1853 The Williamsburg Sisters
Four women religious left unmet on a dock in New York City on August 26, 1853 were rescued by a German priest from Brooklyn. Sisters Josepha, Augustine, Francesca and
Jacobina were given shelter in the rectory basement of Most Holy Trinity Parish and - within a week of their arrival - took charge of the parish school.
WILLIAMSBURG, NY--In 1853, following the foundations
of the Order in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and California, the first Dominican women came from Europe to serve in the American church: four cloistered nuns from the Monastery of Holy Cross in Regensburg, Bavaria, led by Josepha Witzlhofer.
Putting the needs of others before the practices of their traditional cloistered life, they answered the urgent call for teachers sent to Europe by German Catholic
immigrants in the United States. Settling in Williamsburg, New York, an incipient area of Brooklyn, they tried valiantly to combine their monastic way of life with the strenuous work of conducting a school.
In 1868 the nuns opened the first hospital conducted by American Dominicans. By 1900 the Brooklyn community and the many foundations which stemmed from it across the United States had become
congregations of active Third Order sisters. Many years later, in 1947, the Brooklyn sisters moved their motherhouse to Amityville, N.Y.
1853 The Friars Establish Presence on East Coast
WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Province of St. Joseph received an opportunity it had been awaiting ever since Bishop Carroll had sent the first friars westward—an invitation to make a foundation in the urban northeast. Ironically, the invitation was made by one of Carroll's successors in Baltimore, Francis Kenrick. The friars eagerly accepted Archbishop Kenrick's offer to come eastward and established the parish
of St. Dominic in Washington, DC in 1853. This particular foundation marks a turning point in the province's history. Up to this point, the province had been struggling for survival, hampered in its vitality by the demands of the frontier. But as more and more foundations would be made in the cities of the northeast, vocations would finally begin to increase as well. The basis was being laid for rapid institutional expansion in the twentieth century.
SOURCE: John A. Langlois, O.P., The Province of St. Joseph: A Brief History
1862 The Racine Dominican Sisters
Racine, Wisconsin, in 1858 looking south across the Root River from St. Patrick's Parish
RACINE, WI--Another Dominican community for the education of German immigrants began in Racine, Wisconsin in 1862. The foundress was Mary Benedicta Bauer, who, when prioress of Holy Cross Monastery in Bavaria, had sent the four nuns from Regensburg to Brooklyn in 1853. The Racine sisters, like their predecessors in Brooklyn, evolved from a contemplative monastic community to become an
Bauer, OP in 1853
1860 The Dominican Sisters of New Orleans
Dominican nuns from Ireland also came to help immigrants to the United States at mid-century. In response to a call from New Orleans, Mary John Flanagan and five other nuns from Dublin began teaching in a parish school of St. John the Baptist Chuch in 1860. Within a month of
their arrival they were teaching 200 girls. The Christian Brothers taught the boys.
St. Mary's Dominican Academy, Dryades Street, opened in 1861.
In December, South Carolina seceded fromthe Union and in the following month Louisiana followed suit. By February 1861, the Confederate States of America, which Louisiana joined, was formed. Despite the uncertain conditions of the time, the Sisters decided to open a select
Female Dominican Academy in 1861. The Sisters became known as the Dominican Congregation of St. Mary's of New Orleans.
1869 The Newburgh Dominican Sisters
NEWBURGH, NY--Only six years after the coming of the nuns from Bavaria to the Brooklyn convent of Holy Cross, German Catholics in lower Manhattan requested sisters from Brooklyn to open a monastery and school at St. Nicholas Parish. The reply was favorable. The sisters soon welcomed young women to their novitiate on Second Street, and in 1869 became an autonomous monastery, with Mary Augustine Neuhierl
as prioress. By 1895 this community had developed into a congregation with branch houses and provinces in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Washington, and moved their motherhouse up the Hudson to Newburgh, New York. In July, 1995 three Dominican Congregations, Fall River, Newburgh, and Ossining joined to become the Dominican Sisters of Hope.
Of Special Note:
No other congregation matched Newburgh in early missions, new congregations and widespread houses--all from a single monastery in Manhattan.