Rejoice and celebrate! 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Mary Nona McGreal, OP Center for Dominican Historical Studies! It seems like yesterday when on May 23, 2008, Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, the executive director of the Dominican Leadership Conference and Donna Carroll, president of Dominican University, blessed the McGreal Center at Dominican University. In the coming months we will describe the WHY, WHAT and WHO of the McGreal Center. We hope that you enjoy reading about the establishment of the Center, the collections of documents and resources that it holds, our current work, especially Dominicans on Mission Selected Essays. Above all, you will meet the people who make the McGreal Center a vibrant reality and a very enjoyable place to work!
The idea for a Dominican archives and research center began in 1975! A spirit of collaboration filled the Post Vatican II air! The Leadership councils from the Central Province of St. Albert the Great and the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa met at Sinsinawa Mound. The meeting created the Parable Conference for Dominican life and mission and planted the seeds for “an institute for the study of Dominican history, with a center for archival materials…and a library of books on Dominican life and history” (Minutes, Initial Meeting on Dominican Collaboration, Sinsinawa, March 19, 1975). That same year the Conference for Dominican Novices and Formation Directors called for an integrated study of the history of American Dominicans. Ten years later, Chicago became the site of those 1975 visions. Mary Nona McGreal, OP, became the director of the Dominican History Research Center. This marked the beginning of Project OPUS (Order of Preachers in the United States). The Dominican Leadership Conference sponsored Project OPUS from 1989 until 2008. The first researchers who inaugurated the research and writing of the history of The Order of Preachers in the United States were:
Loretta Petit, OP (Akron, Ohio), Ms. Anna Donnelly, OP (Dominican Laity, St. Joseph Province), David Wright, OP (St. Albert the Great Province), Mary Frances Coleman, OP (Adrian, MI), Alfred Lopez, OP (St. Albert the Great Province), Mary Francis McDonald, OP (Newburg). By the time Dominicans at Home in a Young Nation: 1786-1865 was published, ( 2001), members of 3 monasteries, 3 provinces of friars, 1 province of the laity as well as sisters from 15 congregations were participating in Project OPUS and clearly demonstrated the Dominican’s family’s love of collaborative study!
When the Dominican Leadership Conference ended in 2008, Dominican University, under the leadership President Donna Carroll, assumed the responsibility for the financial and institutional support of the Dominican History Center. President Carroll renamed the center – the Mary Nona McGreal, OP Center for Dominican Historical Studies. Although Sr. Nona was always uncomfortable with the Center’s new name, it was she who firmly believed and wrote: “For the sake of the present and future service to the Church, there is a need to know the history of the Dominican family on mission together…” To Be Continued!
“Stories of the Dominican Order keep us together as Dominicans.”
-Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P.
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