The McGreal Center Archives: Telling the Family Story

Submitted by Aaron Reisberg (McGreal Archivist)

CDN Founders

This week’s archives spotlight focuses not only on collaborative organizations but records that highlight different branches of the family. To begin, we will look at an organization whose own anniversary celebration is underway. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. The Novitiate, established in 1988, provides the novices of seventeen congregations with the opportunity to experience Dominican community life, prayer, study, ministry, exposure to and practice of preaching skills, and personal growth. The novices are directly overseen by Co-Directors, who live with them in the novitiate house and are responsible for their formation during their ten month stay. The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Records contain documents regarding the founding and management of the organization. These include: correspondence, minutes, handbooks, as well as newsletters, videos, photographs, and other various paraphernalia.

In 2016, the Center received the archives belonging to the Monastery of the Perpetual Rosary, Union City, New Jersey. In 1891, Father Damien-Marie Saintourens, with Mother Mary Gabriel, Mother Mary of Jesus, Mother Dominic, and Mother Mary of the Rosary, founded the first American Monastery of the Perpetual Rosary. Between 1912 and 1914, the Gothic Revival-style complex known as the “Blue Chapel” was constructed, and it served as the nuns’ home until its closing in 2009. The collection contains the monastery’s annals, council minutes, canonical visitation reports, and extensive correspondence from the Mother Prioresses, as well as documents regarding admission, profession, departures, and exclaustrations. Other collection highlights include photographs and slides chronicling life at Blue Chapel, architectural blueprints and renderings circa 1911, and artwork by Sr. Mary of the Compassion.

1995 Laity Retreat

The Center also holds the records for the Central Province Lay Dominicans. Established in 1939 and headquartered in Chicago, the Central Province spans Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The McGreal Center holds the records for the Provincial Council, including bylaws, formation handbooks, pamphlets, reports, newsletters, photographs, as well as documents related to the Dominican Inter-Provincial Council, General Chapter, and International Congresses. It also contains correspondence, meeting minutes and promotional materials from the local chapters, with an extensive collection of materials from the St. Rose of Lima (Dubuque, IA) Chapter. In 2017, the McGreal Center received records from the Lay Dominicans Southern Province, containing such materials as governance, rules, agendas, and local chapters across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

The McGreal Center includes the archives for a variety of other organizations, such as the Dominican Institute for the Arts, Dominican Volunteers USA, the Conference of Nuns and the Association of the Monasteries of Nuns of the Order of Preachers in the United States. Visitors are always welcome to explore and research our holdings. We are grateful for the opportunity to preserve and share stories of the Dominican Family with you.

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