Big changes on the way for Dominican Sisters

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St. Catharine, plus other communities to unite in 2009

By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Staff Writer

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine will be uniting with six other communities across the United States to form a new congregation of Dominican women. The as-yet unnamed new congregation will be official on Easter Sunday, Apr. 12, 2009.

Although some administrative responsibilities will move from St. Catharine, the motherhouse and the sisters who call it home will still remain a vital part of Washington County’s Catholic community.

“We are grateful for our relationship with Washington County and the area,” said Sister Joye Gros, president of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine. “This is where we were founded and we are very involved in the community. We’re not going anywhere.”

The main reason for the union is to strengthen each individual congregation and to network with each other. Fewer administration positions will allow more people to do mission work.

“Together, we can do more for the needs of the world,” added Gros.

The median age of the Dominican Sisters is also increasing and fewer young people are joining.

The new congregation will also include the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima in Oxford, Mich.; Dominican Sisters, Congregation of St. Mary in New Orleans, La.; Dominican Sisters of Great bend, Kan.; Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs in Columbus, Ohio.; Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic, also from New Orleans; and Sisters of St. Dominic of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Akron, Ohio.

The new congregation will be incorporated in Kentucky, and the leadership teams of the seven communities have decided that Columbus, Ohio, will be the location for the administrative offices for leadership, finance, communications, development, information technology and human resources. A name for the congregation should be decided in early September.

The first General Chapter meeting is scheduled for April 15-21, 2009 in St. Louis, at which a new leadership team will be chosen. The new congregation will have approximately 730 vowed sisters. There will also be 500 associates, men and women who work with the sisters, but have not taken vows.

Formed in 1822, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine was the first American order founded in the United States. They are the oldest community among the seven who are uniting.