Dominican Sisters celebrate 155 years of service

October 29 2008

Dominicans to call on Congress

March 30, 2008

Nun named schools superintendent for Archdiocese of Chicago

February 16 2008

Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, president of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, has been named superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George announced Friday.

McCaughey will take over the country's second-largest Catholic school system July 1, at a time when tuition is increasing and enrollment is falling at parochial schools nationwide. Since its peak in 1965, enrollment in archdiocese schools has fallen from 366,000 students to 98,225. Last year was the first in 45 years that no Catholic elementary schools closed.

McCaughey will take over implementation of a strategic plan, called Genesis, that aims to strengthen financial viability, Catholic identity and academic performance.

"Our first job is to be what we say we are," said McCaughey, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. "People will pay for that."

She added that she also would pursue innovative ways to boost enrollment in areas where many parents cannot afford tuition.

"The schools belong to the entire Catholic community, and I believe they are their jewel," she said.

McCaughey said she did not seek the position, but "the more I look at it the more excited I truly am."

McCaughey is the second nun to be named superintendent. She replaces Nicholas Wolsonovich, who announced his resignation in December and later was tapped to lead schools in the Diocese of Orlando.

George said McCaughey's vocation factored into her selection.

"It was part of the picture of course," he said, "a very wonderful part. Something other young women will look at and say, 'I could do that too.'"

McCaughey added: "It does make me free and allows me to give a ton of time for these kids."

Dominican nun named new head of Catholic schools
'PROFOUND NEED' | Beefed up enrollment, raised millions at Marian High in Chicago Heights

February 16, 2008

A Dominican nun who boosted enrollment and raised $5.6 million in 1½ years as president of Marian Catholic High School has been tapped as the new head of the Chicago area's Catholic school system, Cardinal Francis George said Friday.

Sister Mary Paul McCaughey said she never applied for the job of superintendent of Catholic schools for the Chicago Archdiocese, but "the more I look at it, the more excited I become.''

Sister Mary Paul McCaughey answers questions after the announcement of her appointment as Supt. of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, during a press conference Friday in Chicago.

A product of Chicago area Catholic schools, McCaughey said there is a "profound need'' for Catholic schools and she believes Chicago area parents are still willing to "sacrifice and invest'' in them.

"Our first job is to be what we say we are,'' she said at a news conference. "People will pay for that because, you know what? There's more to life than McMansions.''

On July 1, McCaughey will replace Nicholas Wolsonovich as head of the nation's second-largest Catholic school system. She will oversee 256 schools and 98,000 students in Lake and Cook counties.

McCaughey conceded that Catholic school can be expensive -- tuition and fees are $7,400 at Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights. She said Catholic schools might consider allowing "sliding scale'' tuitions, organizing work programs for kids and providing scholarships to help fill the financial gap.

"There's a million ways of doing it, and we'll unfold it later, when I take over in July, after I've had a chance to talk to schools,'' she said.

George called McCaughey the "outstanding president of one of our best Catholic high schools'' in announcing her selection. Her job is to raise achievement, help Catholic faith-based schools grow, and possibly even add some schools, he said.

A 1967 graduate of Marian Catholic, McCaughey was named both principal and president of Marian Catholic in 1992 and now serves as its president.

Under her helm, enrollment grew from about 1,500 to a peak of 1,675 four years ago, said Marian Catholic's principal, Sister Kathleen Tait. However, the school in the last few years "purposely restricted enrollment'' so it could reduce class size to 25 kids, Tait said.

Tait said that under McCaughey, the school saw a building boom, adding a new arts wing, gymnasium, college room, greenhouse, two science labs, a classroom addition and a leadership center.

"She's very articulate. She's very visionary. And she has an uncanny ability to bring people along toward her vision,'' Tait said.

Historic Mass to honor Dominican Sisters

February 22, 2008

GALVESTON TX— Twenty Dominican Sisters from Ohio stepped off a train and greeted Galveston for the first time on Sept. 29, 1882. They had come to establish a Catholic school for young girls at the behest of Bishop Nicholas Gallagher, who was in charge of the Diocese of Galveston.

Galveston’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church will celebrate a special Mass to commemorate their arrival 125 years ago and to acknowledge their various educational and charitable contributions.

Shortly after Sacred Heart’s 1882 success, the order created a free school for black children known as Holy Rosary. The idea of educating African-American children led to a storm of criticism as well as a threatened boycott, both of which the sisters successfully overcame.

Galveston’s Sister Mary Frances Heins has been a part of the Dominican Order for more than 60 years. She entered as an 18-year-old girl fresh from high school.

“The mission, as we started, was education,” she said. “We have widespread ministries.”

Dominican nuns serve at O’Connell College Preparatory School and Galveston’s Literacy Center, as well as other parochial schools and in a variety of mainland vocations.

“Our Dominican motto is ‘veritas,’ Latin for truth,” Heins said. “I have taught all my life and also been a school administrator. I think being a Dominican encourages creativity and teaching outside the box.”

The line that led to Galveston’s shores is traditionally traced to St. Dominic, one of a family of saints born in the 12th century. Dominic built up his order by establishing houses in Italy, Spain and France.

His friars and nuns can be seen in both classic paintings and more recent photos wearing their traditional dress — a black shoulder cloak, cape or vest over a white priest’s robe or nun’s habit.

Heins said she was aware that the average age of nuns in the United States has now topped 70 and fewer and fewer young women are choosing religious orders compared to other ministry options.

“We (sisters) talk about that all the time, but we don’t think that we will die out as an institution,” she said. “We still have quality people who want to join us.

“We even have a person who is assigned to help those who might want to learn about us. We also hold meetings for those who are interested in finding out more.”

According to the Handbook of Texas, Galveston’s frequent storms, as in major hurricanes, drove the order’s headquarters from its original island location, a rambling, wooden building at 16th and Market streets, to the relative safety of nearby Houston in 1926, where it has remained to this day.

But if that is why they left, there might also be a little known reason as to why they first came: Heins suggested Bishop Gallagher did have grounds to believe that these particular nuns would be perfect for what he had in mind for 19th century Galveston.

“I think our Sister Agnes, the leader of the group, was Bishop Gallagher’s niece,” she said.

At A Glance

WHAT: 125th Anniversary Mass commemorating the arrival of the Dominican Sisters in Texas

WHERE: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1302 Broadway, Galveston

WHEN: Noon, March 1

INFORMATION: On the Mass, call 409-762-6374; on the religious order itself, call Pat Casey, 713-440-3706

Therapist Remembered as One Who Refreshed the Broken

February 17, 2008 New York City

Much of the later part of Kathryn Faughey’s life was contained on this block of East 79th Street between First and York Avenues. It was where she shared a top-floor apartment with her husband, bought flowers on the corner on special occasions and listened to her patients as they shared their troubles. And it was where her funeral Mass was held on Saturday — at a church steps away from where she was killed on Tuesday.

Dr. Faughey, a 56-year-old psychologist who practiced in a building across the street from her apartment, was remembered as a woman with a winning smile and a patient wisdom.

About 350 people attended the hourlong service, including many of her patients, which was held at St. Monica’s Catholic Church. From the steps of the church a small memorial of flowers and cards was visible outside the building a half-block away at 435 East 79th Street where Dr. Faughey was slashed to death in her office.

“It’s just such a tragedy,” said Emily Fragos, 57, a neighbor who attended the funeral. “We’re all very disturbed at the level of violence, that someone could strike down someone in our midst.”

Dr. Faughey’s body was carried into the church in a poplar casket and followed closely by a procession of family members and friends, including her husband, Walter Adam.

The Mass was presided over by the Rev. Seamus Finn, who knew Dr. Faughey and had last seen her at a fund-raiser for Northern Ireland at the Waldorf -Astoria in November.

“In one way,” Father Finn said in his sermon, “her profession was so solemnly centered on the act of listening and trying to bring freshness to lives, trying to bring freshness to lives that are often broken apart by anger, by bitterness, by pain and by suffering.”

The circumstances of Dr. Faughey’s death has drawn an inordinate amount of news media attention. Mourners had to push through crowds of reporters, photographers and television cameras to enter and leave the church on Saturday. Some spoke to reporters but most shied away to grieve in private.

Father Finn recalled Dr. Faughey as a woman who found beauty in many places. “She found it in the city that she loved so dearly, for as many times as Walter tried to convince her to move out of it,” he said in his sermon. “We know she found it in places like Paris. We know she found it in just the simplest conversations with anyone of us.”

The eulogy was given by her friend, Sister Patricia Daly of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J., who knew her from their days together at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey, where Dr. Faughey had once been a professor.

Sister Daly described her as a woman of “incredible wisdom” and deep spiritual faith.

She then turned to her friend’s coffin and, clapping her hands together, said, “Kathy, well done.” The congregation rose to its feet and joined in a standing ovation.

January 13, 1991

Nuns' New Mission: Housing
Sisters to convert old school to units for elderly

Author: Estelle Lander. STAFF WRITER

At its peak, the Queen of the Rosary Academy drew 800 high school students to its North Amityville site surrounded by apple orchards, the brick buildings housing the Sisters of St. Dominic, and the tiny chapel built 103 years ago and recently rolled on tree logs to a new spot.

But like many Catholic schools on Long Island, the Queen of the Rosary Academy fell victim to dwindling numbers of children on Long Island and closed in 1986 after enrollment dropped to 250 students.

Now, after five years of considering how to best use the school and seeking town approval for their idea, the Sisters of St. Dominic hope to break ground next month on a first phase $9.6-million residence for the elderly that combines independent living with communal activities.

The high school will house a restaurant-style cafeteria, exercise room, beauty parlor and other rooms for activities that residents will choose. It will be linked by indoor passageways to four 2 1/2-story apartment houses for the independent elderly. A separate section of the high school will have 66 studios for those who need some help with daily needs, such as cleaning, doing laundry, bathing or dressing.

Called congregate housing, the concept is aimed at middle-class retirees with income too high for them to apply for government aid and too low to afford complexes catering to the wealthy, said Sister Helen Butler, a Dominican nun serving as director of the nonprofit board set up to run the Dominican Village, as the complex will be named.

"It's the middle class that doesn't have the opportunity because everything on Long Island is so expensive," Butler said.

Butler describes the Dominicans' plan as part of the orders' centuries-old philosophy - to serve others with dignity - that they have been applying in trade schools and orphanages on Long Island and at their North Amityville site on Albany Avenue since 1876. With the orphanages replaced by foster homes and the trade schools long closed, the nuns decided to help another growing segment of society, the elderly.

According to a report released by the Washington, D.C.,-based Urban Institute, titled "The Needs of the Elderly in the 21st Century," researchers say that by the year 2030 the percentage of elderly owning their own homes will rise to 80 percent from about 60 percent because of added years that Americans will be working. At the same time, another boost will come from aging baby boomers. One study notes that 21.9 million Americans were 65 or older in 1986. By the year 2030, that number is expected to increase 21 percent.

The Dominican Village, aimed at ambulatory retirees around the age of 75, is sorely needed, said Joseph Clemente, Suffolk County commissioner of the Department for the Aging.

"There's a need to take care of those at the poverty level and below," Clemente said. "But there's also a tremendous market for those who can't afford the large one-family home and who are looking for alternatives." A survey his department sent last year to elderly residents asking them to rate three top priorities showed that housing came in second after the concern about long-term health care.

Clemente said the assistance offered to some of the residents will help them stay psychologically fit by keeping them as independent as possible, while the communal meals will provide opportunities for them to socialize.

Butler estimates that the cost for one person renting an apartment there will be between $1,400 and $1,500 a month, or about $17,000 a year. That compares to her estimation of $1,030 monthly or about $12,000 annually for one person living in a $150,000 house. The monthly fee at the village includes a variety of services, including taxes, heating, security, some transportation and the one meal a day.

But some say they worry the rent might be too high and that the shrinking number of women entering the order each year will make staffing the center increasingly difficult in the future.

"Many seniors will look at $1,500 a month and say it's very expensive," Clemente said. "But I think there will be a market for it. Many people will not want to be institutionalized even though many nursing homes are of country club quality."

Robert Kaufold, a Babylon Town Board member who has supported the project, also said the rent might be steep. In addition, he said he was worried that as fewer novices join St. Dominic, the facility will have to hire added outside help at ever-increasing prices, forcing the rent to rise.

"I appreciate the sense of mission," Kaufold said of the nuns. "But my concern is the issue of the health of the Sisters of St. Dominic as a religious organization. With more and more paid people, it can become self-defeating."

Butler admits that the numbers of novices are alarmingly small. Only one or two women are joining the order annually, compared with a high of up to 60 in the 1950s and 1960s.

But she said that outside help, preferably from the surrounding communities, will work at the facility from the beginning, when it is expected to open in spring, 1992. The nuns and the outside staff who will do the housekeeping, run cafeteria services, coordinate activities and operate the center will be paid equally, so that when more outside help is needed, the costs shouldn't go up, she said.

And so far 140 respondents to a query about interest in the Dominican Village that Butler advertised in a diocesan newspaper said they are willing to pay the rent, she said.

Costs have been kept down by starting with only one of the four buildings and constructing the rest as needed. The mortgage for the complex will go through the state Housing Finance Agency, which gives a lower mortgage rate than market rates and the state Housing Trust Fund has granted the Village $1.7 million toward soft costs, such as administrative expenses, Butler said.

The nuns established a nonprofit corporation to handle the finances and oversee the operation.

Sitting in a small cottage on the site, Butler points out architectural renderings of the residences, which were to have been four stories tall but were scaled down after a new town administration took over in 1987 and denied the zoning variance to its 35-foot high limit on buildings.

Outside the cottage sits the high school, with not a single window broken or a mark of graffiti sprayed on its side in the five years it has been empty. Behind it is Our Lady of Prouille Retreat Center, once used by the nuns for contemplation and destined to be torn down.

The nuns use the term buffer zone when they describe the 13-acre site - with its apple orchards dissolving into grassy stretches, cemetery and buildings housing elderly nuns and the administration office - that lies between the industrial area of New Highway and the residential area starting on Albany Avenue.

When the first nuns arrived from Brooklyn 115 years ago, the area was nothing but farmland. Farmers bringing their produce to market shaped what became New Highway as they rode their horse-drawn carts over the road.

Four Dominican nuns came to the United States in 1853 from a cloistered community in Regensburg, on the Danube River, in Germany that dates back to the 1300s. A visitor to the Amityville Community, as the nuns call it, can feel an echo of the cloistered life in the replica of the enclosed courtyard and chapel surrounded by arched hallways.

In 1876, a group of Dominican nuns from Brooklyn established the Amityville center, and today there are about 900 nuns based there, with thousands living in the rest of the country and in a community in Puerto Rico. They are required to have college degrees before being initiated and their activities are as varied as running Molloy College in Rockville Centre, Consolation Residence nursing home in West Islip and a home for runaway girls and two high schools in Queens.

The Dominican Village planned for the Amityville community brings the nuns into a new phase of serving, Butler said.

"We respond to the needs that emerge with each age," she said. "It's based on respecting the dignity of persons."

Copyright (c) 1991 Newsday, Inc.
Record Number: 1004323045

Newsday (Melville, NY)

July 2, 2004

Faith for a full future
At 150, a convent in Amityville seeks to sustain support


The future.

That's what Sister Virginia Maguire of the Amityville Dominicans sees in the two women who recently entered Queen of the Rosary Convent as candidates, and a third who is preparing to make her final vows in one month.

"This is a sign of hope," said Sister Maguire, head of the Sisters of St. Dominic, one of the oldest congregations on Long Island.

But without a secure stream of funds and with an aging membership, they are facing the important challenge of keeping their long legacy alive and stepping up to the exigencies of a changing world.

"Our mission is to make the Gospel relevant and alive to the people of today," Sister Maguire said.

The Sisters of St. Dominic have been active social workers in the New York region for more than a century. Last month, they celebrated their 150th jubilee with a fund-raising luncheon for more than 500 guests at the Queen of the Rosary Motherhouse, an elegant brick estate built in 1876 and surrounded by a garden of trimmed evergreens. The event, the sisters said, raised a bit over $80,000 to help them provide for their retired sisters and carry on with their many ministries.

Of the 600 sisters who are affiliated with the Amityville Dominicans, more than 240 are retired.

"When I entered in 1960, there were 82 of us," Sister Maguire said. There are fewer than 60 women living at the convent today. Sister Maguire said that as a direct result of Vatican II, a series of reforms that modernized the Catholic Church four decades ago, religious women have the option of being involved in the church in different ways.

Lives spent in service

The life of service of the Sisters of St. Dominic began in 1853, when four religious women left the cloister of the Holy Cross Monastery in Regensburg, Germany, and came to Brooklyn to work with the children of German immigrants. The extent of their ministry grew quickly and soon other sisters joined them; they began working not only as teachers, but also as health care providers, taking in children who had been orphaned by the Civil War.

Sister Maguire said the congregation came to their present Long Island home when a parishioner offered his summer cottage in Amityville. It quickly developed into a center for the care of orphans and people convalescing from tuberculosis. "That little house became our first novitiate," she said.

Today, the Sisters of St. Dominic are involved in a variety of ministries in different parts of New York City and Long Island, working in education, health care and spirituality, among other areas.

Through Harvest Houses, an institution with facilities in Syosset, Lake Grove and Floral Park, they provide seniors with affordable living and companionship.

Sister Jeanne Andre Brendel, founder of Harvest Houses, said she became concerned with the quality of life of elders while working at a community center nearly 20 years ago.

"An elderly man died of malnutrition in an area that was not poor," she said. "When I investigated I found he died of loneliness."

With the help of fellow sisters and volunteers, she set out to provide seniors with family- style homes.

"I'm happy to be here," said Kathleen Knolhoff, 86, a resident of the Floral Park Harvest House. "You are never alone at night."

The sisters dedicate much of their time and effort to education, one of their primary ministries. Through a program called Opening Word, they provide adult education for low-income women. "This year we had over 60 women involved in the program, learning any skill they would need to acquire a job," Sister Maguire said. The program, with centers in Amityville and Wyandanch, encourages and helps women to move away from the welfare system and into employment.

Other programs are the Siena Spirituality Center in Water Mill, where they provide spiritual guidance and teach holistic living activities, and the Sophia Garden and Learning Center in Amityville, a garden farmed by families in the community.

Recently, the Sisters of St. Dominic began encouraging the participation of youngsters in their activities.

"We have a youth day where we invite neighboring schools," said Sister Gina Fleming, the congregation's promoter for youth. She said they also have youth preaching weekends four times a year. "The congregation loves to have kids around," she said.

Through fund-raising and networking events like last month's, and by keeping their social work consistent with the needs of the community, the Sisters of St. Dominic hope to celebrate another 150 years.

"Truthfully [our future] is uncertain, but we depend on God to show us the way," said Sister Brendel.

Sister Maguire, optimistic about the coming years, said, "There will always be a need for the work that we do."

Copyright (c) 2004 Newsday, Inc.
Record Number: 923697387

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

January 10, 1999

Author: Candace Goforth, Beacon Journal staff writer

There may never be a chicken in every pot, but if the Sisters of St. Dominic have their way, every pot will be filled with fresh vegetables.

The sisters' Crown Point Ecology Center, a 130-acre farm and wooded area on Ira Road in Bath, was established 10 years ago to bring together spirituality and ecology. But two years ago, the sisters added a third element to the mix: charity.

"We believe this project serves a vast array of people from all religious backgrounds," said Sister Mariellen Phelps. "We have a number of people who have received the food and said how much it has meant to their families -- having fresh vegetables that would not be within their reach otherwise.

"They could not, for example, afford to go to the Mustard Seed Market, which we know has wonderful vegetables too. We are serving people who are tremendously limited to taking whatever is available."

The project started in 1997, when the center harvested more than 5,000 pounds of produce for the needy.

The program was such a success that last year the center increased the crop fivefold and harvested more than 25,000 pounds of fresh vegetables for the cause.

Dan Sveda, executive director for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, said the organization usually must rely of nonperishable items -- such as prepared and canned foods -- to help the poor, because those produces transport and store easily.

The few bushels of fresh produce the food bank usually receives are donated by grocery stores and often are on their "last leaf" by the time they make it to the families' tables, he said.

The Crown Point vegetables -- including onions, carrots, potatoes, green beans, cabbage and a variety of greens -- are planted specifically for the food bank and are grown under organic conditions. Often, families receive the vegetables within a few days of the time they're picked, Sveda said.

Deb Marino, an assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at the University of Akron, said the value of fresh produce in food bank's pantry is immeasurable, considering the importance of vegetables in the daily diet.

"People who are low-income very frequently will cut out the (fresh) fruits and vegetables because they may not be affordable for them," Marino said. "We recommend that people have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. People who are struggling economically are less likely to get that amount, and that puts them at a health risk."

Crown Point's food bank project is funded through grants and the support of Community Supported Agricultural members, who pay $425 at the beginning of the growing season. The money is used to buy supplies and farming equipment. The members get a tasty return on their investment -- a 10 to 15-pound bag of organic vegetables every week for 22 weeks.

The center has committed to donating at least 50 percent of every harvest to the food bank, said David Irvine, director of the Crown Point Ecology Center.

Of the 320 agencies the food bank serves, 122 benefited from last season's crop, he said.

"There is a great need out there, and our experience this year really proves that," he said. "We have lots of room to grow."

Copyright (c) 1999 Akron Beacon Journal
Record Number: 9901110094

The Record (New Jersey)

June 24, 2001


Author: CHARLES AUSTIN, Staff Writer; The Record

Twenty-five people stood in a circle in Blairstown on Saturday and used a ball of yarn to reconstruct the world.

Tossing the yarn from a person representing plants to others representing animals, rocks, air, water, and the stars, they wove a web of life in which each element of creation is connected.

The circle game was part of an effort by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell to bring people closer to the natural world and recognize that the earth has a spiritual core shared by people, animals, and plants.

That recognition, said leaders of Saturday's summer solstice observance at Genesis Farm, will foster better care for the earth and its resources.

"Separating the spiritual and the physical world is no longer possible," said Sister Miriam MacGillis, who runs the 140 acres of farmland in Warren County that the sisters inherited in 1980.

The nuns saw the growing interest in ecology and in connecting religious faith with care for the earth, and decided to use the farm as a place where people can study, meditate, harvest the land, and explore conservation.

Since 1980, hundreds of people from all over the world have attended the Genesis Farm courses taught by MacGillis and others on "Earth Literacy," "Exploring the Sacred Universe," and "Wisdom Traditions." Several schools, including Drew University in Madison, offer college credit for the courses.

Thana Giridhar, who teaches first grade in Ridgewood, took one of the courses earlier this year and said she was profoundly affected. "It's looking at the world in a deeper way, and seeing how I live my life - even in the little things - affects every other part of life," she said.

One of the "little things" Giridhar does is take her own bag to the store when she buys groceries. She is also seeking local sources of vegetables and meats so that her purchases "sustain local economies," often friendlier to the earth than corporate mass producers.

Genesis Farm holds equinox and solstice rituals four times a year, and the farm sponsors nature walks and a children's summer camp. Summer solstice, which actually occurred Thursday, is the day with the year's latest sunset. It marks the beginning of summer, which is known as the "season of growth."

Indeed, the farm is more than a learning and retreat center; it actually produces a variety of crops. The crops are tended according to what the late Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner called "biodynamics," a philosophy that holds it is the earth that grows the crops, not the human cultivators.

In 1998, the nuns began the "Community Supported Garden." The cooperative was designed not only to provide fresh vegetables for the 200 people who purchase shares and work for the farm, but also to help them see the connection between their own food supply and the earth.

Following a year-round schedule of planting and harvesting, the gardeners exclude chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Twice each week, shareholders can pick up baskets of vegetables, herbs, and flowers from the garden.

People should care for the earth not only because it provides food and shelter, MacGillis said, but because the earth itself has a soul.

She acknowledges that this requires a shift in how people view the world, and said views have steadily been changing. After all, it wasn't that long ago that people thought the sun revolved around the earth.

But science "has extended our eyes and ears far beyond what our ancestors could have known,' she said.

In previous centuries, the Catholic Church often opposed scientific views of the world, seeing them as contradictory to Scripture. But in recent decades, writers such as the late Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist, have blended science and theology.

MacGillis cites his work. She now sees the universe as a "single, continually unfolding event" and the world as a "living organism" with an innate spiritual dimension. "A life in the spirit is possible," MacGillis said, "not only for humans, but for the earth itself."

Next year, the philosophy of the farm may be spun off into a public school. Lisa Kelly of Hardwick is seeking a charter from the state Department of Education to open a school nearby in 2002 and make the farm a place where children "receive a different view of the world."

"Rather than a consumer, hierarchical, capitalistic worldview," she said, "we want to teach children to know that we do not `rule' the world, its plants and animals, but that we are a part of them."

Kelly moved to the area from Clifton four years ago and began going to classes at Genesis Farm. She wants her own small children to attend a school based on "earth literacy."

"It is a very spiritual, a non-sectarian philosophy," she said. "It is a faith rooted in the environmental movement that connects you from your core to the core of the earth."

Rain fell during most of the solstice celebration, which is meant to celebrate the sun, so Lori Gold, a staff member at the farm, read a poem about the sustaining value of water.

But the sun returned to view when MacGillis said summer solstice - "one of the midpoints on our eternal ride around the sun" - existed "to remind us that there will be summer growth, that our incredible journey will go on."

Copyright (c) 2001 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
Record Number: 551127

Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)

September 21, 2002

Celebrating 50 years of education

Dominican College anniversary event is set for tomorrow

Kari Neering

When the Sisters of St. Dominic started Dominican College in 1952, the campus consisted of two buildings and 50 female students.

Today, the school has become a maze of modernized buildings that service the needs of nearly 2,000 male and female students. Degree offerings have expanded, programs have been accredited, and men have long been given permission to enroll.

Much has changed at Dominican during the last 50 years, but spiritually, its leaders said, the mission has remained the same.

"The college came out of a dream placed in the hearts of our founding sisters," said Sister Mary Ann Collins, president of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt. "Their great belief in education and their trust in God is the foundation of Dominican College, and today, 50 years later, the graduates of Dominican are making a difference in church and society."

Dominican College was founded in the Catholic tradition as a junior college chartered for the teacher-education training of women. To celebrate its history and 50th anniversary, college officials have organized special events, including an alumni and family day, an Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner, and a December holiday concert.

At 11 a.m. tomorrow, a liturgy service is planned in the main chapel of St. Dominic's Convent. The first five of 50 honorary medals will be presented to those recognized by the college as being instrumental to its growth.

Collins will accept the first award on behalf of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt and the Sister Founders of Dominican College.

"That's a very special start," said Sister Mary Eileen O'Brien, president of Dominican College.

Dominican enrolled 50 women in its first year, nine of whom graduated two years later at the college's first commencement ceremony. In 1959, the school was chartered as a four-year liberal arts college, and in 1967, men were allowed to enroll.

Sister Michaela Connolly, a 1968 graduate of the college, said the once-silent campus had changed to a bustling place with students of all ages, races and backgrounds.

The biggest difference on campus since then, she said, was the variety of social events, sports and academic programs now available to students.

"Those things didn't exist in my day," said Connolly, a member of the college board. "It's been encouraging for us to watch it."

Dominican has grown to a fully accredited four-year institution with nearly 1,800 students and 30 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. This year, the college enrolled the largest freshman class in its history, with 226 freshmen, compared with 125 last year.

Officials hope to attract more new students with the construction of the school's new Center for Health and Science Education. The $12 million center - scheduled to open in January 2004 - would provide special labs for science and math majors and would house an auditorium large enough to seat the entire student body.

O'Brien said the college had changed with the times but had held onto its founders' vision.

It is important, she said, that the college remain small enough for students to continue to feel as though they are part of a family.

"There is ongoing discussion with regards to the importance of our mission," O'Brien said. "The college sets standards, and we want to provide the opportunity for those people who can meet the standards to go on and receive bachelor's and master's degrees."

O'Brien said the college aimed to increast its enrollment to about 2,500 students in the near future. Beyond that, she said, officials did not plan to recruit any more students than the college could handle.

"It's the personal nature, the accepting of diversity, the commitment of the individual and the wanting to provide options for all people to achieve their goals that make this college what it is," she said. "Those kind of orientations remain."

Copyright (c) The Journal News. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: wst2002092310000984

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)

December 7, 2007

Akron nuns will merge with others
Author: David Briggs; Plain Dealer Religion Reporter

The Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron will merge with six congregations to strengthen their mission during a time of dramatically declining numbers.

The seven congregations, comprising 730 sisters, announced Thursday that the Vatican approved their petition to unite into a new congregation, planned for Easter Sunday 2009.

In the interim, the communities will decide on a name, a location for the central offices and the division of ministries.

Sister Mary Ann Wiesemann, general superior of the Akron chapter, said Thursday that local ministries such as the Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath and Our Lady of the Elms elementary and high schools in Akron will go on as before.

The congregation began in 1929. Wiesemann said that while it was difficult for the congregation to give up its independence, the merger will allow for a stronger presence through the combining of resources.

"That's part of the Christian life: We die in order to rise more fully," she said.

Union talks began in 2002, and the seven congregations voted independently last April for the merger. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life recently gave its approval for the Dominican sisters in Akron to merge with the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs in Columbus, the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima in Oxford, Mich., the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, Kan., the Dominicans of St. Catharine in St. Catharine, Ky., and the Congregation of St. Mary and the Dominican Sisters of Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic, both in New Orleans.

Mergers are becoming more common as many religious orders experience sharp drops in members. Nationally, the number of nuns has fallen from 180,000 in 1965 to 64,000 in 2007. Only about 5 percent of nuns are under age 50.

In 2004, the Vincentian Sisters of Charity in Bedford merged with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. This year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cleveland joined with six other congregations of St. Joseph from Louisiana to Illinois.

Wiesemann said the Akron congregation is full of hope even though its numbers have fallen from a high of more than 250 sisters in the 1960s to 76 today.

"God is doing something new, as God always has. What lies ahead, we're not really sure," she said. "We don't fear it because God always promises resurrection."

Copyright, 2007, The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.
Record Number: MERLIN_6660306