A second Springfield Dominican Sister has received a ticket to attend Pope Francis’ address to Congress on Thursday next week. Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, OP, ministers at the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation in Jackson, Miss. U.S. Representative, Gregg Harper (R-MS), called her yesterday to offer her the ticket he had planned to give to his wife, who is unable to attend. Sister Dorothea is a native of Peterstown, Ill.
Last week Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) extended his invitation to Sister Philip Neri Crawford, OP, to be his guest. Sister Philip Neri, a life-long educator, retired from her career as a teacher and school administrator in 2013. She continues to serve on the board of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Ill.
There will be two other Springfield Dominicans in Washington for the Papal visit as well. Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, the prioress general of our congregation, and Sister Kelly Moline, who is a novice, will attend the pope’s Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday afternoon. They are present at the invitation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington DC, to the religious superiors and novices of every religious congregation in the United States.
“We are happy to join the rest of the nation in welcoming Pope Francis and we anticipate the encouragement, the joy, and the challenge he will bring to us,” said Sister Rebecca Ann. “I’m especially pleased that Sister Kelly has this opportunity so early in her religious life to experience the universality of the Church.”
Closer to home, a watch party is planned for the Sisters at Sacred Heart Convent during the papal address to Congress.
The Dominican Sisters of Springfield were founded in 1873 when they were summoned from Kentucky to Jacksonville, Ill., to teach the children of immigrant Irish railroad workers at a time when child labor laws had not yet been fully embraced and children were often exploited. That socially aware ministerial service is a hallmark of the congregation today, rooted in Dominican life and centered on liturgical and contemplative prayer, community life, and a commitment to study.