Sister Beth Murphy, OP

After an interlude serving Iraqi refugees in Detroit and the Latino Community in Chicago Sister Beth is back in Springfield ministering in the communications office. In true Dominican fashion, "home" is wherever she is, but she confesses to a special fondness for the prairie landscapes of central Illinois.

Twenty-eight Dominican Associates make Commitment

Associates and Prioress General Express Gratitude to
Program Director Sister Paul Mary Janssens, OP

 

Springfield, Ill.—The Dominican Sisters of Springfield welcomed 28 new associates—and expressed gratitude to Sister Paul Mary Janssens, OP, who is leaving leadership of the program after 11 years of service—during Mass at Sacred Heart Convent Chapel on May 7. Sixteen of the new associates are residents of the diocese.

The associate class included residents of Springfield, Bluffs, Auburn, Flossmoor, Jacksonville, Illiopolis, Galesburg, Pana, Steger, Lansing, Normal, Park Forest, Chicago Heights, South Holland, Orland Park, and Bloomington, Ill., Indiana residents of Munster and Hammond, and Mississippi residents of the Jackson area. They made their commitment after completing a 9-month course in the history, spirituality, and mission of the Dominicans.

Sister Paul Mary Janssens, OP, who is leaving her leadership role after eleven years as director of the Dominican Associate Program, addresses the new associates as Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general, looks on.

During Mass Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, prioress general of the congregation, thanked Sister Paul Mary for eleven years of service in the associate program, calling her a “superb animator” of the associates and an enthusiastic supporter of lay leadership in the church.

Baptized Christians from any tradition may be candidates for the Dominican Associate Program. Women seeking vowed membership as sisters are required to be single and Catholic. For more information about becoming a Dominican sister or a Dominican associate call 217-787-0481 or email. DominicanSisters@spdom.org.

Known formally as the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans were founded in 1216 by St. Dominic Guzman, a Spaniard whose genius was to gather around him a family of women and men dedicated to prayer, study, community life, and preaching the Gospel. The Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., whose congregation was established in 1873 in Jacksonville, Ill., are committed to those same foundations and serve in solidarity with people who are forgotten or ignored in society.

Welcome to all our new associates!

From Auburn, Ill.

Dan Horn, (Sponsor: Jill Horn, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Judith Pfile)

From Bluffs, Ill.

Michelle Hoots, Our Saviour’s Church (Sponsor: Carolyn White, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Helen Wolf)

From Buffalo, Ill.

Sandy Barnett, Resurrection (Sponsor: Sr. Phyllis Schenk, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Michaela Collins)

From Flossmoor, Ill.

Shirley Morris, St. Agnes (Sponsor: Sr. Agnes Ann Pisel, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Gael Daley)

From Galesburg, Ill.

Catherine A Seper, Corpus christi (Sponsor: Sr. Rose Marie Rile, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Elizabeth Wrenn)

From Illiopolis, Ill.

Mary Hawkins, Resurrection (Sponsor: Sr. Concepta Joerger, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Alice Mannix)

From Jacksonville, Ill. Our Savior’s Church

Judy Cisne, (Sponsor: Gail Eck, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Anton Uthe)

Tom Cisne, (Sponsor: Gail Eck, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Stephanie Kapusta)

Linda Curtis, (Sponsor: Jan Fellhauer, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Philli Neri Crawford)

Charlotte Denight, (Sponsor: Jan Felhauer, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Martha Carmody)

Hannah Hamilton, (Sponsor: Becky DeVore, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Gabriella Lubbers)

Marilyn Murphy, (Sponsor: Rosella Spreen, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Jeanine McGinley)

Chris Pennell, (Sponsor: Sue Brosmith, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Connie Klamroth)

From Lansing, Ill.

Donna Lamoureux, Holy Ghost (Sponsor: Sr. Phyllis Schenk, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Corde Lenn)

From Normal, Ill.

Mary Ellen Larson, Holy Trinity (Sponsor: Sr. Marilyn Jean Runkel, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Ancilla Caulfield)

From Orland Park, Ill.

Vince Krydynski, St. Michael (Sponsor: Sr. Judine Hibin, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Blaise Galloway)

From Pana, Ill.

Peggy Begole, St. Patricks (Sponsor: Sr. M. Emmeric Emerick, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Alice Mannix)

From Park Forest, Ill.

Alexis Williams, St. Irenaeus (Sponsor: Sr. Agnes Ann Pisel, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Margaret Ann Cox)

Ricke Williams, St. Mary’s (Sponsor: Sr. Agnes Ann Pisel, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Margaret Ann Cox)

From Springfield, Ill.

Barbara Kern, St. Agnes (Sponsor: Sr. Joan Sorge, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Janet Guretz)

Kathy Vost, St. Agnes (Sponsor: Sr. Joan Sorge, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Anita Tapocik)

Kevin Vost, St. Agnes (Sponsor: Sr. Joan Sorge, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Regina Marie Bernet)

Kris Wellman, Little Flower (Sponsor: Janine Des Marteau-Morris, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Bernice Juip)

From Hammond, Ind.

Elizabeth Carlsson, St. Liborius Church (Sponsor: Nan Rita Kaz, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Marion Sitkiewitz)

From Munster, Ind.

Steve Tortorello, (Sponsor: Sr. Agnes Ann Pisel, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Bernice Juip)

From Brandon, Miss.

*Donna Lee Reiss, St. Paul (Sponsor: Sr. Susan Karina Dicky, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Dominic Joerger)

From Flowood, Miss.

*Cynthia Downer, St. Paul (Sponsor: Sr. Celestine Rondelli, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Mananne Nolan)

From Jackson, Miss.

Jill Gray, St. Richards (Sponsor: Sr. Thecla Kuhnline, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Francene Harbauer)

From Ridgeland, Miss.

*Lydia Jo McKeathen, Cathedreal of St. Peter’s (Sponsor: Sr. Celestine Rondelli, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Melanie Roetker)

From Madison, Miss.

*John Malanchak, St. Peter’s (Sponsor: Sr. Kristin Rever, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Francella Vyverman)

*Lee Gleason, St. Francis (Sponsor: Sr. Susan Karina Dickey, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Magret McCormick)

Rebecca Butler, St. Richards (Sponsor: Sr. Celestine Rondelli, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. Pauletta Overbeck)

Sheila Lawler Evans, St. Richards (Sponsor: Sr. June Volpe, Prayer Sponsor: Sr. M. Rose Schleeper)

*Unable to attend the commitment ceremony in Springfield, these associates are scheduled to make commitment in the chapel at St. Dominic Hospital, Jackson, Miss., on June 10, 2017.

 

Visit our Facebook photo album for more memories from this wonderful day.

Hanging with The Donut Sister

How did Sister Francella Vyverman find her niche at Washington Street Mission?
Sister Francella enjoys a moment with a mission patron.

Photography by Aaron Tebrinke.

Sister Francella Vyverman traffics in lap robes.

It comes with the job of pastoral minister to the sick and elderly of Cathedral Parish, her beat since 2002.

On a piercing cold day last fall, she was stymied about what to do with a surplus of the volunteer-crafted quilts filling her back seat. “I’d already given away as many lap robes as I could to the Cathedral parishioners convalescing at home, in the nursing homes, and in the hospitals,” she explained.

“I’m coming down Fourth Street saying to God ‘OK now, send me the right way’” she recalls. Just then, she passed Springfield’s historic Washington Street Mission.

Washington Street Mission's 1910 sign

Founded by the famed evangelist Billy Sunday in 1910, the mission has anchored Springfield’s homeless community ever since, though it only spent its first eight years on its namesake street.

“I saw people out in the cold, even a lady with two babies,” Sister Francella continued. “I stopped the car and told somebody, ‘I need to talk to your boss.’” The chaplain appeared at her car window.

“I’m going to show you something. You can have it if you want,” Sister Francella remembers the moment. She pointed to the back seat. The chaplain’s eyes brightened. “’My God,’ he said, “’Do you know what this means for us?’” He relieved her of three bags of quilts and invited her in.

“When I saw the people inside, I wanted to help and asked if I could come back. I was told I was welcome anytime to pour coffee and wipe tables,” Sister Francella recounted.

Call it chance, or the work of the Holy Spirit, this volunteer ministry started serendipitously but has become a cherished part of Sister Francella’s week.

Her compassionate heart is the key to her success as busser-of-tables at the mission. But don’t underestimate the donuts.

Not many people who know her would have thought this would be the niche Sister Francella would find for herself in her 75th year. Born in Taylorville, Ill., to Frank and Mary Vyverman, she boarded at Sacred Heart Academy and joined the sisters at 17. Soon she was teaching first and second graders at on Chicago’s South Side. She hung out in primary schools for 33 years before moving on to hospital chaplaincy and pastoral ministry.

If she’s faced a challenge in her days at the mission, it’s been learning not to judge, Sister Francella says. “One day a lady threw a donut at my back and got frosting in my hair.” She recalls that Jim Medley, the kitchen manager and volunteer coordinator, brought her back to the kitchen for a touch-up. “It will take me one minute to clean it off” he said as he tended to the sticky mess with a damp towel. “Are you afraid?” he asked. No, she said, she wasn’t. “Some people would be very afraid.” he told her.

Why was this genteel woman—who came of age in boarding school and presided for decades over first-grade classrooms—so obviously at home at Washington Street Mission?

“I saw people out in the cold, even a lady with two babies,” Sister Francella continued. “I stopped the car and told somebody, ‘I need to talk to your boss.’”

Sister Francella

“I had seen so many other things,” she explained, starting with experiences in hospital emergency rooms and neurology units. “I saw some very scary things. I just had to learn to cope.” Then, digging deep into her own story she explained her mother’s struggle following brain surgery and the illnesses that ensued. “And after holding my own mom in my arms after many grand mal seizures, I guess I could do anything,” she said.

Sister Francella’s compassion for people who suffer was forged in her childhood and nurtured by the witness of her father’s gentleness and patience. Frank Vyverman was faithful to his spouse, and supportive of his children. Sister Francella cared for him, too, after he suddenly became blind in 1989 until his death four years later.

Her compassionate heart is the key to her success as busser-of-tables at the mission. But don’t underestimate the donuts. For years, a local shop has provided her with a couple dozen donuts to share with parishioners as she makes her communion rounds. Since learning about the addition to her morning routine, the shop owners let her take as many day-olds as she needs.

On this damp April Friday that meant five boxes—ten dozen donuts—piled into the passenger seat of her dusty grey Taurus.

“Her alone gives this place some balance,” he says, waving his arms in the general direction of everywhere. “She’s got enough positive about her to wipe out all the negative.”

Mark

Mission patron

Once at the mission Sister Francella honked the horn. Guests ran to greet her and relieve her of her sugary burden. They were happy for the donuts and equally pleased to see Sister Francella, who greets patrons gently as she walks through the pungent corridor into the kitchen.

She fills a carafe with the first of gallons of coffee she’ll pour this day. Other helpers whisk donuts onto dayroom counters to fortify the dozens of people who’ve anticipated breakfast since they arrived from their various resting places in Illinois’ capitol city’s shelters, alleys, and doorways.

A man with full head of gray hair naps at a table, head buried in a Cardinal-red jacket. Another huddles on a staircase, telescopic white cane folded under his legs, a small dog on his lap. “It’s scary being blind and homeless, man” he says, and asks for a prayer for his safety.

A woman—not more than 35, certainly—with an appealing, open face and a smile that reveals a lack of dental care, races through a list of institutes of high education where, she insists, she gained her educational credentials that prepared her for a distinguished military career.

Sister Francella approaches two friends at a table. “Good morning, gentlemen, would you like another cup?” When they decline, she asks, “Where will you eat today?” prompting a conversation between them as she moves on. She stops pouring to sit beside Michael and chat. They look for all the world like old friends. Later she says that Michael, distinguished-looking and gentlemanly, is sitting away from the crowd because he is new at the mission and not quite comfortable there.

Under a shop-window-size, gilt framed proclamation: “NOW is the Day of Salvation,”—a white-haired volunteer plays old-timey gospel tunes, lost behind laughter and loud conversation. In an adjoining space Mark and Amber Rose enjoy their coffee and donuts in what Mark called the “quiet room.” The patrons are noticeably calmer in here. Christian pop music plays through the speakers. An amicable buzz permeates the room. I explain that I’m with Sister Francella. Mark immediately calls her “a blessing.”

“Her alone gives this place some balance,” he says, waving his arms in the general direction of everywhere. “She’s got enough positive about her to wipe out all the negative.”

“Yes, that’s right, a blessing,” chimes in Amber Rose.

Balance and blessing seem to be the words of the day. Danny Yocum, the men’s ministry coordinator says Sister Francella brings a “motherly balance,” noting that her very presence calms the spaces in the cavernous building—a 1920s auto dealership—where guests hang out.

On her way back to the kitchen for a coffee refill, Sister Francella is stopped by a gentleman to whom she introduces herself.

“I can tell you are a sister and a volunteer” he teases, “Because you are not a regular.” Then he asks “Do you have a nickname?”

“I do,” she says, “but I’m not telling you what it is. That is for my brother to call me only.” Then she leans in closer and confides affectionately “But some people around here call me The Donut Sister.”

 

This story was updated 5/12/17 to correct an error regarding the history of Washington Street Mission.

REGISTRATION OPEN NOW FOR DOMINICAN SISTERS’ JULY 9-11 FAITH CAMP

Last year’s campers in the convent courtyard with Mary.

Fun, Faith, and Sister Buddies

SPRINGFIELD, ILL.—It is not clear who enjoys the Dominican Sisters’ Faith Camp more—the junior high girls who participate or their grateful parents—but it is time for families to register their daughters for this year’s camp, scheduled July 9-11.

Early registration is advised; participation is limited to 25 campers.

“It was such a wonderful experience for her to see how the sisters live,” said Jennifer Cunningham, Quincy, Ill., whose daughter Gwendolyn participated in camp last year. “Even now she is overjoyed when she speaks of her time at camp. Our schedules didn’t work out for her to participate till last year. Now she regrets that she is too old and can’t participate, but our younger daughter is thinking about coming this year.”

Girls starting grades 6-9 in the fall are welcome. They’ll enjoy crafts, games, a trip to Jubilee Farm, and interaction with the sisters in a safe, welcoming, Catholic environment. The girls will learn about the importance of prayer, study, and Christian service for a well-rounded faith life. The schedule includes making something, baking something, spending quiet time with Jesus in the chapel, swimming—and Sister Buddies.

Register Now!

Campers are matched up with sisters who live at Sacred Heart Convent, where the camp is held. The sisters pray for the campers and their families, sit with their buddy during morning prayer and Mass in the chapel, and have a special one-on-one conversation about the sister’s vocation story, her relationship with Jesus, and her service to the Church.

Campers’ families also get a taste of the experience on the last day when they are invited to a special program that gives them a peek into how camp has helped them grow, learn, and experience the love of God.

Camp is held at Sacred Heart Convent, 1237 W. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62704.

Registration is $50 per child and includes a copy of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book for each child to take home. Registration forms are available here or from Sister Teresa Marron, OP, at 217-787-0481 or SrTeresa@spdom.org.

“Families who live at a distance might consider wrapping a family vacation around the camp,” suggests Sister Teresa Marron, the director of the vocation office who hosts the camp. “Come a day early or stay on a few days longer so your whole family can enjoy all Springfield has to offer.” Families planning a vacation around Faith Camp are advised to book accommodations early because hotels fill up fast in Mr. Lincoln’s Hometown. Visit www.visitspringfieldillinois.com for more information.

Twelve Dominican Sisters Celebrate Jubilees

Twelve Dominican Sisters of Springfield are observing profession anniversaries of 75, 60, or 50 years in 2017. We are blessed to call them our sisters and pleased to share with you these synopses of their lives of faithfulness and service. As with much of life, it is when we read between the lines that we can discern the presence of God’s spirit moving within and among us. As you peruse our sisters’ stories; watch for the name of one who is your friend, or who supported your family through difficult times, or taught one or more of your children, then offer a prayer of gratitude for her life. You can be sure that she remembers you in prayer as well!

Sister M. Martina Finn, OP

Profession: 8/4/1942

Current Ministry: Ministry of Prayer, Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield

Birthplace and baptismal parish: St. John the Baptist, Arcola

Previous ministries: Primary teacher, St. Malachy School, Rantoul, Ill., Holy Angels School, Aurora, Ill.; St. Bernadette School, Evergreen Park, Ill.; LaSalle Catholic School, LaSalle, Ill.; St. Peter School, Aurora, Ill.; St Anne School, St. Anne, Ill.; St. Ambrose School, Joliet, Ill.; St. Edward School, Chicago, St. Lawrence O’Tool School, Matteson, Ill.; Holy Rosary School, Denver; St. Maurice School, Morrisonville; Holy Rosary School, Duluth, Minn.; Our Lady of Grace School, Chicago; Day care center coordinator, St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital, Rogers, Ark.

Musings: I grew up with prayerful parents. Dad said the Rosary while ploughing behind the horses in the field; mom would take 30 minutes of prayer after the noon meal every day. Their example was a big part of what drew me to religious life. Dad always told us “If you make a promise, you keep it.” That simple, solid advice has stayed with me my whole life. It kept me grounded during the days when religious life didn’t always feel like a rose garden.

 

Sister M. Jerome Quinn, OP

Profession: 1/4/1957

Current ministry: Volunteer, Holy Family, Decatur School, Ill., since 2014

Birthplace and baptismal parish:  St. Patrick Church, Newport, County Mayo

Previous ministries: Elementary education—St Mary School, East Moline, Ill.; Cathedral School, Springfield, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, Brawley, Calif.; Holy Angels School, Aurora, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, San Diego; Sacred Heart School, Redlands, Calif.; St. Malachy School, Rantoul, Ill.; St. Edward School, Chicago; St. James School, Sauk Village, Ill.; St. Bernadette School, Evergreen Park, Ill.; Our Lady of Grace School, Chicago.

Musings: I was trying to make a decision about whether to enter a community in Ireland or go to the United States. This was 1955, and my pastor wisely said to me “The United States needs you more than Ireland.” The faith-life in Ireland was very strong at the time and there was great need for teaching sisters during the post-war baby boom in the U.S. That made my decision.

Sister Bernice Juip, OP (Sister M. Anthony)

Profession: 1/4/1957

Current ministry: Administrative assistant to the prioress general, Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill., since 2001.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: Warren, Mich., St. Clement, Center Line, Mich.

Previous ministries: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini School, Springfield, Ill.; St. Thomas More School, Elgin, Ill.; Holy Cross School, Mendota, Ill.; St. Christina School, Chicago; Christ the King School, Springfield, Ill.; St. Anthony School, San Bernardino, Calif.; St. Dominic School, Quincy, Ill.; Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Springfield, Ill.; Siena Hall Coordinator, Springfield, Ill.; St. Peter, Aurora, Ill.

Musings: The joy-filled witness of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield who taught me at St. Augustine High School in Richmond, Mich., attracted me to religious life! Through the faith life of my family and the sisters who taught me, I heard God calling me to consider being a religious sister. Living as a religious sister is life-giving in the midst of the complexities of challenging times. Throughout my 60 years there have been and continue to be wonderful opportunities for deepening my prayer, sharing on-going study, building healthy relationships, and participating in various meaningful ministries. Living and sharing in my religious community of Springfield Dominican Sisters, being an active part of my family, having supportive friends, and keeping in touch with former students are God’s loving blessings for me. I am encouraged! I am blessed!

Sister M. Angelene Biderbost, OP

Profession: 1/4/1957

Current ministry: Tutor at St. Patrick School; receptionist, Sacred Heart Convent, and teacher, Parish School of Religion, St. Agnes Parish; all in Springfield, since 2015.

Birthplace and baptismal parish:  Ss. Peter & Paul, Springfield, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: St. Edward School, Chicago; St. Christina School, Chicago; St. Thomas More School, Elgin, Ill.; St. Vincent DePaul School, Peoria, Ill.; Holy Cross School, Mendota, Ill.; Holy Rosary School, Duluth, Minn.; Our Lady of Lourdes School, Decatur, Ill.; Sacred Heart/St. Joseph School, Granite City; Holy Family School, Granite City; Little Flower School, Springfield, St. Agnes School, Springfield.

Musings: I believe I was brought to religious life through my parents’ example in the practice of their faith, and the Dominican Sisters who taught me at St. Agnes and Sacred Heart Academy in Springfield. I came searching for a higher purpose in life than what I saw in the society in which I lived, with the desire to serve God and His people by leading others to the joy and truth I saw in our Catholic faith. The best encouragement I received was the assignments I was given with the confidence that I could accomplish them. This motivated me to always do my best. This motivation began when I was a child, as my parents always encouraged me to do my best and expressed pride in my accomplishments.

Sister M. Linda Tonellato, OP

Profession: 1/4/1957

Current ministry: Heritage Room curator, Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill., since 2010.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: Cathedral Parish, Springfield, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: St. Bernadette School, Evergreen Park, Ill.; Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, Ill.; Bergan High School, Peoria, Ill.; Springfield Diocesan office of Education; Sacred Heart Academy, Springfield, Ill.; Our Saviour Parish, Jacksonville, Ill.; Arcola Religious Education Center, Arcola, Ill.; St. Mary Parish, Sainte Marie, Ill.

Musings: Reading books about Dominican saints and having Dominican teachers were what brought me in to the order. I loved my teachers and I was drawn to St. Catherine of Siena. I wanted to belong entirely to Jesus. That may sound a little odd to our modern ears, but it was the case and still is. My relationship with Jesus is paramount in my life.

 

Sister Jean Patrick Ehrhardt, OP

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: Transportation coordinator for the Dominican Sisters at Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill., since 2005

Birthplace and baptismal parish: St. Rose of Lima, Rushville, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: St Joseph School, Bradley, Ill.; Ss. Peter and Paul School, Cary, Ill.; Christ the King School, Springfield, Ill.; St. Mary School, East Moline, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, San Diego, Calif.; Holy Rosary School, Duluth, Minn.; Cathedral School, Springfield, Ill.; Holy Family Parish, Granite City, Ill.

Musings: Who inspired my vocation? All the teachers I had at St. Mary’s in Mt. Sterling, Ill., and special priests who have mentored me and my family. I joined the community at age 29 because I felt God calling me to more than the family hardware store. I stayed because it is a wonderful life. All the children I have taught and the people who have touched my life have been a gift from God. My best advice is “Let go. Let God.” Not always easy to follow, but when I do, God is there.

Sister Mary Corde Lenn, OP

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: Wellness co-coordinator, Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill., since 2010.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: St. Patrick Church, Springfield, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: Sacred Heart School, Granite City, Ill.; Our Saviour School, Jacksonville, Ill.; St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital, Rogers, Ark.; St. Dominic Hospital, Jackson, Miss.; St. Catherine’s Village, Madison, Miss.; St. Agnes Parish, Springfield, Ill.

Musings: I graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and I had a feeling that maybe I was called to a religious vocation. Not willingly wanting to admit it, I began working at Prudential Insurance Company, but the compulsive hunger never left me. I decided to return to school—I would go to Springfield Junior College—and began a secretarial position at St. John’s Hospital.  A Franciscan sister was my boss, and she took me for a visit to the convent. The “call” continued so I finally decided it was time to go in and get this wild idea over, so I could get on with my life.  Some 50 years later, I thank God for the persistence of that strong inner prompting to religious life.  It has led to a life of happiness, peace, and satisfaction.

Sister Ann Clennon, OP (Sister Mary Patricia)

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: Event planner, assistant to leadership team, Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill., since 2015.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: Urbana, Ill.; St. Thomas Church, Philo, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: Little Flower School, Springfield, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, Pana, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, Brawley, Calif.; St. Bernadette School, Evergreen Park, Ill.; Christ the King School, Springfield, Ill.; St. James School, Sauk Village, Ill.; St. Peter School, Aurora, Ill.; Dominican Literacy Center, Aurora, Ill.

Musings: My aunts, Dominican Sisters M. Agatha and Mary Lois, and the sisters I had at St. Thomas in Philo and at Sacred Heart Academy were a big influence on me. I came [to religious life] because I was very aware that I was receiving a “call.” I have stayed because I believe I am still being called!

Sister Martha Marie Kirbach, OP (Sister Mary Marlene)

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: Teacher’s aide, St. Agnes School and pastoral care, St. Joseph Parish, Springfield, since 2015.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: St. John, Carrollton, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: Cathedral School, Springfield, Ill.; St. Maurice, Morrisonville, Ill.; Holy Angels School, Aurora, Ill.; St. Norbert School, Hardin, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, Redlands, Calif.; St. Thomas More School, Elgin, Ill.; St. Dominic Hospital, Jackson, Miss.; St. Thomas School, Philo, Ill.; Holy Ghost School, Hammond, La.; Little Flower School, Springfield, Ill.; Dominican Literacy Center, Chicago, then Melrose Park, Ill.

Musings: The lived faith and active participation I witnessed and shared in with my parents and grandparents, and the Dominican Sisters of Springfield who taught me were my greatest influences. The urging call of Christ to “come, and follow me” as a Dominican Sister unfolded for me as “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” for my life. “Live in my love” and “All shall be well.” I am still following the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Sister Kathleen Gallagher, OP (Sister Joseph Anne)

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: General council, Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., since 2014.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: St. Bride Parish, Chicago, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: St. Thomas More School, Elgin, Ill.; St. Joseph School, Bradley, Ill.; Ss. Peter and Paul School, Cary, Ill.; Our Lady of Lourdes School, Decatur, Ill.; St. Peter School, Aurora, Ill.; Holy Cross School, Mendota, Ill.; Holy Angels School, Aurora, Ill.; St Therese School, Aurora, Ill.

Musings: Religious life seemed to offer a God-centered way of life for me. The Holy Spirit has always been my guide.

Sister Mary Joan Sorge, OP

Profession: 6/19/1967

Current ministry: Principal, St. Agnes School, since 2004.

Birthplace and baptismal parish: Our Saviour Parish, Jacksonville, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: St. John School, Carrollton, Ill.; St. Francis School, Jerseyville, Ill.; Holy Cross School, Mendota, Ill.; St. John Bosco School, Chicago; Holy Family School, Decatur, Ill.; Little Flower School, Springfield, Ill.; Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, Ill.;

Musings: My two great aunts, Sister Joan and Sister Annunciata were Dominican Sisters and I used to sit at their feet and loved hearing about their Dominican life when they came home to visit each summer. I also spent extra time with each of my Dominican sister-teachers as I loved being with them and helping after school. I was moved by their happy and joyful spirit.

I came to religious life because in my prayer, in the quiet of my heart, I felt God was drawing me to give my life to him and his people. So many of the religious and priests in my life encouraged and supported my vocation. That made a big difference, too. God has given me many “companions on the journey” throughout these years. Each person I have encountered has made a difference in my life through their love, their understanding, their faith and support.

Sister M. Katrina Lamkin, OP

Profession: 6/19/1967

Present ministry: Assistant principal, Rosary High School, Aurora, since 2014

Birthplace and baptismal parish: Woodstock, Ill.; St. Charles Borromeo, Hampshire, Ill.

Previous ministry locations: Christ the King School, Springfield, Ill.; Holy Rosary School, Duluth, Minn.; St. Maurice School, Morrisonville, Ill.; St. Thomas More School, Elgin, Ill.; Little Flower School, Springfield, Ill.; Ss. Peter and Paul, Cary, Ill.

Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth, OP

One of Two Springfield-based Sisters Recognized by Catholic Health Association

Springfield Dominican Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth, OP, has been named a 2017 recipient of the Catholic Health Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her ministry at St. Dominic Health Services, Jackson, Miss. The award is given to a leader in health ministry who has inspired and mentored many others and whose leadership extends past the Catholic health ministry to influence and impact the local community and beyond.

 “Sister Dorothea has served the people of Mississippi with wisdom and compassion for nearly four decades; I’m happy for her, for the employees of St. Dominic Health Services, and for the countless people they serve through the healing mission of Jesus,” said Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.

St. Dominic’s is a sponsored ministry of the Springfield Dominicans and the only Catholic health care system in Mississippi.

Claude W. Harbarger, President of St. Dominic Health Services, said “Sister Dorothea has dedicated her life to service and we, in Jackson, have benefited from our association with her. “Sister Dorothea is the embodiment of kindness and compassion and a wonderful selection for this honor.” Harbarger succeeded Sister M. Dorothea as president of St. Dominic in 2011.

After 36 years of overall service and 17 years serving as president of St. Dominic Health Services, Sister M. Dorothea retired from her position in 2011 and has since worked as the associate executive director of the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation. At the start of Sister M. Dorothea’s tenure in 1995, the system held two subsidiaries: the hospital and an organization for community-based services. When she retired from that position 17 years later, the role had grown to include oversight of seven subsidiary organizations comprising a 571-bed hospital with more than 500 affiliated physicians, a large continuing care retirement community (St. Catherine’s Village), and oversight of over 3,000 employees.

In the Jackson community, she has been recognized with roles in numerous community organizations, including the United Way of the Capital Area, Safe City Initiative, the Rotary Club of Jackson, and Fondren Renaissance, a project to preserve and revitalize the neighborhood around St. Dominic’s. She is a laureate of the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame and in 1997 was named the top businesswoman in the state in Mississippi Business Journal’s Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women awards. In addition, in 2005 Sister M. Dorothea was selected for a Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service. This national award honors “unsung heroes who encounter problems in their communities, believe they can help, and create innovative solutions.”

In April of 2012, Bishop Joseph Latino awarded Sister M. Dorothea the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, the highest medal Pope Benedict XVI bestowed on non-clergy. The Pope confers this recognition to those who have given distinguished service to the Catholic Church and their communities.

Sister Jomary Trstensky, OSF, A Hospital Sister of St. Francis and Chairperson of Hospital Sisters Ministries, Springfield, is also honored with the award. The two Springfield-based Catholic Sisters will receive the award during the CHA annual assembly in June.

 About St. Dominic’s

St. Dominic’s is more than just a hospital. It is a family of services focused on fulfilling a mission of Christian healing to those in need. St. Dominic Health Services, Inc. is the parent company for a large group of subsidiary organizations and programs dedicated to the same mission. These include St. Dominic Hospital, the Community Health Services Clinic, St. Dominic Medical Associates (physician network), New Directions for Over 55, MEA Clinics, The Club at St. Dominic’s, the School Nurse Program, St. Dominic’s Foundation, St. Catherine’s Village and Care-A-Van.

St. Dominic Hospital is a 571-bed tertiary care hospital located in Jackson, Mississippi serving central Mississippi and employing approximately 3,000 employees inclusive of nurses, physicians, and skilled caregivers. The medical staff, nearly 500 leading physicians and specialists, makes St. Dominic’s one of the most comprehensive hospitals in Mississippi. Through nearly seven decades, St. Dominic’s has remained true to its vision: A Christian healing community called to provide quality, compassionate care and an Exceptional Encounter Every time.