Associate Spotlight: Ellen O’Sullivan

Preaching from the Pulpit of Her Life

For the past six years, Ellen O’Sullivan has helped to lead and energize the Sparkill Associate Program in her role as Co-Director. She has had a long and loving association with the Sisters. Since she was 13 as a student at Aquinas High School, Bronx, NY, she identifies as an “Aquinite” and says, “It’s in the blood.” She spent a few years at Dominican Convent as a Sister in training/formation and admits, “It’s just a part of who I am.” Sister Susan Dunn, who was in the novitiate with Ellen describes her as “amazing!” 

Forty-two years ago, Ellen joined the Associate Program. She responded to an invitation to join the Associates (then called Co-Members) by Vivian Shary (a founding Associate) and several others, along with a group of women from St. Anthony’s parish, Nanuet. With four young children and her husband who traveled for business, at first, she could not accept the invitation; but two years later, Ellen decided to join. She thought that she needed something deeper, and she knew where to find it. 

She said, “I found something deeper in prayer, spirituality, and in the women who believe what I believe and the companionship that exists in religious communities. And I’m partial to this religious community. Since we don’t always find what we need in our parishes, I know that what I was looking for I could find here. If you need a deeper sharing of spiritual life and community then Associate membership is where you’ll find it.”

Even if Ellen did not do another thing, her Associate connection has been life-giving and meaningful to her, her friends, and her family. However, she has and continues to do much to serve the community and those in need such as spearheading the Pajama Drive. She also volunteers weekly to answer calls at the Dominican Convent switchboard. 

Ellen is constantly giving of herself and believes, “We all have a call in one way or another, we just choose to live it in different ways. Being an Associate has helped me grow into the person God intends.” 

Ellen does not relish public speaking, but periodically at community meetings stands up at the mic and encourages the Sisters to think of someone in their lives who might benefit from the Associate’s program. Ellen loves the words of Sister Annie Willits: “Preach from the pulpit of your life!”  She encourages all members of the Dominican family to keep doing what they are doing so well and to invite others to walk with them—to learn more, come to an event, or join the program. “First investigate the Dominican family, the Sparkill family, and decide if it’s a good fit for them—and I think you’d be surprised at how many people are searching.”

Ellen O’Sullivan, mother of 4 and grandmother to 12, happily lives in Shelton, Connecticut, with her husband, Jay.