The story of seven Springfield Dominican sisters is told in a new book, A Sisters’ Love: The Story of the Dominican Sisters at St. Dominic’s.
The new book follows the lives of Sisters Trinita Eddington and Dorothea Sondgeroth from their rural Illinois childhoods to their call to leadership at St. Dominic Health Services in Jackson, Miss., a sponsored ministry of the Springfield Dominicans.
Award-winning journalist and author Joe Maxwell was commissioned by the St. Dominic’s Foundation to write A Sister’s Love to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of St. Dominic Hospital. He tells the story of the sisters’ passion for God and how that led them to decades of fruitful service at St. Dominic’s, the only Catholic hospital in the state of Mississippi. Drawing on Sister Dorothea’s personal journals, the congregation’s archives and dozens of interviews, Maxwell is able to show how personal sacrifice, prayer and the commitment of a community contribute to the quality of life in Mississippi, from the early days of the civil rights era to today.
Also featured in A Sister’s Love are the stories of Springfield Dominican Sisters Celestine Rondelli, Thecla Kuhnline, Kristin Rever, Margaret Grueter, and Susan Karina Dickey. Sisters Trinita and Celestine are Springfield natives. Sisters Margaret and Thecla are from Carrollton, Sister Kristin is from Assumption and Sister Susan Karina is from Richmond, Ind.
Sister Trinita’s sole assignment in 63 years of religious profession has been St. Dominic’s, where she received her nurse’s training and where she has, with the exception of a few years away for study, lived her entire religious life. In 1996 she established St. Dominic Community Health Clinic. She still works at the clinic five days a week providing free medical services to the poor in Jackson. “Serving the poor is serving Jesus,” she frequently says. “Running the clinic has been one of the most rewarding ministries in all of my years at St. Dominic’s.”
Sister Dorothea, who was the chief executive officer of St. Dominic Health Services from 1995-2012, served most of the last 53 years at St. Dominic’s, interrupted by 10 years on the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters and at various other times for study. She is currently associate executive director of St. Dominic’s Foundation.
In the book’s foreword, Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant calls Sister Dorothea a superhero. “She’s famous and beloved in our state and beyond for her faith, business savvy, and community and spiritual leadership,” she writes. “In a day and age when we need heroes, she is a superhero.” Bryant worked at St. Dominic’s for 39 years before her husband Phil was elected governor in 2012.
The sisters received guests, offered the book for sale, and signed copies on Feb. 10 at the Springfield convent.
Copies of A Sisters’ Love may be purchased for $30 online at www.stdom.com/about-us/ways-to-give/a-sisters-love/. All proceeds support the Dominican Sisters ministry at St. Dominic’s.
Sister Beth Murphy, OP, contributed to this article.