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The Dominican Mile is officially open to the public at St. Catharine College after a ribbon-cutting was held last Friday in Lourdes Hall.
The new walking track targets fitness while also giving recognition to the holy land that St. Catharine Motherhouse and St. Catharine College have been built on.
Peggy Tillman took the lead on finalizing the project in recent years, after it was initially started by Dr. Harry Nickens, who was in attendance for the presentation. Tillman led a committee made up of members from the motherhouse, the college and the Springfield community that has worked diligently to make the track a reality.
“This has been a really heartfelt project for all of us,” said Bettye Brookfield, one of the members on the committee. “We honor the Dominican Sisters and we honor the ground that we’re on. We’re just so delighted to have been a part of this project.”
Brookfield went on to say that the project has been in good hands throughout the years and that the group didn’t miss a beat when it saw a change in leadership.
“Dr. Nickens was behind this project a couple of years ago and Peggy took over, and the whole thing has been a real adventure of love,” Brookfield said.
Several of the Dominican Sisters were on hand for the ceremony, as they were also celebrating their Feast Day (a Catholic celebration of specific canonized saints). Sr. Elaine DesRosiers led the singing of “Holy Ground” to mark the occasion and shared with those in attendance the story of how St. Catharine earned its recognition as an area of holy land in Kentucky. She told of how the first pioneers migrated from Maryland just a decade after the American Revolution, and of the original St. Rose prior, which was only a small sanctuary at the time.
DesRosiers also told of the background of the Dominican Sisters, noting that nine women started the congregation that still thrives today. In fact, the group joined eight other congregations five years ago to form the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and the group is now over 600 strong, not even including associate members.
Representatives of the Dominican Sisters spoke on the importance of the track, as did members of the local community.
Sandra Davis, chairperson of the Springfield Tourism Commission, said the city of Springfield is excited to be part of the project that had been in the works for years.
“Springfield Tourism is so proud to be part of the grant money to go toward this Dominican Mile walk,” Davis said. “We know it effects the Holy Land tour and it effects all of the people here.”
A prayer was said in honor of the ceremony and Sr. Diane Traffas provided the blessing of the walking trail.
Tillman concluded the ceremony by informing the guests that their closest companions are free to enjoy the new addition to St. Catharine as well.
“If you have any four-legged friends that you want to bring with you, we welcome them, but please bring some plastic bags to care for any accidents,” she said with a smile.