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August 30, 2009

Following path laid by St. Dominic Adrian Dominican Sisters celebrate 125 years of serving the Midwest

By Alicja Pozywio


They are teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, psychologists, spiritual directors and musicians. They serve the poor, hungry and homeless as well as ex-offenders. They are the Adrian Dominican Sisters and they’ve been doing all these things for 125 years.

The Adrian Dominicans came to Chicago in 1909 with a small group of nuns from their motherhouse Adrian, Mich. They settled at St. James Parish in Maywood and Queen of Angels Parish in Lincoln Square. After settling down, they engaged themselves mostly in teaching and opening new schools. The Adrian Dominican Sisters are an international congregation of 841 vowed women religious.

Opening schools

Adrian Dominican Sisters understood that their mission was not only to meet needs in Chicago, but also to be faithful to the initials “O.P.” (Order of Preachers), placed after the name of each Dominican sister and brother.

In that spirit, the first school opened by the congregation was Aquinas High School. It educated thousands of young women and helped countless others to discover religious vocations.

Sister Pat Dulka, chapter prioress of the Dominican Midwest Mission, who celebrated her 50th anniversary of religious life last year, said that education is the most successful field of their ministry in Chicago.

“Not only being administrators and teachers in numerous schools, but, also in collaboration with the [archdiocese’s] Catholic School Office, the Adrian Dominican Sisters, as well as sisters from other religious Congregations assist in supervising schools, publishing teaching materials and offering consultation to school personnel,” she said.

Today they operate Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette.

Dominican roots

The Adrian Dominican Sisters are a part of a worldwide family of the Dominican Order founded in the 13th century in Prouille, France, by St. Dominic Guzman. Since the beginning, members of the order were occupied in the search for truth and combating heresies.

More than 800 years later, the mission hasn’t changed a lot. Among 85 sisters ministering within the Chicago archdiocese are those who continue to seek the truth working in the field of spiritual direction and advocacy on behalf of justice and peace. They understand that promoting justice, equality and human dignity among all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and abilities is the modern battle fought by Adrian Dominicans.

“Our sisters also offer significant influence in working with the poor and marginalized, both directly as well as working to change oppressive systems,” said Dulka.

Carrying on the mission

The presence of the congregation in general and in the archdiocese is extended by associates, non-vowed women and men. They desire to be part of and to carry on the Dominican charism. In Chicago there are seven associates who teach at Regina Dominican High School, serve in ministry to the poor or at Rainbow Hospice in Park Ridge.

“Many of them minister with the sisters; many are part of prayer groups with the sisters,” said Dulka. “They journey with us in prayer, in support and in promoting the Dominican charism.”

Sister Dulka is optimistic about the future of Adrian Dominicans who have been around for more than a century and about the Catholic Church.

“We believe that our work, especially in the schools, fosters and empowers dedicated people that continue the work of the church — priests, bishops and teachers as well as laypeople associated with each of these professionals,” said Dulka. “We believe that our work has laid the foundation for the next generation to carry on the work of the Lord.”

To learn more about these religious women visit