Understanding Mission and Culture

Sisters Collage
Students have enjoyed retreats to the Sinsinawa Mound for decades.

Come with me to the rolling hills of Sinsinawa, a place where the young-at-heart stay so forever and the young grow in wisdom beyond their years.  Welcome to the home of the young eagle, where Samuel Mazzuchelli began a tradition of preparing women to pursue truth and give compassionate service.

Four years ago Dominican University was just a four-year institution of higher education.  I knew this place was home to a community of men and women looking to continue the labors of education.  Four years ago I had a somewhat different understanding of the value and implications of attending a Catholic institution.  

The Dominican Order was foreign to me, simply a religious order comprised of professed men and women in black and white garb.  Four years ago, I had known a few professed sisters as passing acquaintances.  Stories of sisters disciplining naughty school children were equally familiar to me as stories of sisters ministering to the poor in the inner city.  

Fast-forward to the present day, I have great respect for the men and women who hold master’s degrees and doctorates in areas from Latino/a literature and Hebrew scripture to political law and philosophy.  Before Dominican, I attended high school at a public institution.  The transition to college surprisingly did not mean changing school colors or graduating class size.  

Coming to Dominican meant broadening my understanding of mission and culture.  The mission statement of my high school is “to promote and provide growth experiences in learning, leadership and living.”  Dominican touts a mission statement that gets more so at the heart of living life in all its fullness.  This mission statement informs the institution’s culture, one that supports opportunities for greater independence in the life of a college student.  See for yourself.

As for the professed sisters, I have learned that they are enlivened by passion.  Each of these women chose to follow paths of profound joy and meaning.  The first step of each one was to leave behind marriage and children.  The next immediate step was to open themselves up to a spiritual family comprised of men and women of all ages.  Some chose to teach in elementary schools and others chose to become professors of higher education.  Many of them chose to do service abroad in South America or the Caribbean, to work at missionaries that provide health care, education, and counseling services.  

These women all share a beautiful motherhouse called the Mound, located in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin.  Back during the first week of March, a group of my peers and I attended a three-day retreat there.  While some of us ministered to horses, we all shared our stories with the professed sisters who live at the Mound.  University Ministry recently published a post on its blog by fellow senior Molly McGrail, who wrote about some of her experiences on the retreat.

Spending time as a senior at the Sinsinawa Dominican Mound is a mountaintop experience.  The Mound is another home to me.  As a member of the Sinsinawa Dominican family, I know that I am always welcome.  The motherhouse is open for any visitor, not just those on retreats.  Once you sink your roots into the Sinsinawa Dominican way, you will never be the same.