In January 2009, five congregations with motherhouses in the northeastern United States shared their desire to collaborate in order to further Dominican life and mission. The Dominican Sisters of Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Hope, and Sparkill began the first steps toward committed collaboration by forming a coordinating team composed of two members and one leadership person from each congregation.
This team gave shape and form to a process for committed collaboration. They identified groups already in collaboration, shared calendars of congregational events, nurtured the relationships that had been developing among sisters and associates by arranging gatherings, launched a grant application process for collaborative pilot projects, and initiated a search for a Promoter of Collaboration for the five congregations.
A position profile for the Promoter of Collaboration was shared with the five congregations and the wider Dominican family. A search committee was appointed to interview and make recommendations to the Leadership Teams. In May 2011, it was announced that Sister Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP (Sinsinawa) was hired as the new Promoter of Collaboration. It will be her role to advance a collaborative mindset and to develop strategies to address the different aspects of collaboration among the five congregations.
On Jan. 19, 2012 the congregational leadership teams met and welcomed Sister Mary Ellen. The day began in the new office at the Blauvelt motherhouse, with the sisters standing together and blessing the five directions, and gifting Mary Ellen with congregational logos to decorate the new office. The office has an interesting recent history. It was used as a movie set for the HBO series “Mildred Pierce” starring Kate Winslet. The series has received an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. So, Sister Mary Ellen was presented with a golden trophy (filled with candy) for her own “starring” role in the Dominican family.
Following the blessing of the office, the leadership teams attended to issues that are integral to advancing collaboration among the five congregations. Sister Mary Ellen has begun to convene different groups and committees. Stay tuned as Committed Collaboration unfolds—we look forward to the possibilities, opportunities, and surprises that will accompany this new moment.
For more information about the Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration, visit their web site: www.opscc.org.