Church stained glass windows

Dominicans of Sinsinawa


Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters are dedicated to preaching and teaching the Gospel. They believe that at the heart of ministry is relationship. Today, more than 500 Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in the United States and abroad participate in the mission shared by all Dominicans: to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. Currently, their missions outside the U.S. include Mexico, Italy, Bolivia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dominican History

Over 3,200 Have Professed Vows as Sinsinawa Dominicans

Sinsinawa Mound has been called the “Hill of Grace” for good reason. Since 1847, over 3,200 women have ascended its slopes to take their vows as Sinsinawa Dominicans—then departed, inspired, to preach and teach the Gospel in the United States and throughout the world. Today, the Mound still serves as the Motherhouse for more than 500 Sisters. About 230 Associates stand committed to the Congregation’s ideals.

It all started on Aug. 4, 1847, when pioneer priest Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, founded the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation with two women, Sisters Seraphina and Ermeline. Two more women joined the fledgling community in December 1847. At the time of Fr. Samuel’s death in 1864, the number had increased to 23, and by the mid-1870s, there were 100 Sisters, staffing schools in five dioceses.

By the end of the 19th century, 389 professed Sisters served in 30 locations throughout the Midwest. New missions proliferated, a pattern that would continue into the 20th century. Five academies were founded, and parish grade schools were assigned to the Congregation in Chicago and Milwaukee. There were also new missions in small towns of northern Illinois, and as far west as Denver.

To accommodate the growing community, Mother Emily Power aggressively expanded the Mound facilities, including a new Academy building in 1882 and the four-story convent and novitiate building in 1900.

In 1901, Mother Emily accepted five Sisters of the Holy Ghost to the Congregation after their community in Rockwell, IA, disbanded. This set a pattern for similar arrangements later. In 1995, 36 new names were added to the membership rolls with the merger of the Sinsinawa Dominicans and the Spokane Dominicans.

Mother Emily laid a strong foundation for the Congregation between 1867-1909. After her, Mother Samuel Coughlin built it into one of the largest Congregations in the United States. During her 40-year tenure, the Congregation grew annually in number of members, in places served, and in gradual diversification of ministry—although teaching remained the main ministry. More than 1,450 Sisters made profession to her. Membership increased from 617 in 1910 to 1,547 in 1949, and the number of new schools increased from 41 to 102. The 1950s and 1960s saw continued growth and expansion to accommodate the educational needs of the baby boom generation. Membership peaked at 1,983 in 1966, and declined to 1,606 by 1973. Today, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters continue preaching and teaching the Gospel in word and deed around the world. 


Dominican Values