Dominican nuns trace their roots back to the year 1206, when Saint Dominic started gathering women converts to the Catholic faith in the monastery of blessed Mary of Prouille, France. Our own particular monastery has a more modest beginning, being founded in 1922; still, ours is a wonderful heritage of many years in the Springfield, MA diocese, for which we are grateful.
The original founding community numbered seven sisters and lived at Ingersoll Drive in Springfield, MA. After a few years, as new women entered, it became necessary to find a larger house, and so the community moved to its present location in West Springfield, MA.
Our foundress, Mother Mary Hyacinth of Jesus, entered the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in Union City, NJ, on September 8, 1908. Eventually she was sent to the monastery in Catonsville, MD to be novice mistress. Again it was on September 8th, but in the year 1922, that Mother Mary Hyacinth entered into a new phase of her life. Accompanying Mother Mary of the Crown to Springfield, MA, she was chosen by Bishop Thomas Mary O’Leary to be the foundress of our community upon his acceptance of us into this diocese: “Come, come to Springfield in the name of God and Mary. This will be our gift to Our Lady on the feast of her birth.”
As the years went by, we were able to take on perpetual adoration of the Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, according to the wishes of Bishop O’Leary. We also went from being “Third Order” sisters to “Second Order” nuns, as such things were formerly designated.
At this time, we still strive to faithfully live out our monastic vocation, though life in general seems more complicated than in the past. There should always be a certain simplicity to our way of life, a striving for the one thing necessary—union with God.
In 2008, reflecting more deeply upon our contemplative vocation after the nuns’ Jubilee Year, we decided to take back our traditional veil, for each nun should strive to become a mini “house of prayer.” This was followed by the restoration of a simple grille in our parlors in 2011, as another reminder to us of our call to silence and withdrawal from the world. Having traveled through so many challenges and changes, we consider ourselves blest and protected by God. Our numbers may be fewer than this picture taken in 1972, but the desire to fully live our contemplative vocation, as handed down to us from our early sisters, remains strong. May Our Lady, who helped us to begin this work of love for God, continue to prosper it through her special Motherly intercession. Amen!