The spirit and mission of Saint Dominic have inspired numerous branches of the Order of Preachers to spring up throughout the world. In the latter half of the nineteenth century United States, this vision prompted three exceptional women to found Dominican congregations to proclaim the Word of God to an immigrant Church through the education of children and the care of the destitute sick. Mother Bertrand Sheridan, Mother Augustine Neuhierl and Mother Mary Walsh began their religious journeys on three separate paths. Their companions and followers came to be known respectively as: Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Fall River, Massachusetts; Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Newburgh, New York; and Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor of the Immaculate Conception of Ossining, New York.
Through decades of major change in Church and society, these congregations traveled their separate journeys. Now the stirrings of the Spirit and the call of the Church to a revitalized and fuller expression of religious life, as well as the desire to collaborate with others who share the Dominican charism, have brought these separate paths into one. A journey of transformation together, begun as collaboration in 1981, has led to the formation of the Dominican Sisters of Hope. While 1995 marks the establishment of this new Congregation as an apostolic religious institute of pontifical right within the Roman Catholic Church, the journey continues….
In 1995, we became something new – a new religious Congregation of Dominican women. Of course it didn’t happen all at once. Three Dominican groups, from Fall River, MA; Newburgh, NY; and Ossining, NY, had been working for years on the preliminary steps. Finally, on July 20, 1995, we celebrated the formal founding of the Dominican Sisters of Hope.
It was the last day of our chapter meeting, a very special Sunday morning, and time to name our new congregation. The day before we had listed possible names on newsprint, talked about them, affirmed some names and ignored others. We were tired and couldn’t see how we would be able to settle on a name together. We had ended the day before with no consensus, and no real excitement. However, we placed ourselves in the presence of God and returned to the task. Sisters began to approach the microphones at various locations in the room, each of them speaking in support of one of the names. Still there was no real excitement.
Then something happened. There was an alertness among us that hadn’t been there before, a kind of hum spreading through the room, much nodding, sounds of agreement, one word spoken over and over. The sound grew louder and we were laughing. As one Sister later said, “you could see excitement jumping from table to table. It was a little epiphany- a small Pentecost.”
All of a sudden and from the beginning of time, Hope was our mission; the meaning of our Gospel study, the crying need of our times, the truth of our existence, the identity that we claimed together.
The Spirit named us “Dominican Sisters of Hope.”
The traditional Dominican shield in a circular version forms the basic concept for the logo. It suggests light, earth, movement, inclusivity. The stylized leaf images new life, the result of the new foundation which flows from the history and tradition of the former congregations. Each of the three former congregations had historical connections to a river, and the river image was very meaningful in the founding ritual. The flow of water in a river image, and the new life that emerges from it, offer an image that defines the uniqueness of the Dominican Sisters of Hope.
The logo was designed by Sister Anne Lythgoe, OP, St. Catherine de Ricci