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.”


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.


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.