Photo: Susan Dickey at the start of her career at the Indian State Museum. (Courtesy of Sister Susan Karina Dickey.)
This is the first of three stories about Sister Susan Karina Dickey, OP, who currently serves as the Vice President for Mission Integration at St. Dominic's Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Follow along to be inspired by the impact of Sister Karina's ministry on hundreds of lives in one of the most challenging of Catholic healthcare ministries.
“With the Dominicans I found my home and my true calling,” Sister Susan Karina says. Her journey “home” to the Order of Preachers began in her family's home in eastern Indiana where her Lutheran parents modeled a respect for truth.
“They must have had a secret radar,” she muses. “They always knew when I was telling a fib. So, I learned early, just tell the truth. Very early on I learned about truth and integrity which I saw modeled in my own family,” she says.
It is not surprising to hear Sister Karina Dickey speak of her journey to the Order of Preachers as a movement toward listening and truth-seeking. These are hallmarks of Dominican life.
In a forward for a biography of St. Dominic, Father Timothy Radcliffe—one of Dominic’s 87 successors—wrote, “[Dominic’s] genius was to be the midwife of a new way of religious life by being open to the ideas and intuitions of others. The preacher is, in the first place, someone who listens…”
What Dominicans listen for is that deep Word of Truth, who is the Christ.
“That’s when Catherine saw me
and said, ‘Some day you are going to be with us."
About 40 years after Elizabeth and Douglas Dickey welcomed their daughter Susan Jean into their home in Richmond, Indiana, Susan listened her way to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. She was baptized in the Lutheran church as an infant. There was still much life ahead of her before she would fulfill a life-long call to truth-seeking that was instilled in her by her family and faith community as a child.
She recalls a family wedding she attended in her youth. It was at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Metairie, La. “That’s when Catherine saw me and said, ‘Some day you are going to be with us,’” she laughs.
Looking in the Rear-view mirror
“The motto at Texas Lutheran College where I earned my bachelor’s degree was ‘The Truth of Christ Shall Make Men Free.’” Sister Karina says she didn’t give that much thought as an undergrad. In those days, she had a perfunctory idea of what “the truth of Christ” meant. Only in the rear-view mirror does that seem providential, she says now.
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Strengthen efforts to listen to and journey with those who are marginalized.
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Support training for coworkers in our sponsored high schools and at Sacred Heart Convent.
Shape our work toward racial equity.
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Stay with us for more of Sister Karina’s story!