Couesnongle, OP
Master of the Order, 1974-1983
From the beginning, Saint Dominic made study an essential for his Order, even sending his young friars to the great universities of medieval Europe. The primary object of Dominican study is the Word of God as it is revealed in Sacred Scripture, the Christian Tradition, and the natural world. No subject is excluded for Dominicans. To be able to speak God’s word effectively in our world today, we seek to understand other people, the world we live in, and the way God is acting in our world. All study is brought to its fulfillment when we help to bring about the reign of God by sharing what we have learned with others.
"Study is not learning how to be clever but how to listen.... This receptivity, this opening of the ear which marks all real study, is deeply linked to prayer."
– Timothy Radcliffe, OP
Master of the Order, 1992-2000
from “The Wellspring of Hope” (1996)
For Dominicans, community is more than simply sharing a living space. Through our life in common, we learn how to pray and study as we become true sisters to each other, sharing our joys and our sorrows, our gifts and our limitations—all for the sake of a deeper witnessing to the gospel. Dominican community is the place where we live the words Jesus gave us: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great 13th century Dominican scholar, tells us that Dominicans are called “to contemplate and to share with others the fruits of our contemplation” (Contemplari, et contemplata aliis tradere). This is the source of Dominican preaching.
Our life of prayer and study together in community is itself a witness to God’s presence and activity in our world; it also prepares us for our mission of service to and advocacy for the most vulnerable members of society. The call to preach is a call to address the suffering of our world with mercy and compassion, taking risks to proclaim the love of Christ in every situation that cries out for justice. While Dominican preaching may take the form of formal preaching or teaching, it may be what Ann Willets, OP, has called “preaching from the pulpit of our lives.” As Dominicans, we are committed to finding ever new ways to witness to a world that is continually changing.
Each Sister’s vocation story is unique, but there is a common thread that emerges: each felt a deep longing for God and experienced the sense that God was inviting her to consider a way of life that is centered on responding to God’s love.
“To describe my calling to a life as a Dominican Sister, I would say that it is more of a feeling and a desire to help others to know Jesus Christ. It isn’t something that I experience one time many years ago, but something that is experienced all the time. I feel the need to listen, every day, to the call to be in tune and know the direction in which I am led by our Heavenly Father. Truly though, everyone is called. Everyone has a special task in this world. We must all listen for the call.”
– Sister Suzanne Walker, OP
The process of becoming a Sister has several stages, each designed to help the individual discern whether God is calling her to a life of vowed commitment. After a period of developing a relationship with the Sisters, one becomes a candidate who lives with the Sisters and shares in their life of prayer and ministry. Candidacy is followed by a 2-year novitiate, one of which is shared with Dominican novices from across the country at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in Chicago. Upon completion of her novitiate, the novice makes public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for a period of 3-6 years, before making a life-commitment in her final profession of vows.
If you are considering the possibility that you are being called to serve God as a Dominican Sister of Sparkill, we invite you to get to know us better. Contact us with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.