The McGreal Center Archives: Histories of Collaboration

Submitted by Aaron Reisberg (McGreal Archivist)

Over the past ten years, the McGreal Center has become home to twenty-one unique historical collections. The Center is blessed with many volunteers, interns, and graduate and undergraduate student workers who assist the archivist in preserving and making these collections accessible for researchers. From monastery archives to conference records to personal papers, the McGreal Center’s archives share the story of the Dominican Family in the United States from multiple perspectives, and through a variety of formats. Among its many unique collections, the Center holds the records for nearly all of the Family’s collaborative organizations in the United States. This article will focus on two of them: the Parable Conference for Dominican Life and Mission, and Las Casas: Dominicans in Ministry with Native Americans, Inc.

Picture taken at the Conference of Collaboration, June 5-7, 1975 at the Mound, Sinsinawa, WI (From left to right: Sr. Mary Louis Russley, Sr. Mary Nona McGreal, Benedict Ashley, OP, Sr. Diane Kennedy, Brother Anthony Kalinowski)

The Parable Conference for Dominican Life and Mission was a national collaborative organization sponsored by all the branches of the Dominican Family in the United States. Created in 1976, its aim was to further the Order’s preaching mission through a united effort to address the needs of the contemporary church and world. The Conference’s programs promoted research, study, and prayerful reflection of Dominican life and mission, and encouraged, supported and modeled collaborative efforts. Parable also sponsored retreats and parish missions, and popular programs included the Lands of Dominic, Central America, Dominican Republic and Peru pilgrimages. In 2009, one year after its disbandment due to economic challenges, the McGreal Center received the Conference’s records, becoming the Center’s first archives holding. Parable’s records include extensive governance and correspondence materials, chronicling the evolution of the Conference. It also includes photo albums and slideshows from events and pilgrimages, video recordings of conference presentations, and Parable publications including The Parable and Common Life: In the Spirit of St. Dominic.

Las Casas Board of Trustees Meeting, May 1995 at the White Earth Center in Canton, OK

Last year, another Dominican organization reached an important milestone – Las Casas: Dominicans in Ministry with Native Americans, Inc., celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The Center holds the records for Las Casas, a not-for-profit organization established to provide ministry support, legal aid, and funding opportunities to Native Americans and the Dominicans who assist them. Named for the Dominican Spaniard Bartolomé de Las Casas, its goal is to provide “relief of the poor, the distressed, and the underprivileged.” The Las Casas Records include reports and correspondence concerning the history and chronology of the organization from the late 1970s through 2004. In addition to materials related to its governance and gatherings, the collection also spotlights the organization’s various programs and special events, including its legal fund LEAPCAT and volunteer organization DRUMS. Other materials include pamphlets, newspaper clippings, newsletters, as well as photographs, slides, scrapbooks, and other media used in service of Las Casas programs over the years.

In the next article, we will look at a few of the Center’s other unique holdings, including the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Records, and the Monastery of the Perpetual Rosary, Union City, NJ, Archives.

This article is part of the the McGreal 10th Anniversary series. To view past articles in the series, please click on the links below.