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Adrian Dominican Sisters: Wikis


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Congregation of the
Most Holy Rosary
Abbreviation Adrian Dominican Sisters
Formation 1923; 1944 (pontifical status)
Type Catholic religious order
Headquarters Adrian, Michigan, USA
Region served 30 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Italy, Swaziland[1]
Membership 841 (as of February 2010)[1]
Prioress Donna Markham, OP

The Adrian Dominican Sisters are a Roman Catholic religious order of Dominican sisters in the United States. Their motherhouse is in Adrian, Michigan. Their official title is the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary.


Current mission

The congregation serves in ministries of education, healthcare and social service and the other ministries that have developed from them. Adrian Dominicans serve in these ministries in 30 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Italy, and Swaziland.[1]

THe Adrian Dominican Sisters have an associate program consisting of women and men who associate with the vowed members for their own spiritual growth and support in their own ministerial lives under the inspiration of the Dominican tradition.[2]

The congregation sponsors two universities, a healthcare system to which its two hospitals belong, and one long term healthcare facility.[2]


The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, USA, trace their origin to Holy Cross Convent in Regensburg (Ratisbon), Bavaria, a convent established in 1233.[2]

In 1853 four sisters from this convent were sent to New York in response to a request for sisters to provide religious education for German immigrant children. These sisters settled on Second Street in the Williamsburg section of New York City. This original foundation eventually became known as the Amityville (New York) Dominicans. In 1869, however, a separate and independent foundation was established at Newburgh, New York. From this congregation sisters were sent to St. Mary Parish (1879) and St. Joseph Parish (1880) in Adrian, Michigan. In 1884 additional sisters were sent to Adrian to establish a hospital for injured railroad workers. Adrian became a province of the Newburgh congregation with Camilla Madden as the Mother Provincial. As the need for the hospital diminished, Mother Camilla turned to education and opened St. Joseph Academy in 1896. Students came in large numbers to this boarding school and the province grew rapidly with new members. At the same time the congregation was called upon to staff other schools in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and New Mexico.[2]

In 1923, through the efforts of Mother Emmanuel Phelan of Newburgh and Mother Camilla Madden, canonical separation of the Adrian province from Newburgh was achieved. Bishop Michael Gallagher of Detroit and Archbishop (later Cardinal) Patrick Hayes of New York negotiated the separation. Mother Camilla Madden became the first Mother General of the new independent congregation in Adrian, a position she held for only six months prior to her death in 1924. At this time the congregation numbered 440 members.[2]

The congregation and its ministries grew during this time. Education continued to be a major endeavor of the congregation during these years. The congregation also developed ministries in social service, particularly in parish visitation, and opened three hospitals, two in Santa Cruz, California (now consolidated at Dominican Santa Cruz Hospital) and one in Henderson, Nevada: St. Rose Dominican Hospital - Rose de Lima Campus. Today there are two additional campuses in Southern Nevada — the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals - Siena Campus (2000) and the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals - San Martín Campus (2006). Mother Camilla Madden had opened St. Joseph College in Adrian (now Siena Heights University) during her time as provincial. Mother Gerald Barry expanded the congregation’s ministry in higher education by opening Barry College in 1940. She also built a House of Studies at The Catholic University of America to accommodate sisters studying for advanced degrees. The congregation grew to over 2000 members.[2]

Under the leadership of Mother Gerald, the congregation achieved pontifical status in 1944 and extended its ministries overseas — to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Peru. In 1959, as the congregation grew in numbers, it was divided into five provinces with headquarters in Detroit, Michigan (2), Chicago, Illinois, West Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Cruz, California. In addition there was an Overseas Vicariate and a Motherhouse Vicariate. Over the years of leadership of Mother Gerald and her successor, Mother Genevieve Weber, the congregation also served in the formation of two new congregations: the Glenmary Sisters, originally located in Cincinnati, Ohio; and the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies in Pampanga, Philippines.[2]


Since Vatican II

The Adrian Dominican congregation entered into its General Chapter of Renewal in 1968 after the Second Vatican Council. This was a time of transition as it was for all United States congregations of women religious. General Councilors became full time participants with the Prioresses in directing the life in mission of the congregation. Sisters Nadine Foley and Donna Markham (a Councilor at the time) were elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States. Sisters Nadine Foley and Patricia Walter have represented United States religious women on the Council of the International Union of Superiors General.[2]

Acting upon the directives sent from Rome after Vatican Council II, the congregation developed new Constitutions that received approval on April 29, 1989. This Constitution and Statutes replaced earlier ones approved in 1937 and 1944. The Constitution incorporated a new governance organization based on Mission Chapters (equivalent to provinces) headed by Chapter Prioresses (provincials). The latter, with the General Council, constitute a Leadership Council which directs the mission of the congregation.[2]

Since Vatican Council II, the Adrian Dominican Sisters have continued their ministries in education and healthcare and expanded their ministries to presidents, hospital administrators, liturgical artists, diocesan directors of schools, and religious education. The congregation has developed funds for the support of ministries to the poor according to well defined criteria.

Life is short. Eternity isn't.
Adrian Dominican Sisters website in 2002.[3]

In 2002, with the goal of reaching women outside of their "usual constituencies" who might be considering taking vows, the congregation undertook a four-month-long marketing campaign that used the Internet and television advertisements and billboards in the Detroit area; they spent about $200,000 on the effort.[3] At the time of the campaign, 37 of the sisters had died in the previous twelve months, and the congregation's median age was 70.[3] During that year, the Congregation of Holy Cross and the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, Washington merged into the Adrian Dominican Sisters.[2]

As of February 2010, the Adrian Dominican Sisters number about 840 members.[1], down from their peak of 2500 in 1970 and about 1000 in 2002.[3]

Mothers General/Prioresses

The following were either Mothers-General or Prioresses, of the Congregation:

  1. Mother Camilla Madden 1923–1924 (Provincial, 1892–1923)
  2. Mother Augustine Walsh 1924–1933
  3. Mother Gerald Barry 1933–1963
  4. Mother Genevieve Weber 1964–1968
  5. Sister Rosemary Ferguson 1968–1978
  6. Sister Carol Johannes 1978–1986
  7. Sister Nadine Foley 1986–1992
  8. Sister Patricia Walter 1992–1998
  9. Sister Janet Capone 1998–2004
  10. Sister Donna Markham 2004–


  1. ^ a b c d Who We Are from the congregation's website
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary from the congregation's website
  3. ^ a b c d Recruitment crisis puts nuns on the net, a June 2002 article from The Guardian


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