An old hurt, reconciled

In 1999, we Springfield Dominicans held the closing of our celebration of 125 years of Dominican life (1873-1998). Sister Marcelline Koch and Sister Sharon Zayac shared this, favorite, poignant memory from that celebration:

“On August 7, 1999, we hosted Dominicans speaking to us about the chosen theme “Gifts Poured Out for Others.” One of these was Sister Joan Scanlon, OP, who was at the time prioress general of the Kentucky Dominicans (Now Dominican Sisters of Peace). 

“If you know the story of our founding, you know that sisters were sent from Kentucky to Jacksonville, Ill., to teach the children of Irish immigrants. At the end of the second school year, as they looked forward to returning to Kentucky, the priest told them that they were to be a new congregation, separate from Kentucky. Two sisters traveled to Kentucky to learn the full story but, curiously, never spoke about their visit or what they might have learned. Likewise, there is nothing written in our history about that conversation. The Kentucky motherhouse burned in 1904, along with the records of the1870’s.

“The sisters in Jacksonville were given an opportunity to individually choose whether to return to Kentucky or stay in Illinois and become part of this new congregation of Dominicans. All of them signaled their desire to stay in Illinois, but for many years our congregation looked upon this episode as an abandonment by our sisters in Kentucky. The sisters in Kentucky, meanwhile, considered the Illinois group rebels who refused to return to them. 

At this celebration in 1999, Sister Joan apologized for the hurt resulting from that mysterious separation, both at that time and through the years. Equally powerful was the preaching of our prioress general the next day. Sister Mary Jean Traeger apologized to Sister Joan for the silence of our founding sisters, a silence helped preserve the hurt. It was a profoundly moving experience that we will never forget.”

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