The first Dominican sisters in central Illinois walked off a train in Jacksonville on Tuesday, August 19, 1873, and into the life of the city, where, the next day, they began organizing for the school year at St. Patrick’s.
They couldn’t have known then, but that was the first day of ministry for a new congregation of Dominican Sisters that would still be witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus in central Illinois—and around the globe—150 years later.
This founding moment will be commemorated on April 22 in Jacksonville, with three events to honor those founding sisters and their relationships with the people of Jacksonville that endure today. The public is welcome to participate in these scheduled events.
10:00 Ribbon Cutting & Mayor’s Proclamation, Jacksonville Area Museum, 301 East State Street
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard will read a proclamation honoring the Dominican Sisters and launch an interactive museum exhibit with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a brief address by historian and Springfield Dominican Sister Susan Karina Dickey. Sister Karina is vice president of mission at St. Dominic Health Services, Jackson, Miss., and holds a Ph.D. in history.
The exhibit includes Jacksonville-related artifacts from the archives of the Dominican Sisters, a brief video introduction to the story of the sisters’ first twenty years in Jacksonville, and photo banners that include a self-guided audio tour guests can access from their smart phones.
The exhibit will remain at the museum through July 30, 2023.
1:00 p.m.—Wreath-laying ceremony, Calvary Cemetery, Lincoln Avenue, south of I-72 at Greenwood Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois, 62650
By the time the motherhouse for the Dominican Sisters moved from Jacksonville to Springfield in 1893, four members of the community died and were buried at Calvary. Though the sisters’ great desire was to relocate the remains to Springfield, the people of Jacksonville asked that the sisters be allowed to remain at rest in among them. There, also, was buried, in 1894, the sisters’ first and perhaps greatest benefactor, Mr. Charles Routt, whose monument is very near the sisters’ graves. All of them will be honored during this ceremony.
4:30 p.m. Mass at Our Saviour Parish, 452 E State Street, Jacksonville, IL 62650
The Dominican Sisters will join parishioners at Our Saviour for their regularly scheduled Mass on Saturday evening. “Of all the day’s events, this will be the highlight for us,” said Sister Beth Murphy, the communications director for the community and one-time junior high teacher at Our Saviour School. “To return together to the place that welcomed and sustained our founding sisters through their earliest years and most challenging moments—to be united in the communion of saints through the Eucharist with those who supported our growth—and to give thanks to God among so many friends—this is the joy of our hearts.” Mass will be followed by a reception at Routt Catholic High School for the sisters and Our Saviour parishioners.
The Springfield Dominican Sisters 150th Anniversary celebration opened with Eucharist for Springfield Dominican Sisters and associates on August 19, 2022, presided over by Springfield diocesan Bishop Thomas John Paprocki and will conclude with a public celebration of the Eucharist on August 19, 2023.
For more information about the sisters or these celebrations call 217-787-0481 or visit springfieldop.org/150years.